Advanced Trial Advocacy


This program will not be offered in 2017, but we do plan to offer it again in 2018.

For Registration Questions: Contact the School of Law at (406) 243-4311
For Program Questions: Contact Karen Stephan, Boone Karlberg P.C., at (406) 543-6646

The Advanced Trial Advocacy Program is an intensive hands-on course in trial advocacy offering techniques and tips from jury selection to closing arguments. An outstanding group of Montana trial lawyers and judges will demonstrate skills and critique your performance.

The Advanced Trial Advocacy topics are:

  • Effective Jury Selection
  • Compelling Opening Statements
  • Creating Dynamic Trial Visuals
  • Courtroom Communication Techniques
  • Depositions: Strategy and Purpose
  • Formulating a Direct Examination Strategy
  • Art of Cross Examination
  • Presenting and Attacking Expert Testimony
  • Persuasive Closing Arguments
  • Ethical Pitfalls for Trial Lawyers

During the week, you will see demonstrations of trial skills by the faculty and have your performances videotaped and critiqued by them. You will try a case sometimes representing the plaintiff and sometimes representing the defendant. You will prepare and present voir dire, an opening statement, a closing argument, and conduct direct, cross, and redirect examinations of fact and expert witnesses. You will learn about effective jury selection and how to use visual aids to enhance your persuasiveness.

Course Study Case and Schedule

Advanced Trial Advocacy Schedule
Case Summary
Case File

Registration Information

Enrollment is limited to 36 participants. Law students interested in attending may add their name to a wait list at Student Services (at the School of Law) in the event that seats are not filled by practicing attorneys. All registrations are on a first-come, first-enrolled basis. When the 36 seats are filled, a waiting list will be kept in the event of cancellations.

The registration fee includes instruction, books, materials, and continental breakfast.

Advanced Trial Advocacy Program Faculty

Hon. Beth Baker

Justice Baker was raised in Spokane, Washington, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication. In 1985, she graduated with high honors from the University of Montana School of Law. Following graduation from law school, Justice Baker served four years as a law clerk for the Hon. Charles C. Lovell, U.S. District Judge for the District of Montana. From 1989 through 2000, she worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the Montana Department of Justice, including four years as Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General and four years as Chief Deputy Attorney General. Justice Baker spent the next ten years in the private practice of law with the firm of Hughes, Kellner, Sullivan and Alke. Justice Baker served ten years on the State Bar of Montana’s Access to Justice Committee and has been a director of the Montana Justice Foundation since 2007, where she currently serves ex officio. Justice Baker also Chairs the Montana Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. In 2013, she was awarded the Karla M. Gray Equal Justice Award by the State Bar of Montana. Justice Baker was elected to the Montana Supreme Court on November 2, 2010, and was sworn into office January 3, 2011.

Ronald H. Clark, Esq.

Professor Ronald H. Clark is a nationally known lecturer, author and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at Seattle University Law School. Mr. Clark has lectured at over 40 national courses and for numerous bar associations and prosecutor associations across the country. He has conducted international training for the Department of Justice in Bosnia and Kosovo. The Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys awarded Mr. Clark the President’s Award of Merit. He has been awarded both the Distinguished Faculty Award and a Lecturer of Merit Award by the National College of District Attorneys as well as the Dean’s Award of Honor. For 27 years, Mr. Clark was in the King County Prosecutor’s office in Seattle, Washington, where he served as a senior deputy prosecutor, Assistant Chief in charge of the trial teams and, for ten years, as Chief Deputy of the Criminal Division leading over 115 attorneys. Next, he was the Senior Training Counsel at the then newly built National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina. Professor Clark has co-authored Trial Advocacy, 4th edition; Pretrial Advocacy, 4th edition; Evidence Skills; Cross-Examination Handbook, 2nd edition; and Opening Statement and Closing Argument. He also served as the Chief Author for the Criminal Trial Practice and Techniques chapter of the Washington Practice Manual. He was a member of the blue ribbon American Bar Association Task Force that formulated the Prosecution and Defense Function Standards.

