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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day One: EATS 2012

Day one of the 2012 Stetson Educating Advocates: Teaching Advocacy Skills conference is in the books.  If you're missing it, here are a few highlights of the day for you:

1.  Total attendees: over 60.

2.  Sponsor of the day: West Publishing.

3.  Lifetime Achievement Award: Jim Seckinger, University of Notre Dame School of Law.  For those of us who have worked with and been mentored by Jim, this award is a long-overdue recognition of Jim's foundation-building work in advocacy teaching.  In addition to teaching at Notre Dame for many years, Jim was involved in NITA almost from the beginning and was instrumental in developing the NITA method of teaching advocacy: learning by doing with controlled case files, a rigorous and disciplined critiquing methodology, and sharing of teaching materials and opportunities throughout the United States and the world.  Jim gave a great speech (complete with the Jim-style handout that those of us who have worked with him in the past know, love and remember) on how he's the luckiest guy in the world to be have been able to: (1) marry Sheila Block; and (2) be able to spend his professional life doing something he loves with people he enjoys.

4.  Noteworthy Presentations and Events.

  • Nick Caputo of Chicago-Kent and the Caputo Law Firm gave a fantastic presentation on how to design a courtroom technology class.
  • Nancy Schultz (Chapman) moderated a panel consisting of Michelle Joiner (Duquesne), Peter Hoffman (Elon), Mark Caldwell (NITA) and Chris Behan (SIU) on using technology to teach.  The panelists presented and discussed ideas for video review (both instructor-guided and self-evaluation), use of on-line lectures and demonstrations to free up classroom time, and the importance of fundamental advocacy skills for those inevitable times when technology is unavailable because of judicial rulings, equipment failure and operator error.
  • Charlie Rose (Stetson) and The Honorable Robert McGahey (Denver, CO judiciary) conducted a joint discussion on effective critiquing methods.  This was followed, after lunch, by participants breaking up into small groups to practice and discuss critiquing.  Stetson students graciously volunteered to play the advocate roles for this exercise.
  • Barbara Ashcroft (Temple) gave a presentation on teaching advocates to use silence as a tool of persuasion at trial.
  • Rafe Foreman (UMKC) presented on the use of psychodrama at trial.
In addition to those who formally presented today, the audience was very much a part of the conference, asking questions, adding commentary and sharing idea to supplement the presentations.  If you aren't here, you're missing out!

Luckily for the advocacy teaching world (and the world at large, for that matter), the proceedings of this conference were recorded and will be posted to the Stetson on-line Advocacy Resource Center in the near future.

Regular readers of this blog will note that many of today's presenters are present and past contributors to the blog.  In fact, some of the conference presentations and panels are a direct result of articles and debates that have been hosted on this blog in the last couple of years.  Please contribute to the ongoing discussion about how best to teach advocacy by writing for us or commenting on blog posts.

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