Center for Advocacy
Denver Law understands the value of graduating students who can succeed in the courtroom on their first day in the profession. We place a strong emphasis on trial and appellate advocacy in its curriculum to fulfill that mission. We complement that courtroom-focused curriculum by educating our students on how to effectively prepare a case prior to entering the courtroom.
The fruits of the school’s efforts are illuminated on the national stage, where our nationally recognized, competitive advocacy teams travel to tournaments across the country.
With the support of award-winning faculty, seasoned trial practitioners and student organizations, every academic year is filled with opportunities for Denver Law students to continually participate in advocacy courses and programs, as well as receive the mentoring support that is vital for our graduates to excel in the profession.
Preparing Students for the Practice of Law
Message from the Director
Hello and welcome. As the Director for our Center for Advocacy, I thank you for your interest.
As a licensed attorney, who had the immense benefit of practicing as a full-time trial attorney for 20 years before joining our law faculty, and who has been able to continue to practice in a part-time capacity since I joined our law faculty in 2008, I say without hesitation that this is an exciting time in the centuries-old history of law school education.
Our Center for Advocacy is devoutly dedicated to the professional development of our students, to help make them practice ready. Our goal is to empower our students to obtain or create employment for themselves in the “Profession That Takes The Oath.” As I like to say, “My number one job is helping our students get jobs and excel in those jobs.” Being the only law school in a major city like Denver, our students benefit greatly from the wonderful corps of alumni and practitioners – lawyers and judges – who selflessly give their time helping our students understand the responsibilities, dynamics, strategies, tactics, and all aspects, required to succeed in the actual practice of our profession.
I encourage you to fully explore the CFA website and all of the opportunities that our Center for Advocacy has to offer.
– Professor David C. Schott, Director
History of the CFA
In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released its groundbreaking study, "Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law," calling for law schools to rethink the curriculum to better prepare (law school) graduates for the practice of law. The study provided the clarion call to law schools nationwide to place greater focus on the “professional development” of their law students. In short, the Carnegie Foundation revised the age-old mission of law schools of teaching students to “think like a lawyer” and expanded it to teach students to “think AND ACT like a lawyer.”
The University of Denver Sturm College of Law wasted no time in creating The Center for Advocacy (CFA). Our CFA grew quickly on both the national stage and within our own walls. Within four years, it rose to the Top 10 advocacy centers in the country (as ranked by US News & World Report).
Professional Education Through Simulation
The Center for Advocacy oversees and supports the development of courses, activities and events in the four areas of advocacy: Trial Advocacy, Pre-Trial Advocacy, Appellate Advocacy and Client Advocacy.
One of the primary methods by which the Center for Advocacy fulfills its mission is through professional education through simulation. Ideally, a student’s law school experience should progress through these stages:
Indoctrination – In their 1L year, they learn the basics of critical thinking and the theoretical principles of a variety of subject matters areas of law.
Simulation – In their 2L year, benefitting from simulated environments, students apply the critical thinking and theoretical principles learned in their first year.
Application – In their 3L year, students apply their, now-practiced, professional knowledge through externships, internships, jobs, and clinical experiences.
The Center for Advocacy falls firmly in the “Simulation” stage of this educational progression. The CFA plays a key role in law students’ professional development through our approach of applied critical thinking.
Concentration in Advocacy
Concentration in Advocacy
The Center for Advocacy (CFA) understands the immense benefit to students when seeking employment to be able to show prospective employers their focused course of experiential study (“ready to practice”) during law school. To that end, the CFA offers students the opportunity to have a concentration in Advocacy.
24 Credit Hours Needed. A concentration in Advocacy is achieved when a student successfully completes 24 credit hours of advocacy and advocacy-related courses over their law school career and maintains at least a 3.0 minimum GPA in those courses. The 24 credit hours can be earned from any of the courses appearing on the CFA’s Litigation Paths menu.
Add a Civil or Criminal Focus. Students may additionally elect to add a focus in either Civil Litigation or on Criminal Litigation by successfully completing 18 credit hours in the respective column appearing on the Litigation Paths menu, while maintaining at least a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those courses.
Receive a Confirmation Letter. Students do not need to declare their intent to pursue a concentration in Advocacy at the outset of their legal studies. Rather, upon successful completion of 24 credit hours on the Litigation Paths, students can provide their transcripts to, and request to receive a confirmation letter from, the Director for The Center for Advocacy reflecting their successful completion of a concentration in Advocacy. If students have also completed the 18 credit hours for a focus in either Civil or Criminal Litigation it is at that time that students can request the confirmation letter to indicate their focus as well.
Note: The concentration in Advocacy should not be confused with a Certificate. The Center for Advocacy does not offer Certificates at this time.
