Human Resources and Law

Federal court program develops young litigators

January 19, 2016
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As many as 60 West Michigan attorneys will participate in a federal court training program this week to improve their skills.

As part of the Hillman Advocacy Program, young litigators will receive classroom and practical instruction during the three-day intensive training workshop.

The workshop will be held Jan. 20-22.


Under the guidance of experienced senior litigators, participants in the Hillman Advocacy Program will have the chance to improve their presentation and advocacy skills during the learn-by-doing training program.

During the workshop, attorneys will have the chance to study techniques of effective communication, the fine points of direct and cross examination, the strategy of jury selection and other communication issues useful to trial attorneys. Attorneys will also engage in a mock trial presided over by federal judges and magistrates.

The general session will begin on Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids, with a welcome by Robert Jonker, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan, and David Centner, 2012 Hillman Advocacy Program chair.

Communications consultant Brian Johnson will also present “Techniques for Effective Communication” during the opening session.

The program will conclude on Jan. 22 at 4:30 p.m., when mock juries in the two advanced classes deliver verdicts in the civil case of Flinders Aluminum v. Mismo Fire Insurance and the criminal case of State v. Jackson.

35 years

The Hillman Advocacy Program is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

The learn-by-doing training program was developed in 1981 amidst criticism that many trial lawyers in the federal courts appeared ineffective.

Since its inception, more than 2,000 attorneys throughout West Michigan have participated in the program.

The program is jointly sponsored by the judges of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan and the Federal Bar Association, with support from a number of West Michigan law firms.

A complete schedule of events is available by calling Melissa Kidd at (616) 608-1132.

Additional information on the program is online

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