Trial Advocacy Program Courses

Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy

(4 credits) ADVC-300

Using a mock case as a context, students develop patterns of thought and hands-on ability in interviewing, counseling, negotiation, oral advocacy, and drafting of pleadings, discovery and motions. Problem solving, decision making, and the professional role of the lawyer are emphasized. Alternatives to trial, such as mediation, are discussed. The small size of the class (24 students) allows a high level of student participation in discussion and role-play.

Comprehensive Trial Advocacy

(4 credits) ADVC-305

Comprehensive Trial Advocacy is an advanced course taught in the context of a mock civil or criminal case. Students use their pretrial skills to integrate theory with trial practice. Students, by role playing and performing in class, learn trial skills: voir dire, opening statement, trial motions, direct and cross examination, closing argument, trial notebook, trial brief and jury instructions. Organized in law firms, students prepare and participate in a one-day simulated jury trial. Prerequisite: Comprehensive Pretrial Advocacy.

Professors Marilyn Berger, John Mitchell and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence Ron Clark are the authors of "Trial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis, and Strategy," the completely revised and updated version of their original casebook that reflect today's criminal and civil trial practice.

It presents premier trial principles and strategies as well as state-of-the-art trial technology for every phase from trial preparation through closing argument. Planning techniques for developing and using case theories and themes are explained in-depth. An accompanying DVD shows model trial performances by experienced trial lawyers, a movie of the crime scene and trial animations.

Criminal Motions Practice

(3 credits) CRIM-340

This course will teach students advocacy skills at several non-trial stages of a criminal case. Students will perform exercises in some or all of the following: bail hearings, discovery, motions to suppress physical evidence and confessions, and impeachment of witnesses, among other topics and settings. Students will perform in various roles, e.g., defense counsel, prosecution, witness, judge, across the semester.

  • Section A (Portnoy) emphasizes written and oral advocacy;
  • Section E (Goldsmith) emphasizes oral advocacy and does not require written submissions.

Essential Lawyering Skills: Persuasive Communication, Interviewing and Depositions

(1 credits) ADVC-500

This course will combine readings, lectures, demonstrations and workshops to teach students case analysis, communication and persuasive skills, witness interviewing and preparation, and taking and defending depositions. Students will also be introduced to new forms of technology that lawyers use in developing and implementing a litigation plan.


(3 credits) ADVC-325

This course is designed as an introduction to the use of scientific and social science evidence in litigation. It includes an examination of the rules of evidence regulating the admissibility of such evidence, contrasting the Frye standard with the Daubert standard. The course will also present cases and materials on such topics as:

  • the problem of "junk" science and the battle of experts
  • probabilistic proof and issues in statistical analysis
  • scientific and philosophical problems involving causation
  • issues concerning evaluation and proof of mental states, including insanity and diminished capacity
  • admissibility and problems regarding DNA evidence
  • The course will also consider practical and legal issues involved in working with experts in general, taking depositions of expert witnesses, qualifying experts, preparing them for trial, and preparing to cross-examine experts.

Mediation Skills

(3 credits) ALDR-302

This course covers the practical skills and theoretical knowledge base that are fundamental to representing clients in mediation and to serving as mediators. Such topics include, for example, the components of the mediation process, intake, reframing and other active listening skills, negotiation dynamics, dealing with strong emotions, issues of culture and power, caucus, ethics, techniques for overcoming obstacles and achieving settlement, achieving durability of agreements and closure, and effective advocacy in mediation. Once students become strongly grounded in these fundamentals and skills, at the end of the semester we study how advocates might use many of these mediation and problem-solving skills in a creative new manner of representing clients in settlement negotiations called Collaborative Law. Once a week, the sections of the course meet together to discuss assignments and to observe and to critique skills demonstrations. Later in the week, each section meets in a Lab setting, which provides in-depth practice of mediation skills in a small, supportive environment. Students are graded on a final exam and class participation, which includes such things as class contributions and participation in simulated role plays and self-reflection. There are no prerequisites for the course, but Client Interviewing, Counseling, and Negotiations is a very helpful introduction to some of the skills taught. This course meets the law school's requirement of a professional skills development course. It is also a prerequisite for the Mediation Clinic.


(3 credits) ALDR-303

Negotiation skills are foundational to virtually every lawyer's practice, regardless of specialty; whether or not you are prepared, you will negotiate. This course will address theory and practice, providing the students with foundational skills and experience, as well as the conceptual framework to continue to build their skills through the negotiation experience they accumulate over the course of their careers. Theory and skills will be based on the classic and excellent texts Getting to Yes by R. Fisher and W. Ury of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and Bargaining for Advantage by G. R. Shell of the Wharton Executive Negotiation Workshop. Students will develop practical negotiation skills through simulated negotiation exercises covering a wide variety of complexity and practice areas, ranging from cooperative partnership-formation scenarios to competitive litigation or purchase/sale situations. The course design will include one two-hour session discussing the readings and preparing for the week's simulation, and a second two-hour session devoted to the week's simulated negotiation exercise, obtaining in-depth training from an experienced negotiator. Students will have the opportunity to self-critique, with the aid of some videotaped exercises, in this smaller, supportive environment. Grades will be based on class participation, professionalism, and effort and skill in simulations. There will also be brief written exercises related to the simulations, and brief quizzes on the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct. No exams.