Michael D. Cok, Esq.

Founding partner, Cok Kinzler PLLP, Bozeman, Montana. The University of Montana School of Law (J.D. with honors 1978). Sustaining member, Montana Trial Lawyers Association, 1979-present (board member, 1989-2013; president, 1998-1999); sustaining member, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, 1981-present; Trial Lawyers for Public Justice; Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers and ABOTA member. Listed in Best Lawyers in America; Super Lawyers; Top 100 National Trial Lawyers; Best Law Firms in Montana by U.S. News & World Report; Top Mountain States Attorneys; member of the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference (2005-2008); and a member of Montana Supreme Court’s Commission on Evidence. He is an active trial lawyer specializing in civil litigation, primarily representing individuals in products liability, environmental contamination and insurance related claims. His clients have received over $100 million in verdicts and settlements.

John P. Connor, Esq.

University of Montana (B.A. 1966); University of Montana School of Law (J.D. 1970). Practiced law from June 1970 to October 2012. Chief Criminal Counsel, Office of Attorney General, 2005-2008; Chief of the special prosecutions unit responsible for providing training and trial assistance to Montana prosecutors, 1987-2005; Special Assistant United States Attorney, 1988-2006; Jefferson County Attorney 1981-1987; partner, Smith, Connor & VanValkenburg, 1975-1981; associate, Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman, 1973-1975; deputy director, Montana Legal Services, 1971-1972; admitted to practice in Montana state and federal courts and the United States Supreme Court. Martindale-Hubble AV rated, 1995. Former member of the Criminal Procedure Commission; former Chair, Supreme Court Commission on Unauthorized Practice; Former Chair and Vice Chair, Supreme Court Commission on Evidence; Former Chair, Supreme Court Criminal Jury Instruction Commission; recipient, State Bar of Montana professionalism award, 1994 and 2003; recipient, State Bar of Montana’s Jameson Award, the Bar’s highest award for professionalism, 2008; Recipient, First Judicial District Pro Bono award, 2011; Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers (State Chair 2010-2012); Montana Board of Crime Control Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014. Extensive criminal jury trial experience, including death penalty cases; extensive local, state and national trial advocacy teaching experience.

Randy J. Cox, Esq.

Shareholder, Boone Karlberg P.C., Missoula, Montana. Northeastern University (J.D. 1979). Associate, American Board of Trial Advocates; Montana Board of Bar Examiners since 1988, Chair 2001-2014; Advisory Commission on Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure; Montana Defense Trial Lawyers (past president). Listed in Best Lawyers in America. Extensive experience in commercial, personal injury, toxic tort, and railroad litigation.

Triel D. Culver, Esq.

Triel D. Culver was born in Anchorage, Alaska, raised in Helena, Montana, and graduated from Helena Senior High School in 1983. He received his college degree in political science from Middlebury College in Vermont (B.A. 1988) and received his law degree from the University of Montana (J.D. 1993). Triel began his law career as a judicial law clerk and then as a Deputy County Attorney where he first developed his trial skills in jury trials. For the next ten years, he defended interstate Class I and short-line railroads in FELA and crossing accident litigation developing a considerable civil jury trial practice. In June 2004, Triel joined Cliff Edwards’ law firm and his practice since has been focused on plaintiff’s civil litigation helping Montana workers, consumers, landowners, whistle blowers, and injured families. Triel also represents Montana businesses in commercial litigation including claims involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, patent and copyright infringement, trade secret misappropriation, and unfair competition. In 2007, Cliff and Triel obtained a jury verdict of $21,454,539 in Ammondson v. NorthWestern Corporation, 220 P.3d 1 (Mont. 2009) on behalf of former Montana Power Company employees representing the 87th largest verdict nationally that year and one of the largest ever in Montana.

Kathleen "Katie" L. DeSoto, Esq.

