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Brian Steller Reports ABOTA’s Inaugural Trial College Found Rewarding By Dozens of Young Trial Attorneys and Seasoned Faculty Members From Across the Country

12.17.2014
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ROSELAND, N.J./June 15, 2010 -- Just a few days after being described as “one of the most rewarding things I’ve done” by ABOTA Trial College “student,” Miles McGrane of Florida, Connell Foley Partner Brian G. Steller has set his sights on presenting the Second Annual Trial College in July, 2011.  “Feedback was so overwhelmingly positive and humbling,” stated Steller about the five-day
trial college held on the campus of Princeton University from June 6 through June 10, 2010.

Steller advises the inaugural trial college was first approved by the Northern NJ Chapter of ABOTA and then subsequently approved by the Executive Committee of the National Board of Directors. The inaugural trial college held on the campus of Princeton University hosted 35 students from as far as California and as close as nearby towns throughout New Jersey. Faculty members, including five former national presidents of ABOTA, came from as far as Arkansas, Texas, and Colorado. The mix of “local” students and faculty members and their counterparts from across the country created a unique learning experience for all. Steller points out the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is made up of civil trial attorneys from both sides of the bar and as such, the students learn techniques for trial presentation without a particular agenda or bent.  

2007 ABOTA National President, Lewis Sifford, of Dallas, Texas commented as follows to Steller who served as the trial college’s Academic Administrator and Dean, “I thought the faculty you assembled was first rate and I learned many new things from them.” Another former National President, John V. Phelps, of Jonesboro, Arkansas stated as follows, “It was a fascinating and wonderful experience all the way around. I enjoyed the new friendships and the chance to visit with so many of my already cherished pals…the attendees reminded me of one of my favorite Plato quotes, ‘There is nothing like the confidence of inexperience,’ and I am hopeful we did nothing to diminish that generational hubris.” 

Recently named as one of the finest defense attorneys in the State of Texas, Steven A. Springer, of Dallas commented, “What a great privilege on so many levels. I am so grateful. To each of you [fellow faculty members], thanks for demonstrating your passion for the civil jury trial to these students. If they only knew, we learned more than they did.”

The Woodrow Wilson School

Trial College “student,” Adam Rosenberg from Seattle, Washington, advised the Dean of the college upon his departure, “I wanted to extend my thanks, one last time for all of the hard work you put into the trial college. It was an incredible experience and something I’m sure that I’ll draw on in many trials to come. The faculty was exceptional and their insights were very well taken. This was by far the most meaningful attorney-education experience that I’ve ever had.” 

After three days of intensive academic work carried out at the famous Woodrow Wilson School on Princeton’s campus, the students were then reviewed by the faculty and 12 of the 35 were selected to present a mock trial before a real jury and the former Chief of the Federal District Court for the District of New Jersey, John Bissell. Following the trial, all of the participants were able to watch the jury deliberate and hear their comments concerning the proofs and the efforts of the attorneys. Following the verdict entered by the jury, the faculty members were asked to critique the trial attorneys and their efforts. Thereafter a graduation ceremony was held in the beautifully restored Chancellor Green located not far from where the trial took place. During the ceremonies, the students became “Fellows” of the ABOTA Trial College. Following the presentation of student certificates, all in attendance were treated to the commencement address of the Hon. Julio Fuentes, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Following commencement, students and faculty members joined together at some of the well known pubs of Princeton, New Jersey and then sadly went about packing up their belongings at the dormitory both groups shared over the week long college term.  Steller’s vision of intense commitment between student and faculty was achieved as the two groups “dormed” together and took all of their meals together.  “Even after the academic day was over, the students could not but help learn from the faculty members breaking bread with them every evening,” said Steller.

“I’m eagerly anticipating another terrific learning experience for young trial lawyers at the 2011 ABOTA Trial College, since many of the faculty have already expressed their interest in coming back,” added Steller.

For more information, please contact Brian Steller at 973-535-0500 or bsteller@connellfoley.com or ABOTA here.

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