Temple Law School is nationally recognized as a leader in trial advocacy and Temple Law graduates are reputed to be excellent trial lawyers. Temple’s Integrated Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP) is a big reason why. Recently, ITAP classes have been looking a little bit different as students learn how to conduct trials over Zoom and other platforms. What has stayed the same, however, is the immersive and unique experience.
ITAP is a two-semester-long block of classes that Temple students can take during their second year. The program is set up as a mix of doctrinal/fundamental classes and practical/experiential classes. The first semester classes consist of evidence, trial advocacy I, and a lecture class that covers many aspects of litigation. The second semester classes are civil procedure II, trial advocacy II, and a continuation of the lecture classes.
The classes are designed so that each week you will learn the theory in one class, and you will put it into practice in the other. For example, you would learn how to introduce medical records in court during your evidence class, and you would actually practice introducing them during your trial advocacy class. Each semester follows a hypothetical case, and the semester ends with a mock trial based on that case.
The first semester of the ITAP curriculum follows a criminal case. Our case file was about a robbery and assault of an older woman in her own home. The defendant was a high school kid. The second semester follows a civil case. Our case file was a “dram shop” case in which a lawsuit was filed against a bar on behalf of a woman who died in a car accident after consuming alcohol at the bar.
For me, one of the best things about ITAP is the small class size of the trial advocacy section. The trial advocacy classes are generally between 10-15 students, a teaching assistant (TA), and the professor. The TA is a third-year student who took ITAP during their 2L year. The professor is either a Temple Law professor or a practicing attorney from Philadelphia. My professor was a career public defender who had so much wisdom and enthusiasm. The classroom is set up like a courtroom with the TA acting as the various witnesses and the professor acting as the judge.
The small class sizes are great for a few reasons. First, it allows the students to get a lot of individualized attention and feedback. The professors truly pay close attention and offer specific feedback and support. Also, the students form a close-knit bond over the year, which creates an encouraging environment that allows each student to participate, try new things, and take risks without feeling like they’re in front of a bunch of strangers.
Before starting law school, I was scared to death of the courtroom- I thought I would never be a courtroom litigator. But, I decided to take ITAP because I knew, no matter what career, ITAP would give me skills such as public speaking, analyzing facts, and developing case strategy. But, after taking the ITAP program, I really want to be a trial lawyer. ITAP taught me what the courtroom is really like. And more importantly, it gave me confidence. I highly recommend ITAP to anyone- even if you think you’re never going to litigate. You might just change your mind like I did!