Coronavirus Information and Update: Spring 2021 Plans

Litigation Strategy and The Art of War

  • Typically offered every other year

Course Objective

Prosecution or defense of a civil action involves a continual process of strategic and tactical decision making from the initial client interview through the last appellate argument. While a litigator’s tools are written briefing, witness interrogations, and legal argument, military strategy helps lawyers array these tools in the most advantageous manner to optimize the prospects of a successful outcome for their client. This course will apply the strategic insights in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, written in the 6th Century BC, and other classical military texts to the successful prosecution or defense of a civil lawsuit. Students will work with pleadings and transcripts from actual cases to learn how to identify their client’s actual and attainable litigation objectives, develop a strategic plan to achieve their goals, and deploy their tools with tactical acuity in a dynamic litigation environment.

Attendance, Participation, and Grading

Grades will be based on (i) 25% class participation and attendance; (ii) 25% midterm take-home exam; and (iii) 50% final take-home exam. (i) Class Participation and Attendance: Since this is a seminar style class, the attendance and participation of those in the class is paramount. Please make sure you come to every class having thoroughly read the materials and formulated a distinct position on the subject matter. For each case study, 2 students will be tasked with acting as discussion leaders. Discussion leaders will lead a discussion that includes the entire class. Discussion leaders should focus on specific aspects of the case study that they found most interesting and pose thought-provoking questions. (ii) Mid-term exam: Students will be given a litigation problem drawn from an actual case and asked to answer a series of strategic and tactical questions. The exam will be a 24-hour open book take home exam. (iii) Final exam: Students will be given a litigation problem drawn from an actual case and asked to formulate a litigation strategy to advance their clients objectives. The exam will be a 48-hour open book take home exam.