For graduate students, the course number is LAW7589HF.

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

This course focuses on the skills necessary to produce successful appellate advocacy. Course readings include the factual records, written arguments and videos of oral argument from major SCC cases as well as readings on best practices in appellate advocacy. Class meetings will be devoted to examination of case studies to identify best practices, demonstrations by leading practitioners, and simulation exercises. While the course focuses on constitutional litigation, which poses particular challenges and complexities, the best practices and skills taught are generic to appellate advocacy. The intense focus on oral advocacy would be of particular interest to students planning to try out for competitive mooting.

1) Term work (50%): 10%: Attendance at all classes, other than in exceptional situations with prior notice to Professor Weinrib; 20%: Class preparation and Blackboard postings - 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%). 20%: 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 (10%). 2) Final project or Practicum (50%): 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. Note: 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 will be based on the work product, an annotated docket sheet, as well as a reflective essay on the practicum experience.

At a Glance

First Term


20 JD


W: 4:10 - 7:00