Our CFA provides a wide range of courses to help prepare our students for their entry into our profession. The courses range from introductory simulation courses to full-blown practice labs. Here are some of the specific courses offered:
- The Day 1 Civil Practice Lab
- The Day 1 Criminal Practice Lab
- The Mentors Practicum
- 18 sections of Trial Practice I
- 8 sections of Trial Practice II
- 12 sections of Trial Practice III
- Expanded course offerings in:
- Voir Dire
- Litigation Technology
- Motions Practice
- and many more
The majority of CFA courses are taught by our Adjunct Faculty comprised of experienced and educationally-minded practitioners and jurists in the Rocky Mountain region.
Our CFA also hosts a variety of events and educational programs outside of the classroom, ranging from educational tournaments to interactive forums with alumni and area attorneys.
- The Summit Cup – we host this national tournament attracting the country’s best teams
- The Hoffman Cup – our annual premier trial advocacy tournament for upperclassmen
- The Advocacy Cup – our annual trial advocacy tournament for 1L, 2L and 3L students
- The Crosstown Cup – an educational exercise involving our 1L and CU’s 1L students
- 6 moot court (appellate) tournaments
- Various employer roundtables comprised of area alumni
- Evidence Primers and Trial Strategy Primers
- …and many more
The CFA proudly hosts The Summit Cup, The Hoffman Cup and The Advocates Cup each year. All of these tournaments are educational exercises designed to help students further refine the professional knowledge they need to be productive members of our profession. In these tournaments, the students receive priceless instruction and feedback from actual practicing attorneys and judges who are members of our profession in the Rocky Mountain West. The students also get to make wonderful professional connections through the alumni and practitioners that they meet during the tournaments. In addition to the links provided on this website that more fully discuss the rules, important dates and other information related to each tournament, below is a short description of each:
The Summit Cup
- Hosted each September
- Honors 12 teams from law schools around the country that each won significant tournaments in the prior academic year.
- Juries are comprised of laypersons (non-lawyers) just like the people to whom the advocates will be presenting real cases after they graduate.
- DU Law students serve as the “woodshed witnesses”, further enhancing the camaraderie and objectivity of the tournament.
Trial Boom serves as the official sponsor of The Summit Cup.
The Hoffman Cup
Our law school’s premier trial advocacy tournament.
- Hosted by the CFA each year in late October or early November
- We crown our school’s Champions, Best Advocate, and Rising Star Advocate
- Hosted in memory of the late Daniel S. Hoffman, who was a nationally-recognized trial attorney, former Dean of our law school, and a generous benefactor to our law school.
- The Cup is open to all 2L, 3L and 4L-Evening students, and 1L students get to benefit educationally by serving as witnesses for competing teams.
The annual event draws over 150 local attorneys and practitioners who serve as Ruling Judges and Scoring Jurors.
- Rules: These rules are subject to revision per the approval of the Director of the Center for Advocacy. Please email the CFADirector, David C. Schott, any questions or suggestions.
- Past Champions
The Advocates Cup
- Hosted by the CFA each spring (late February or early March)
- Is open to all 1L, 2L, 3L and 4L part-time students
- The first formal law school tournament in which 1L students can compete
- The largest tournament to be hosted annually in our school
- Prior Champions
- Advocates Cup 2019 information
Earning a spot on the National Trial Team is a coveted achievement. Students participants receive year-round education from actual practicing trial attorneys. When not preparing for national competitions, the students engage in practice modules where they acquire professional knowledge in areas such as depositions, voir dire, motions in limine, client counseling and more. Our National Trial Team members boast stellar bar exam passage rates and job placements.
National Teams Resume
The Center for Advocacy proudly sponsors our law school’s National Trial Team, which travels to 8-10 national tournaments each year and 15 nationally travelling moot court teams.
Check out the resumes and individual achievements of the students who comprise our National Trial Team and our national moot court teams.
National Trial Team 2020 Tryout Information
Sign-up sheets are posted outside the Center for Advocacy (Suite 390) beginning on March 2. Sign-ups will close on Wednesday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m.
At the time of signing-up, each student must email the completed Tryout Information Sheet to CFA Director, David C. Schott (DSchott@law.du.edu ) that can be found on this CFA site.
Tryouts Part I
Part I of the tryouts for the National Trial Team will be held on Thursday, March 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. A tryout only takes approximately 30 minutes total.
Courtroom attire is required (i.e. suit and tie, etc.).
Part I of the Tryouts consists of a student preparing a short Opening Statement or Closing Argument (no more than 5 minutes). Students are welcome to use their Opening or Closing used in The Advocates Cup, or from any case of their choosing.
After a student presents their Opening or Closing, that student will be given a one-page witness statement on another case, and be given 15 to 20 minutes to prepare and then present a brief Cross Examination regarding that witness statement. A witness will be provided by the National Trial Team coaching squad.
