Trial Advocacy is designed to enhance students’ understanding of the trial process by achieving the following goals.
- Teaching students the techniques, functions, and limits of the basic skills of the advocate;
- Allowing students to become comfortable operating under pressure;
- Encouraging students to develop their own persona consistent with individual skills, personality, and communications approaches;
- Teaching students the importance of a thematic approach to trial advocacy;
- Helping students understand how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a case and to create a strategy for trial;
- Allowing students to understand the relationship between evidence, substantive and procedural doctrine, and how these come together at trial.
Our trial advocacy courses teach students the trial process by demonstration and hands-on practice. We offer semester long Trial Advocacy courses and an intensive two-week Trial Advocacy course both of which are taught by a teams of professors and adjuncts who are among Cleveland’s finest trial attorneys. Working in small groups with faculty, students learn the skills, art, and strategies of trial advocacy by performing simulations of jury selection, opening statements and closing arguments, direct and cross-examination, including of expert witnesses, and preparing and using exhibits at trial. At the conclusion of each course small teams of students will conduct full day trials. The two-week course is capped by a simulated trial in a Justice Center courtroom in front of an actual judge.
In our Trial Advocacy Competition course selected students participate in two trial competitions, one a cross-town competition with teams from Ohio and surrounding states, and the other, the National Trial Advocacy Competition sponsored by the American Association of Justice. Students try-out in the fall to become part of the team of class members who will work together the entire year preparing for and participating in mock trials.
Though the CSU trial team has been in existence for just under ten years, it has already established itself as one of the best teams in the region. CSU's trial team has advanced to the ATLA (now the American Association for Justice) regional final rounds in each of the last five years. The team has also won or tied for first place in the "cross-town rivalry" four of the last five years. The cross-town rivalry is a fall competition held in Cleveland that has grown from a two team tournament to a competition of over a dozen trial teams from Ohio and surrounding states.
The CSU trial team provides opportunities for second and third year law students to develop and hone their trial advocacy skills. Students take on the roles of attorneys and witnesses and have a unique opportunity to display their advocacy skills before distinguished members of the legal community.