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Friday, March 16, 2012

Things You Ought to Know If You Teach Trial Advocacy

A friend who's vapping now asked me to put up some crowdsourced resources regarding teaching fed courts and trial advocacy. For fed courts, I knew I could easily ask our in house guru, Steve Vladeck, to lead off a post and it will be up soon. But I admittedly don't know many trial ad teachers, so please use the comments to weigh in with suggestions for what new folks teaching trial ad should know about in terms of teaching and scholarly resources.  

Posted by Administrators on March 16, 2012 at 11:49 AM in Blogging, Things You Oughta Know if You Teach X | Permalink


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Trials are a slice of life, literally for all who are present. Successful advocacy requires an understanding that it is not about you, its about the decider. its about their cognitive processes, how you access them to RECEIVE, ANALYZE, THEN ACCEPT. This requires they TRUST you, that your PRESENTATION SKILLS are pleasing, interesting, that you are ORGANIZED, not for you, but for them. In other words, HOW DO YOU REACH THEM. AND EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO IN THE ROOM PUSHES YOU forward or backward in for that goal. It is personal to the persuader, what is your truth, rip your chest open and expose that truth about YOU, and then the case. There are a million ways to do it right, and a trillion ways not to. MY simple advice: TRUST, SIMPLICITY, ORGANIZATION, PROFESSIONALISM, AND ABOVE ALL BE A HUMAN BEING WHO HAPPENS TO HAVE SOME LEGAL SKILLS, not your perception of a lawyer.

Posted by: David Vogelstein | Aug 13, 2020 4:06:45 PM

Try 100 cases to verdict before a jury. For every 10 cases you try, argue an appeal. By the end, he will achieve minimum competence to teach trial advocacy.

The rest of you are poseurs.

Posted by: shg | Mar 18, 2012 6:35:15 AM

Have them check out the the advocacy teaching blog, http://www.advocacyteaching.blogspot.com/. They can also use the online advocacy resource center that we have a Stetson. www.law.stetson.edu/arc. Finally they can shoot me an email or give me a call and I'll be happy to help them identify the resources they need to make this work easily. That support will include a suggested syllabus, assignments, and most importantly, specific teaching/critiquing guidance that can make their classes much more effective.

Finally they should enjoy the process. Students in skills courses are hungry for practical knowledge and the process can be transformative for the student. It also makes you a much better traditional teacher. I hope they get in touch, I'd love to visit with them.

all the best,

Charlie Rose

Posted by: Charlie Rose | Mar 17, 2012 1:07:15 AM

There are three critical aspects to teaching trial advocacy. First, maximize the time for student presentation and your particularized critique. I record my canned lectures and make them available on YouTube, so my students can spend more class time presenting and receiving critique. Second, insist students "file" written submissions (outlines, Q&A) days before presentations. The written assignment requirement fosters preparation, practice, and self-revision as a process that precedes presentation. Third, set out clear expectations for each phase of trial presentation and exercise AND have the students peer evaluate from the criteria. For example, if I ask students to use transition clauses during direct examination, then, on a form I design, they must listen and identify a transition during their peers' performances. I scan and post the peer evaluations immediately following class on-line.

Most important, communicate tirelessly with your students about their development, stengths, and weaknesses. The students will incorporate more from your teaching and constructive critique when they know you care about them and their development as a trial advocate and presenter.

Posted by: Wes Porter | Mar 16, 2012 7:56:39 PM

FYI, Charlie Rose at Stetson has a wealth of knowledge on this, and he's a helpful, generous person.

Posted by: Jen Kreder | Mar 16, 2012 4:17:11 PM


Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Mar 16, 2012 3:33:55 PM

and, btw, NITA offers short workshops on how to teach and critique trial skills. it's a learn-by-doing about learning-by-doing.

Posted by: John Steele | Mar 16, 2012 12:03:29 PM

You don't learn trial ad from a book. You learn it through practicing those skills.

Posted by: TJ | Mar 16, 2012 11:58:22 AM

On the teaching side, NITA has tons of great materials. On the scholarly side, the best book, in my view is Robert Burns's A Theory of the Trial.


Posted by: John Steele | Mar 16, 2012 11:57:31 AM

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