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Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic

March 10, 2014

Clinic Connections: Gaining Appellate Expertise: Seth Floyd (Boyd ’10)

On his first day at a law firm in 2011, Seth Floyd was asked to list his area of expertise for his firm bio. He listed appellate, knowing it was more aspirational than factual at the time. “Apart from my summer clerking experience, I’d only been practicing at the firm for a few hours. But I figured, why not, that’s what I like best.” Back then Seth was fresh off a clerkship with Justice Hardesty at the Nevada Supreme Court and had fallen in love with appellate work as a student in Professor Anne Traum’s Appellate Clinic, where he had the chance to orally argue an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Since then, his aspiration has taken shape. He co-founded the Appellate Litigation Section of the Nevada State Bar in 2012 and served as the section’s first vice-chair. Seth now teaches a legal writing course at the law school on appellate advocacy as an adjunct professor. And he has taken a leading role in organizing the campaign to create an intermediate appellate court in Nevada.

This spring Seth will argue a family case before the Nevada Supreme Court. Seth was assigned the case through Nevada Appellate Pro Bono Program, which guarantees oral argument on cases placed in the program so that volunteers can gain this valuable experience, while also assisting the court and the client. Professor Traum led the effort to create the program and Seth may be the first to argue a case in the new program. Having orally argued a case in the Appellate Clinic, Seth understands the task at hand: mastering the record, crafting a clear theme, mooting the case with lawyers who understand the law and know the court. But this time around also will be different: Professor Traum is now a colleague, the justices know Seth well, and he’s looked to as a leader in the appellate community. “I’m a long way from being a true expert,” Seth reflected, “but I’ve learned that setting a goal is the first step toward achieving it.” And like a true expert, he expects his butterflies will be just as intense this time around, “Being nervous is good – it’s a reminder of what’s at stake for the client.”

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