Each spring, the National Trial Academy offers a select group of 36 students the opportunity to use the latest technology and work with some of the country’s top trial lawyers to try a case to verdict. Nominations are open for this year’s academy, which will take place April 14-18, at the National Judicial College (NJC), located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. The program has been affectionately called the country’s top “Boot Camp for Lawyers.” And for those who have tried cases to verdict, it is easy to understand why the program lives up to that name.

“The program is unique in its structure and approach with a balance between instruction and actual involvement in everything from jury selection, expert cross-examination, and opening and closing statements, including an actual trial in front of a judge and a jury on the last day of the program,” said Peter Neeson, the founder of the Trial Academy. “The trial academy gives lawyers who have not had significant trial experience the opportunity for real live mentorship in trial techniques and a real jury trial experience,” said Dick Semerdjian, TIPS Chair and ABOTA member.

The Academy, which is jointly sponsored by the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) of the American Bar Association and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), takes place over four-and-a-half days and is built around two trials: one presented by the faculty mentors and one presented by the academy students. Interspersed are a variety of trial-related lectures on ethics, civility, and presentation skills, which are all designed to help the students take their game to the next level.

The NJC’s location on the University of Nevada campus provides another distinctive advantage: witnesses for the trials. The academy draws upon the university’s student body fill the various fact and expert roles, including current engineering students from the university’s engineering department to fill the roles of the engineering experts. The NJC is where practicing judges from around the world come to be educated in all aspects of trial practice. It provides the perfect setting for the Academy. The NJC has a state-of-the art model courtroom that is similar to many of modern Federal courtrooms throughout the county. And the students get to use that technology to facilitate their trial presentations.

I appreciate your taking the time to consider a suitable candidate for this program and forwarding this along for their consideration. I would, of course, be more than happy to answer any questions. Thank you.

For additional information and the application form, please visit the TIPS/ABOTA National Trial Academy website.

Christopher S. Marks