Legal “boot camp” helps prepare law students for courtroom careers
Public Relations - Published: May 18, 2010
ITAP 2010PromoWhile most law students around the country take a break after final exams this month, nearly 150 students on Widener’s two campuses are taking part in a seven-day legal “boot camp” of sorts to hone the skills they’ll need to try cases in a courtroom.

Now in its 24th year on the Delaware campus and 18th year on the Harrisburg campus, the program is one of only a handful nationwide. About 75 judges, attorneys and legal academics from around the country will travel to Wilmington – and another 50 to Harrisburg – to serve without pay as program faculty members because they want to impart their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience to tomorrow’s generation of American trial lawyers.

Known as the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, or ITAP, the program’s days are filled with rigorous study, simulations and breakout sessions that divide the students into small groups of eight to 10. The Delaware campus runs its program under the direction of Professor John Nivala from May 16 to 22. The Harrisburg campus runs its program under the direction of Associate Professor J. Palmer Lockard II from May 21-22 and 24-28..

The program is highlighted by the annual E. John Wherry Distinguished Lecture in Trial Advocacy and Professionalism, to be given this year in Delaware by state Superior Court Judge John A. Parkins Jr. He will speak on Friday, May 21 at 4 p.m. in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom. Students in the Harrisburg program will hear from Harrisburg-campus alumnus William C. Nettles ‘92, the newly sworn U.S. attorney for South Carolina. He will speak on Friday, May 28 at 5 p.m. in room A180 of the administration building.

“Widener's unique Intensive Trial Advocacy Program gives students a realistic, practical experience in trial advocacy – including the responsibilities and pressures experienced by trial advocates,” said Harrisburg’s Lockard. “By the end, ITAP shows students that, with hard work and good coaching, they can take the discrete fundamental skills needed to try a simple case and turn them into a successful trial performance.”