Chris Kenney

Christopher A. Kenney

I am delighted and excited to serve as Director of IADC's renowned Trial Academy for 2018. Having served on the faculty in 2011, and as Director-Elect in 2017, I can assure you that the Trial Academy is a unique hybrid of "boot camp" and "finishing school" that effectively and consistently transforms young litigators into competent trial lawyers. In the hope that you will invest in your firm's future success by sponsoring one of your lawyers in the next Trial Academy, please allow me to review with you the Academy's history, background, and benefits. The return on investment, both to the student-lawyers and their law firms, is remarkable and multi-faceted.

For more than 45 years, the Trial Academy has served as the only defense-oriented national trial academy helping to develop critical trial skills of defense-minded trial attorneys. In an age of diminishing opportunities for practical trial experience, the IADC Trial Academy offers the next generation of defense bar leaders a unique, hands-on training experience. This week-long intensive program blends faculty instruction and demonstration with individual student participation.

The faculty consists of leading defense trial lawyers selected on a national basis from different regions of the country. Historically, each faculty member is assigned to a group of six to seven students which allows for individualized attention and instruction. The faculty employs proven methods of instruction for a comprehensive and interdisciplinary learning experience. Faculty demonstrations expose participants to different approaches and ideas in solving common trial problems and add dimension to the program. For the student exercises, the Academy makes extensive use of digital video as a teaching tool. Each student conducts opening statements, direct and cross examination of lay witnesses, direct and cross examination of medical doctors and economists, and closing arguments. These exercises are filmed and a faculty member critiques them individually with the student. A special emphasis is placed on technology in the courtroom. The state-of-the-art facilities at Stanford University Law School provide the perfect environment for discussing effective use of technology in trial strategy.

This continuing legal education program enhances the trial advocacy skills of less experienced lawyers and expands and strengthens the skills of those attorneys who have not recently been in trial. The Academy provides intensive, comprehensive, and participatory education to each student. Major emphasis is placed on the learning-by-doing method of instruction. The faculty members who instruct at the IADC Trial Academy are experienced, well-recognized trial lawyers with extensive trial experience. They are drawn from different geographic areas and possess diverse practices, styles and personalities. Faculties and directors rotate on an annual basis.

Today, newer litigators face the paradoxical career obstacle that “they can’t try a case because they’ve never tried a case.” The IADC Trial Academy is a "learn-by-doing" experience that solves this problem. The objective is to provide students with an opportunity to observe expert trial lawyers present portions of a mock trial, then apply themselves what they have learned in breakout groups during which they conduct exercises on the same portion of the trial using the students’ different fact pattern.
The Trial Academy teaches advocacy skills that are equally effective in “bench trials” and arbitrations as they are in traditional jury trials. Last year’s Academy class had several foreign lawyers who attended to learn the trial advocacy techniques and tactics necessary to bring their cases to life in commercial arbitration settings. Whether trying your case to a conventional jury of 12 or to a single “juror” in the form of a judge or arbitrator, the IADC Trial Academy delivers the skills, confidence, and experience necessary to win at trial.

Registration opens in November 2017. For up-to-date information about the program, please visit the Trial Academy page on the IADC website.

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