Civil Procedure is the study of state and federal court systems in the US and how lawyers competently prosecute cases and make strategic procedural maneuvers in their representation of their clients, as well as how defendants can tactically respond to those procedural maneuvers. Civil Procedure also considers the key underlying policy issues, such as basic fairness and case management efficiency, surrounding our justice system. In short, Civil Procedure is the study of how lawyers effectively employ procedure in the ethical, civil, and professional pursuit of their clients’ legal objectives.
As in all of my other courses, I use various simulations and role plays in Civil Procedure in order to help students develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter. For example, I have the students break up into small “law firms” in order to draft a complaint, or an answer, or pre-trial motion to dismiss, and later in the semester, draft discovery requests, followed by settlement negotiations, as well as a final summary judgment hearing exercise. Lectures are important, but in order to achieve truly effective active learning, students must be thoroughly engaged in their future roles as advocates.
I believe that even first-year law students should participate in role plays and simulations in order to learn various aspects of Civil Procedure through experiential learning, including document drafting assignments. As in my Evidence course, I give the students a realistic final exam based on a real or mock case with various documents, pleadings, etc., to serve as the basis to ask them real world procedural questions that an actual litigation attorney would encounter in the modern practice of law.