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Anderson Center Symposium: Teaching the Next Generation of Trial Lawyers

Event Type
University of Illinois College of Law, Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism, American College of Trial Lawyers, National Association of Legal Advocacy Educators
Winston & Strawn LLP, 35 W. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
May 19, 2023   8:00 am - 3:30 pm  
Tony Ghiotto

Teaching the Next Generation of Trial Lawyers

Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism
Spring 2023 Symposium

Reports of the demise of trials have been greatly exaggerated. The legal profession continues to demand advocates who have mastered trial advocacy skills, as well as the professional responsibility obligations attendant to trial advocacy. Especially in today’s highly charged and politicized environment, attorneys must be prepared to effectively try cases, whether to incentivize a settlement in their client’s favor or to represent a client who wants and deserves his or her day in court. This symposium explores how the legal education profession is preparing students for these modern-day demands. Specifically, it addresses the following questions: how can a trial advocacy curriculum better incorporate professionalism, diversity, equity, and inclusion? What role does competitive advocacy, specifically mock trial teams, play in the teaching of advocacy and professionalism? How can trial advocacy programs teach their teachers to ensure that students leave law school with the skills necessary to effectively try cases before judges, arbitrators, and juries?


VISIT SYMPOSIUM WEBSITE for additional information 


8:00 AM – 8:45 AM: Continental Breakfast

 8:45 AM – 9:00 AM: Opening Remarks
Prof. Tony Ghiotto, University of Illinois College of Law

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM:  Session I - “Competitive Advocacy: The Role of Mock Trial in Teaching Trial Advocacy”
Moderator: Prof. Tony Ghiotto, University of Illinois College of Law
Judge David Erickson, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Professor Joe Lester, University of Georgia School of Law
Professor Elizabeth Lippy, Temple University School of Law
Professor Adam Shlahet, Fordham University School of Law

Session Description: In the past twenty years, the profile and role of mock trial programs has grown sharply. Law schools invest heavily in their mock trial teams, to include financial, staff, faculty, and instructor resources. Law students invest substantial time, energy, and focus on advocacy competitions. Further, law schools now receive an “advocacy ranking,” depending strongly on their performance in advocacy competitions. This panel explores the growth of mock trial competitions and their placement within trial advocacy curricula. How can mock trial programs ensure students are taught to be effective and professional advocates in practice, while also winning competitions? Is it possible to teach real world trial skills and still be competitive in mock trial competitions? How can lessons of professionalism and ethics be included in competitive advocacy? Or should competitive advocacy be divorced from trial advocacy curriculum and, instead, be a student led effort focused on pure competition?

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM: Break

10:45 AM – 12:15 PM: Session II - “Teaching the Teachers: How to Make Practicing Litigators Into Effective Trial Advocacy Teachers”
Moderator: Kimball Anderson, Winston & Strawn LLP
Professor Elizabeth Boals, Stetson University College of Law
Rhani Lott Choi, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA)
Professor Zelda Harris, Loyola Chicago School of Law
Hon. Ann Claire Williams (ret.), Jones Day

Session Description: Trial advocacy programs rely heavily upon practicing attorneys to serve as adjunct professors to provide day-to-day advocacy instruction. Whether the practicing attorney coaches a trial team, teaches foundational trial advocacy workshops, or teaches advanced advocacy courses, her instruction is essential in preparing and mentoring student advocates. However, being a successful and respected trial attorney does not automatically equate to being a good teacher. This panel explores how trial advocacy directors and full-time faculty can teach their trial advocacy adjunct professors to be effective classroom and courtroom teachers. 

12:15 PM – 12:30 PM: Break and Serving of Lunch (lunch will be provided)

12:30 PM – 1:15 PM: Keynote - “Reflections and Predictions: Discussing the Past, Present, and Future of Teaching Trial Advocacy”
Professor Steve Lubet, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law 

1:15 PM – 1:30 PM: Break

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM: Session III - “Trying Cases  in Today’s Complex World: How to Incorporate Professionalism, Diversity, and Inclusion in Trial Advocacy Curricula”
Moderator: Lynn Murray, Shook Hardy & Bacon/ACTL Fellow
Prof. Annie Deets, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Prof. Cynthia Goode Works, The American University, Washington College of Law
Dean Monica Monroe, Harvard Law School
Colonel Tara Villena, Department Head, U.S. Air Force Academy 

Session Description: Litigation in today’s environment is increasingly complex. Rhetoric is charged, and lawyers in the public eye have increasingly skirted the rules of professional conduct and have misled courts and the public. Further, the legal profession demands, requires, and expects more diversity and inclusion amongst its members. As groups of historically underrepresented individuals have seen their rights, liberties, and existence questioned, they turn to the courts for relief. They seek lawyers who not only understand and respect them, but who also look like them and come from similar experiences. As such, trial advocacy curricula must not reinforce a type of zealous advocacy that avoids or minimizes the professional rule of ethics nor implicitly or explicitly excludes historically underrepresented individuals.  Instead, trial advocacy curricula must incorporate lessons of professional advocacy and welcome and support those individuals who represent diversity and inclusion. How can advocacy curriculums meet those professional demands?

3:00 PM – Closing Remarks
Kimball Anderson, Winston & Strawn LLP

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