For graduate students, the course number is LAW7589HF.

Note: The Quercus program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Quercus as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.

This course delineates and provides training in the skills associated with successful written and oral advocacy. We turn to the literature on advocacy and to the litigation dossier (factual record, factum and videos of oral argument) produced in leading SCC cases to establish metrics for clear, concise and cogent argumentation. (Topics include: providing the submissions that judges want; emphasizing the dispositive core of your position; learning how to create a high quality factum in the shortest time.) The course also emphasizes the importance of persuasiveness. (Topics include: a captivating introduction and conclusion; working the facts to your best advantage; using narrative techniques that provide the most appealing frame for your argument; developing your distinctive courtroom persona; and mastering the unique conversational interaction that constitutes excellence in oral argument.) The course will present the opportunity to work in small groups (and one-one with the instructors) on skills-developing exercises, simulations and mini-moots. While the course focuses on constitutional advocacy, the skill training is generic. The intense focus on factum writing and oral advocacy would benefit students interested in mooting.

1) Class Preparation (30%): 10%: Attendance at all classes, other than in exceptional situations with prior notice to Professor Weinrib; 20%: Class preparation and 7 Quercus postings: -- Includes pre-class analysis of litigation material & secondary readings as well as review of webcasts of SCC oral arguments (10%) -- Skills-development exercises designed to develop proficiency in the various components of successful litigation, e.g., formulating theory of the case; identification of onus and burden for appellant and respondent; narrative statement of facts; point first, precision-crafted written argument; and well-structured, engaging oral argument (10%). 2) 30%: active and informed participation in class: -- Critical analysis of case studies to learn best appellate advocacy practices and to avoid common errors (10%); -- Building advocacy skills through participation in informal structured advocacy simulations on behalf of rights claimants, government respondents, and interveners (20%). 3) Final project or Practicum (40%): Final Project: Students may do their final projects individually, or in pairs or quartets to establish an adversary experience. Examples include preparation of written argument and/or the preparation and delivery of an oral argument. Students can work on appeals from SCC cases, cases from other jurisdictions or hypothetical cases. For projects that include oral argument, adjudicators will be provided. Final projects can also take the form of a retrospective study of the advocacy elements in a Supreme Court of Canada case, i.e., analysis of factual record, written and/or oral argument, including judges questions, and the reasons for judgment. Professor Weinrib will assist in planning these projects and obtaining any original documentation required. Practicum: At least six students will be able to fulfil their final project requirement by working on a practicum, which will consist of working with a practitioner in a law firm, government office, or public interest group on real or proposed litigation. Evaluation based on the work product, an annotated docket sheet, as well as a reflective essay on the practicum experience. Professor Weinrib will provide these practicums. Students may propose practicums as well.

At a Glance

First Term


21 JD


W: 4:10 - 7:00