Willamette provides second- and third-year students with numerous opportunities to gain hands-on trial practice. Every winter, enrollment in a weeklong Intensive Trial Practice is open to those students who have successfully completed Evidence, the second-year prerequisite course. In addition, a semester-long Trial Practice course is offered every year. Both programs provide young lawyers with critical hands-on trial practice and advocacy skills.
Intensive Trial Practice was the brainchild of Professor Leroy Tornquist, who developed the program at the University of Chicago in 1972 and brought it to Willamette in 1978. The course revolutionized the way trial practice was taught throughout the country. Before then, it was not an experiential course; it was taught only through lecture.
A typical day in the program includes courtroom exercises, group trial preparation and lectures. The class culminates with students presenting a case in front of a sitting Oregon judge and citizen jury. Jurors and witnesses are members of the law school and greater Salem communities. The interactive approach has proven to be extremely popular among students.
The program's popularity is partly due to the high caliber of legal professionals who help teach the course. Well-known judges and trial attorneys from across the United States participate in the program, including William Bauer, former chief judge of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Phillip Auerbach, a top trial attorney from the East Coast, and Gino DiVito, a former justice of the Illinois Appellate Court. Many of Oregon's finest legal professionals also participate in the program, including Chief Justice Paul J. De Muniz JD'75, Justice W. Michael Gillette, Judge Rick McCormick, Judge Glen Baisinger JD'74, Judge Don Dickey JD'72 and Judge Terry Leggert, among others.
Guided by these skilled trial lawyers and judges selected for their experience and teaching ability, students gain invaluable knowledge of the jury trial system, ensuring they enter the legal profession well prepared to succeed in the courtroom.