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Students Hone Trial Advocacy Skills in Intensive Program 

June 11, 2014

The Intensive Advocacy Program (IAP), a two-week course focusing on litigation and trial techniques and strategies, concluded its 22nd year on June 1 with nearly 50 students enrolled and dozens of practitioners serving as faculty, jurors, and judges.

“Imagine waking up after 14 days with two trials under your belt and loads of personalized feedback on depositions, opening statements, direct and cross examination, objections, bringing in evidence, and closing arguments,” said Katie Moran 2L. “That’s exactly what IAP provides, plus each student makes professional connections with the judges and lawyers who serve as faculty during the program. It was an invaluable experience—two extremely intense weeks that tire you out but fly quickly by.”

The students¬—rising 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls—spent more than 80 hours learning all components of trial advocacy. The students’ development of strategies and techniques for jury selection, opening statement, closing argument, as well as direct and cross examination were honed during workshop trainings, demonstrations, and lectures led by elite practitioners

The program wrapped up with two days of civil and criminal jury trials. The volunteer presiding judges and faculty for the jury trials included Justice William Stein (ret.), Hon. Patricia Williams (ret.), Hon. Samuel Feng, Hon. Monica Wiley, Hon. Teri Jackson, Hon. Patricia Lucas, Casey Bates, Robert Bennett ’74, Joseph Cannon ’98, Tyler Draa, John Drath ’68, George Clause, Dustin Collier, Melissa Krum-Dooher, Wilma Gray, and Steve Schrey. 

This was the first year Doris Cheng ’98 directed the program, although she has been involved with the IAP since 1999 and also is a frequent guest lecturer and adjunct professor, training lawyers and judges nationally and internationally. Cheng, a partner with San Francisco-based Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger and president-elect of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, is widely recognized for her legal work, including winning one of the largest Northern California general damages verdicts ($3 million) as well as multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of disabled citizens throughout California.

“USF law students excel in courses like the IAP, where education meets real world practices,” said Cheng. “At the beginning of the course, the students demonstrated raw talent and good instinct. They were eager to develop. By the end of the course, with the help of our all-star faculty, they had two trials under their belts, and they were charismatic, persuasive, and fundamentally sound advocates.”

Several students received distinction among their peers at the conclusion of the program. Moran, Jerome Hawkins 2L, and Nikita Saini 2L received the Excellence in Advocacy Awards and D.J. Cespedes 3L was presented the Award for Creativity in Trial Advocacy. Honorable mentions were given to Yuki Cruse 3L, Daniel Dahlin 3L, William Mincey 3L, Sugam Soni 2L, Montgomery Taylor 3L, and Michelle Trevino 2L.