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Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy

The Ilana Diamond Rovner Program in Appellate Advocacy is the umbrella program for IIT Chicago-Kent's extensive appellate advocacy activities. A joint effort of the students, alumni, staff, and faculty of the law school, the Rovner Program consists of intensive course work in appellate litigation, intramural competitions, and participation in local, regional, and national appellate advocacy competitions. The program is named for The Honorable Ilana Diamond Rovner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Rovner is a 1966 graduate of the law school.

Students selected for the Rovner Program (based on grade point average and previous intramural competitions) become members of the Moot Court Honor Society and start off by enrolling in Appellate Advocacy, generally in the fall semester of their second year. The course contains segments on advanced brief writing, advanced research skills, oral argument, and appellate procedure, and builds upon Chicago-Kent's first-year legal writing and research courses.

The students in the course receive personalized instruction in brief writing, including detailed, one-on-one critique of their work. The students are divided into small groups for oral argument instruction, which includes videotaping each student and critiquing that videotaped performance.

The centerpiece of the course is the Ilana Diamond Rovner Appellate Advocacy Competition. Each student prepares a brief on a significant appellate issue, as well as an oral argument on both sides of that issue. The top eight students in the first round compete in a quarterfinal round. The top four students then compete in a semi-final round, from which two students are selected to argue in the final round before a panel of federal and state judges.

Three scholarships are presented at the conclusion of the competition. The Ilana Diamond Rovner Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocate is given to the student with the highest combined brief and oral argument scores; the Ralph L. Brill Award is presented to the student who wrote the best brief; and the Fay Clayton Award is presented to the student with the best oral argument performance.

Students who have completed the course in Appellate Advocacy are eligible to be selected to represent Chicago-Kent and the Rovner Program in interscholastic competition. The students with the best combined brief and oral argument scores in the Rovner Competition are offered a place on one of eight interscholastic teams the law school enters in spring semester competitions. These students are also eligible to participate in a second interscholastic competition in the fall of their third year at Chicago-Kent.