Partner, Garlington, Lohn & Robinson PLLP in Missoula, Montana. Before entering private practice in 2001, she clerked for Chief United States District Court Judge Jack D. Shanstrom in Billings, Montana. Her practice focuses on civil litigation, with an emphasis in insurance coverage and liability defense, defense of unfair claims practices act cases, school liability defense, legal malpractice defense and federal criminal defense. She is listed in Chambers USA, Mountain States Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers, and is a 9th Circuit Lawyer Representative.

Professor Cynthia Ford

Professor, Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. Cornell Law School (J.D. cum laude 1978). Crowley, Haughey, Hanson, Toole & Dietrich, 1978-1983; Davis, Wright & Jones, Seattle, Washington, 1983-1988; solo practice, Bainbridge Island, Washington, 1988-1990. Chief Judge, Suquamish Tribal Court, 1988-1990; Associate Justice, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Court of Appeals, 1997-2000. Litigation practice 1978-1990; law school faculty since 1990, teaching Civil Procedure I and II, Evidence, Family Law and Remedies. Professor Ford served as the co-coach of the law school’s Trial Team for 22 years. She is the author of the “Montana Civil Pleading and Practice Formbook” and, during her sabbatical 2012-2013, worked on the “Montana Evidence Handbook.” She is also the author of “Evidence Corner” in the Montana Lawyer magazine.

Sean P. Goicoechea, Esq.

Partner, Moore, Cockrell, Goicoechea & Johnson, P.C., Kalispell, Montana. The University of Montana School of Law (J.D. 2000). Intern, United States District Court for the District of Montana, Judge Donald Molloy, 1998-2000. Montana Defense Trial Lawyers; Association of Ski Defense Attorneys, 2001-2013. Attorney Representative for the U.S. District Court Attorney Admissions Fund Advisory Committee, 2008-2012. Selected as 2008-2012 Super Lawyers Mountain States Rising Stars; 2013-2015 Super Lawyers Medical Malpractice Defense. AV rated (Martindale). Recognized in Chambers/Partners and Benchmark Litigation. Member, American Board of Trial Advocates. Experience litigating and trying cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, civil rights, and ski areas liability.

Steven J. Harman, Esq.

Steve Harman is a patient advocate in healthcare negligence cases who was awarded “Trial Lawyer of the Year for 2012-2013” by the Montana Trial Lawyers Association. Steve obtained the largest verdict in eastern Montana in a medical malpractice case. He has been selected by his peers to memberships in the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocacy. The Martindale Hubbell Lawyers’ Directory ranks Steve in its highest category for competency and ethics. For the first 25 years of his practice, Steve defended civil suits, including the representation of healthcare providers throughout Montana. He served as President of the Montana Defense Trial Lawyers association. Steve serves on the faculty of the University of Montana Law School Advanced Trial Advocacy Program, which is a week-long program to train trial lawyers held on the Missoula campus each spring. He helped draft the rule on Appellate Alternative Dispute Resolution for the Montana Supreme Court, and sat on the committee to review new rules for the Montana Medical Legal Panel which were recently adopted. Steve has written and lectured in the area of trial practice for nearly 40 years. Steve maintains his office in Billings, Montana.

Thomas D. Henderson, Esq.

Administrative Assistant District Attorney General for the 30th Judicial District in Memphis, Tennessee. Administrative Assistant for Criminal Courts (2005-present); Chief Prosecutor for the General Sessions and Juvenile Court (2001-2004); Director for the Violent Crimes Prosecuting Unit (1999-2001); Division Leader (1980-1999); Assistant District Attorney General (1976-present); Recipient of the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation Region IV Vice President’s Trial Award in 1997 and 1992, the National College of District Attorneys Distinguished Faculty Award in 1985, and the NCDA Lecturer of Merit Award in 1984.

Natasha Prinzing Jones, Esq.

Shareholder, Boone Karlberg P.C., Missoula, Montana. The University of Montana School of Law (J.D. with honors 2000). Boone, Karlberg & Haddon, P.C., 2000-2001, Clerk for Hon. Sam E. Haddon, U.S. District Court Judge, 2001-2002, Boone Karlberg P.C., 2002-present. Named 2012 Top 250 Women in Litigation (Benchmark); Mountain States Super Lawyers, 2008-2015; Best Lawyers, 2011-2015; 2012 Bar Registry of Preeminent Women Lawyers (Martindale); AV rated (Martindale); Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2007-2015. Experience in civil litigation, including FELA law and insurance defense.

