April 14, 2011 10:12 Age: 3 yrs

Supreme Court Advocacy Project Receives Award for Amicus Brief

The Emory Law School Supreme Court Advocacy Project (ELSSCAP) received an Amicus Service Award from the International Municipal Lawyers Association for its work on an amicus brief in City of New York v. Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations. The award, presented during IMLA’s mid-year seminar on April 11 in Washington, D.C., recognizes “exemplary work to protect and advance local government interests.”

The brief-writing team included first-year students Kedar Bhatia, Michael Burshteyn and Louis Laverone; second-year students Ross Phillips and Mark Wilson; and third-year student Ross Andre. Laverone accepted the award on behalf of the team.

The students worked with Emory Law Professor David Bederman, the organization’s advisor, to research, write and file the brief during the fall 2010 semester.

“Professor Bederman decided that he wanted to give us a lot of autonomy on this,” says Laverone. “We had three or four meetings to track our progress, to bounce ideas off him, and to eventually pick what issues were going to make it into the brief.”

The brief was finalized in December—in between final exams—and the court reviewed it in February.

“Our clients liked it quite a bit,” Laverone says. “We managed to fill in some areas that were not in the city’s brief, and it seemed to effectively represent the interests of city governments.”

ELSSCAP, a newly created student organization at Emory Law, provides students with an opportunity to “get interested in a mechanical level on how the Supreme Court works,” says Bhatia, the organization’s founder and president.

“Professors always talk about tailoring your argument to your audience. I think when we’re working on cert petitions or when we’re working on amicus briefs, we’re targeting a few different people,” says Bhatia. “I think it really puts into effect everything you learn in law school.”

The organization already has lined up two more cases, and its membership continues to grow. “Last week we sent an email about the two briefs we’ll be working on this summer,” says Bhatia. “We had about 38 responses for the eight spots we have left.”

Future plans for ELSSCAP include a spring break trip to the Supreme Court to meet with the justices as well as individuals in the solicitor general’s office.

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