Learn Trial Advocacy in the Land of the Midnight Sun

The University of Wyoming College of Law will be taking its unique trial practice program to Anchorage, Alaska in the summer of 2016. Students from all law schools are invited to participate.

The Summer Trial Institute is a two-week intensive “boot camp” course that utilizes the knowledge and expertise of leading trial attorneys and judges to teach the course along with Wyoming’s trial practice expert, Professor Steve Easton. “The beauty of our approach to teaching trial advocacy,” said Easton, “is that the students get instruction and feedback from dozens of amazing trial advocates, instead of one or two instructors as in the vast majority of trial advocacy classes at other law schools.”

The Summer Trial Institute Program has run for five years with great

Students in the College of Law courtroom.
College of Law courtroom. Charles Agulubat (witness box); Julian Bendinelli (questioning witness, standing)

success in Wyoming. The College of Law is excited to bring the program to Alaska and to open it up to students at other law schools.

The course will run from May 28th to June 10th, 2016 on the University of Alaska, Anchorage campus. Housing and meals will be provided at UAA.

This “learn by doing” course will teach students trial skills by having them practice in courtrooms with seasoned lawyers, then receive direct feedback from peers or future employers. The course will culminate with each student trying a mock jury trial in front of sitting Alaska judges who have volunteered to help teach the course.

The strength of the program is that it allows to students to gain experience in as real a situation as possible in a simulation environment. By imitating the workload of a real two-week trial, students experience simulated exercises and drills featuring portions of trials like voir dire, opening statement, direct examination, cross-examination, and closing argument.

“Just as in a real trial, the students have to work quite hard to be successful, but that hard work definitely pays off by giving future attorneys the skills they need to be successful in courtrooms across the country,” said Easton. “As much as we want students to join us, they should do so with the understanding that they will have to work hard for those two weeks, though we hope they can take advantage of Alaska’s wonderful outdoors before or after the course.” Additionally, the networking contact with potential employers is invaluable.

As the only state without a law school, Alaska provides interesting opportunities, especially for the University of Wyoming College of Law. In many ways, Alaska and Wyoming are similar states, with small populations spread among geographically remote, but culturally connected, communities, economies and judicial systems featuring natural resources matters and legal issues related to tribal populations. The University of Wyoming hopes to continue to forge partnerships with the legal community in Alaska, to offer Alaskan students and future Alaskans the same high quality legal education that benefits Wyoming students, at an affordable price.

The course will also allow students from Alaska to gain law school credits without having to travel. “Many students have plans to do summer internships in their home state,” says UW College of Law Dean Klint Alexander. “We are hoping that by making this course accessible to people already in Alaska, we’ll be making a significant step forward in bringing legal education to Alaska.”

Registration for the course is now open. Interested law students can get more information and register online at www.uwyo.edu/law.