Jenner & Block and the University of Chicago Law School are pleased to announce the opening of the Jenner & Block University of Chicago Law School Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic, a rigorous education and training program for University of Chicago law students to help litigate cases before the United States’ highest court.
The Clinic represents parties and amici curiae in cases before the US Supreme Court and other appellate courts. Students participate in the researching and drafting of merits briefs, amicus briefs, and cert petitions, conduct research on cases that may be suitable to bring to the Court, and help prepare and participate in oral arguments. Assistance is provided pro bono. Although the Clinic’s focus is the US Supreme Court, the Clinic may also handle cases at the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Clinic will give students the chance to learn appellate advocacy from some of the nation’s foremost litigators. It will be led by noted Supreme Court scholar David Strauss, the University of Chicago’s Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law, and by attorneys with Jenner & Block’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice, which argued six cases before the high court this term and is recognized as one of the finest appellate groups in the United States. The firm as a whole is noted for its deep commitment to pro bono and community service. The American Lawyer has recognized Jenner & Block as the #1 pro bono firm in the United States six of the past nine years; the firm has been ranked among the top 10 in this category every year since 1990. An assistant clinical professor at the Law School serves as Director of the Clinic and will supervise students day-to-day.
“This is a truly exceptional experience for our students, and we are grateful to Jenner & Block for partnering with us to teach advocacy at the very highest level,” said Dean Thomas J. Miles, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics. “The leaders of this clinic are experienced litigators who have argued before our nation’s highest court, as well before federal and state appellate courts. Our students will surely benefit from their tremendous expertise.” Professor Miles is a leading scholar of criminal justice and judicial behavior and an expert in a wide range of contemporary issues such as race and immigration enforcement.
“Our goal with the Clinic is to educate and train the next generation of extraordinary appellate advocates and continue the tradition of helping clients handle their most important litigation problems—not just through the trial but all the way through the appeal,” said Jenner & Block Partner Craig C. Martin, chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, who negotiated the partnership. Mr. Martin is a nationally recognized lawyer whose practice has been described as a “boardroom to courtroom” one in which he handles “bet-the-company” cases and large, board-driven investigations. Mr. Martin also sits on the University of Chicago Law School’s Visiting Committee, which serves as a liaison between the Law School and the larger business and civic community.
The Clinic opened for the spring term with four University of Chicago Law School students, and it is expected eventually to serve up to 12 per term. It acts as an incubator for students to find and litigate Supreme Court cases on behalf of amici and in merits cases. In fact, the Clinic is already counsel in a significant constitutional case that will be argued before the Supreme Court in the October 2016 term.
“Supreme Court litigation is in many ways unlike litigation in any other court, and the clinic will give students a chance to participate in Supreme Court advocacy—formulating arguments, working out strategy, drafting briefs—and in appellate litigation in other courts,” said Professor Strauss, who co-edits the Supreme Court Review with professors Geoffrey Stone and Dennis Hutchinson. Strauss was an Assistant Solicitor General of the United States before joining the Law School in 1985.
Two of Jenner & Block’s leading appellate lawyers, Partners Matthew S. Hellman and Michael A. Scodro, are the Clinic’s co-directors.
Mr. Hellman has served as lead counsel in dozens of appellate matters, presenting arguments in the United States Supreme Court, United States Courts of Appeals, and state supreme and appellate courts. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter in 2004-2005. Mr. Scodro is the former Illinois Solicitor General and has argued cases before the United States Supreme Court, US Courts of Appeals, and state supreme and appellate courts. An elected member of the prestigious American Law Institute and president of the Appellate Lawyers Association, he is also a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School, teaching a seminar on United States Supreme Court practice. Mr. Scodro clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 1998-1999.
Assistant Clinical Professor Sarah M. Konsky, who will supervise participating students as the Clinic’s director, joined the Law School earlier this year. She is a former partner at a large law firm, where she focused on appellate and other litigation. Ms. Konsky graduated with a JD with honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 2004 and was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review.