Appellate Litigation Clinic offers new avenue for practical training

Andrew Pollis and Joe Shell


This spring, the law school launched the Appellate Litigation Clinic, creating a live-client experience that builds on the appellate practice curriculum offered to second and third-year students.

In the time since the clinic launched, students working under the supervision and guidance of Professor Andrew Pollis have handled 13 cases in the Ohio Court of Appeals, as well as cases in both the Ohio and United States Supreme Courts. Most of the cases were criminal or parental-rights appeals that came to the clinic by assignment from the court of appeals, while others were civil appeals that were identified through a cooperative program with the court and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.

The new law clinic’s work didn’t go unnoticed. One of those cases was a certiorari petition listed by as one of its “Petitions of the Week.”

“Our students were the lead lawyers on all of the cases. They counseled the clients, wrote the briefs, engaged in procedural motion practice, delivered three oral arguments —one remotely after COVID-19 hit— and handled court-sponsored mediations,” said Pollis.  “They identified several meaty arguments for appeal—not just typical questions of evidentiary sufficiency, but also fascinating procedural issues, ranging from defective indictments to speedy-trial violations to inconsistencies in the appellate courts’ standards of review.”

Joseph Shell (‘20), one of the students in the new clinic, called it the most rewarding and challenging experience he had in law school. Shell, who now clerks on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, noted that he not only improved his writing and oral advocacy skills, he also “put those skills to work” making a difference for his clients.

“I graduated having already written briefs in the Eighth District Court of Appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court—and I got to argue in front of an appellate-court panel. Those experiences have more than prepared me for what I hope will be a long career as an appellate attorney.”