WVU Law Supreme Court Clinic students got to witness something last week that
many attorneys never experience over an entire legal career. These WVU Law students
were on hand at the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. to watch an
oral argument that they assisted in preparing.
The students helped write several documents related to the case, including the
petition for certiorari. Lawrence Rosenberg of the international law firm Jones Day, who
co-teaches the clinic with WVU Law Professor Anne Lofaso, presented the oral argument. The case focused on
the interplay between two subsections of federal criminal law dealing with
firearm offenses. Lofaso sat at the counsel table with Rosenberg, and the
students sat a few rows back in an area of the courtroom typically reserved
only for members of the Supreme Court bar.
“They were so pumped afterwards,” Lofaso said, “They were practically touching the justices.”
Lofaso said highly motivated students enroll in the year-long clinic, which teaches advanced advocacy skills, including advanced legal research. Students learn what makes a case a good candidate for Supreme Court review.
“There are only about fifteen Supreme Court clinics in the country, and one is at WVU,” said Professor Nicole McConlogue, director of WVU Law’s Clinical Program. “Providing access to such a unique experience is part of what makes our law school so special.”
In addition to the Supreme Court visit, the students attended a practice argument at Georgetown Law School, where law faculty and practitioners grilled Rosenberg, advancing questions they anticipated the justices would ask. The students also visited Jones Day and had dinner at the Army and Navy Club. 3L student Devin Redding, editor in chief of the West Virginia Law Review, called the Supreme Court visit the “highlight” of her law school career.
“Getting to see all of the hours we spent doing research, writing memos and mooting the case playing out in front of the justices was the cherry on top of my law school experience,” said Redding, 33, of Preston County. “The best part of the trip was seeing our work come to life.”
WVU Law established its United States Supreme Court Law Clinic in the fall of 2011. It is one of just a handful of SCOTUS law clinics in the nation.