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The Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, or ITAP, “is an exhilarating experience and a unique opportunity to work with outstanding civil and criminal litigators who practice throughout New York,” said Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky, the program’s director. Despite such a build-up, I had no idea of what I was in for when I signed up for ITAP. Honestly, I signed up because I needed the credits and I thought, “three pass/fail credits in a couple of weeks, no problem.” Then the rude awakening happened. I asked around and found out that many people dreaded ITAP and some had dropped out, having heard horrific stories. I had no interest in trial work but thought I’d survive it. Here’s what ITAP is really like. It’s intensive, as the name indicates. ITAP uses some of the most gifted and talented attorneys from around the country. You have to show up every morning, including Sunday, during your holiday break in January. You will learn every aspect of how a trial proceeds from opening statements to closing arguments. You will have an opportunity to try a bench and a jury trial. If you have an experience like mine, you’ll learn a great deal more. My first day was miserable, stressful and I wanted to drop out. I had the privilege of being critiqued by Michael Ross. If you do not yet know Michael Ross, you will. My opening statement was, admittedly, not the best, but it was the following comment that made a lasting impression. He told me, “if you’re going to be a TV lawyer, at least be a good one … like ‘L.A. Law’.” Apparently, some people in ITAP’s past didn’t appreciate Michael’s style of teaching. I didn’t either — on the first day. Today, I have great respect for him. I learned more from him than he probably realizes. So, I would like to thank Michael for being so hard on me the first day. He did me a favor because I developed a fierce determination to excel in this program. Suddenly, it wasn’t about three credits. It was war. From the second day forward, I received constructive comments and tremendous praise from the variety of accomplished attorney’s that worked with me. By far, ITAP is the most practical class that I have taken at Cardozo. The most surprising thing that I learned about myself is that I discovered a love of trial work. I had a hidden talent that I may never have discovered had I not participated in ITAP. I loved ITAP. So much so, that I was chosen for the Cardozo Trial Team based on my performance in ITAP. ITAP has benefitted me in a number of ways. I gained valuable, practical experience standing up and presenting cases. The experience gave me a new sense of confidence because I actually did something rather than just reading about it. Also, I made contacts with several of the attorneys in the program. Networking is important at every stage of your career, and this is a terrific way to meet highly skilled practicing lawyers from all over the country. It is a rare opportunity in which I encourage all law students to participate.

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