In the spring 2017 semester, Brandeis Law offered the inaugural session of the Brandeis Impact Litigation Practicum.
The course, led by Professor Sam Marcosson, is built on the concept of the Brandeis Brief, a style of brief that incorporates social science research into legal arguments.
In the course — which was limited to three students during this initial offering — students worked with local attorneys and Brandeis Law alumni Dan Canon (’07) and Joe Dunman (’12) to write an amicus brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The students were dedicated and willing to learn,” Marcosson says. “They put in a tremendous amount of work, and I’m very proud of them.
“It was exactly what I hoped for — and more.”
The brief was written on behalf of the National Association for Public Defense and the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court. The brief argues that the Kentucky Supreme Court limited the ability of defense counsel to make its case in its opening statement, Marcosson says.
The students researched the value of opening statements and the impact they have on juries while experiencing first-hand the rigors of writing a brief for the Supreme Court.
“How often does a law student get an opportunity to submit a brief to the United States Supreme Court? Not only was this experience exciting, it compelled me to do my absolute best work,” says 3L Abby Braune, one of the students in the class. “So much of law school is theory; it was a nice change to take on a challenge that has a real-world impact.”
Marcosson credits Dean Susan Duncan with advocating for this new course.
“Without her, it never would have happened,” he says.