Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Intensive Trial Techniques from the National Institute for Trial Advocacy

business professional, law school, law student, trial, trial skills

This past week, the week before the spring semester started, I took a 6-day pass/fail course at school called Intensive Trial Techniques.

What I’ve learned over the past 2.5 years of law school is that law school really doesn’t teach you how to be an attorney. It teaches you how to think like one. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great, but as graduation is quickly approaching, I feel the need to feel like a practicing attorney.

I told my friend Michael, a future Assistant District Attorney, my thoughts, and feelings. He felt the same way, and suggested I take Intensive Trial Techniques. 

He said it would make me feel more confident in becoming an attorney because the class would teach me how to be in a court room and go to trial.

He convinced me to sign up. I was skeptical, because I don’t think I want to be a litigator, but I thought these skills would be great to have and know.

I even got a scholarship to take the class. 

I was nervous. I didn’t know how to do a direct examination of a witness or a cross examination. I didn’t even know the proper things to say when you are calling a witness to the stand, but after a week of this class, I can confidently say, I know how to do all of these things now.

I highly recommend this class.

law school, law student, mock trial, trial, trial techniques, trial skills, business professional, business casual

This class is and will be the only class I’ve taken in law school that gives you tangible skills.

I learned how to do a direct examination of a witness, a cross examination, a re-direct, a re-cross, an impeachment of a witness, how to introduce evidence and how to conduct myself in a courtroom.

I went into this class with an open mind and learned by doing. We didn’t watch a teacher/attorney show us how to do the assignments, we learned by lots of trial and lots of error. We learned by observing our peers and listening to feedback from practicing attorneys.


The class is arranged so everyone is split up into small sections with 9-10 students and 3 attorneys. Throughout the week, you present your different assignments, such as direct examination, or cross examination, or opening or closing statements, and the three attorneys in the room give you feedback. You also record yourself presenting and get a 4thperspective of feedback from another attorney who watches your video. 


Day 1- Direct examination with exhibits


Day 2- Cross examination with exhibits; impeaching a witness


Day 3- Direct and cross examination


Day 4- Bench trial with expert witnesses


Day 5- Opening statements and closing arguments 


Day 6- Trial


I got really good feedback from some attorneys and some not so great feedback. But that’s the great thing about feedback, you pick and choose about what you listen to and follow. 

Fortunately, my section of students was full of supportive classmates. I made some lovely friends this week. We shared so many laughs and had fun with being vulnerable.


I even got to network with the attorneys. Someone that gave me feedback was a judge. This judge and I became friends. We bonded. After watching one of my presentations of either cross or direct examination, he told me that I was an interesting person. We talked about my background and my schooling and asked what I wanted to do after law school. He said it was a shame I wasn’t super sold on being a litigator because he said I had a natural presence in a court room (I thank all of my years of being in the theater department). He also then told me that all attorneys are obnoxious. And then he said I was obnoxious but in a good way, and I don’t disagree. Honestly, that may have been the best compliment I have ever received.


This class was fun too! Even though it was exhausting, and I missed out on a week of winter break, I’m really glad I took it. Michael was right.


After taking this class, I truly believe every law student should either participate in mock trial or take this class— so you can feel like a real-life attorney.


Our last day was a trial with 1 and 2Ls playing witnesses. My co-counsel and I represented the defendant and we won! It was a really fun way to sum up everything we learned during the week. 


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