Skip to content

Winter 2021 Course

Trial Advocacy Workshop

Prerequisite: For JD students there are no formal prerequisites, although familiarity with the rules of evidence is assumed throughout the course. For LLM students, permission of the instructor is required.

Exam Type: No Exam

Early drop deadline: Friday, November 13, 2020

Please note: There will be a mandatory meeting on Friday, October 30, 2020 for all students enrolled in the Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop.

Please note: The mock cases in TAW derive from actual courtroom cases. Some of the issues in the cases may include, without limitation, allegations of adultery, alcoholism, assault, assault on a police officer, homicide, racial profiling/bias, and police assault of a civilian. If any of the foregoing issues present a problem in taking the course, feel free to reach out to Prof. Sullivan to discuss.

The Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop is an intensive course in trial analysis, skills, and techniques taught complete in three weeks. More detailed descriptions of the organization and content of the Workshop programs appear below. The Workshop is a required component of ITA: Prosecution Perspectives, and Criminal Justice Institute: Defense Theory and Practice. The course is graded Credit/Fail. Any questions pertaining to the Workshop should be directed to Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.: rsullivan@law.harvard.edu and to Kekely Dansouh: kdansouh@law.harvard.edu.

Although this course is graded credit/fail, attendance is required at all course exercises including the evening programs, and absence requires approval from the Program Director.

Course days and hours: Monday through Friday, 2:00pm to 9:00pm EST (Class will not be held on Monday, January 18, 2021, due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday).

The Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop will take place beginning Tuesday, January 5, 2021 to Friday, January 22, 2021. The course focuses on the task of the trial lawyer to create in the consciousness of the fact-finders the precise fact picture, which reflects the lawyer’s version of the case. The workshop includes simulated exercises on all aspects of in-court trial practice including opening statements, development of witness testimony on direct and cross examination, use of illustrative aids and exhibits in evidence, impeachment, expert testimony and summations. An important feature of the Workshop is the on-the-spot evaluation and critique by experienced trial lawyers and judges who teach as volunteers during the Workshop. Student performances are also video-recorded and individually critiqued. Each student will take part in two full simulated trials, which are systematically critiqued by trial advisors and judges.

The Winter Trial Advocacy Workshop requires intensive study, preparation, and activity. The program is structured as follows:

1. During the three-week workshop, students will meet in virtual classroom sessions (large groups and small groups) for simulated trial advocacy exercises from 2:00pm to 6:00pm EST daily. Each student will be expected to perform each of the assigned exercises each day. These sessions will involve short role-playing assignments for students in various aspects of trial advocacy, evaluations of performances, and occasional demonstrations by members of the teaching team.

2. Students will have opportunities, individually or in groups, for detailed review or critique of video-recordings of their own and each other’s performances. One or more members of the teaching team will be available at scheduled hours to participate in this review.

3. Following each day’s classroom exercises, the students will have the opportunity to meet with the teaching faculty, which consists of experienced judges and lawyers, and will attend lectures with guest speakers from 7:00pm to 9:00pm EST each evening.

4. A similar schedule is followed for the second week of the workshop.

5. The first two days of the third week of the workshop follow the same classroom schedule as the first week. On Thursday and Friday of the third week of the workshop, participants conduct simulated non- jury trials. Each student participates in one non-jury trial as a lawyer and in one as a witness.

Text: Murray, Basic Trial Advocacy, plus multilithed materials and case files.

This course has an early drop deadline of Friday, November 13, 2020.