St. Thomas Law Students Killing It in Ninth Circuit Appeals

By George Khoury, Esq. on May 31, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

These days, some private law schools are struggling to attract students and win accolades. However, one relatively new law school is getting some positive attention for teaching students how to win appeals in the Ninth Circuit.

Surprisingly, that law school isn't located in California, or even in the Ninth Circuit's jurisdiction. But for the past five years in a row, St. Thomas Law School, located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, has not just had students argue appeals before the Ninth Circuit, those students have won an appeal every year. And as a point of interest, St. Thomas Law School was only just established in 1999 and got ABA accredited a few years later.

Law Students Helping Inmates

The most recent appeal from the St. Thomas Law School clinic involved a prison inmate's claim that guards desecrated his Quran, violating his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Although the case had been dismissed on summary judgment, a team of law students in the St. Thomas Law School's appellate clinic began working on the case in 2017, submitted briefing, and argued the matter in April 2018.

Last week, the decision issued in the appellant's favor. And though it may not mean he is released from custody, or even ultimately successful in the civil rights matter, for law students to win a circuit court appeal, it's a big deal for the students and the school.

Given the fact that the job market still hasn't recovered back to the way it was in the theoretical "good old days" when lawyer jobs outnumbered demand, for law students that want to be marketable upon graduation and passing the bar, getting experience before you get out of school is critical.

In addition to legal experience working for a firm, or volunteering with a non-profit, clinical courses can both teach valuable practical skills and also bolster a resume with actual legal experience.

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