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..

Monday, March 2, 2015

Perception and Persuasion: Musings on How the First Affects the Second

One of my research assistants dropped by my office this morning so I could sign her time sheet. We spent a few minutes discussing work and life. Knowing that I am not always aware of current cyberspace events that are common knowledge to Millennials, she recommended that I take a couple of minutes and look up the online controversy about the white and gold dress. A quick Google search took me to this New York Times story entitled Is That Dress White and Gold or Blue and Black?

For those of you who were, like me, heretofore unaware of the controversy, it involves the impact of perception on determining the color of a dress in a photograph. Some people believe it is white and gold in dark shadow, and others believe it is blue and black washed out in bright light.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Cosmic Whack on the Side of Mark Caldwell's Head

Reading Chris Behan's recent blog post provided the sense of guilt he had hoped to achieve. My lack of recent writing was more a function of the absence of a creative thought about advocacy teaching these past months. Over the years I found that much of what is new in advocacy teaching is really not "new" but a variation on a theme. I look back at many of the things I use that colleagues call innovative and realize these ideas came from sources outside the law but within the teaching and coaching communities. Sadly, I confess that many of my forehead slapping realizations came from observing what gifted teachers and sports coaches do as they work in elementary and secondary schools. These are not new ideas but adaptations of the successes of others.

I write today about my most recent "whack on the side of the head." Sometimes the most effective teaching comes not from the instructor but the student. I know this may sound heretical but it really is based on sound educational principles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Telling Case Stories in Social Media: Do We Teach This? Should We?

From Judge Bob McGahey of Denver:
A recent article in the New York Times caught my attention enough that I forwarded it to a number of my advocacy teacher friends, especially those interested in storytelling in the courtroom. (link: http://nyti.ms/1EGD8Z4.) The article discusses how the explosion of social media and online access to court filings is changing the way some pleadings are drafted: "Now some plaintiffs' lawyers, calculating that they will be protected from defamation suits when making charges in civil complaints, distribute the first filings online as a way of controlling the narrative." It was that phrase "controlling the narrative" that really jumped out at me. That impacts on ideas of storytelling.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again

Several years ago, when I started this blog along with my good friends Hugh Selby and Charlie Rose, I somewhat contemptuously looked over the landscape of abandoned trial advocacy blogs and resolved that this one would be different. With three of us, I reasoned, there would never be a shortage of material for the blog; in fact, the problem would most likely be having to limit the copious streams of advocacy wisdom that would flow from our computer keyboards. Because we intended the blog to be a community effort, a forum open to everyone in the advocacy teaching community to contribute, we were certain to have a nearly inexhaustible trove of articles and comments. That was the optimistic vision of the blog: a cyberspace version of a perpetual motion writing machine that would practically generate its own content, even as it revolutionized the world of trial advocacy and advocacy teaching.

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,