Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques
The Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques provides all second-year students with a foundation in oral advocacy.
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.
- Integrate case analysis and relevance to provide improved understanding of each and their critical relationship to one another.
- Teach hearsay and character evidence concepts in the context of direct and cross-examination.
- 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.
- Develop greater sensitivity for the understanding of audience and the relationship to the development of theories and themes through jury voir dire exercises.
- 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.
- Develop strategic insight and best alternative settlement analytical skills in negotiation simulations.
- Enhance emotional command and problem solving skills in tense adversarial situations through mock mediation exercises.
Students pay fees to cover the purchase of two hard copy case files, online access to electronic versions of the case file, workshop exercises, a copy of TheNormative Approach, and a digital video card (provided at cost).
To alleviate any conflicts that may arise, the ABA allows students to miss two classes (4 hours) in any two-hour course, unexcused. Students may miss either one Friday afternoon workshop during the spring semester, or one half day of the intensive May session.
Students must submit a written notice (an e-mail will suffice) for any anticipated absence to a team leader and the KEPTT Administrative Director. Students may not miss either of the trial days during the May session, May 6 and 9, as all must serve on those days either as trial counsel or witness.
All requests for an excused absence must be personally delivered in writing to the KEPTT Administrative Director prior to the beginning of the program.
Information about the 2015 Trial Techniques Program will come in late 2014.
Early Spring Session: January 17–February 28, 2014
- Case Analysis and Legal Strategy: January 17, 2014, 1:30–4:30 p.m., Tull Auditorium (lecture and demonstration).
- Direct and Cross, Hearsay and Character Evidence: January 31, 2014, 1:30–4:30 p.m. (lecture, demonstration, and learning-by-doing workshop; an advanced reading assignment on trial skills and video lecture will be assigned for viewing prior to the workshop.)
- Persuasive and Evidentiary Foundations for Exhibits: February 7, 2014, 1:30–4:30 p.m. (lecture, demonstration, and learning-by-doing workshop; an advanced reading assignment on trial skills and video lecture will be assigned for viewing prior to the workshop.)
- Jury Selection: February 14, 2014, 1:30–4:30 p.m. (lecture, demonstration, and learning-by-doing workshop; an advanced reading assignment on trial skills and video lecture will be assigned for viewing prior to the workshop.)
- Technology in the Courtroom: February 28, 2014, 1:30–4:30 p.m. (lecture, demonstration, and learning-by-doing workshop; an advanced reading assignment on trial skills and video lecture will be assigned for viewing prior to the workshop.)
May Session: May 3–9, 2014
Each year, more than sixty prominent trial lawyers and judges from across the United States serve as instructors for the May session. The May session includes the following:
- Full-day intensive workshops that revisit the direct and cross examination techniques and exhibit drill exercises, with an enhanced degree of complexity from the earlier spring introductory workshops.
- Techniques in opening statements and closing arguments.
Each day, students prepare several problems, demonstrates their skills, and are critiqued by a faculty of prominent trial lawyers, judges, and teachers. Student performances are digitally recorded several times during the course of the session. These digital recordings are reviewed with the students by faculty. Each student will try one case as a bench trial and a second case before a full jury.