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Cardozo’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, otherwise known as ITAP, takes place during the first two weeks of January. For 12 days this year, 84 diligent third-year Cardozo students gathered during the intersession to sharpen their litigation skills and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Approximately 250 visiting faculty, lawyers and judges from around the United States, volunteered their time to guide the students through demonstrations, evidence preparations, voir dire, and the general task of preparing a trial. They also critiqued and evaluated each student on a daily basis, so that during the short program each student received a substantial amount of advice. Each day offered hands-on experience in litigation practices. The course began with the students learning how to make effective opening and closing statements, present evidence to the judge and jury, examine and cross-examine a witness, and make objections. The days were long, with the students in a class or demonstration from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later. They also had to prepare for the next day either on their own or with a group. These skills were put to the test during the bench and jury trials, where the students were divided into teams of two and assigned both a case and a side to argue. While students in the criminal law clinic were guaranteed a criminal law case, the other students were evenly divided between criminal and civil law cases. One visiting faculty member acted as the judge, and other visiting faculty served as evaluators in order to give their full attention to the students. In the jury trials, students were able to observe the jury deliberations. The students, along with the visiting faculty, were interested in what the jury actually considered while deliberating. It offered the students a glimpse into what usually occurs behind closed doors. It also gave them an idea of what issues should be stressed during a trial, and what issues the jury did not even consider important. Jon Goodgold, of the Cardozo class of ’01, said, “I thought it would be a tremendous opportunity to see if I wanted to do litigation while being taught and critiqued by some of the best litigators in the nation. It was by far the best course offered at Cardozo. I think it is a great course for anyone thinking about litigation. For those people not thinking about litigation… I think it is a good course to learn different lawyering skills.” As one of ITAP’s administrative assistants, I personally saw students become more comfortable presenting their arguments and more confident in their abilities as a litigator. Students who were unsure about litigation as a career still appreciated the skills that the course taught them, regardless of its intensity. In addition, students were able to sign up to be considered for the Cardozo Trial Team. Students chosen for consideration for the Trial Team were notified after the jury trials. I was also able to talk with most of the visiting faculty about the program, and they were impressed with the program and with student caliber and dedication at Cardozo. Program Director and Professor Ellen Yaroshefsky noted that employers often spend $5,000 to train young lawyers in the very skills that ITAP offers Cardozo students.

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