Legal aid organizations operate within very small budgets to provide services to low-income Texans. All too often, these limited budgets do not allow for legal aid attorneys to receive the training they need to best advocate for their clients. The Commission supports training opportunities for legal aid organizations so that their attorneys can keep their legal skills and technological knowledge up-to-date.
The Texas Access to Justice Commission, in partnership with the American College of Trial Lawyers and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, conducts a training academy each year for attorneys working in legal aid offices or other non-profit legal services organizations. The Pre-Trial Academy is held during odd-numbered years, and the Trial Academy is held during even-numbered years.
The 2020 Trial Academy will be June 2-5 in Austin at the University of Texas School of Law. The application period will open in early spring.
The Trial Academy will be a four-day intensive, trial advocacy skills training presented by faculty of the ACTL and is beneficial for attorneys that practice in any area of the law.
Hosted at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, the training will include live demonstrations of courtroom trial skills by experienced litigators who have distinguished themselves as some of the top trial lawyers in the country. Following each day’s demonstration, participants in the Academy will have the opportunity to practice their skills and receive personalized professional critiques designed to develop and refine trial techniques. Topics will include voir dire, opening statement, direct and cross-examination and closing arguments.
The hands-on, intensive training delivered at the Trial Academy benefits both legal aid attorneys and their clients. Learning from some of the best legal minds in the state, attorneys sharpen their trial skills and learn to be more effective litigators on their clients’ behalf. The ideal participants are those attorneys who have 2 to 4 years of experience, although others may be considered.
Although the American College of Trial Lawyers attorneys volunteer their time to help train legal aid attorneys, it costs approximately $600 per participant to cover expenses, such as lodging and travel, for the Trial and Pre-Trial Academy. To sponsor a legal aid attorney’s trial skills training, please contact ATJmail@TexasATJ.org or 512.427.1855 / 800.204.2222 ext. 1855.
Advances in technology allow for more efficient delivery of services as well as increased service to underserved areas and individuals. To ensure that the legal aid community can best use technology to advocate for their clients the Commission provides training to legal aid staff on the latest software and tools. To learn more about our technology training for legal aid organizations, visit our Technology page.