The American Court System

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NCSL Webinars allow attendees to participate in meetings taking place around the world from the comfort of their desk. They are collaborative, interactive and easy to use.

Most webinars will be recorded for those who are unable to attend the live meeting.

The American Court System

Between the two court systems (federal and state), the levels of courts within each system (trial and appellate), and the odd terminology (amicus curiae brief) it is difficult to understand how the American court system works. This session will cover the basics of how a case proceeds through the courts.

You'll learn:

  • Why some cases are litigated in federal court rather than state court
  • How the federal and state court systems are organized
  • How courts decide cases 
  • Review of major sources of law and their weight of authority 
  • How the Supreme Court works

*NCSL did not pre-apply for CLE in any state and cannot track attendance. Those who want to view the presentation and submit it for CLE credit in their state may self-apply using a Uniform Application for CLE. However, final acceptance of CLE hours is the prerogative of your state’s CLE authority.

View the Webinar


  • Lisa Soronen, executive director, State and Local Legal Center: In her role at the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC), Soronen files amicus curiae briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of members of the Big Seven in cases involving federalism. Soronen organizes moot courts for attorneys representing state and local government at the Supreme Court. She also is a resource to Big Seven members on legal issues affecting state and local government, particularly at the Supreme Court level. Before joining the SLLC,  Soronen worked for the National School Boards Association, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, and clerked for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University and earned her law degree at the University of Wisconsin Law School.