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Facing the U.S. Court of Appeals

Kyle Nocho, Class of 2014

Kyle NochoIt’s a good thing that Kyle Nocho enjoys the challenge of a good argument, because his 3L year featured the kind of grooming that puts an advocates skills to the ultimate test.

Through the law school’s Appellate Litigation Clinic, Kyle spent intensive hours preparing to appear before three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to argue a case.

Along with classmate Meghan Kelley, Kyle is representing a federal inmate who claims prison officials violated his constitutional rights by blocking him from filing papers seeking to vacate his conviction and by invading his privacy in their scrutiny of the documents.

Conceding that the prospect of answering questions from three devastatingly sharp legal minds makes him nervous, Kyle said Professor Richard Frankel and other clinic students had done a great deal to help him and Meghan prepare.

Repeated rounds of mooting, or practice, with panels of professors and alumni posing as judges enabled Kyle to anticipate the fusillade of questions an appellate panel throws.

“You know you have certain points you need to make, and you have to find ways of pivoting to them,” he said. “It’s like a juggling act to maintain the argument while you’re responding to the judges’ questions and sticking within the time limit.”

Regardless of the outcome, Kyle is grateful to that the school is offering the kind of experience that relatively few practitioners ever get.

“This is an opportunity that a lot of lawyers don’t get and if they do, it’s at a more advanced point in their careers,” he said.