Course Offerings

Criminal Trial Advocacy Program (LAW-694)
Fall Semester

Criminal Trial Advocacy courses are team-taught in small sections by a sitting or retired judge and an experienced litigator. Students divide into litigating teams and, through simulation, try three separate cases based on case files developed by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA). Students play the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and jurors in two of the trials. This simulation structure allows students to get "on their feet" in a courtroom and, with the guidance and instruction of the faculty, learn the tools of courtroom lawyering. The focus is on planning, case theory, trial strategy and tactics, opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses, and closing arguments.

In addition to the semester-long coursework associated with Criminal Trial Advocacy, the course features a final mock trial which takes place in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Rockville, Maryland, with trial court judges presiding. To further enhance the realism of this final trial, the Program uses outside witnesses and enlists the assistance of local high schools to provide jurors for all of the final mock trials. The result is an environment that gives the students an opportunity to work before a jury, and provides local high school students the opportunity to better understand the workings of the legal system.

A unique feature of this Program is a professional actor, Paul Morella, who critiques student performances and teaches stage techniques to improve presence and persuasion. Click here for more information about Paul Morella.

This course is offered each Fall semester for 3 credits. Criminal Procedure and Evidence must be taken prior to or as a co-requisite to this course. Enrollment is limited to 14 students per section.

Civil Trial Advocacy Program (LAW-695)
Spring Semester

Civil Trial Advocacy courses are team-taught in small sections by a sitting or retired judge and an experienced litigator. Students divide into litigating teams and through simulation, try three separate cases based on case files developed by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA). Students play the roles of attorneys, witnesses, and jurors in two of the trials. This simulation structure allows students to get "on their feet" in a courtroom and, with the guidance and instruction of the faculty, learn the tools of courtroom lawyering. The focus is on planning, case theory, trial strategy and tactics, opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses, and closing arguments.

In addition to the semester-long coursework associated with Civil Trial Advocacy, the course features a final mock trial which takes place in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Rockville, Maryland, with trial court judges presiding. To further enhance the realism of this final trial, the Program uses outside witnesses and enlists the assistance of local high schools to provide jurors for all of the final mock trials. The result is an environment that gives the students an opportunity to work before a jury, and provides local high school students the opportunity to better understand the workings of the legal system.

A unique feature of this Program is a professional actor, Paul Morella, who critiques student performances and teaches stage techniques to improve presence and persuasion. Click here for more information about Paul Morella.

This course is offered each Spring semester for 3 credits. Civil Procedure must be taken as a pre-requisite and Evidence must be taken prior to or as a co-requisite to this course. Enrollment is limited to 14 students per section.

Trial Advocacy: Evidentiary Foundations and Objections (LAW-968)

This is a practical course designed to enrich students' understanding of the Federal Rules of Evidence and their application in a trial setting. Through a series of exercises, which simulate witness examinations, students develop the skills to advocate for or against the admissibility of evidence at trial. In addition to these trial simulation exercises, the course has an instructional component that draws upon the assigned readings to contextualize the exercises.

This course is taught by practicing attorneys Roy Austin, Michael Bruckheim, Phil Andonian, Kay Winfree, Professor Elizabeth Boals, and Professor Elizabeth Lippy.

This course is offered each Fall and Spring for 3 credits. Evidence and either Civil or Criminal Trial Advocacy are pre-requisites. Enrollment is limited to 12 students per section.

Trial Advocacy: Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom (LAW-913)

In this course, students explore through lecture, demonstration, and discussion the accumulation, organization and presentation of proof in the digital world. This includes an examination of evidentiary and procedural rules as they relate to e-discovery, visual advocacy, computer technology and digital graphics. Students also prepare and present visual evidence using the evidence camera and PowerPoint graphics in various trial segments (opening, closing, etc.) based on case files by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.

This seminar is taught by Mark Austrian, Esquire and Stephen Pavsner, Esquire.

This course is offered in the Spring for 2 credits. Enrollment is limited to 8 students.

Pre-Trial Civil Litigation (LAW-649)

In Pretrial Civil Litigation, students explore the pretrial process in federal civil litigation, including drafting pleadings, interrogatories, requests for admissions and documents, and motions for summary judgment. These skills are taught through the use of a simulated case file, which allows students to learn the theory behind pretrial litigation and to apply that knowledge to prepare a case from the initial client interview through the beginning of courtroom litigation.

This course is taught by Judges Michael Algeo, Stephen P. Johnson, Charles B. Day, and practicing attorneys Michael Bruckheim and Jim Lay.

This course is offered in the Fall and Spring for 3 credits. Enrollment is limited to 16 students per section.

Pretrial Civil Litigation - First Year Elective

In the first year elective of Pretrial Litigation students cover the same material that is covered in the upper-level course less the drafting of the motions for summary judgments.

This course is taught by practicing attorney James Lay and Professor Elizabeth Boals.

This course is offered in the Spring for 2 credits. Enrollment is limited to 16 students.

Students who take this course will not be eligible for the Pretrial Civil Litigation course in the second, third or fourth years.

Advanced Trial Advocacy: Criminal Prosecution (LAW 984)

In Advanced Trial Advocacy: Criminal Prosecution, students explore the criminal prosecutor’s role in a gang homicide case from the discovery of the victim up to and through prosecution and sentencing of co-defendants. The course will expose students to the day-to-day work of local prosecutors and covers many essential skills and motions filed by prosecutors. Students will explore various prosecutorial strategies to combat the societal effects of gang violence, including such means as specialized gang statutes and gang injunctions.

This course is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters for 2 credits. Criminal Procedure and either Criminal Trial Advocacy, Civil Trial Advocacy or Criminal Justice Clinic must be taken prior to this course. Enrollment is limited to 14 students per section.

