OUR FOCUS TOPIC-

2014 EATS @ Stetson has come and gone. But we bloggers don't stop between conferences. If there's an advocacy topic you want to see discussed, or about which you wish to contribute, contact one of the blog administrators - see the list on the right side of this page. Lonely thinking changes nothing, sharing your thoughts may start a trend..

Friday, June 27, 2014

Selby on the Magic of Atmospheric Advocacy

It’s Soccer World Cup time.  Every mis-directed kick, every off side, every fumble, along with every magic moment – caught in the moment to be dissected, wept or laughed about by commentators and fans. Soccer is just one sport among many that shows our love for venting passion and being entertained.

There’s plenty of passion in courtroom trials, at home and abroad. It’s often ‘make or break’ for the parties.  And as for the entertainment:  have you noticed how much attention the media pays to any trial where journalists are in the dock?  Or to those trials where a tall poppy seems likely to be cut down? Or those trials where the sheer magnitude of the criminal activity – be that war crime, serial killing, ripping off a bank, massive pollution, draws the media like predators to the smell of blood. Think of the current English trials of the former News of the World staff, and those of the aged entertainers who, it is said, repeatedly groped.  Think of Egypt and the Al Jazeera journalists.  Think of China, and on it goes.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Should Trigger Warnings be Required When Teaching Trial Advocacy?

Should Trigger Warnings be Required When Teaching Trial Advocacy?

Mark Caldwell posed an interesting question via email to a group of advocacy teachers and friends this past week, based on an article The New Yorker published about the growing trend for "trigger warnings" in academia. According to the article, the term refers "preƫmptive alerts, issued by a professor or an institution at the request of students, indicating that material presented in class might be sufficiently graphic to spark symptoms of post-traumatic-stress disorder." Mark gave me another link to an article in the Christian Science Monitor that debates whether trigger warnings on books are a form of censorship.

Mark's question:

We, as lawyers, often deal with the dark side of life. It's part of what we do as a profession - clean up when someone gets themselves in deep doo doo.  In becoming a lawyer you must have your eyes wide open that regardless of which area you choose to focus your practice you may come up against the ugly realities of the world.
As teachers, are we responsible for putting warning labels on case files? What about texts that discuss the law and use cases to teach legal points?

Mark's words do a nice job of capturing the reality, not only of law practice, but of law teaching. In an era of trigger warnings, what duty do those of us who teach lawyers and law students have to shield them from the ugly realities of the law?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Editing Ourselves and Others: What We Can Learn from Writer's Workshops

Mark Caldwell sent me a link to an Opinionator article on writing workshops. Written by Amy Klein, the article is entitled, The Writing Workshop Glossary. It's a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of writing workshops. Having attended a few writing workshops myself, I found Klein's observations enjoyable to read, and right on point. As Mark pointed out to me in an email, the piece also has some application to what we do as advocates and advocacy teachers. Especially as advocacy teachers, we spend a great deal of time listening to the work of others, critiquing it, and offering suggestions for improvement. These efforts--like the criticisms of the writing workshop participants in Klein's article--are not always appreciated by the recipients, especially in the moment. Nonetheless, learning to listen to the viewpoints of others and adjust one's work accordingly is key to the development of advocates.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Courses Tethering Evidence and Trial Advocacy/Mock Trial

The next course outline (see blog post of May 28, 2014 for further explanation) is for a tethered evidence and advocacy program or course. A tethered evidence and advocacy program is one in which the students simultaneously take a trial advocacy course and an evidence course. The two courses are coordinated and often taught by the same instructor. This version is provided by Wes Porter, Director of the Litigation Center and Associate Professor at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. We have blogged about Wes’ tethered Summer Trial & Evidence Program for students who recently completed 1L year– called 1st STEP here and here.
This post applies to both the tethered program/course and an independent bridge course between evidence and trial advocacy/mock trial. In our Center, the bridge course is a 2-credit, skills course called “Evidence in the Courtroom” (EIC). We recommend EIC as a co-requisite with evidence, like the lab element that many schools offer, but many students take after evidence. I (Wes Porter) have created materials for EIC.

Suparna Malempati on The EATS Experience

Suparna Malempati is an Associate Professor of Law and the Director of Advocacy Programs at Atlanta's John Marshall Law School. She is also a regular contributor to the Advocacy Teaching Blog. The following blog post is about her recent experience at the Educating Advocacy Teachers (EATS) conference this past May.

In May, St. Petersburg, Florida, is gorgeous – sunny but not too hot, a slight breeze blowing occasionally, the air becoming cooler in the evenings – perfect weather. And Stetson University College of Law is a lovely school with absolutely beautiful courtrooms. Add to the mix, Charlie Rose, a self-described “bear of a man” (actually, I would say more of a charming teddy bear, although I have never been in his classroom). Charlie is a tried and true advocate. He also has an uncanny ability to bring people together and create an atmosphere of collegiality, cooperation, and inspiration.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Basic Trial Advocacy Course Outline

The second of our course outlines (see blog post of May 28, 2014 for further explanation) is for a basic trial advocacy course. I prepared this handout.

Basic Trial Advocacy Course

1. Type of Course. A learning-by-doing trial skills course.

2. Course Learning Objectives and Primary Course Goals. Students learn the basic skills necessary to try a simple bench or jury trial: case analysis, storytelling, development of theme and theory, direct examination through non-leading questions, cross-examination through leading questions, introduction and use of exhibits, opening statements, closing arguments. The primary goal of the course is to put all this together in a final jury trial, tried with a partner.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pretrial Advocacy Course Outline

The first of our course outlines (see blog post of May 28, 2014 for further explanation) is for a pretrial advocacy course. This version is provided by Gwen Stern, Director of Trial Advocacy Programs and Associate Teaching Professor at Drexel University School of Law in Philadelphia. Please feel free to contact Gwen directly for more information about her course at gstern@drexel.edu.


Pretrial Advocacy
  • Skills course with student participation to teach students to develop pretrial strategic themes, theories and practices to be used through pretrial process
  • Use real cases with real examples
  • Max 18 students
  • Start with HBO film “Hot Coffee”, then classes on: