Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

August 13, 2009
SCALE Students Rewarded for Advocacy Skills; Program Thrives

Southwestern's two-year SCALE® Program prepares students to "hit the ground running." During the program's recent Appellate Advocacy Competition, it was evident that these students can demonstrate their impressive lawyering skills within the first year. Professor Christine Lorillard, who teaches Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS), which helps students prepare for the competition, was very impressed with the way her students performed. "The SCALE Appellate Advocacy class is a real joy to teach as it gives students a chance to 'shine,' both in writing the brief and in engaging in oral argument," she said.

Moot Court Board Members with Top Oralists and Writers

At the completion of the Spring 2009 competition, Maurice Pessah won First Place Oralist and Parrisa Peik earned Second Place Oralist. Sara Greco and Craig Spiro were named Alternate Oralists. Laura Bishop and Bryan Clements won First and Second Place Writer, respectively, while Jeffery Mukai and Maurice Pessah were named Alternate Writers.

"The caliber of oral argument was excellent and impressed the judges and faculty alike," Professor Lorillard said. "The winning briefs were professional quality. I truly cannot imagine how the two winning briefs could have been any better. Given the time restrictions and challenges of the two-year SCALE Program, I think the work these students did is astonishing."

The Competition gives first-year students the opportunity to develop appellate brief writing and oral advocacy skills. All first-year SCALE students must participate in the first two rounds. The third round is optional. In the case that the advocates argued, a successful oil painter was vaccinated against the Goat Flu so she could join the Peace Corps in Thailand. Two weeks later she developed Gullain Barré Syndrome (GBS), a condition that caused her to lose the use of her hands. However, the plaintiff was not aware of the connection between the vaccine and the disease until ten years later. Without knowing which drug company distributed the dosage she received, the plaintiff asserted claims for negligence, liability for failure to warn and design defect against multiple companies. Defendants filed and were granted a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff could not identify the responsible manufacturer and that pharmaceutical manufacturers are immune from liability for defects in the design of prescription drugs. The problem that advocates argued concerned issues of whether the court should adopt a market share liability theory that would allow the plaintiff (appellant) to recover from each manufacturer in proportion to its share of the market without proving that any particular manufacturer made the dose of the vaccine. The other issue was whether manufacturers should be immune from strict liability for defects in the design of prescription drugs such as the vaccine that injured the plaintiff.

More than 30 years after Southwestern launched SCALE, the innovative two-year program continues to expand both in enrollment and in options available during the accelerated law school experience. Since 2007, applications for the SCALE program have increased by over 80 percent and by more than 45 percent over 2008. In addition, this year the program inaugurated the first SCALE Summer Session which provides SCALE students with new choices: to study in the Summer Abroad Program, take elective courses on campus or participate in Externship placements for the courts, entertainment studios and other companies. "It's exciting to see how the program has grown," said Professor Harriet Rolnick, Director of the SCALE program. "We look forward to another very exciting new year in SCALE."