MTLA Trial Academy 
UM Flathead Lake Biological Station
Yellow Bay, Polson, MT

2016 Participants
Practicing voir dire and opening statements in front of actual jurors. This was such a great opportunity to practice speaking in front of people, and the ability to get real-time feedback from the jurors as to my presentation and manner was invaluable. Additionally, being able to learn by doing was extremely helpful, particularly for those of us who haven't had the opportunity to go to trial.

I really liked the learning by doing the exercises, getting feedback, and then watching the pros do it. I was also grateful for the books like Rules of the Road and Damages 3 by David Ball for extra help when prepping for the exercises.

Learning by doing, getting valuable feedback from the senior partners. Interacting with real jurors.

Ability to receive instant feedback, and the chance to learn by doing.

Learning by doing, and learning from excellent, highly-experienced attorneys and Judges.

Interaction with other lawyers, particularly young lawyers, is a shot in the arm.

2014 Participants

I had a really positive experience and walked away with so much to think about. I am definitely interested in remaining a member of this community.

I enjoyed the opportunity to practice trial skills on my feet, in front of peers, mentors, real judges, and "real" jurors. I also appreciated the opportunity to meet many wonderful lawyers (new and experienced) from all over the state. The setting was gorgeous.

It was a wonderful experience. It was very valuable for me to practice voir dire and the opening statement on jurors and then get their feedback. The senior attorneys were top notch. It was also great to get to meet other young attorneys representing plaintiffs.

Having the jurors and the judges to provide feedback was invaluable. Being able to practice while thinking on your feet and getting real-time feedback was a fantastic experience. Then, being able to watch an expert do the same thing was a lot of fun.

Feedback from judges, jurors, and fellow senior partner was very insightful and extremely valuable for junior partners and for me as senior partner. Observing junior partners soaking up the experience and feedback on the fly, incorporating it into their next exercise, and improving from exercise to exercise -- amazing.


2012 Participants
It was well worth the money and time away from my practice to attend, as I now know how to make my practice more successful and frankly, more enjoyable. I have no doubt that the lessons learned at the academy will pay for themselves immediately. Thank you all for a great learning experience and a great time.
I had a very positive experience at the trial school and greatly appreciate the senior partners taking the time to impart their knowledge and expertise to the junior partners.
The faculty was far and away the most important aspect. While the view was great and the food was delicious, learning from those who have been through it all was terrific. To sum it up, one faculty member said to me during one of the "post-dinner" sessions, "I learned all of this stuff by going into the courtroom and getting my ass kicked. Maybe by doing this you won't have to do it that way".
The chance to learn from seasoned attorneys and judges. It was very nice to get the opportunity to speak in front of actual jurors and receive their candid criticism.
The jurors were great. The interaction with experienced trial attorneys and judges was fantastic. It was valuable to do the exercises and most importantly get the criticism. It was constructive for sure. I also liked the networking aspects of the trial academy, lot of great opportunities.
The hands on approach from the faculty, jurors and judges. Getting instant critiques and response to what you just did was extremely beneficial.
2009 Participants
What was really exceptional about the program was its ability to recharge the batteries of both younger and older attorneys alike. Taking three days away from a busy practice is a lot--or so it seems on the drive to Yellowbay. Spending three days with dedicated, exceptionally competent trial lawyers, talking about basic trial skills was rewarding. It refocuses one on their own practice and their own cases and brings perspective to a career path one is treading.
I feel so lucky to have been able to learn from such a collection of experienced, capable attorneys. The ongoing mentor relationships are an unbelievable gift!
The experience was great. I felt comfortable getting on my feet and getting after the tasks as a result of the extremely positive environment created by the senior partners. 
The feedback from the jurors, judges, witnesses, and senior partners was invaluable. The opportunity to see demonstrations by some of the best of the best was amazing and gave me a better understanding of how to interpret some of the feed back I received.
Again, all the "learn by doing" exercises were incredibly useful. Everything else was good, too; but clearly, the stuff we had to do on our feet was the most worthwhile.
I was impressed with how gracious and supportive the senior partners and other presenters were. I learned so much from the opportunity to actually go through the motions of a trial knowing I would get positive feedback and constructive critique. It really gave me more confidence in my ability just knowing I can do it and that if I need help, there are people willing to help.

2007 Participant Comments

The Trial Academy was the best 2½ days of my legal career. . .  .

[T]he Trial Academy . . .  the most demanding, yet rewarding and worthwhile CLE experience of my legal career.

I learned more about myself and advocacy in two and ½ days than I thought possible. . . .  I think the 2½ days were worth more than law school! . . .  [T]his turned out to be one of the best and most valuable experiences of my professional career. . . .

The Trial Academy was exactly what I needed to prepare for my upcoming hearing and trials.

I can't say enough about the program. . . . I simply find myself at a loss to explain how much I took away from the course. . . . It gave me confidence to be myself in trial.

The Trial Academy was undoubtedly the greatest experience I have taken part in – in my young legal career.

I've been feeling like since I left Yellow Bay I've wanted to shout from the roof tops how great my experience was and how useful and effective the academy was for me. . . . [N]o young/new/inexperienced attorney representing plaintiffs or criminal defendants should miss out on this opportunity.

'What are all these people taking about?  What educational experience could give rise to this type of unqualified evaluation?  MTLA's 2007 Trial Academy, held September 26-28 at the Yellow Bay Biological Station at Flathead Lake.

For more of Senior Partner' Mike Lamb's Trial Trends article  on the 2007 Trial Academy.

2007 Photos

2005 Trial Academy Participant Comments
"I strongly recommend that all new lawyers participate in this challenging and educational experience." Jonathan Cok, New Lawyers Chair, 2005 Trial Academy participant.
Trial Trends article
Liked most about the Trial Academy:
"instruction from such experienced attorneys"
"mentors' honest and constructive criticism"
"being able to get in the 'pit' and receive the welcomed constructive criticism by Montana's best"
"personal connections to experienced attorneys"
"the use of real juries"

2005 Trial Academy Pictures