Michael L. Lessmeier, Esq.

Mr. Lessmeier is a 1976 graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he was recognized for outstanding achievement in the Department of Speech, Drama and Radio, and a 1979 graduate of the Willamette University College of Law. He has been practicing law in Alaska since 1979 and has been actively trying cases to juries in Alaska since 1981. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (past Alaska State Chair) and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He has been Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1991. Reported cases he has tried to verdict include Pagenkopf v. Chatham Electric Co.,165 P.3d 634 (Alaska 2007); Cummins v. Nelson, 115 P.3d 536 (Alaska 2005); Lyons v. Midnight Sun Transp. Services, Inc., 928 P.2d 1202 (Alaska 1996); Blumenshine v. Baptiste, 869 P.2d 470 (Alaska 1994) and Beck v. State, Dept. of Transp. and Public Facilities, 837 P.2d 105 (Alaska 1992). Almost all of Mr. Lessmeier’s career has been devoted to civil trial advocacy and over the course of that career he has successfully handled hundreds of litigated cases. He regularly represents physicians, hospitals, lawyers and a wide variety of individuals and businesses. He tried to verdict McLean v. Leader Insurance Co., in which the jury returned a verdict in excess of $12 million dollars in favor of his client. He was a member of the team that successfully represented the Alaska Retirement Board in its ground breaking actuarial litigation, which resulted in a settlement of $500 million dollars. With the Alaska Attorney General’s office, he represented the Alaska Marine Highway System in its successful fast ferry litigation. He does pro bono work for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. While his primary interest is civil trial work, Mr. Lessmeier has represented clients on legislative and administrative issues and in the course of that representation has testified extensively before the Alaska legislature on insurance issues and issues relating to Alaska’s civil justice system. He was appointed in 2000 to the Alaska Redistricting Board and as an independent member of that Board successfully fought for a unanimous statewide redistricting plan. The redistricting cases are reported at 44 P.3d 141 and 47 P.3d 1089. He was co-chair of Governor Parnell’s public safety and justice transition team in 2010. Mr. Lessmeier has been an invited presenter on civil litigation issues for the Alaska Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Program. Most recently, in February of 2015, he organized the trial advocacy demonstrations and presentations by the Alaska Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers for the 17th Annual Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault CLE.

Hon. Kathy Seeley

Judge Seeley was raised in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. She graduated from Carroll College, and received her J.D. from the University of Montana Law School in 1983. After a stint as a law clerk for a state district judge, she was an Assistant Attorney General from 1985 – 2008 (nine years as an appellate attorney and thirteen years as a trial prosecutor in the Prosecution Services Bureau). She has been a district judge in the First Judicial District since 2009. She has extensive trial experience as a prosecutor and trial judge.

John E. Smith, Esq.

B.A. in Philosophy and Economics in 1983 from the University of Montana. Graduated from the University of Montana School of Law, with honors, in 1987. Admitted to the Montana Bar and the U.S. District Court, District of Montana in 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit in 1993. Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers since 1989. Founding and lifetime member of the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers since 1996. Served as secretary/treasurer, vice president, and a two-year term as president of the MtACDL, finishing term as president in February 2003. Elected treasurer of the Montana Chapter of the Federal Bar Association in November 2003, and remain in this position. Attended Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer College at the Thunderhead Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming, June-July 2000. Specializing in criminal defense, trials and appellate work, in State and Federal courts in Montana as part of his small law firm in downtown Missoula, Montana, Smith & Stephens, PC.

