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Tucker Ellis Launches Innovative Trial Institute to Provide Intensive Experience to Next-Generation Trial Lawyers

June 2015
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Tucker Ellis LLP has launched a unique courtroom trial skills program to provide hands-on experience to the firm’s mid-level trial lawyers. Launched this month, the Tucker Ellis Trial Institute will encompass every part of a real trial—from being hired by a client to defend a products liability case to the courtroom skills of trying the case to a jury. The inaugural Trial Institute will conclude with four jury trials to be conducted in Cleveland in the spring/summer of 2016.

Overseeing the Trial Institute is Bob Tucker who believes that a successful trial lawyer has to develop not only the skills to research and take depositions and stand up in court, but also learn to take a set of facts and develop a winning case strategy while being attentive to client expectations and the factors that define "success" from a client’s perspective—whether representing an individual plaintiff or defending a corporation.

"When my generation of trial lawyers started practicing 40 years ago, we were in court every day on small cases, figuring out a strategy for defending the case, developing relationships with the court, opposing counsel and witnesses, and reporting directly to client representatives who often attended court hearings and watched us perform," said Mr. Tucker. “We had hands-on experience in every facet of being a trial lawyer—from researching the law applicable to the case to trying the case in the courtroom—all while attending to client expectations for the handling of the case. Those hands-on experiences for young trial lawyers don’t come along very often anymore, and the challenge law firms face—which is aligned with the worry that many clients have, as there are fewer and fewer trial lawyers with significant courtroom experience—is to make sure that the next generation of trial lawyers has the opportunity to learn not just how to write a good brief or take a good deposition, but how to figure out a winning way to handle a set of facts, how to develop relationships with those that are important to the handling of a case, and how to make sure that the client’s expectations are being listened to—and addressed—in the context of handling a contentious litigation for them.”

Four teams of Tucker Ellis trial lawyers will each handle a products liability case from start to finish—from the filing of the complaint on behalf of an "injured plaintiff" residing in San Francisco to being "retained" by one of the four in-house counsel of Tucker Ellis clients who have agreed to participate in the Institute in the role of the defendant manufacturer’s "General Counsel." The parties will check for conflicts and open case files, attend case management conferences with the court, engage in written discovery, take depositions of both lay witnesses and medical and engineering experts, develop strategies for prosecuting/defending the case, and prepare the case for a jury trial, which will be conducted in the spring/summer of 2016 in Cleveland. Senior Tucker Ellis trial lawyers will serve as "Special Masters," providing the four teams constructive feedback on everything from case strategy to handling witnesses at deposition or in the courtroom.

"This remarkable program couples trial skills coaching with real-client involvement, making it unlike any other training available in the legal community,” said Tucker Ellis Managing Partner Joe Morford. "We strive to provide our clients a different and better experience than they would have with any other law firm. How better to accomplish this than to give our next-generation trial lawyers an intensive, ‘soup-to-nuts’ trial experience to prepare them for the real thing?"

According to Trial Department Chair Rita Maimbourg, "We have a responsibility to make sure that our trial lawyers are prepared with the experience that our clients have come to expect from us. The Trial Institute is just one part of the continuing education we’ve put in place, and we’re thrilled that four of our clients’ in-house counsel will participate in the Institute to help us develop our next generation of Tucker Ellis trial lawyers."

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