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Law Students Enjoy Supreme Opportunity; Clinic Lets Them Work on Arguments for Cases Heard by U.S. High Court

Publication Date: 
April 10, 2005
Source: 
San Jose Mercury News
Author: 
Kim Vo

The San Jose Mercury News ran this feature on the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic:

Eric Feigin isn't a lawyer yet but even veteran attorneys would envy his caseload: The third-year law student is writing briefs and prepping arguments for cases before the nation's highest court.

Impressive enough, but the past two weeks have been especially heady for Feigin and his Stanford Law School classmates. On March 30, the Supreme Court ruled that workers can sue their employers over age discrimination without proving the bias was intentional, a case with ramifications for 70 million Americans. Less than a week later, the justices ruled that creditors can't touch individual retirement accounts.

Stanford law students toiled for months for the winning sides on both cases, wading through case law, writing voluminous briefs, and grilling attorneys in preparation for their day before the court.

"It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Feigin, who worked on the IRA case. "When else am I going to get to do this?"

Stanford's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic was only launched last year, but it has enjoyed startlingly quick success. The clinic persuaded the justices to hear four of five cases it submitted last year -- an incredible track record considering the Supreme Court receives nearly 8,000 petitions a term and only agrees to hear about 80 of them.

...

"We have a lot of expertise in what the court is likely to find important and worth taking," said Professor Pamela Karlan, who worked on her first Supreme Court case more than two decades ago after her first year of law school. "There's an art to persuading people that something is an important issue."