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Advocacy Certificate

The advocacy certificate provides law students with coursework and opportunities for hands-on learning in litigation (civil, criminal, and administrative) and dispute resolution. The program enhances placement opportunities in the region’s district attorney and public defender offices, public agencies that conduct administrative hearings, and private law firms.

This certificate program is for enrolled Widener Law Commonwealth students only and are awarded upon graduation from the law school. 

Required Coursework
  • ITAP (Intensive Trial Advocacy Program) or Trial Methods and
  • Advanced Trial Methods

Students must also take for a grade one class from each of the two lists below. Pass/fail courses do not qualify. Students should be aware of course prerequisites so should plan on taking Evidence, Professional Responsibility, and Criminal Procedure: Investigation as early as possible; and no later than the end of the second year for regular division students and by the end of the fifth semester for extended division students.

At least one of the following courses is required:

  • Pre-trial Methods
  • Pennsylvania Civil Practice
  • Federal Civil Practice
  • Legal Methods III – Appellate Advocacy
  • Legal Methods III – Specialization (civil, criminal, or administrative litigation)*
  • Negotiations
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Mediation
  • Interviewing and Counseling
  • Other as Approved by the Program Director

*Course must be approved by Advocacy Program director as satisfying requirement.

AND, at least one of the following:

  • Advanced Evidence
  • Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
  • Federal Criminal Practice
  • Law and Policy of Sentencing and Corrections
  • Pennsylvania Criminal Practice
  • Other as Approved by the Program Director

Widener Law Commonwealth reserves the right to modify curriculum requirements and course offerings.

Experiential Learning

Participation as an attorney in:

  • an intramural competition (Moot Court or Trial Advocacy),
  • an interscholastic competition, OR
  • a "live client" hearing through either a clinic or some other experience supervised by a faculty member, AND

Observation of a full trial in either the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas or the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The student must submit a Trial Observation Report (pdf) on the experience to the director of the Advocacy Certificate Program, and Preparation of a Trial Brief, either as part of the mandatory experiential component of the program, or as part of Advanced Trial Methods.

Additional Requirements

In addition to successful completion of courses and experiential requirements, students must earn a B- or better in all certificate courses and maintain an overall GPA of 2.8 or higher.

To satisfy the program’s writing requirement, students must prepare a trial brief. This may be satisfied in conjunction with an advocacy course (such as Advanced Trial Methods) or the fulfillment of the experiential requirement. The brief must be approved by the program director.

Feel free to use this checklist meant to assist you in meeting the requirements to receive the Advocacy Certificate upon
graduation. If you have any questions, please see Dean Hussey.

Students who are interested in the program should complete the Expression of Interest and return the completed form to the Registrar’s Office early in their academic career. A student who submits the form to the Registrar’s Office is not required to complete the certificate program.

Students who have fulfilled all requirements for the program should complete the Application and submit the completed form to the Registrar’s Office during their final year of law school.

Please note: certificates are for enrolled Widener Law Commonwealth students only and are awarded upon graduation.


Contact Information

Dean Michael Hussey
Advocacy Certificate Program Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 717.541.3921