The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Main menu:

Advocacy: Courses

Advocacy Survey
Intensive Trial Practice
Intermediate Civil Litigation Skills
Electronic Discovery
Advocacy Outside the Courtroom
Advocacy Practice and Theory for the New Millennium
Related Courses

Advocacy Survey

This class is designed for beginning advocacy students who are interested in gaining exposure to all areas of advocacy. The course covers topics such as the art and theory of persuasion, motion practice, alternative dispute resolution, trial techniques and courtroom technology. By combining theory through the lecture sessions with technique training in periodic skills sessions, students are able to practice what they learn. The lectures include traditional curriculum as well as new developments in a variety of areas such as learning theory, non-verbal behavior and retention rates. During skills sessions the students work in small groups with an adjunct faculty comprised of experienced litigators. Students get hands-on practice in areas such as opening and closing statements, the use and relevance of technology in litigation, voir dire, motion practice, and other general persuasive techniques.

Students work a case file as a class for the entire semester. They see all aspects of litigation including pretrial motions, ADR, arbitration, voir dire, and trial. At the end of the semester, students try a case using all the persuasive knowledge gained throughout the course.

This class is appropriate for everyone and is a prerequisite for all other advocacy courses. Students who do not plan on litigating will still find this class useful in that it offers a well-rounded introduction and overview of all areas of advocacy. For those students intending to become litigators, the class provides a solid foundation for the more advanced advocacy classes and will help them choose which classes and areas of litigation they are most interested in.

return to top

Intensive Trial Practice

This class is designed for the serious third-year student interested in improving advocacy skills through intensive training exercises and immersion into trial skills. Students in this class try several cases during the course of the semester, working in small groups with their instructors and receiving highly individualized instruction. In a unique format, students learn by trying both solo trials and trials with partners.

The adjunct faculty in this class is comprised of local trial lawyers and judges. Trials are video-taped and later reviewed individually with one of the instructors. Students participate in intensive exercises, learning how to perform each part of a trial. They are expected to work and learn from each other and to participate in the critique of each other. Each student is an active learning participant each class period, all class period. The class is comprised of a one-hour time block and a three-hour time block each week. The one-hour time block is used for lectures on theory, demonstrations of trial technique, one-on-one review of the students’ videotaped trials, and other small group work. The three-hour time block is used for exercises and skills practice to enhance the students’ courtroom presence. The adjunct attorneys assist students in direct examinations, cross-examinations, and opening and closing statements. Local judges instruct students in the analysis of cases and evidentiary issues. Along with traditional trial technique training, additional exercises are included such as working with actors to improve their physical presence in the courtroom, voice control, breathing exercises, and non-verbal communication.

This is a fast-paced, intensive course and is intended for students with the interest, commitment and energy necessary to participate in trial after trial during the semester.

return to top

Intermediate Civil Litigation Skills

The class concentrates on the techniques essential to a successful litigation practice, such as preparing for and taking depositions of both fact and expert witnesses, e-discovery issues, effective use of courtroom technology; making and defending objections to digital and electronic evidence; and drafting and arguing motions in both state and federal court. Students learn the mechanics and specifics of core litigation skills by developing a case from start to finish, creating a strategy and executing it.

In addition to weekly lectures and written assignments, students work in small groups for exercises and practice sessions. Throughout the semester, students also complete exercises in the paperless courtroom housed in the Law School's Connally Center for Justice. Providing a solid introduction to civil ligitation, this course is recommended to any student considering a career in civil litigation.

return to top

Electronic Discovery

This course covers one of the hottest topics in litigation today: electronic discovery. The course is designed to address, in order, discovery and evidentiary issues pertaining to electronic information as they arise in the course of litigation. Students must have a familiarity with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence. The course begins with a primer on electronic information, how it is stored and retrieved, and the fundamentals of computer forensics. Preservation, records retention, and litigation holds as they pertain to electronic data are considered. The course covers meet and confer conferences and what electronic discovery issues must be addressed between opposing counsel. Topics including production, mediating electronic discovery disputes, spoliation and sanctions, privilege issues, as well as ethical considerations are all addressed in depth throughout the course of the semester. The course teaches practical considerations, tips and tools as well as pivotal case law that has shaped this area of the law and the electronic discovery industry as a whole.

return to top

Advocacy Outside the Courtroom

For the modern litigator, many significant "trials" occur outside the traditional courtroom. Multi-million and billion dollar cases can be decided by administrative law judges or arbitrators, or settled through mediation. Clients require lawyers who are effective advocates in all settings and who are trained to know how to maximize the resolution of these cases. In this fast-paced class, students "try" cases to arbitrators, administrative law judges, mediators, and resolve cases through summary jury trials. Students learn from expert lawyers and administrative law judges the secrets of success in these venues, developing a proficiency in the skills necessary to successfully litigate in any judicial setting.

return to top

Advocacy Practice and Theory for the New Millennium

This is a truly innovative and experimental class which pushes the limits of cutting-edge persuasion theories and techniques. New Millennium combines both lecture and practice sessions focusing on new non-verbal behavior techniques and other experimental approaches to advocacy, as well as traditional legal exercises.

This class provides an intensive immersion in theory through the use of readings from Aristotle to neuroscience, and provides exposure to theories in many different disciplines, both legal and non-legal. Students see what it takes to be persuasive. After all, if you don’t know the theory – the “why” behind the “what” – how will you know what works?

Through the use of such techniques as mirroring, anchoring, storytelling and personality profiling, students begin to see the methods that work for them and the methods that work on varying jurors. By coordinating with several local community sources, volunteer panels are gathered for student voir dire presentations, focus group exercises, and mock trials. Our volunteer jurors span all age groups and professions. Students see firsthand how different jurors, and different juries, are persuaded through different methods; a truly invaluable experience. Students also work with state and federal courts on guided research and empirical studies regarding recent judicial developments by interviewing judges, jurors and counsel.

This class is designed for the advanced advocacy student who has a strong interest in honing his or her persuasive abilities and techniques. With an extensive reading list combined with several group and individual projects, the student must be committed to learning and must be open to innovative and experimental theories and techniques. Advocacy, Practice and Theory for the New Millennium seeds ideas and develops techniques that students will carry with them in all their persuasive endeavors.

return to top

Related Courses

In addition to the courses offered in the Advocacy Program, the Law School offers a number of courses in related areas which may be of interest to students of Advocacy. Many seminars that are not listed may be beneficial to students in this area as well.

  • Administrative Law
  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Civil Procedure
  • Criminal Procedure: Prosecution
  • Criminal Defense
  • Domestic Violence & Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Evidence
  • Federal Courts
  • Insurance Law
  • International Business Litigation
  • Internartional Legal Process
  • International Tort Law
  • Mass Tort Litigation
  • Mediation
  • Medical Practice and Law
  • Texas Civil Procedure

return to top