Trial Advocacy Program Trains 247

LSU Law students had a chance to practice their trial advocacy skills in early August during a unique program involving mentors from throughout the nation. From cross examination to voir dire jury selection, third-year students role played and received critiques from some of the nation’s leading experts in courtroom practices.

The 13th annual Trial Advocacy program was held August 8-10 at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. More than 200 third-year law students participated in the program. “Few schools in the United States include this type of program in their curriculum, and probably none have presented a program with such outstanding trial advocacy teachers,” said Chancellor John Costonis.

Dominic J. Gianna, a nationally acclaimed trial lawyer and National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) team leader, was program director. Gianna is regarded as one of the best advocacy teachers in America. He led a seminar faculty that included over 75 of the best trial lawyers, trial judges, and advocacy teachers in the United States and Canada. This year, the Law Center’s own Christina Hood was awarded the Gladys Dreher Award, given annually to the outstanding seminar staff member, for her service and dedication to the program.

The program involves three days of intensive “learning by doing.” Participants acted as trial counsel and simulated actual trial skills under the experienced eyes of the select seminar faculty. The program follows the methods pioneered by NITA and includes role playing, critique, videotaping of performances, videotape critique, lectures, and demonstrations by the faculty. Gianna noted, “I and my faculty are very, very proud of this program. Only Harvard’s program comes close.”

The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins.