Trial Advocacy ProgramDecember 02, 2011
Author: Jennifer L. Cervantes
“Objection, your Honor. Counsel is leading the witness.”
Attorneys prepare diligently to ensure that their courtroom delivery is not subject to such a ruling. This preparation is often the fruit of purposeful practice and experience. In order to prepare its law students to be equipped to enter the courtroom, Liberty University School of Law has developed a trial advocacy program that offers a hands-on approach to learning the practice of trial law.
Settling for nothing less than the best to train its students, the law school’s trial advocacy program was nurtured to its current status in part by Professors Grant Rost and Stephen Rice, both top-performing members of their law school’s trial teams. Furthermore, the law school has strengthened the program by securing one of the finest trial coaches in the nation to lead the program at Liberty University School of Law, Pamela Bell. A trial lawyer herself for 28 years, Professor Bell coached trial teams at Stetson University College of Law for 14 years and taught Trial Advocacy there for more than 20 years. Her efforts there proved extremely successful as Stetson reaped awards as Florida State Champions. With Professor Bell’s own trial experience and national coaching expertise, the trial advocacy program at Liberty has a very bright future.
Liberty’s unique, three-year Lawyering Skills program requires law students to take a trial advocacy class that offers students a practical approach to trial law. In this class, the students are instructed in the different phases of a trial and are then required to act out those phases in a court-like setting. Upon completing this class, Liberty law students have the opportunity to enroll in an advanced trial advocacy class to further delve into that area of law. These classes provide invaluable experience to law students as they gain first-hand experience in what it is like to participate in trials.
In addition to the trial advocacy classes offered in the law school’s Lawyering Skills program, the law school supports a competitive trial team. Under the leadership of Professor Bell, a team of passionate and skillful trial coaches is committed to helping the student team as it prepares for two major national competitions next semester.
When asked about the trial team, Professor Bell said, “I can’t wait to get started! I am so excited to be here at Liberty and to help expand our trial advocacy program by starting a trial team.” Professor Rost is also bursting with enthusiasm as he prepares for this year. “Looking back at my own [law school] experience, trial team is what I’m most proud of and what I learned the most doing. I had such a great experience. It made my 3L year! I want our students to have that experience. I want to share it!” Each of the trial coaches shares in Professor Bell’s and Professor Rost’s enthusiasm, and it seems that participating on a trial team will not only be a valuable learning process, but it also promises to be an enjoyable experience!
For law students, the trial advocacy program will provide an excellent opportunity to build upon the foundations of the law taught at Liberty University School of Law. With top leadership and the dedication of talented coaches, the trial team and the entire trial advocacy program will be something worth watching. Professor Bell said it best: “I’ve competed all over the country, but this is different. Here [at Liberty University School of Law] we are doing this to glorify and honor God. We will be a force—a force with which to be reckoned.”