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Anderson Center Symposium | Teaching the Next Generation of Trial Lawyers: Designing Trial Advocacy Programs to Meet the Demands of the ABA and the Profession

Event Type
University of Illinois College of Law, Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism
Winston & Strawn LLP, 35 W. Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
May 31, 2024   All Day
Tony Ghiotto, Director of the Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism

Teaching the Next Generation of Trial Lawyers: Designing Trial Advocacy Programs to Meet the Demands of the ABA and the Profession

Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism
Spring 2024 Symposium

The Kimball R. and Karen Gatsis Anderson Center for Advocacy and Professionalism at the Illinois College of Law plans to bring together practitioners and scholars alike for a symposium to discuss how trial advocacy programs can be designed to assist students in forming their professional identities and in receiving extensive and practical education on bias, cross-cultural competence, and racism. Similarly, it explores how trial advocacy programs can work with law school clinics to not only provide more robust pro bono services, but also fulfill additional experiential learning hour requirements. To do so, this symposium pairs experts in professional identity formation, bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism, and clinical education with trial advocacy directors to establish best practices and begin a discussion on how to work together and design trial advocacy programs that are equipped to meet not just the demands of the ABA, but also the demands of the profession.


VISIT THE SYMPOSIUM WEBSITE for additional details.

*Up to 5 hours of Illinois MCLE General Credit is pending approval.


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

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

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM: Session I – Designing Trial Advocacy Programs that Embody Revised ABA Rule 303(b)(3) – the Development of a Professional Identity”
Moderator: Professor Stacey Shobe, University of Illinois College of Law
Professor Megan Bess, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law 
Professor Jeffrey Brooks, LSU Law Center 
Dean Zelda Harris, Western New England School of Law 
Professor Erika Pont, The George Washington University Law School 

Session Description: Revised ABA Rule 303(b)(3) requires law schools to provide substantial opportunities to students for the development of a professional identity. Per the ABA, “professional identity focuses on what it means to be a lawyer and the special obligations lawyers have to their clients and society. The development of a professional identity should involve intentional exploration of the values, guiding principles, and well-bring practices considered foundational to successful legal practice.” Trial advocacy programs are perfectly situated to provide students these opportunities for developing a professional identity. With their focus on practical skills, mentoring, simulations, and professional responsibility, trial advocacy programs prepare students for both the practice of law and the challenges that they will face for their clients and themselves. But how best can a trial advocacy program lead in helping students develop a professional identity? This panel brings together experts in both professional identity formation and trial advocacy program leadership to discuss the opportunities and challenges in utilizing trial advocacy programs to comply with this ABA requirement. It discusses what a professional identity entails, how educators can form and develop a professional identity, how such formation benefits the legal profession, and how such development and formation can translate into a successful trial advocacy program.  

10:30 AM – 10:40 AM:  Break

10:40 AM – 11:10 AM: Featured Remarks by Professor Kenneth Townsend, Director of Leadership and Character in Professional Schools, Wake Forest Law

11:10 AM – 11:20 AM: Break

11:20 AM – 12:50 PM: Session II – “Designing Trial Advocacy Programs that Embody Revised ABA Rule 303(c) – Education on Bias, Cross-Cultural Competence, and Racism” 
Moderator: Professor Shawn Fields, California Western School of Law
Professor Todd Berger, Syracuse University College of Law 
Professor Sherley Cruz, University of Tennessee College of Law 
Professor Joshua Jones, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law 
Carwina Weng, Law School Admissions Council 

Session Description: Revised ABA Rule 303(c) mandates that law schools provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. This education must occur at the beginning of law school and then again at least once again before graduation. As noted by the ABA, “the importance of cross-cultural competence to professionally responsible representation and obligations of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law should be among the values and responsibilities of the legal profession to which students are introduced.” The need for attorneys who are cross-culturally competent and attendant to the inherent racism and bias of the American justice system speaks to the core function of trial advocacy programs. Trial advocacy programs must prepare diverse advocates who are prepared to represent diverse clients, especially those who have been subjected to bias and racism. By incorporating instruction in cross-cultural competency, racism, and bias, trial advocacy programs can do just that, while also satisfying the ABA requirement. This panel pairs experts in teaching cross-cultural competency, racism, and bias with trial advocacy directors to establish how those concepts are best taught and how they can be incorporated into a trial advocacy program. 

12:50 PM – 1:00 PM: Break and Serving of Lunch (provided)

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Keynote Address by Professor Lara Bazelon, University of San Francisco School of Law

2:00 PM – 2:10 PM: Break

2:10 PM – 3:40 PM: Session III – “Integrating Trial Advocacy into Pro Bono Clinical Training”
Moderator: Professor Tony Ghiotto, University of Illinois College of Law
Professor Jeff Bloom, Mercer University School of Law 
Professor Melissa Brown, McGeorge School of Law 
Professor Joanna Perini-Abbott, Lewis & Clark Law School 
Professor Lena Shapiro, University of Illinois College of Law 

Session Description: Law school clinics play an incredibly important role in both legal education and the profession. They provide students with essential practical skills in a “real-world” setting, while providing them with exposure to clients and legal mentors. Further, the clinics provide essential legal services to members of the community who need low-cost and expert legal services. Clinics also help law school comply with the ABA requirement that students fulfill six hours of experiential learning during law school. However, clinical education can be costly for law school administrators and opportunities for students and clients may be limited. These limitations become especially problematic in light of recent ABA discussions that suggest the experiential learning requirement should be raised from 6 hours to 15 hours. This panel explores the future of law school clinics. It addresses whether they should be mandatory and if so, how can they be properly supported to make that possible? It looks at the challenges faced by clinical educators and explores what types of case are optimal. Lastly, it includes trial advocacy directors to examine whether clinical educators and trial advocacy directors can integrate their work, expertise, and missions to better serve both the clinics and trial advocacy programs.  

3:40 PM: Closing Remarks
Kimball Anderson, Winston & Strawn LLP

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