Temple offers two ten-credit, year-long programs that introduce students to an integrated approach to the study of trial and transactional practice skills. Both programs integrate substantive law with skills training.
Integrated Trial Advocacy Program
The cornerstone of our program is the Integrated Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP) which offers a full year 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.
ITAP 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.
Integrated Transactional Program
For students who do not believe their future is in the courtroom or who want to develop their negotiating, counseling, drafting, and interviewing skills in a realistic one-on-one lawyer/client experience, Temple Law School offers an innovative course entitled “The Integrated Transactional Program.” ITP has been honored by the CPR Institute on Dispute Resolution as the best course on problem solving in any law school curriculum. ITP combines Trusts and Estates, Professional Responsibility, and training in lawyering skills that are central to the practice of law for all lawyers.
The program centers around six realistic client files. One of the files involves pro bono representation of a single parent with a terminal illness. The student/lawyers must counsel their client on end-of-life and guardianship issues, and must draft and assist him in the execution of key documents. Five other client files involve a variety of legal matters brought to the law firm by members of one family. These simulations include updating a will following the death of a spouse, creating a not-for-profit corporation and applying to the IRS for charitable status, and negotiating and completing the sale of both a home and a family-owned business. Along the way, one of the children gets married and the mother seeks to persuade him to negotiate a prenuptial agreement. In the course of this work, the student/lawyers encounter real life ethical issues involving conflicts of interest and confidentiality. Through ITP, students develop a true appreciation for the challenges of legal practice.
Due to the nature of some of these simulations, it is strongly recommended that students who enroll in ITP either have already taken Corporations or take that course concurrently with ITP.
Students who enroll in ITP must complete the entire 2-semester, 10-credit sequence. The syllabus is structured so that the substantive subject matter areas are integrated both with each other and with the client matter simulations. The substantive portions of the course are taught to the entire group of 40 students for three credits in the fall semester, when the emphasis is Trusts and Estates and Professional Responsibility issues related to the representation of individuals, and for three credits in the spring semester, when the emphasis is Professional Responsibility issues related to the representation of organizations and the use of trusts and other entities to achieve various objectives, including charitable purposes. Additionally, students meet once a week for the entire year in sections of 10 students each in Transactional Practice (I and II) to engage in work on simulated client files which build on the subject matter covered in the substantive courses.
ITP is taught by Professor Rob Bartow, together with a judge and practicing attorneys, who serve as adjunct faculty. Students take an exam at the end of each semester on the substantive material. The Transactional Practice portion of the course (2 credits in the fall semester and 2 credits in the spring semester) is graded pass/fail and does not have an exam, but does entail strict attendance and participation requirements, including work which takes place outside of the classroom, such as drafting documents and negotiating deals. Students who earn a ‘C’ or better for the Professional Responsibility component of the program satisfy the Professional Responsibility requirement for graduation. Students who successfully complete both Transactional Practice I and II satisfy either the serial writing requirement for graduation or 4 credits of the 6 credits of experiential course work required for graduation. Students make that choice at the end of the spring semester. Students also benefit from the valuable experience of working effectively with other students as a member of a team.