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Winter 2024 Course

Introduction to Trial Advocacy

Note: This course is restricted to first-year J.D. students only.

The drop deadline for 1L January Experiential Term (JET) classes is December 1, 2023. Students may not drop a course if they do not have an offer to enroll in a different JET course.

1L JET courses are intensive learning courses. Class attendance is required in each course every day of the term. Students should plan accordingly and should not take on other work commitments during the term.

Please note Introduction to Trial Advocacy will not satisfy the Trial Advocacy Workshop pre-requisite requirements for upper-level clinics.

Exam Type: No Exam

In the U.S. legal system, a trial is the principle mechanism designed to resolve disputes between adverse parties. Partisan advocates on either side of an issue present evidence to a neutral arbiter – usually a jury, which, in turn acts as a finder of fact. An impartial judge decides matters of law and manages the trial process.

Trial Advocacy is both art and science. At bottom, an effective advocate paints a word picture of an historical event for strangers who were not percipient witnesses to the disputed event. Creating a compelling narrative is an art, which through study and practice, can be developed and mastered. The technique and structure of examinations, statements, and argument is in form similar to a science. It is tried and true method, which through study and practice, can be developed and mastered.

This course is an introduction to effective advocacy. It focuses on predicate areas of advocacy not traditionally covered in trial advocacy courses. ITA begins with a study of case theory. Case theory, as the phrase suggests, represents the narrative an advocate advances to persuade a fact finder to accept the advocate’s narrative. The course then moves to lawyer-client interaction, including the initial interview, and the thorny ethical issues that relationship may, on occasion, entail. Finally, the course teaches two of the most important tools in the trial lawyer’s toolkit, direct and cross examination.

Note: There may be days throughout the winter term that require attendance beyond the scheduled times. Please refer to the course syllabus and page for more information.