Within 1 week after the tryouts, each student will be instructed if they are invited to Part II of the tryouts.
Tryouts Part II
Part II of the tryouts is participation in the inter-session course, Trial Practice I – Intensive. There will be a two-hour course organizational meeting on Thursday, May 21, 2020. The course then proceeds during the days and some of the evenings of May 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 (Saturday). The course then continues on a flex-time schedule June 1, 2, 3. (If you are taking the summer evening Evidence course or starting an internship on those days we can work around your schedule.)
This is a 3 credit, graded, course and satisfies the Trial Practice I requirement for students pursuing the Concentration in Litigation and Trial Advocacy.
Invitations to The National Trial Team will be extended on June 4th.
If a student is prohibited from enrolling in TP1-Intensive due to a summer job or externship, that inability to attend the course does not automatically disqualify a student from being considered for The National Trial Team. However, attendance in TP1-Intensive is strongly recommended – if for no other reason than it will better prepare you for your summer job or externship.
- Meet the Team
Our CFA also sponsors a great number of competitive teams that travel nationally. As most students attest, these national forums are some of the most beneficial educational experiences in their law school careers. We offer 13 National Moot Court teams, including Jessup International Appellate Law Moot Court, Negotiation and Mediation and Vis International Arbitration, to name a few.
Jessup International Law Moot Competition
The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries. The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. Thousands of law students from around the world work all year long on the season’s Jessup Problem that focuses on the procedural and substantive issues arising from unresolved issues in international law. Past issues include the legality of the use of weaponized drones, annexation of one state’s territory by another, bilateral investment treaties, the destruction of cultural heritage sites, modern-day piracy, and torture. Teams prepare written briefs and then compete in oral arguments. U.S. teams must place 1st or 2nd at the U.S. Super Regional rounds in February or March, competing against 23 other teams, in order to secure a spot at the international rounds in April. The international rounds are held in Washington D.C., where over 100 finalist teams from around the world will compete for the Jessup trophy. The competition’s judges are composed of the most eminent international legal scholars and practitioners in the world, including current and former judges from the International Court of Justice. More info: https://www.ilsa.org/about-jessup/
The University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law’s Jessup Team regularly advances to the international rounds in Washington D.C. and both our written briefs and oralists receive awards annually. In 2013 one of our oralists ranked 4th place at the international rounds, out of nearly 500 competitors. The team is coached and taught by Megan Matthews and John Powell serves as Coach Emeritus. Team members can earn 5 credits a year for team participation and upper level writing requirement fulfillment. Try-outs are in April.
NALSA Moot Competition
DU LAW’S NALSA TEAM ADVANCED TO “SWEET 16”
The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, AZ hosted the 40th annual NALSAMoot on March 5 and 6, 2015. The question addressed cultural regulatory and civil jurisdiction over non-members on tribal lands. DU Law students* Nadin Said* and K.C. Curillo advanced past the preliminaries to the Sweet 16 round beating out 60 other law school teams. They were supported by teammates* Amy Maas* and Kyle Montour, who is a registered member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in Upstate New York, who led the team’s legal research. This advancement was won based on their appellate brief scores, and their oral arguments on the current Federal Indian civil jurisdiction law. Congratulations to the team and its coach, Helen Hoopes, as this was the first DU Law team to advance past the preliminaries since 2007. The team looks forward to continuing to compete in the international legal field in international indigenous peoples’ law next year in Michigan March 4-6, 2016 at Michigan State University Law School.
Pace National Environmental Law Moot Competition
On February 20-21 2014, DU Law students competed at the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition hosted by Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York. The team was composed of third-year law students Laurie Strong (a black belt in kung fu) and Stefanie Arndt (a U.S. Marine), and second-year student Alexandra Hall (a chemical engineer). Coached by Professor Kelly Davis (fellow at DU’s Environmental Law Clinic), the team members were the top performers at the DU Environmental Law Moot Court Competition held in September 2013, earning the highest scores based on a brief and oral arguments.
The team continued DU’s long tradition of competing in the annual competition, which this year drew nearly 80 teams from law schools around the country. The team represented three fictional parties in a Clean Water Act case, which required them to prepare arguments for each party on issues ranging from the scope of the Act’s citizen-suit provision to the determination of point sources and navigable waters. The team prepared a brief with no outside help in November 2013, and represented all three parties in oral arguments at the competition. They demonstrated a commitment to teamwork as well as superb knowledge of environmental law and appellate procedure at the competition.
“I really enjoyed the experience of representing DU at NELMCC. Working with Prof. Davis, Stefanie, and Laurie was educational and fun,” said team member Alex Hall. Ms. Hall looks forward to participating in DU’s competition next year and hopes to compete at NELMCC again in 2015.