CLE Seminars

Masters of Advocacy provides seminars for CLE credit on intermediate and advanced trial practices, including Dynamic Voir Dire, Jury Investigations, Electronic Discovery, Cross Examinations, and more. Courses are frequently conducted by well-known and celebrated attorneys. The following are some of the CLE seminars we offer:

Social Media Jury Investigations

The ethics and art of investigation the jury panel.

In April 2014, the American Bar Association issued Formal Opinion 466 in which they found that investigating potential jurors via social media is ethical, provided lawyers and their teams do not contact or connect with potential jurors in the process.

In our opinion, social media jury investigations – when performed properly – are not just ethical, but a critical part of a trial lawyer’s responsibility as a zealous advocate. There are clear advantages to researching potential jurors, and there are liabilities inherent in a failure to investigate. In 2015, social media jury investigations should be considered part of the standard of care in voir dire. That said, it’s important to balance the benefit against the effort required to conduct social media jury investigations.

Dynamic Voir Dire

Crafting your case during jury selection.

We all know voir dire is about more than selecting or rejecting potential jurors. It is an opportunity to make a first impression on the venire – a chance to get to know the potential jurors and to introduce the themes of your case. However, voir dire should also be a time to set the stage for your presentation style, to foster connections between potential jurors, and to gain insights into the group dynamics that may guide the ultimate jury.

Dynamic voir dire is the process we use, not just to pick a jury, but to prepare a jury specifically for the case at hand. It is built on a philosophy that a jury is not just an assemblage of individuals, but rather a cohesive unit prepared by the trial lawyer to perform a very important duty. Here’s another way to look at it, for anyone who is familiar with chess. A good chess player has several reasons for making every move: it must strengthen a defensive position; it must bolster an offensive stance; and it must further a specific strategy.

And so it is with a trial lawyer during voir dire. Every move – that is, every question – must do several things at once. Each question should not only reveal something about the juror, it should further an understanding of the themes in your case, and it should foster the potential juror’s connection with you and with other jurors.

An indispensable part of dynamic voir dire is social media jury investigations. Many potential jurors reveal significant details about their lives online, and those details are often very helpful to a trial lawyer who wants to get the most out of every voir dire question.

The Art of the Cross

Successful Cross-Examination of Experts

We’d like to imagine that we can destroy our opposition’s expert witnesses on the stand and obliterate the value of their testimony. Sadly, there’s not always opportunity to do that, so we have to adjust the goals we have for our cross-examinations. When we cannot completely discredit an expert witness, we can at least minimize their impact by questioning their methods, challenging their opinions, limiting their scope, and knocking them off their game. With some art, we might just be able to get the opposition’s expert to lay a foundation for the countervailing expert that we plan to present.

When you begin your cross of an expert, never forget this: it may be the prosecutor’s witness, but it is your trial. You cannot control how a witness will answer, but you can control the pace of the inquiry; you can control the tone (Is it hostile or friendly?); and you can build the context for the witness’ testimony.

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu declares that every battle is won or lost before it is fought. The same could be said about trial. A good cross-examination is woven into the fabric of your case, and in that light, a good cross-examination begins long before the expert takes the stand.