Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques
An experiential approach to developing oral advocacy skills.

Modeled after the National Institute for Trial Advocacy's program for teaching practicing lawyers, Emory Law's program is the largest in the country and is recognized as one of the nation's finest. The American College of Trial Lawyers has twice conferred on Emory's program the Emil Gumpert Award for excellence in the teaching of trial advocacy. 

The program's teaching methodology focuses on integrating the second-year law student's knowledge of substantive evidence with practical trial skills through a "learn-by-doing" format. Trial experience is supplemented by a textbook, lectures, and discussions. During two sessions in the spring semester, students develop theories for particular witness examinations, decide on appropriate approaches to bring out the facts consistent with their theories, prepare witnesses, and conduct direct and cross-examinations using current courtroom technology in the use of exhibits.

The Trial Techniques Program

The program consists of two sessions.

  • Spring Semester: Friday afternoon preparatory workshops at downtown Atlanta law firms and public law offices. Students work closely with experienced trial lawyers in groups as small as six to eight students per trial instructor.
  • May Session: Emory Law hosts 80 nationally known trial lawyers, judges, and trial teachers who bring their different styles and regional perspectives to aid in students’ growth and development as advocates, resulting in an 8 to 1 student/trial instructor ratio. The May session includes seven days of intensive workshops on trial techniques, during which each student will try a bench and jury trial.

Pedagogical Goals

  1. Integrate case analysis and relevance to provide improved understanding of each and their critical relationship to one another.
  2. Teach hearsay and character evidence concepts in the context of direct and cross-examination.
  3. Provide practice at building evidentiary foundations, authenticating exhibits, and making and refuting objections to better understand the Federal Rules of Evidence on original writings, authentication, relevance, and hearsay and to help bring about better chain of custody foundations.
  4. Develop greater sensitivity for the understanding of audience and the relationship to the development of theories and themes through jury voir dire exercises.
  5. Strengthen the art of persuasiveness in the presentation of evidence through exercises that familiarize and build confidence in the use of technology to display exhibits.
  6. Develop strategic insight and best alternative settlement analytical skills in negotiation simulations.
  7. Enhance emotional command and problem solving skills in tense adversarial situations through mock mediation exercises.

Absences

Attendance throughout the program is MANDATORY and program sessions cannot be missed without an excused absence.  Excused absences will not be granted for either of the trial days during the May session, May 2 and 5, as you must serve on those days either as trial counsel or as a witness.  An excused absence cannot exceed more than 4 hours of class time (either one spring semester workshop or half a day during the intensive May session).
 
Any unexcused absence or more than one excused absence may result in students receiving a grade of incomplete in the program and repetition of all or a portion of the program may be required the following year. 
 
All requests for an excused absence must be submitted via this form:  https://emorylaw.wufoo.com/forms/kesslereidson-program-request-for-excused-absence/

Key Dates

Spring Semester Session: January 20–March 3, 2017 (Friday afternoon workshops)

Students will attend trial skills workshops from 1:30–4:30 p.m. at law firm section assignments. Attendance is mandatory.
  • January 20: Case Analysis skills workshop (at law school)
  • February 3:  Direct and Cross skills workshop
  • February 10: Exhibits skills workshop
  • February 17: Jury Selection skills workshop
  • March 3: Impeachment

May Intensive Week-Long Session: April 29–May 5, 2017

  • April 29–May 1: Intensive Skills Workshops
  • May 2: Bench Trials
  • May 3–May 4: Intensive Skills Workshops
  • May 5: Jury Trials
Mike Ginsberg

Mike Ginsberg

Interim Director, Trial Techniques Program

Faculty Profile »

Judge Lindsay R. M. Jones

Adjunct Professor and Administrative Director

Faculty Profile »

Rhani Lott

Rhani Lott

Adjunct Professor and Program Administrator

Faculty Profile »

3 L Coordinators

Nick Aliotta

Prasad Hurra