More than three hundred attorneys gathered August 19 at the Law School to improve their courtroom performances and to study the latest advances in environmental, civil rights and military litigation.
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America is holding its third annual National College of Advocacy in the Roscoe Pound Center this week. The intensive program includes four lectures and two panels each day and a workshop every night.
The lawyers will stage a day-long demonstration trial on August 25 and conclude with a banquet featuring Samuel Dash, chief Democratic Watergate counsel.
Howard Silver, a Detroit attorney who is chairing the conference, said Sunday that the members of the Senate Select Watergate committee were good examples of what he described as lawyers who reverted to mediocre techniques after long periods away from active trial practise.
Silver said the Watergate committee relied too heavily on exposition, did not follow up questions adequately and let witnesses take refuge in their opening statements too often.
Among the speakers scheduled to lecture this week are Henry B. Rothblatt, former attorney for five Watergate defendants, including James McCord; Edward Swartz, author of Toys That Kill; Paul D. Rheingold and Norman Landau, authors of the Environmental Law Handbook; and, Jerry S. Cohen, co-author of America, Inc.
After opening remarks by Silver on Sunday, the lawyers attended one lecture on the Consumer Product Safety Act and one on interviewing their clients more efficiently. They also held a seminar on "Representing Unusual Plaintiffs"--including alcoholics, persons with criminal records, ugly women, infants and old men, and the unemployed.
The attorneys yesterday discussed the psychological and sociological factors involved in jury selection. Walter C. Beale, of Cincinnati, Ohio, presented a lecture on improving lawyers' opening statements before a jury.
Beale said that the lawyers should "use moderate emotion to produce conviction in the jury" and "specific tactical considerations" to "set up the opponent."
He also instructed his audience to use "repetition as the basis of education" and to "end on a note so morally correct as to secure the acceptance of the jury."
Other topics slated for discussion this week are techniques of class actions, discovery procedures, rules of evidence, cross-examination principles as well as franchise, environmental, civil rights litigation and military justice.