On April 20, 2022, international law students from Temple Law’s LL.M. for Foreign-Trained Lawyers program performed oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit before the Honorable L. Felipe Restrepo. The students argued a pretrial motion as their final assignment in the Legal Research and Writing course.

Oral arguments took place in the Maris Courtroom. Students argued whether the reasonable suspicion standard, set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio, was satisfied during a police encounter in Philadelphia. During the arguments, Judge Restrepo interrupted student counsel repeatedly with pointed questions, requiring further clarifications. Accordingly, students experienced first-hand the kind of in-depth and analytical challenges trial attorneys face. Although confronted with difficult inquiries, students masterfully navigated through their arguments and came out gratified and exhilarated from their experiences.

Edoardo Mazzoli, an LL.M. student from Italy, noted that this live trial experience was both worthwhile and useful. “The oral argument practice is not only a way to experience significant exposure to everyday ‘court life’, but also a challenge from a personal perspective,” he said. “First, students must empathize with their client develop a deep understanding of both facts and law-related arguments, together with the relevant strengths and weaknesses of each element. Secondly, the federal judge questions counsel and contests their statements to understand if they can defend their positions with analytical reasoning and persuasiveness. Successful arguments are therefore necessarily well supported by the relevant case law, but also made within the whole context of the case.”

This oral argument exercise completes a series of assignments that simulate real-world litigation. Throughout the semester, students complete several tasks designed to advance students’ research, writing, and oral advocacy skills. Upon completing their oral arguments, students revise and submit their written appellate briefs for a final assessment.

Delivering oral arguments before the U.S. federal court has long been the capstone of the Legal Research and Writing Course for international students. This fruitful collaboration between the federal court and Temple Law’s international LL.M. program is an excellent way to tie together the year-long learning immersion experience for international law students.

John Smagula, Assistant Dean for Graduate & International Programs, congratulated the students for a masterful performance and expressed his gratitude for Judge Restrepo’s invaluable guidance. “Many thanks to Judge Restrepo for his consistent support of the oral argument program and our international law students.”