New York Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

New York Law School 1L Study Guide for Civil Procedure

Civil Procedure encompasses the rules and processes that the court follows in civil lawsuits. This guide provides an overview of relevant concepts, case law, and New York-specific rules that are essential for 1L students to understand.

Jurisdiction and Venue

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear a particular type of case.
Federal Question Jurisdiction: Established under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 for cases involving the Constitution, federal laws, or treaties.
Diversity Jurisdiction: Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, occurs when the plaintiff and defendant are citizens of different states, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

Personal Jurisdiction: The power of a court to bring a person into its adjudicative process; jurisdiction over a defendant’s personal rights, rather than merely over property interests.
International Shoe Co. v. Washington (1945): Established the “minimum contacts” standard for determining personal jurisdiction.
IRAC: Issue – Whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction is appropriate? Rule – A state may assert jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant only when the defendant has “minimum contacts” with the forum state, and the exercise of jurisdiction must not offend “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Analysis – International Shoe had sufficient contacts with Washington through its sales activities to justify the state’s jurisdiction. Conclusion – The Supreme Court affirmed personal jurisdiction based on minimum contacts.

Long-Arm Statute: New York’s long-arm statute (CPLR § 302) allows for personal jurisdiction over non-residents who transact business in the state, commit a tortious act within the state, or own, use, or possess real property in the state.

Venue: The proper or most convenient location for trial of a case. In New York, venue is determined by the residence of the parties (CPLR § 503).


Complaint: The initial document filed by the plaintiff which starts a lawsuit and provides a statement of the claim and a demand for relief.

Answer: The defendant’s response to the complaint’s allegations, which may include defenses and counterclaims.

Motion to Dismiss: A request by the defendant to dismiss the case for reasons stated in the motion. In New York, such motions are governed by CPLR § 3211.

Pre-Trial Procedure

Discovery: The pre-trial phase where each party can obtain evidence from the opposing party through depositions, interrogatories, requests for production, and more.

Motion for Summary Judgment: A request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, because there are no facts at issue. Governed by CPLR § 3212 in New York.

Trial Procedure

Jury Selection and Voir Dire: The process of selecting a jury from the pool of jurors.

Burden of Proof: The plaintiff’s obligation to prove their allegations. In civil cases, the standard is usually “preponderance of the evidence.”

Judgment as a Matter of Law (JMOL): A motion made during trial claiming the opposing party has insufficient evidence to reasonably support its case.

Post-Trial Motions

Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (RJMOL): Made after the jury’s verdict, arguing there is still insufficient evidence.

Motion for a New Trial: Request for a new trial due to serious errors during the first trial.

Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel

Res Judicata (Claim Preclusion): A final court decision is conclusive on the parties and prevents re-litigation of the same claim.

Collateral Estoppel (Issue Preclusion): Once a court has decided an issue of fact or law necessary to its judgment, that decision may preclude re-litigation of the issue in a suit on a different cause of action involving a party to the first case.


Notice of Appeal: Must be filed to initiate an appeal. In New York, governed by CPLR § 5515.

Appellate Briefs: Written arguments submitted by the parties.

Standard of Review: Determines the level of scrutiny the appellate court applies to the lower court’s decision. Standards include de novo, abuse of discretion, and clear error.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration: A process where a neutral third party renders a decision after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.

Mediation: A process where a neutral third party assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement.

New York Specific Rules and Practices

New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR): New York’s body of civil procedure laws.

New York Electronic Filing (NYSCEF): New York’s system for electronic filing of court papers.

Commercial Division: A specialized part of the New York State Supreme Court that handles complex commercial litigation.

Uniform Rules for New York State Trial Courts: Rules that apply across various levels of New York courts.


Understanding these concepts and how they apply specifically under New York law is crucial for 1L students. Case law, CPLR provisions, and federal rules must be studied in detail, as they will form the basis of many exam questions. Students should also practice applying these rules to hypothetical scenarios to prepare for issue-spotting and analysis on their final exams.

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