Eighteen second-year students received the Best Brief Award for the Litigation Program. The award is given to students whose outstanding summary judgment briefs show clear and succinct writing, along with the appropriate use of legal authority and research.
The students are Mark Bryce (J.D. '14), Jason Cramer (J.D. '15), Todd Dupree (J.D. '14), Kyle Evans (J.D. '14), Alex Galvan (J.D. '14), Ramika Gourdine (J.D. '14), Alexandra Guerzo (J.D. '15), Anna Holcomb (J.D. '14), Jessica Holland (J.D. '15), Lynette Jimenez (J.D. '15), Caitlyn Kerr (J.D. '14), Tiffany Nichols (J.D. '15), Brent Nix (J.D. '15), Erin Petre (J.D. '14), Dan Pittman (J.D. '15), Brittney Pless (J.D. '14), Abe Varner (J.D. '14) and Ashley Worrell (J.D. '14).
Litigation, a required course for second-year students, builds on skills learned in Evidence and Research, Writing and Advocacy courses. In classes of just 12, students learn from practicing litigators and judges and conduct a case from interviewing clients through a jury trial at the Fulton County Courthouse.
Paul Milich, professor of law and director of the Litigation Program, said while a lawyer will see bad, great and OK writing throughout a career, exceptional writing can serve a lawyer immensely. "The skills the students take away from Litigation are immediately transferrable to the real world, as most young lawyers will cut their teeth on drafting summary judgment motions," he says.
George Duncan Jr., an adjunct professor with nearly 40 years of litigation experience, looks for overall organization and persuasiveness in his students' writing. The best writing, he says, avoids wordiness and repetition and makes it simple for the reader to identify main arguments.
The program, which began in 1984, was the brainchild of founding Dean Ben F. Johnson Jr. and professor emeritus E. R. Lanier. At the time, it was considered "really out there, very innovative," Milich says, adding many schools now offer similar programs.
Program exercises give students an opportunity to hone what Duncan calls their "sales skills": establishing credibility and rapport, familiarity with a case, understanding the audience, and framing a persuasive argument and closing.
"It's very useful for the students to be able to have these skills, and to be able to say they won this award," Milich says.