Instructor(s): Adam Goldenberg, Alison Warner

For graduate students, the course number is LAW7103H.

This course is about how appeals are decided. It examines the law that courts apply behind the scenes - the principles and practices that shape the appellate process. Working with preeminent jurists, leading practitioners, and former judicial law clerks, students will develop a powerful understanding of how courts of appeal operate.

To this end, the course will explore the questions that appellate judges ask themselves as they grapple with their role in the justice system. We will examine the structure of appellate adjudication and judicial review in Ontario, the legislative frameworks within which reviewing courts operate, and appellate jurisprudence interpreting that legislation. We will discuss the procedural justice concerns that inform how judges decide appeals, and how appellate judging can uphold or undermine the rule of law. And we will investigate how the law and policy of appellate adjudication inform strategic choices that appellate advocates must make, including when to bring an appeal and which grounds of appeal to pursue.

Students will develop their legal writing and advocacy skills by learning directly from leading members of the appellate bench and bar. Among the current and former judges who have participated in the course are Justices Moldaver and Rowe of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Justices Laskin, Feldman, Sharpe, MacPherson, Cronk, LaForme, Huscroft, and Fairburn of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Each student will be paired with a judicial advisor - a current or former appellate judge who will review and provide feedback on the student's written work. The course offers excellent preparation for students interested in serving as appellate law clerks following graduation, as well as for those who intend to practice in the area of appellate litigation.

Students will be evaluated based on two written assignments (90%) and class participation (10%). The first written assignment (30%) will consist of a pre-hearing or bench memorandum of no more than 2,500 words (excluding citations), addressed to (and to be discussed with) the students judicial advisor. The second written assignment (60%) will be a research assignment of no more than 5,000 words on a topic related to appellate principles and practice.

At a Glance

Second Term



16 JD


M: 6:10 - 8:00