July 2014 Bar Bulletin
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July 2014 Bar Bulletin

SU Trial Advocacy Institute Trains New Generation

By Katherine Hedland Hansen


Twenty lawyers had the opportunity to receive in-depth training and personalized critiques from some of the Puget Sound area's best trial attorneys and judges during the inaugural Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute at Seattle University School of Law in June.

Designed by national experts, SU law professors Marilyn Berger and Ron Clark, the Institute offered a proven conceptual approach to trial practice combined with premier trial principles and strategies for every phase of trial from preparation through closing argument. During the week-long course, some of the best trial lawyers and faculty provided lectures and demonstrations of successful trial skills. The American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates co-sponsored the program.

Each of the participants prepared each part of a case: conducting jury selection, presenting opening statement and closing argument, and examining expert and lay witnesses. Seasoned and skilled trial attorneys, as well as communication specialists, provided feedback and pointers on their performances. Their presentations were videotaped and each participant had a one-on-one video review with a faculty member.

"I found each of the exercises very instructive, and I especially appreciated the criticism and tips during the video reviews," said Will Singer, a clerk for Washington Court of Appeals Division II Judge Lisa R. Worswick.

Participants lauded the program, which addressed topics including courtroom communication techniques; effective jury selection; convincing opening statements; conducting a compelling direct examination; presenting and attacking expert testimony; today's courtroom technology; persuasive closing arguments; and trial ethics and avoiding pitfalls.

Faculty for the courses included attorneys Dan'L Bridges of McGaughey Bridges Dunlap; Karen Koehler of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan; Elizabeth Leedom of Bennett Bigelow & Leedom; Avi Lipman of McNaul Ebel; Lisa Marchese of Dorsey & Whitney; Simeon Osborn of Osborn Machler; Jeff Tilden of Gordon Tilden Thomas & Cordell; and Colette Tvedt of Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender.

Several Superior Court judges generously gave their time as well, including King County's Terrence Carroll (ret.), John H. Chun, John P. Erlick and Dean Lum, and Pierce County Judge Jack Nevin. Many other trial consultants and others helped with the program.

"The goal for our Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute is to improve the quality of trial practice throughout Washington against a backdrop of legal, professional responsibility, civility, and communication standards," Dean Annette E. Clark said. "This in-depth program helped achieve that goal."

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