Thirty-six lawyers from across South America recently completed an International Oral Litigation Skills course in Quito, Ecuador. The course presented entirely in Spanish was offered by ACCESO Capacitación, a program of California Western’s Latin American Institute of Law and Justice.
ACCESO’s coordinator Marco Macklis led the course together with two lawyer instructors, Claudio Pavlic, a private attorney from Chile and Alejandro Lockwood, a public defender from Milwaukee, WI.
The course involved students participating in all aspects of the preparation and execution of an oral trial, from the analysis of the facts and preparation of the theory of the case to opening statement, direct and cross-examination, presentation of evidence, and closing arguments. During each of these exercises, the students are extensively evaluated by the instructors and receive constructive criticism to improve their litigation skills.
“The skills we are teaching are useful for those who have no experience in the oral system and for those who have been litigating for years,” says Macklis. “The most gratifying thing for the students is the large number of practical exercises in the program because, in that way, the experience is deeper and gives them a very close view of the reality of the new criminal justice system,” adds Macklis.
ACCESO has a long history of success in teaching skill sets through Latin America in support of judicial reform efforts. There is a demand for training legal practitioners with the tools needed for the new procedures and skills in this transitional phase to strengthen the rule of law.
“At ACCESO Capacitación we are committed to providing the best skills for the reforms that are being implemented in Latin American countries,” says Macklis.
“As oral trials have become more common, Latin American lawyers have had to learn to improve witness testimony and also to train in the art of cross examination. Judges also need to learn how to listen to oral testimony instead of just relying on written testimony, to which they were accustomed,” continues Macklis.
Under the leadership of Justin Brooks, Director, and Karen Sigmond, Associate Director, ACCESO Capacitación has trained more than 6,000 lawyers, ministers of justice, judicial officers, professors, and students throughout 20 countries.
ACCESO Capacitación is one of four programs offered by California Western’s Latin American Institute of Law and Justice. The other three programs are Maestría en Derecho, the Mexican Moot Court Program, and REDlnocente.