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Supreme Court Litigation Clinic


Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic—the first of its kind at any law school—gives students the opportunity to explore a realm few lawyers experience in their careers: the Supreme Court of the United States. Under the direction of two faculty members, who collectively have argued over thirty Supreme Court cases, clinic members work on real Supreme Court cases, representing parties and amici curiae.

Unlike other Stanford clinics, which concentrate on one substantive area of the law, the Supreme Court clinic focuses on the wide range of legal issues decided by the nation's highest court.  In the past several terms, the clinic has represented a wide variety of clients, such as: workers raising claims under federal anti-discrimination laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act; individuals pressing consumer protection claims and civil rights claims, including the right of same-sex couples to marry; criminal defendants with constitutional claims under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments; Native American tribes; and various public interest and trade associations, ranging from the California Medical Association, to the National School Boards Association and the National Women’s Law Center. The clinic also has been involved in cases concerning the free exercise of religion, maritime law, bankruptcy law, the Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause, and international law and treaties.

The clinic has compiled a record at both the certiorari and merits stages that would be the envy of any appellate practice. Over the past ten years, the clinic has represented parties as lead counsel in over fifty cases on the merits, winning a substantial majority of those cases. The clinic also has secured victories for clients by defeating petitions for certiorari filed by the U.S. Solicitor General, state attorneys general, and prominent businesses.

Students work on briefs and other filings, participate in moots for oral arguments, meet with Court personnel and reporters, and get a real feel for how the High Court operates. The clinic is known as particularly writing-intensive; students typically work in shifting teams to produce at least two briefs over the course of a quarter. Clinic alumni have gone on to a variety of clerkships, public-interest fellowships, positions in the Department of Justice, and jobs at private law firms.

"As a solo practitioner, I get used to my own way of doing things, but working with the incredible Stanford team taught me new ways. I think I will forever be a better appellate advocate as a result of their hard work."

– Sharon Samek '87, who worked on a case with the clinic.

"The process of working with the Stanford clinic is in a sense much more deliberative and more inclusive than working with other attorneys. .. . . I think they're building the next generation of great lawyers."

– Ben Cohen, of the Louisiana Capital Appeals Project, in Stanford Law Clinic Shakes Up Supreme Court Bar, Law 360, Sept 15, 2009.