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Copyright (c) 2015 Seton Hall University School of Law
Seton Hall Law Review

ARTICLE: Teaching Oral Advocacy: Creating More Opportunities for an Essential Skill


Seton Hall Law Review

45 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1031


Michael Vitiello*


I. Introduction
About thirty years ago, the American Bar Association published a report about the training of appellate lawyers around the country. 1 That study was critical of law schools for the way in which they were teaching appellate advocacy skills. 2 Fast forward to 2015; anyone in legal education knows that a lot has changed, with much greater attention to skills training and with faculty devoted to skills training who have excellent credentials and job security. 3 But so too has the way in which appellate courts function: many have severely limited oral argument, denying it in many cases and reducing the time of argument to as little as ten minutes. 4 The current state of affairs - greater attention to advocacy skills but fewer opportunities for appellate argument - raises a question: are legal educators doing the right thing? 5

That is the subject of this paper. Initially, it reviews the critical findings of the 1985 ABA report 6 and canvasses some of the changes in legal education over the past thirty years. 7 Thereafter, it explores in more depth the ABA report's criticisms of appellate training. 8 It then discusses why oral advocacy training still matters and proposes some meaningful changes in the way in which we train student-advocates to reflect the way in which lawyers use advocacy skills today. 9 Specifically, it examines some of the changes in advocacy in appellate and trial courts and explores the implications of those changes for the ...
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