Virginia students have a variety of opportunities to hone their trial advocacy and public speaking skills, regardless of whether they plan careers in the courtroom.
Students can take advantage of several courses designed to hone public speaking and trial advocacy skills, in addition to extracurricular offerings such as the annual William Minor Lile Moot Court competition.
Public Speaking Courses
Being able to effectively communicate is a necessary skill for nearly any type of lawyer. With that in mind, Virginia offers a variety of coursework for students who want to hone their public speaking and oral advocacy skills.
Courses such as Hallmarks of Distinguished Advocacy and Oral Presentations Outside the Courtroom cover several forms of public speaking, and offer students a chance the elements that go into an effective speech of any type.
In Hallmarks of Distinguished Advocacy, students learn to persuade any audience of the merits of a cause or proposal and of the credibility of the proponent.
Oral Presentations Outside the Classroom is designed to help students improve their ability to communicate persuasively in the wide variety of settings in which non-litigators are called upon to speak including client meetings, business negotiations, and presentations to public agencies.
Advanced public speaking classes and courses in topics such as appellate litigation offer additional chances for students to hone their presentation skills, and include instruction in areas such as effective performance techniques, writing for speaking and the ability to handle difficult speaking situations.
Professors or practicing attorneys often give presentations at the Law School on improving public speaking skills (below, Professor Molly Shadel presented an oral advocacy workshop for women, and Professor Robert Sayler discusses the rhetoric of the presidential primary).
The Trial Advocacy College
The Trial Advocacy College is an intensive eight-day experience offered annually between the fall and spring terms. Third-year students are enrolled with participants from the nation’s best litigation units in an intensive practice program with a faculty comprised of some of the best trial lawyers and outstanding judges in the country. This selective program supplements the 12 sections of trial advocacy offered each academic year. Additional practice opportunities for students include several clinics plus a variety of classes using simulations or transactional teaching methods.
In Trial Advocacy seminars, offered as semester-long courses, students prepare to work in the trial court and for the atmosphere of the courtroom. Students practice the functions of being a trial lawyer through simulations, including direct and cross examinations, opening statements, handling of exhibits, objections and closing argument. Some sections of the seminar require specific witness and juror service of each student enrolled. instructors, who are typically practicing attorneys or judges, teach students the practice and technique of advocacy during each class session. All sections schedule at least one full mock trial in which each student serves as co-counsel.