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..

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two Teams Needed for Invitational Jury Trial Competition

Dear Colleagues,

Pace Law School is hosting a 4-team round-robin jury trial competition on the weekend of February 6-8. As is customary in these competitions, the case file will be released three weeks prior to the competition.

Pace is looking for two more teams to participate in the competition. So far, Pace and SIU have committed to the competition. If you are interested, please email Lou Fasulo at lfasulo@law.pace.edu and/or me at cbehan@siu.edu.

I've had my teams participate in several of these throughout the last few years, and I can promise you your students will have a wonderful experience that more closely replicates an actual jury trial than most of the traditional 16-24 team competitions.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Chris Behan

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beginning to Solve Some Legal Education Issues

Dear Colleagues:

Many of us lately have bemoaned the current state of the legal profession, both at work and in academia. We face many challenges, some driven by technology, others by greed, and some perhaps by a consumer first mentality that discounts personal accountability while reinforcing a "make the student happy" mantra that is driven by fear. At the same time, many of us have been working on ways to push legal education forward, to find a new paradigm which goes beyond the the world as it is into the world as it might be. I've been struggling with those questions myself, and many of the initiatives I have championed at Stetson and in CLE education have been designed to work through some of those challenges with an eye towards sustainable solutions providing value added.

Last year I told you about our first class of the Stetson Online Advocacy LLM. We seated our second class this fall, doubling our enrollment from the first year. More importantly, the interaction across the web has been profoundly positive, and our LLM students, despite their physical distance, have become a part of the Stetson/EATS family. Some of you have helped make that program work by your generous teaching contributions and I am extremely grateful. Collectively we are so much stronger than we are individually - and when we work collectively we often find ways to collaborate which makes each of us a better professor, lawyer and mentor. I wanted to share with you our next step.

One of the pernicious issues in legal education is the balance between substantive doctrinal theory and robust skills teaching. I believe that they are actually two sides of the same coin, separated only by our own attitudes in how we address each. That being said, it is difficult in three years to truly develop lawyering skills that make excellent practicing attorneys. Many of us have programs that do a good job of that, but there is always room for improvement. Some of us don't address this at all, and the recent downturn in job placements and bar passage can by attributed to our refusal to really look at the practice of law and its direct connection to law school. We have thought about this at Stetson, and rather than ditch the third year curriculum we've gone in a different direction for those students truly focused on becoming a practicing lawyer - a joint JD/LLM degree which can be achieved in 3 years of study.

Starting this spring we will enroll our first joint JD/LLM students in the LLM portion of their degree program. This program will allow our students to develop competencies in those areas most important to firms and agencies. They will take 12 credits over one or two semesters asynchronously using our distance learning platform while enrolled in the LLM. They are allowed to apply 12 credits from their JD degree towards the LLM degree. We have approved certain JD courses for this cross application, based upon their nature and our school's focus.

A partial listing of the courses we will offer in the LLM include:

Persuasion Theory
Law Practice Management
Mastering Voir Dire
Advanced Evidence
Conducting Effective Discovery
Advanced Legal Drafting
Advanced Pretrial Practice
Motions Practice
Technology Enhanced Advocacy
Complex Negotiations

Each of these are two credit courses. Students must take a minimum of 6, but may enroll in more if they so desire. The students will come away with a portfolio of competencies, along with writing samples and presentation examples to share with prospective employers. We view this program as a compliment to the JD program for those students truly focused on being practice ready. It is also a way for young litigators to differentiate themselves quickly.

If you'd like to talk about what we are doing, and how, just drop me an email. Till then I wish each of you even more success this year than last year.

All the best,


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stetson Announces Summer Advocacy Program in Oxford, England

Dear Colleagues:

Like many of you I am always looking for ways to increase opportunities for my students. I am writing to let you know about a new program at Stetson that will kick off this summer - Stetson Comparative Advocacy Training at Oxford, England. The dates of the program run from 19-31 July and will take place on the grounds of St. Hughes College, Oxford University, Oxford England.

This program is another step in our continued search for the best learning experience for our students.  I am always looking for ways for us to collectively share such experiences with other schools and organizations.  Since I believe as a core value that we are all "in this together" and I wanted to let each of you know that I have some limited room for students from other schools on a first come, first served basis. It is not a lot of room, but I have reserved some slots for students from your programs. If you have an interest in bringing your students to the this program, or potentially teaching in it at some point please let me know and we'll talk.

