Experts from the American Bar Association's (ABA) Rule of Law Initiative led a second workshop at the European Humanities University (EHU) for the University's law students. The workshop focused on trial and advocacy techniques that can be applied in court and elsewhere. Participating law students said the training was “perfect” and “a great opportunity to develop new skills.”
William McGilton, who works as a legal specialist for ABA in Ukraine—one of 40 countries where the ABA Rule of Law Initiative is being implemented—led a practice-based training workshop focused on examination, argument presentation, and psychology.
“The goal of this training is to teach students trial techniques and how to advocate for their client. They learn how to do a cross examination, present closing arguments, and [other] techniques,” said McGilton.
According to McGilton, the goal of the training is not to prepare professional advocates, but to increase their capabilities. In the mock trial of a robbery case that he moderated as part of the training, McGilton demonstrated to the students how to coax a defendant to admit guilt or improve a defendant's image after a damaging cross-examination by a prosecutor.
“This training is great. We are advised how to speak in court, how the court works, we practice judicial terminology. In the future, I want to be a lawyer specializing in civil law working with international corporations,” said Ann Trukhan, a second year law student at EHU.
She was acting as a defense lawyer in a mock trial. Trukhan said she was nervous at first, but the experience helped her develop advocacy and English speaking skills.
Her “opponent” Tatsiana Arestova played the part of the prosecutor in the training. She had to use the techniques she learned to press the “defendant” to admit his guilt. After the mock trial, Arestova referred to the training as “perfect.”
“It was very exciting. This was a great interactive, practical experience.”
This was the second time this year that the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, whose mission is to promote rule of law as an antidote to poverty, conflict, corruption, and disregard for human rights, provided EHU with special training opportunities as part of a new collaborative effort to improve legal education.
The European Humanities University is a private, non-profit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the university has been headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania since authorities expelled it from Belarus in 2004. It serves nearly 2,000 mostly Belarusian students, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and promoting research in the humanities and social sciences.