Summer Institute Focuses on Litigation Skills and Technology in the Courtroom
The Stephen S. Weinstein Trial Advocacy Program welcomed 40 practitioners and students to their Litigation Skills Summer Institute (LSSI) from July 7-20, 2014. Attorneys from Miller & Chevalier; Budow & Noble; and Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz & Gilday, LLC attended the program and earned CLE credits.
The LSSI featured intensive litigation courses designed for attorneys seeking to sharpen their pre-trial and courtroom skills and for law students looking for an advantage in this competitive job market. Each participant had the option of taking one or more of the courses during the two-week program. The courses offered during the program were (1) Fact Witness Depositions, (2) Expert Witness Depositions, (3) Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom, and (4) Civil Trial Advocacy.
This year, a focus of the LSSI was the use of technology in the courtroom. The Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom course helped lawyers with years of experience and AUWCL students learn how to use technology to enhance their witness examinations and closing arguments.
Participant Geoffrey Hervey, principal at Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz Gilday, LLC, boasted nearly 30 years of practice. Although he used computers in many facets of his practice, he never felt he had a great handle on the use of technology in the modern courtroom. He enrolled in Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom.
“I learned a lot about how to use Powerpoint for effective presentations and how to use iPads to present evidence and use them for direct and cross examination,” said Hervey. “It’s been very useful for me as a practicing lawyer to get hands-on experience and quick tips in a short amount of time.”
Latisha Rivera, a third-year student at Howard University School of Law and co-captain of the school’s Moot Court Team, also attended Litigating in a High Tech Courtroom in an effort to acquire the cutting-edge technical skills that she has observed at many competitions.
“It’s what you need to know in a modern courtroom setting,” said Rivera. “I think the instructors were really great. Instead of telling you what to do, they showed you.”
Faculty and guest lecturers for the LSSI included:
- H. Kenneth Armstrong, senior partner, Armstrong, Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan & Rhoades, CHTD
- Elizabeth Boals, associate director of Trial Advocacy, AUWCL
- Nicholas A. Caputo, partner and owner, Caputo Law Firm
- Ryan Flax, managing director of litigation consulting, A2L Consulting
- Jeffrey T. Green, partner, Sidley Austin, LLP
- Brandi Harden, partner, Harden and Pinckney
- Honorable Eric Johnson, Circuit Court for Montgomery County
- Brittany Keil, assistant chief, Criminal Section, Officer of the Attorney General for D.C.
- Erica Mudd, partner, Armstrong, Donohue, Ceppos, Vaughan & Rhoades, CHTD
- Karl Pilger, partner, Boring & Pilger
- Addy Schmitt, counsel, Miller & Chevalier
The LSSI concluded with a full mock trial before a sitting judge and citizen jurors in the Civil Trial Advocacy course taught by AUWCL Professor Elizabeth I. Boals. The course used technology to anonymously poll the jurors during the final trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the arguments presented to them.
“The experience of polling the jurors and showing the class the results helps the participants understand the impact of their presentations on the jury," said Boals. "In addition to polling, the class was able to see and hear the jury deliberations in real time through a closed circuit camera system. These unique aspects of the class gave students immediate and candid feedback on their performances beyond any feedback that I provided."