Friday, October 29, 2010

Trial Practice at University of Hawaii

Prior to this morning, I thought the University of Hawaii law school did not offer its students a Trial Advocacy class.  I was wrong.  They do.  They offer a class in both the Fall and Spring semesters.  What does that mean for my goal of teaching trial practice at UH?  Well, it certainly doesn't make it any easier.  However, I took the first step in getting involved today.  There is a different professor each semester so I contacted both of them.  The current semester is almost over so they don't need any more help right now.  I figured that would be the case and so didn't have high expectations, anyway.  However, my conversation with the second professor went decidedly better.

First off, he graduated from my alma mater - George Washington Univ.  He also got his Master's Degree there before going to law school at Berkeley.  He was much more willing to talk to me when he found out I was a fellow Colonial.  So we discussed the format of the Trial Practice class, the textbook and case file they use, and where he thought I could be of some assistance.  It sounds like I wouldn't be useful all that often, but on certain weeks I will come in, play a witness, and provide feedback to the students.

Essentially, it sounds like they have a much smaller class size than what I had in mind and they are not nearly as thorough as I would have expected, but it still sounds like a class I would enjoy participating in.  The spring semester is co-taught between a civil litigator and retired judge.  The civil litigator is the one who pretty much runs the program and is also the GW alum I talked to.  He said they use one case, which he tried himself years ago, and they stick with that case all semester.  They take the case from start to finish, including voir dire of a jury at the beginning.  Then they do weekly assignments for learning how to do directs, crosses, opens, closes, etc. They also have certain people come in who have been witnesses in trial and give a lecture on witness preparation.  Overall it sounds like a great experience if I can get involved.  

In the interest of fairness, I should say that I rail on GW as a school all the time.  I constantly say that they have a horrible alumni network and the school was (and probably still is) worthless when it comes to helping its students or alums with...well...anything.  They were terribly mismanaged when I was a student and the President (who has since retired) was a money-hungry ass who didn't give a damn about the students.  If this guy actually lets me take part in his class, even if it's not because I am a GW grad, I am willing to be at least a little nicer about other grads from now on.  We'll see.

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