J. Reuben Clark Law School Trial Advocacy
Learn. Train. Compete. Succeed.
The purpose of the BYU Trial Advocacy team is to prepare students for a smooth transition from the study of law to the practice of law by developing basic litigation skills that serve any area of legal practice. The Trial Advocacy Program develops highly skilled future courtroom litigators who are nationally recognized for their professional excellence, drive, competitiveness, competence, and success.
Participants in Trial Advocacy get to participate in monthly training sessions. These monthly trainings are given by a variety of successful attorneys focusing on areas of greatest concern for new trial attorneys. Our goal is to help you walk out of law school and into a courtroom.
This year’s training schedule will be posted shortly.
BYU also now offers a week-long Trial Academy in conjunction with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (“NITA”) to interested 1L’s at the end of Winter Semester. This program began in 2018 and teaches students trial skills through intense and repetitive practice.
An essential part of learning trial advocacy skills is actual participation and active learning, which is why we are committed to not just telling you how to be a good advocate, but providing participants a place to try-out their developing skills with drills and practices paired with meaningful feedback and coaching.
BYU competes in both the TYLA and AAJ National Competitions. In preparation for these competitions BYU holds the Linda Anderson Trial Advocacy Competition—an intraschool Trial Advocacy Tournament—every fall.
In 2020 the J. Reuben Clark Law school has been invited to participate in the Tournament of Champions, a national invitation-only competition that showcases some of the nation’s top law students from 16 of the top trial advocacy institutions.
From a former member:
“Trial Advocacy was my favorite thing about BYU Law. As a 1L I participated in the inaugural Trial Academy – an intense (but fun) week that helped me learn basic trial skills and get my feet wet in the courtroom. After the Academy, I knew that trial ad was where I wanted to spend my time in law school. I was lucky enough to be selected for the school’s TYLA team that next fall. … Through trial ad I made great friends, learned from great mentors, and even had the chance to mentor and teach lowerclassmen. I highly recommend trial ad to any law student who is looking to develop trial skills.”
Ali Poulson; Arnold & Itkin; Former Woody Deem Chair (2018-19), National Semi-Finalist (National Trial Competition – TYLA 2019), Tournament of Champions Competitor (2019).
Linda Anderson Competition
The Annual Linda J. Anderson Trial Advocacy competition provides future lawyers with the encouragement and opportunity to practice and hone their trial and advocacy skills. Every year students make incredible progress as they learn by doing in the competition. “Linda Anderson was a great experience- it taught me a lot about the Rules of Evidence, as well as how to be an effective advocate. Because I didn’t get to do any proceedings in court this summer due to COVID, I was really grateful to have this opportunity to flex my trial skills,” says Emilie Stiles, Linda Anderson 2020 champion. Her competition partner, Ellen Welch described Linda Anderson as “the perfect opportunity for me to enhance my trial skills and gain confidence in front of a judge. [It] was easily the highlight of law school for me!”
The competition is a multi-round elimination style tournament with local judges, attorneys, and legal practitioners serving as judges for the participants’ performances. Along with the practical experience, the participants also receive valuable feedback. For participating judges it is a highly enjoyable way to advance the practice of law and share their expertise. Says a former judge: “We were nervous at first, wanting to do a good job for the students with constructive criticism, etc. We actually had a good time and the students were very receptive of our advice. I would be happy to be of service again.”
As of 2020, the Linda Anderson competition has the extra incentive for hard work provided by a generous sponsor. Arnold & Itkin LLP, a Texas-based trial firm, supports the competition by offering a generous cash prize of $10,000 to the winning team!
In honor of Linda Anderson and our hope for an ever increasingly competent, skillful, zealous, congenial and professional legal community, we celebrate this opportunity.
About Linda Anderson:
Linda J. Anderson (class of 1991) was a visionary leader in trial advocacy. She can be credited with creating the Trial Advocacy program at J. Reuben Clark Law School. She drafted the policies, procedures, and bylaws of the Trial Academy program. “She was a force,” says her former law school classmate and practice partner, Sandra Dredge. “She was quietly assertive, but did not suffer fools at all.” As a former Recreational Director for Pleasant Grove City, having earned an undergraduate degree at Utah Valley University in Recreation Management, and a wife and mother of three children, she was a “scheduling master” who truly excelled at the logistics of trial tournaments. “She loved trial” and found her advocacy in the courtroom to be a complete joy. She worked in a variety of high-profile Utah law firms before passing away from Non-Hodgkin’s large cell lymphoma. Though her life and career ended far too soon, her passion for the law, advocacy, and trial continues to serve as an inspiration to the law students who benefit from her efforts to raise the practice of law through the learning and practice that trial advocacy offers.
Trial Advocacy Board 2020-2021
Shawn Howell, Traveling Team Coach,
Attorney at Utah County Public Defender Assoc.
Christopher Melling, Trial Advocacy President