UCLA law student argues before 9th circuit

Taylor de Laveaga, a rising second-year at UCLA School of Law, has already logged a court appearance in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

She was the third UCLA law student in little more than a year to argue before a federal appeals court under the guidance of Eugene Volokh, who teaches the Scott & Cyan Banister First Amendment Clinic

de Laveaga is working at the Orange County Public Defender’s office this summer and hopes to pursue a career in public interest law. She had been helping Volokh draft briefs in Rynearson v. Ferguson, a First Amendment challenge to Washington State’s criminal cyberstalking law. They got their opportunity before the court on July 12. 

Because she is also pursuing a joint degree at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, de Laveaga has completed only one year of law school, which made the effort that she and Volokh put into preparing for the oral argument unusually challenging.

“The first time we sat down to write the briefs, I think we spent 5 to 10 minutes on the first sentence alone,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to incorporate such thoughtful feedback and see the persuasive effect of the end result. But the preparation was intense beyond that.”

Volokh planned to split the opening argument time with de Laveaga, but she covered the material so thoroughly that he yielded his time. The judges complimented her performance.

“I didn’t even know students could argue in an appellate court, so it’s great that the Ninth Circuit allows that,” she said. “But the bigger, behind-the-scenes picture is how much work goes into that. I was lucky to have a professor who was willing to put in the time and effort of asking the court for permission and vouching for me, and then going through the lengthy process of helping me prepare.”

You can watch the video of de Laveaga’s Ninth Circuit oral argument here.




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