Hon. Karen S. Townsend

District Court Judge, 4th Judicial District for the State of Montana, 2011-present. Ohio Wesleyan University (B.A. 1964); University of California (M.A. 1965); University of Montana School of Law (J.D. with honors 1976); Deputy County Attorney, Missoula County Attorney’s Office, 1976-1980; Chief Staff Attorney, County Prosecutor’s Services Bureau, Montana Department of Justice, 1980-December 1981; Senior Deputy County Attorney, Missoula County Attorney’s Office, 1982-1988; Director of Training, National College of District Attorneys, 1988-1990; Senior Deputy County Attorney, Missoula County Attorney’s Office, 1990-1998; Chief Deputy County Attorney Missoula County Attorney’s Office, 1998-December 2006; Special Assistant United States Attorney, 1984-1988, 1990-2006; Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers; Named a Super Lawyer for the Northwest Region; Western Montana Bar’s Outstanding Lawyer, 1994; Named winner of the YWCA’s Salute to Excellence Award for Public Service. 1996; Awarded Distinguished Faculty Award from the National College of District Attorneys, in June 2006; Member, American Bar Association; State Bar of Montana; Member, Montana Supreme Court Commission on Criminal Jury Instructions; Faculty Member, University of Montana Advanced Trial Advocacy Program, 1992-2001, Director of Program, 2002-present; co-coach of University of Montana’s Trial Advocacy Competition team 1998-2010, primary coach, 2010-2012; extensive local, state and national trial advocacy teaching experience.

Hon. Loren Tucker

District Judge, 5th Judicial District; Water Court Judge, Upper Missouri River Basin; Elected Member American Law Institute. Past President: Montana Judges’ Association; Montana County Attorneys’ Association; Fifth Judicial District Bar Association. Past Chairman: Sentence Review Division; Montana Board of Banking. Past Member: Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Advisory Council; State Bar of Montana Client Security Fund Committee and Bench-Bar Committee. Past Montana Supreme Court Appointments: By designation to hear appeals; Court Assessment Advisory Council; Workload Assessment Study. Previous general private practice emphasizing banking and real estate litigation. Part-time county attorney (16 years). Clerked for U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. J.D., University of Minnesota, 1972; Co-Managing Editor Law Review. Lives on the ranch with wife MaryAnn and the critters.

Gary M. Zadick, Esq.

Graduate of University of Montana 1975, Economics and Political Science, with Honors, University of Montana Law School 1978. Deputy Cascade County Attorney, 1978-1979. Alexander & Baucus, 1979-1985. Ugrin Alexander Zadick & Higgins, 1985-present. Lecturer: University of Montana Law School, Insurance Bad Faith; University of Great Falls, Criminal Procedure and Evidence. Selected for inclusion in: Best Lawyers, Chambers Leading Lawyers of North America, Super Lawyers-Mountain States, Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Lawyers, National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers Montana, Benchmark Litigation Guide Top Lawyers Montana.

Communication Faculty

Samuel Boerboom, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, MSPR program director, Department of Communication and Theatre, Montana State University Billings. Faculty member and coordinator, SPEAK2compete Summer Speech Institute (formerly Gustavus Adolphus College Summer Speech Institute). Regular presenter at the National Communication Association, Western States Communication Association, and Rhetorical Society of America conventions. Areas of expertise include public advocacy, rhetoric and public affairs, political communication, ethics, and mass/social media and coalition-building.

Nikki R. Schaubel, M.S.

Independent Communication and Trial Consultant. Background in public relations, court administration, organizational communication and public speaking. Fellow, National Center for State Courts Institute for Court Management.

Melinda C. Tilton, M.A.

University Lecturer, Montana State University Billings, Department of Communication (1990-present), and Independent Communication and Trial Consultant. Communication and leadership trainer for organizations, including the Montana Bar Association, Billings Fire Department, Hospice, and Montana Nutrition Association and KOA. Areas of expertise include public speaking, group dynamics, interpersonal, and intercultural communication. Ms. Tilton is the recipient of the University of Montana, Advanced Trial Advocacy Distinguished Faculty Award, 1999, 2001; MSU-Billings Faculty Excellence Award, 2009; Students of MSU-Billings, Outstanding Faculty Award, 2012-2013; MSU-Billings Faculty Excellence Award for Promoting International Student Success, 2015.