In other posts I will also be sharing some of our other initiatives this year, including our new joint JD/LLM program for Stetson students, updates on EATS 2015, a call for nominations for the Edward Ohlbaum Professionalism Award and a request for nominations for our Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching Advocacy. 

As you can see we have a lot on our plate this year. By the way, we are also very proud of the newest members of our advocacy team - Professor Michele Joiner and Professor Stacey Rae Simcox. I've included the card announcing them joining our faculty for your consideration.

If you see them out on the road please tell them hello. I hope each of you are experiencing the best, as opposed to the worst, that life in academia has to offer and I will see you all (most of you at least), later on this year.

All the best,


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Need a Fourth Team for an Invitational Jury Trial Competition

If anyone is looking for a competition opportunity in October, the SIU School of Law is hosting the 2d Annual Saluki Invitational Jury Trial Competition on October 24-25 in Carbondale. Here are some details about the competition:

  • Four teams, round-robin format. One round on Friday night, two on Saturday. Winning team is the one with best overall record. Ties broken by number of ballots.
  • Criminal law problem. Three witnesses per side. 
  • Six-person teams.
    • Three trial attorneys for each side per round. Witnesses played by team members who aren't attorneys that round
    • One attorney conducts voir dire of a 6-person lay jury, one opens, one closes
    • Each attorney conducts a direct and cross during the round
  • A representative from each competing school participates in negotiating and drafting a common set of jury instructions that are binding on all trials. 
  • Case file released three weeks before trial.
  • Coaches must commit not to script the trial in any way; the emphasis is on student case analysis and preparation with a limited time window.
  • Judges are all actual state or federal court trial judges, or attorneys with significant criminal trial experience.

So far, we have three schools committed to the competition. We need one more. Please contact Chris Behan at cbehan@siu.edu if you are interested.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Teacher Advocacy Training - University at Buffalo Law School

The UB "TAT" Crew - Over 20 advocacy teachers who successfully completed Teacher Advocacy Training this past weekend

Dear Colleagues:

Congratulations to the advocacy professors from UB who successfully completed a two day intensive Teacher Advocacy Training (TAT) conducted at the University at Buffalo Law School by professors from Stetson and Maryland. They trained for two days on the What/How/Why Critique methodology taught at Stetson and used in both "Fundamental Trial Advocacy" and "Mastering Trial Advocacy," successfully completing all phases of the training and receiving their official TAT designation.  

This weekend Professor Stephanie Vaughan, Professor A.J. Belido de Luna and I took a trip to Buffalo New York to spend some time with the most excellent members of the advocacy faculty at UB. Chris O'Brien and the honorable Tim Franczyk invited us to come up and teach critiquing, sharing ideas about the best practices when critiquing students and developing advocacy courses. This request grew out of our annual EATS conference at Stetson and is just one example of the collaborative way we are working together to further practical legal education. 

During our conference this year we offered to come to other law schools and provide, pro bono, a training experience designed to bring advocacy teachers to another level. The intent was to provide a masters level experience in critiquing methodology without substantial cost to the institution. UB took us up on the offer, providing funds for travel and lodging through a grant that is part of their new Advocacy Center. The result was a comprehensive hands on event that trained around 20 Buffalo adjuncts in some specific critiquing methodologies, classroom techniques and course development. The program included small group work, students who performed, professors who taught, and were then in turn taught again - by our team. A good time was had by all and some incredibly collaborative learning took place.

What an incredible group of folks! A more professional, collegial, and capable group of teachers would be hard to find. Our team was incredibly impressed with their commitment to the process and mastery of the system. We count ourselves fortunate to provide them with their official "TATs" of completion and are looking forward to many wonderful years working with all of them to find the best way to teach lawyers, whether students, practicing attorneys, or even members of the bench.

If you have not been to UB yet and get the chance - go. The city is a hidden gem and the law school is producing a vibrant legal community dedicated to the practice of law and the development of their students. All three of us were impressed and humbled to spend time with them.

Myself, Professor Vaughan and Professor Belido de Luna are so grateful for the chance to come up and teach, for the open hearts that the UB group brought to the process and the professional growth we all experienced this weekend. What an absolutely wonderful experience!

See you down the road,

Charlie Rose

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?