This course is team taught by practicing attorneys Jeffrey Wennar and Carlos Acosta

Alexandria, Virginia Public Defender Supervised Externship (LAW 754); Trial Advocacy: Criminal Defense Externship Seminar (Law 795)

The course is composed of two related components (1) a classroom section and (2) a field study experience. Students meet for the classroom component once each week at the Office of the Public Defender for the City of Alexandria, Virginia (AOPD) for trial skills instruction from the AOPD attorneys. As part of the classroom component students participate as defense attorneys in a simulated case where they are responsible for preparation and trial presentations, including developing case theory, interviewing and examining witnesses, working through evidentiary issues and presenting closing arguments. The second portion of this course is a 20-hour weekly externship. At least 10 of the 20 hours must be spent at the Alexandria Public Defender's office over 2 days each week. During the externship, the students will be supervised by the attorneys in the office and may participate in work with clients and witnesses and in preparation of motions and trials. Students may also research issues in criminal law and procedure and participate in case investigations.          

The courses are offered in the fall and spring for a total of four credits.

Litigating in the Digital Age: eDiscovery (LAW 994)

In this course, students explore one of the most challenging problems in litigation today:  the identification, collection, preservation and production of ESI in response to discovery (“eDiscovery”).  The course relies heavily upon the principles and commentary issued by the Sedona Conference® and, where appropriate, related cases. Sedona has been the primary institute concerning eDiscovery and its commentaries have been cited extensively by the courts. The commentaries are based on current problems in the litigation process and provide excellent background for a skills based course.  A significant amount of course time will be spent by students preparing for conferences, drafting documents and preparing and arguing motions.

This course is offered in the fall and spring semesters for 2 credits.

Ethics for Trial Lawyers (LAW 915)

This course surveys the ethical terrain for the litigator in both the criminal and civil context. The course will use case law, bar opinions and role play exercises developed by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) to allow students to identify ethical issues and resolve the issues through simulated exercises. This course is a practical exercise-driven course that sensitizes students to the common conflicts that arise in litigation, informs them of the rules that govern their conduct, and allows them to work through conflicts in a safe environment where mistakes are not costly to themselves or their clients. This is a 2 credit class. Legal Ethics (LAW-550) or (LAW-551) must be taken as a prerequisite. Enrollment is limited to 14 students.

The Jury in Civil Litigation (LAW-608)

This course enriches students' understanding of the jury system through study of its origins, processes and reforms. The course touches on the methods of jury selection and the issues or juror selection and misconduct. Reading for the course ranges from traditional textbooks and cases to sample jury questionnaires and video clips. The course includes a presentation by a jury consultant and in-class exercises to contextualize student learning. Students work individually and in teams during various in-class exercises and when preparing written assignments. Students gain an appreciation of the attorney's role as trial advocate for his or her client, the impact that the jury system has on many facets of litigation to include settlement negotiations, and recognize ethical issues and constraints on courtroom behavior.

This course is offered in the fall semester for 3 credits.

Lawyer Bargaining (LAW 651-001)

Students in this class study the lawyer's role in the resolution of disuptes through nonadjudicatory processes such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and minitrial. The course focuses on theories underlying each form of dispute resolution and the lawyering skills necessary to implement effectively those processes. The lawyer's role and required skills will be explored from the dual perspective of the lawyer as advocate and as impartial dispute resolver.

Civil Trial Advocacy (Law-795BP)

Litigation Skills Summer Institute

The two credit Civil Trial Advocacy course will follow the same learning by doing format that is used in the existing three credit version of the course but will be compressed down to one week (six sessions) of intensive instruction, demonstrations, followed by student role-playing performances and critique culminating in a full trial simulation.   Students will use materials published by the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (“NITA”), a trial technique textbook, as well as supplemental materials created by the Trial Advocacy Program.  Students will spend a significant amount of time in class practicing opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closing arguments. The course will finish with a mock trial with immediate and substantive feedback from the professors. 

As with the existing three credit course, the prerequisite for this course is Civil Procedure.  Evidence must be taken as a pre- or co-requisite. 

Fact Witnesses Deposition (Law-795BE)

Litigation Skills Summer Institute

The one credit Depositions of Fact Witnesses course will follow the learning by doing format of other trial advocacy courses.  Students will receive instruction through brief, focused lectures, demonstrations, and feedback from the professors on in-class performances.  Students will spend a significant amount of time in class practicing witness preparation and questioning techniques.  Each student will have multiple opportunities to gain experience in taking and defending depositions and will receive immediate critique and feedback from the instructor.  Students will also be required to review webcasts of their performances and provide self-critiques. 

Civil Procedure is a prerequisite for this course.

Expert Witnesses Deposition (Law-795BQ)

Litigation Skills Summer Institute

The one credit Depositions of Expert Witnesses course will follow the learning by doing format of other trial advocacy courses.  Students will receive instruction through brief, focused lectures, demonstrations, and feedback from the professors on in-class performances.  Students will spend a significant amount of time in class practicing expert witness preparation and questioning techniques.   Each student will have multiple opportunities to gain experience in taking and defending expert depositions and will receive immediate critique and feedback from the instructor.  Students will also be required to review webcasts of their performances and provide self-critiques. 

Civil Procedure is a prerequisite for this course.

Digital Evidence Presentations Workshop (Law-795BF)

Litigation Skills Summer Institute

The workshop focuses on instruction and demonstration on effective ways to present evidence such as documents, photographs, graphs, timelines, video clips, and data compilations in a digital format during opening statements, direct examinations and closing arguments.  Experts teach how to make the strongest, most effective arguments that will resonate with jurors and judges through the use of technology.   Participants will have the opportunity to make in-class digital presentations followed by individualized critique.