Chicago-Kent's teaching technique is learn-by-doing. Students perform, and everything they do is critiqued by the instructor. Almost always, the instructor will demonstrate the thing he or she is teaching.
Chicago-Kent's learn-by-doing and critique methods are designed to make evidentiary and substantive law principles come alive in a courtroom setting. We want our students to think analytically, like lawyers do: to decide what facts matter and how to present them. There is no blind-faith acceptance of things people say. Students learn to communicate legal principles and information in a language real people understand.
We want students to understand the adversary system. None of Chicago-Kent's advocacy instructors is content with a course that concerns itself solely with mechanics. At all times we watch for opportunities to make a point about the ethics of trial lawyering. We try to teach a respect for truth. We stress that facts cannot be created—they are presented. Truth cannot be changed—it can be enlivened. We do not tolerate lies or concealment. We do not object to harass or annoy. We stress those provisions of the disciplinary code that govern trial lawyers.
We do not assign papers or give written final examinations. Little time is spent on lectures or self-congratulatory war stories. Because we look to growth and progress when deciding grades, the final examination is the course itself. Students are graded according to an instructor-subjective formula that combines effort, growth, skill, intelligence, and character.
Chicago-Kent graduates, especially those who have taken our trial advocacy courses, leave law school able to try lawsuits. And they have the skills that will enable them to become great trial lawyers.
Chicago-Kent offers three core courses: Trial Advocacy I, Trial Advocacy II, and Litigation Technology. We also teach substantive and procedural law areas, especially in Trial Advocacy II and Litigation Technology. In those courses one case file will cover contract principles, another tort law, and another the principles of criminal law and procedure.
- Trial Advocacy 1
- Trial Advocacy 2
- Trial Advocacy LLM
- Intensive Trial Advocacy
- Litigation Technology
- Ethics and Advocacy
- The Art of Evidence and Advocacy
- IL Evidence
- Criminal Litigation Certificate Program
David A. Erickson, director of the Trial Advocacy Program
The trial advocacy courses are taught entirely by adjunct faculty, selected because of their experience as trial lawyers and as trial advocacy teachers. They come from a cross-section of the legal community—judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and private practitioners.