The Appellate Brief

If you are in any way connected to a current 1L, you know that the words that comprise the title of this post are currently curse words.  Our first-year students are immersed in a Legal Research & Writing (LRW) project that is worth 70% of their grade in the course.  It is due at 1pm on Wednesday, March 13.

In years past, as I well remember, the “appellate brief” assignment was distributed at the outset of (what upper-division students called) Spring Break and was due at the end of the aforementioned “break.”  Now, the assignment is given well before Spring Break commences and is due in the middle of that week so that the first-year students can still enjoy a few days of a break.  The war stories from years gone by do absolutely nothing to make the 1Ls feel better.  For the most part, they are just as stressed by the assignment.

All this to say that Spring Break begins this afternoon, but for 1Ls, this simply means that they don’t have to go to classes for a while and can focus completely on their LRW project.

Yesterday, I read Professor Jim Gash’s blog entry on his current trip to Uganda.  I highly recommend you read it, too.  I found it especially apropos that he mentioned a little bit of research I did for him once upon a time for an appellate brief he wrote to help bring justice to a young man on the other side of the world.  When our 1Ls are putting the finishing touches on their appellate briefs, Professor Gash will be defending his in a Ugandan court.

Even though this assignment is packed with pressure for our 1Ls, I hope they can retain a bit of perspective in knowing that what they are learning can help change the world for the better.

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