Intensive Trial Advocacy offers in-depth skills training

Author: Kevin Fye

itarinaRina Badal participated in the ITA Program

Each semester at Notre Dame Law School, studies begin early for a small group of dedicated students. The Intensive Trial Advocacy (ITA) Program brings to campus over 40 instructors – top litigators from major law firms, as well as judges from across the country - and a roughly equal number of students, to engage in a week of rigorous courtroom exercises and trial workshops. The program focuses on sharpening the ability of the student to gather information, analyze facts, and communicate persuasively to decision-makers.

This academic year seven CCHR students participated in the ITA program, gaining invaluable practical experience in the unique training environment. Relevant beyond U.S. courtrooms, the skills acquired through the program translate across international contexts. LL.M. candidate Catherine Anite, a Ugandan lawyer involved in litigating freedom of expression cases, praised the course. "My perspective on litigation has been refined," she said.  "I look forward to utilizing my newly acquired case analysis, direct and cross examination skills to improve my public interest litigation career. I will undoubtedly incorporate the knowledge into my legal practice." 

The skills training also benefits attorneys who are not directly involved in litigation. LL.M. candidate Rina Badal, a lawyer with the U.N. Mission in South Sudan, also took part in the program. “The ITA course is among the most unique and exciting experiences I am fortunate to have had as a student,” says Badal. “The course has significantly boosted my self-confidence and prepared me for further opportunities in my career. Though I come from a different jurisdiction, a civil law legal system, I still find the skills I acquired during the course relevant and extremely useful.”


The ability to engage in such broad-ranging skills training is an important advantage to the human rights lawyer, says CCHR’s Sean O’Brien, Director of the LL.M. Program in International Human Rights Law. “Trial advocacy training is a unique component of our LL.M. program; when combined with our comprehensive human rights curriculum, these courses provide our graduates with the full set of skills needed to be effective human rights advocates.”

Professor Jim Seckinger, one of the nation's outstanding trial advocacy teachers, began the ITA Program at NDLS in 2003 and has directed the program since its inception.