"My primary interest in coming to law school was to pursue a career in public service or public interest. I had a real interest in working for individuals who cannot afford to represent themselves in court or to a higher outside counsel. I wanted to be in a courtroom and I wanted to be doing trials. So a natural place for me to go to was the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy. I was fortunate to join the trial team which is really where I learned to be a lawyer. I gained the practical skills of how to do an opening statement, how to do direct examination, cross examine, write and perform a closing argument. In addition, we learned how to argue motions in front of real judges, make evidentiary arguments and how to make objections on the spot. So trial team and the Bartlit Center are where I've really put my learned knowledge to the test."
-- Clare Diegel
"I'd say our learning curve is among the steepest in the law school, perhaps the steepest one in professional education," says Steven Lubet, Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy director. "No matter how talented students are when they enter our class, they quickly realize how much there is to learn. The courtroom seems strange and intimidating at first, but when they are done, everyone is confident and prepared. We constantly adjust materials and methods to refine the tasks and challenges students will work through."
Ethics and Professional Responsibility
The Bluhm Legal Clinic's unique course in ethics and professional responsibility requires students to assume the role of lawyers in simulations designed to impart and test knowledge of professional responsibility and ethical standards. Students are exposed to the complexities involved in making professional and ethical judgments in the context of simulations involving the representation of clients. These simulations are followed by analysis and discussion led by clinic faculty.
The issues discussed are timed to coincide with the problems assigned in the trial advocacy course so students can see how the rules discussed in the evidence course actually are enforced in the courtroom and how those evidentiary rules influence the way in which argument and witness examinations are conducted in the courtroom. The exercises in evidence and trial advocacy are also tied to the problems assigned in the ethics and professional responsibility course, making apparent to students the important relationships between ethics, professional responsibility, and trial strategy.
In the Pretrial Advocacy and Civil Discovery courses, the Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy teaches students the skills necessary for ethical and skilled representation of clients at the pre-trial stage. Students participate in simulated exercises in interviewing and counseling clients, fact investigation, discovery, and motion practice. Students work in teams under the supervision of faculty members who act as "senior partners" guiding and commenting upon the students' performance as tasks are performed.
The Bartlit Center also provides students with the training necessary to be effective in the courtroom. Faculty assemble a team of leading practitioners who observe and comment upon the work of students as they present opening statements, direct and cross examinations, and closing arguments. Students also conduct simulated bench and jury trials under the supervision and observation of clinical faculty and skilled trial lawyers
Open to upper class students, the Bartlit Center's advanced courses include Trial Technology, Advanced Trial Practice, Advanced Topics in Litigation, Bankruptcy Trial Practice, and Patent Litigation, among others. These courses cover sophisticated approaches to litigation and trials, including the use of technology, complex discovery issues, case management, and use of expert witnesses in preparation and at trial.
Introduction to Trial Advocacy - International Track
U.S. advocacy techniques are taught by Chicago lawyers with international practices for lawyers who are not from common law countries. Students learn American techniques for direct examination, cross examination, etc. This unique program is offered nowhere else, and is provided solely for international LLM students.
Bartlit Trial Team
Each year, the Bartlit Center Trial Teams host try-outs. Eight to 16 students are selected based upon their advocacy skills, potential ability, and confidence. Team members receive course credit to prepare for and compete in various competitions, including the National Trial Competition hosted by the Texas Young Lawyers Association each spring. Bartlit Center Trial Teams are supervised by Professor Steven Lubet and coached by Richard Levin and Adam Riback of Levin Riback Law Group and Michael Leonard of Leonard Meyer LLP.
Bartlit Center Trial Teams have won numerous national and regional competitions, including several championships in the prestigious National Trial Competition. In recent years, Bartlit Center teams have won invitational tournaments sponsored by the California Association for Criminal Justice and the University of Buffalo Law School. Bartlit Center teams have won the ABA regional competition hosted by the section on labor and employment law.