The First Year
In the first year, Legal Research and Writing introduces students to the mechanics of persuasive writing, pleading practice, and oral argument. The program includes: litigation-oriented writing exercises; year-end moot court arguments; jury and witness service for upper-level mock trials.
The Second Year
In the second year, most students take Evidence, either in conjunction with Introduction to Trial Advocacy (ITA) as separate semester-long basic courses, or as part of a two-semester Integrated Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP). Evidence is taught through the use of trial transcripts and hypothetical problems where students are required to assume the role of trial lawyers by making and meeting objections, offers of proof, and motions in limine.
- All weekly performance sections are limited to 12 students.
- Each student performs in every class.
- Exercises include examinations of lay and expert witnesses, impeachment of witnesses, offering exhibits, openings and closings, and objection practice.
- Year-end mock jury trials are held in county and federal courtrooms.
- Weekly demonstration and lecture series supplement performance sections.
- ITAP is taught by full-time advocacy professors in conjunction with trial lawyers and judges.
The Integrated Trial Advocacy Program
Temple’s ABA award-winning Integrated Program in Trial Advocacy is a 4-course, 10 credit, year-long initiative. During the first semester, students take Evidence and Trial Advocacy I where they are introduced to criminal trial advocacy through the use of two case files. Weekly performances emphasize skills training in the art of examination, objections practice and speech-making, and developing a case theory. In the second semester, while students study motions and discovery practice in Civil Procedure II, they engage in three pre-trial litigation stages before proceeding to trial.
- Each student masters at least three mock files and tries at least two cases to verdict, each preceded by a strategy and case theory session.
- Students receive 20 hours of evidence instruction before trial advocacy classes begin.
- In Trial Advocacy I, students try a criminal bench and jury trial.
- In Trial Advocacy II, students argue four pre-trial motions, take two depositions, advocate in mediation, and examine expert witnesses.
- Student performances may be recorded and reviewed with the student by the instructors.
Advanced Trial Advocacy
There are three Advanced Trial Advocacy (ATA) classes available to students who have successfully completed ITAP or ITA. ATA enables students to polish their litigation and courtroom skills. There is an additional ATA class which also requires membership on the National Trial Team. Like ITAP and ITA, each ATA class is capped at twelve students and is student performance driven with faculty critique. All ATA classes are supplemented by demonstrations and lectures.
The focus of ATA is on the trial as the sum of its parts. The courses require students to craft examinations and speeches as part of an analytically sound case theory that governs their trial performance. ATA offers more personalized instruction and exhaustive critique than does ITA or ITAP. “Real world” experts are brought into the classroom to give the students the opportunity to prepare and examine professional witnesses. Witnesses have included fire marshals, forensic economists and statisticians, psychologists, ballisticians, firearms examiners, and physicians. ATA is offered in both civil and criminal advocacy.
The Advanced Trial Advocacy Criminal class is designed to give students a broader experience and deeper understanding of more complex issues that arise during a criminal prosecution. Each week students perform different trial skills as prosecutors and defense attorneys, while exploring pre-trial proceedings and advanced trial issues. Students use a variety of case file problems to litigate preliminary hearings, conduct pre-trial motions to suppress evidence, direct and cross examine informants, and admit and oppose surveillance tapes. Students also have the opportunity to prepare and examine “real” experts, such as fire marshals, during expert witness exercises. They also learn how to effectively use trial presentation software, like TrialDirector Suite, to enhance the persuasiveness of their presentations. The final and mid-semester assignments are mock criminal jury trials.
Advanced Trial Advocacy Civil explores the relationship between case theory and witness examination in civil litigation. Students work primarily with two case files during the semester: an agency liability claim related to a third party assault and an insurance fraud claim stemming from allegations of arson. The civil trial is broken into its component parts during each of which students explore how case theory informs strategic choices at each stage of the trial. Students learn how to look at a case as an integrate whole, while learning advanced techniques in opening statements, closing arguments, direct and cross examinations, and impeachment. Following a mid-semester trial, students work with experts in depth, learning from, preparing, and examining real economists and fire marshals. They also explore the most persuasive ways to present evidence on damages. Students learn how trial presentation software can enhance advanced impeachment techniques, by using real time video and transcript testimony. The final assignment is a mock civil jury trial.
ATA: Speechmaking (offered only in the fall) explores the art of crafting and delivering a persuasive speech and compelling argument. Principles of persuasion will be identified and analyzed. Students will consider the use of speechmaking in a variety of contexts that arise in legal practice. Forums include opening statements and closing speeches to juries, judges, and arbitrators, addresses to a jury venire and speeches to mediators. Students focus on preparing, organizing and drafting speeches, using exhibits, quoting witnesses, explaining burdens of proof, incorporating judicial instructions, calling opponents on mistakes and misstatements in their speeches, and avoiding impermissible arguments while delivering a speech.
ATA: Trial Team
Trial team competition teaches students how to meet the practical challenges courtroom lawyers face in the intensely competitive arena of mock trial tournaments. In addition to polishing and honing their basic advocacy skills, students are taught how to analyze and master a trial file, take control of the courtroom, discipline hostile and aggressive witnesses, handle difficult judges and turn the law of evidence into their ally. The trial team experience teaches students how to be trial lawyers – how to win fairly and squarely. Trial team members are chosen through a competitive selection process and earn additional academic credit for taking Advanced Evidence and Trial Strategy workshops and for competition participation.
In their first year of membership, students earn four credits. In their second year on the team, students earn three credits. Team members try at least two cases per year – one each in the fall and spring – in addition to enrolling in one of two trial team – specific courses: Trial Team Pre-Trial Motions Practice and Trial Team Evidence and Strategy.