Week 4: Closing Statements Workshop and a lot of Fun
Week 4: Closing Statements Workshop and a lot of Fun
Adam Poe, Stetson University, Tampa Office
We completed our closing argument workshop. On Friday, the Summer Associates from Orlando visited the Tampa office where we presented closing arguments in front of several attorneys. This was definitely the most nerve-wracking workshop so far, but also the most fun. I think I let my nerves get the best of me, but the best way to learn anything is to practice. Moving forward, I will take the abundance of feedback that I received and incorporate it in my future closing arguments—especially for the mock trial in August.
Elizabeth Pearce, Florida State University, Tallahassee Office
Up until this summer, I have had no litigation exposure, so all of these weekly litigation exercises are very new to me. That is why I feel so thankful to have Kayla and partner David Marsey here to help me learn the necessary litigation skills to do my best in these workshops. This week, they both spent over an hour with me going over how to prepare for a closing argument. I took notes profusely and tried to incorporate all of their tips as I wrote and practiced my argument. When it came time for me to actually perform in front of them, I felt really confident. My nerves had subsided and I actually found the exercise to be fun.
Meghan Kennedy, University of Florida, Orlando Office
The motion I was working on for Patrick was time sensitive, so all of my efforts were going to that before I moved on to my closing statement. I had about half of my closing written by the time of the reception on Thursday. Even though my closing was looming over my head, I really enjoyed meeting other law students, associates, and partners at the reception. Moreover, I became acquainted with a number of judges sitting on the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida and some even invited me to their upcoming trials! Stay tuned to hear about those!
I got home around 8:00 pm and power hour commenced. I cranked out the remaining portion of my closing, read it over once, and went to bed. The next morning, although I feared the worst, my closing ended up going great! In fact, my closing sparked some ideas in Rob for a future closing statement of his! If I had to pick, I would say this is my greatest accomplishment thus far at RumbergerKirk. Many thanks to the attorneys and employees that sat as the jury for our statements, your comments were greatly appreciated.
Julie Potts, University of Alabama, Birmingham Office
On Wednesday, I got to attend my first real deposition with Rebecca Beers, one of the partners in the Birmingham office. I was so excited to tag along, and Rebecca and I got a lot of time to talk on the drive to the deposition location. It was interesting to see how she framed her questions to get the witness to talk about the points she wanted to bring out. Before the deposition started, she told me what she was looking to learn from the witness, and we went over the answers he had given on the way back to the office. I learned a lot from her about depositions, and it was nice to see a real one after doing the deposition workshop earlier in the summer.
Joseph Tracy, Florida State University, Orlando Office
I also got to watch a different deposition this week, so I got to see a lot of what goes into the whole process. For this deposition, I was tasked with writing the client update. It feels good to be working on assignments that are used and relied on by others. All of this, plus the deposition workshop from a couple weeks back has really opened my eyes to how depositions work in practice that I would have never learned just reading about them in a textbook.
The main event from this week was the closing statement seminar. We had a workshop going over the components of a closing statement, then they gave us a problem based on a real case to use for the closing. This was a very involved process, there were detailed facts, exhibits, and expert testimonies to sort through. I am not on trial team and I have never done a closing statement, so there was definitely a steep learning curve for me.
Graham Marcus, Stetson University, Orlando Office
Last but not least, we traveled to the Tampa office Friday to give closing arguments in front of the attorneys. We had the opportunity to base our closings off a real, ongoing case. Their [Tampa office] case to be exact. Yes, I know, even more pressure. However, after we finished, they gave us helpful advice that I will carry with me for the rest of my professional career. After the rollercoaster of emotions, we all worked up quite the appetite and ate at the Columbia Restaurant. It had such a unique and exquisite atmosphere that was only paralleled by their amazing and colorful entrees.
Andres Chinchilla, University of Miami, Miami Office
The next day, we attended an opening/closing statement seminar led by partner Rob Blank. This was one of my favorite seminars thus far and the best part of any trial. Rob went over the ins and outs of performing an opening and closing, best practices for doing so (online and in-person) and gave us some real life examples from his own experience. Shortly after the seminar, we received our materials to conduct our own closing argument. The issue–based on a real case–involved a motor vehicle accident between the Plaintiff passenger and a commercial truck owned by the Defendant. The collision occurred at a low speed and lasted just a few seconds. I was tasked with arguing on behalf of the defense; a role I embraced enthusiastically. My hours of preparation culminated into what I felt to be a strong closing argument. In fact, I was so invested in the case that I ended up running out of time when I was just about 75% done with the subject matter. Nonetheless, notwithstanding my failure to abide by time restrictions, I had fun performing in front of Rob and my peers.
Harris Blum, University of Miami, Miami Office
On Tuesday, Partner Rob Blank lectured on opening and closing statements. This was new for me. Unlike the motion practice workshop, which closely resembled my moot court experiences, Rob’s lecture offered a window into the life of a trial lawyer. I have to say, there are more theatrics involved than I anticipated. I had the chance to deploy Rob’s teachings on Friday during our closing statement workshop. I represented the plaintiff, and I did my best to tell an emotional tale about my client. On the other hand, Andres Chinchilla, who argued for the defendant, one-upped me. I guess that’s too be expected—after all, he’s been participating in mock trial since before he could walk.