Legal “boot camp” helps prepare law students for courtroom careers
Public Relations - Published: May 12, 2009
ITAP09PromoWhile most law students around the country take a break after final exams this month, more than 165 students on Widener’s two campuses will enter a seven-day legal “boot camp” of sorts to hone the skills they’ll need to try cases in a courtroom.

Now in its 23rd year on the Delaware campus and 17th year on the Harrisburg campus, the program is one of only a handful nationwide. About 60 judges, attorneys and legal academics from around the country will travel to Wilmington – and another 50 to Harrisburg – to serve without pay as program faculty members because they want to impart their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to tomorrow’s generation of American trial lawyers.

Known as the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, or ITAP, the program’s days are filled with rigorous study, simulations and breakout sessions that divide the students into small groups of eight to 10. The Delaware campus runs its program under the direction of Professor John Nivala from May 14 to15 and 17 to 21. The Harrisburg campus runs its program under the direction of Associate Professor J. Palmer Lockard II from May 15 to 16 and 18 to 22.

The program is highlight by the annual Distinguished Lecture in Trial Advocacy and Professionalism, to be given this year in Delaware by state Superior Court Judge Jan R. Jurden. She will speak on Wednesday, May 20 at 4 p.m. in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom. Students in the Harrisburg program will hear from attorney Roxanne Conlin, the first female president of the American Trial Lawyers Association and a former candidate for Iowa governor. She will speak on Thursday, May 21 at 5 p.m. in room A180 of the administration building.

“Widener's unique Intensive Trial Advocacy Program gives students a realistic, practical experience in trial advocacy – including the responsibilities and pressures experienced by trial advocates,” said Harrisburg’s Lockard. “By the end, ITAP shows students that, with hard work and good coaching, they can take the discrete fundamental skills needed to try a simple case and turn them into a successful trial performance.”