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Marilyn Berger

Professor Emerita

 Sullivan Hall 430


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  • Civil Procedure
  • Film and the Law
  • Gender and Justice


  • B.S., Cornell University, 1965
  • J.D., University of California/Berkeley, 1970; Moot Court, A. Reginald Heber Smith


Professor Berger has been a visiting professor of law at South Bank Polytechnic, London, and at Kyoto University, Japan, and a scholar-in-residence at the University of London and Washington University in St. Louis.

Professor Berger established the Films For Justice Institute in 1995. Through the Institute, Professor Berger produced three educational documentary films in the series, Lessons from Woburn: The Untold Stories with Henry Wigglesworth (2000), The Rules of Procedure (2002), and Conduct and Settlement (2002). These documentaries are about a lawsuit, Anderson v. W.R. Grace, brought by families in Woburn, Massachusetts, alleging contamination of their drinking water. The original participants appear in the documentary, based on the lawsuit, and, the book about the lawsuit by Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action, and the Hollywood movie by the same name. The films are used in 100+ law schools.

Professor Berger is the Director of the Comprehensive Trial Advocacy Program and also the Director of Films for Justice Institute at Seattle University School of Law.

Professor Berger is co-author (with Professors John Mitchell, Ronald Clark, and Monique Leahy) of Pretrial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis, and Strategy (Aspen, 3rd Ed, 2010). Along with co-authors, John Mitchell and Ronald Clark, she also authored Trial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis, and Strategy (Aspen, 2nd Ed. 2008), Trial Advocacy: Assignments and Case Files (Aspen, 2008). As part of those of those books, Berger with co-authors produced a DVD - a two hour film, The Freck Wrongful Death case, that is based on a real case. Another DVD also produced with the books shows a model deposition and the scene of a criminal-civil shooting in a tavern. The books and DVD's are featured on the authors' website.

Professor Berger lectures and writes in the areas of gender, film and the law, and advocacy, exploring issues about the relationship of storytelling and its intersection with law.

She wrote, co-directed, and produced the documentary, Out of the Ashes: 9/11 which is about 9/11 families and their experiences with the Victim Compensation Fund and litigation. Eleven days after the terrorist attack, the federal government put in place the largest public entitlement program to compensate victims of terrorist attacks: The Victim Compensation Fund. Out of the Ashes: 9/11 highlights the stories of seven families and provides an unprecedented window into the psychology of harm and justice. The documentary explores key legal and societal issues such as: Was giving the claimants money a misguided failure or a lifeline to survival? Did the Fund undermine our legal system, or did it offer 9/11 families justice by avoiding lawsuits?



  • Pretrial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis and Strategy (3d ed., Aspen 2010) (with John B. Mitchell and Ronald H. Clark).
  • Trial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis and Strategy (2d ed., Aspen, 2008) (with John B. Mitchell and Ronald H. Clark).
  • Trial Advocacy: Assignments and Case Files (Aspen, 2008) (with John B. Mitchell and Ronald H. Clark).
  • Student Coursebook for Lessons from Woburn (2002).


  • Can the Professor Come Out and Play? Scholarship, Teaching, and Theories of Play, Journal of Legal Education Vol. 5804 (2009) (with Bryan Adamson, Lisa Brodoff, Anne Enquist, Paula Lustbader, and John B. Mitchell).
  • Letters and Postcards We Wished We Had Sent to Gary Bellow and Bea Moulton, 10 Clinical Law Review, 157 (2003) (with John Mitchell and Annette Clark).
  • Gender Bias in the American Bar Association Journal: Impact on the Legal Profession, 13 Wis. Women's L.J. 75 (1998) (with Kari A. Robinson).
  • Woman's Ghetto Within the Legal Profession, 8 Wis. Women's L.J. 71 (1993) (with Kari A. Robinson).
  • Rethinking Advocacy Training, 16 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 821 (1993) (with John Mitchell).
  • Secrecy in Civil Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution in the United States, printed in Wege Zum Japanischen Recht, Festschrift für Zentaro Kitagawa, (April 1992).
  • Meishi, Kyoto Comparative Newsletter, (June 1990).
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution in the United States, No. 913 Jurist 109, (April 1990).
  • A Comparative Study of British Barristers and American Legal Practice and Education, 5 Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus. 540 (1983).
  • Acquiring In Personam Jurisdiction in Federal Question Cases: Procedural Frustration Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4, 1982 Utah L. Rev. 285 (1982).


  • Berger and Holt Productions, Out of the Ashes: 9-11 (2011).
  • Lessons from Woburn: Conduct and Settlement (2002).
  • Lessons from Woburn: Rules of Procedure (2002).
  • Lessons from Woburn: Untold Stories (2000) (with Henry Wigglesworth).