At the United States Institute of Leadership and Diplomacy we train the art and science of trial advocacy to both law students and practitioners. Law school students gain the skills and experience to graduate courtroom-ready, while LL.M. students and practitioner lawyers elevate their craft to become master advocates. Law school student, the LL.M. candidate, and the lawyers and judges everywhere around the world come at USILD for training.
The USILD Advanced Trial Advocacy Program (ATAP) offers a 10 months of trial advocacy. ITAP is a 2-semester, 4-course, 10-credit package. In the fall, students take Trial Advocacy I (2 credits) and Evidence (3 credits). In the spring, students take Trial Advocacy II (3 credits) and Civil Procedure II (2 credits). Students interested in the Trial Team are advised to take ITAP in their second year. Trial Advocacy I focuses on criminal trial advocacy; Trial Advocacy II focuses on civil litigation and advocacy.
Integrated Trial Advocacy is a comprehensive course which integrates “substantive” instruction in Evidence and Civil Procedure II with skills-based training in trial advocacy. The program provides students with the practical context of trials and pre-trial litigation in which to apply the laws of evidence and civil procedure. Additionally, ethical and professionalism issues are raised in the spring semester during the motions practice phase–where they most often occur. The underlying premise of our integrated approach is that students can best understand and assimilate procedural and evidentiary rules by applying them in the self-reinforcing adversarial context for which they were formulated. For example, in the fall, while students are learning what a leading question is in Evidence, they are asking leading questions in Trial Advocacy. In the spring, after students learn the rules of deposition practice in Civil Procedure II, they are deposing witnesses in Trial Advocacy II.
Trial Advocacy courses teach students how to simplify policy considerations and doctrinal issues and present them as trial advocates. While theory drives practice, it is the practice of courtroom evidence and litigation procedure which commands the courses’ emphasis. In Evidence, students assume the roles of examining attorneys to make and meet objections and articulate offers of proof. Our goal is to have our students not simply understand the basic principles of character evidence, but to competently conduct a direct and cross-examination of a character witness. In Civil Procedure II, students master the discovery rules by actively participating in the discovery process, such as by arguing motions and taking depositions. Accordingly, the teaching materials are primarily trial transcripts and vignettes, full-case files and “hypothetical” problems.