ATLA's Ultimate Trial Advocacy Course®: The Art of Persuasion | The American Association For Justice

ATLA's Ultimate Trial Advocacy Course®: The Art of Persuasion

March 10, 2018 to March 14, 2018
Program Information:

at Harvard Law School | Cambridge, MA

Sponsored by HMR Funding
Sponsored by Lisa Blue and Williams Kherker

Looking for the upcoming Ultimate Course? Find information about the March 2019 program HERE

About the College:

With the inaugural program held at Harvard University in 1990, ATLA's Ultimate was the first of its kind to train trial lawyers in advanced communication skills and trial strategies. Using more than 20 years of ATLA/AAJ research, ATLA's Ultimate Trial Advocacy Course®: The Art of Persuasion remains the national gold standard of trial advocacy programs.

In 2018, the tradition of ATLA's Ultimate continues. The rigorous five-day program delivers the ultimate strategies for jury selection, voir dire, trial psychology, and courtroom communications. It includes a combination of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on workshops led by a faculty of seasoned trial lawyers with nationally recognized trial consultants and communications experts. Only experienced trial lawyers with five or more jury trials are admitted to the program.

Through hands-on workshops in small groups, you will receive individual attention and critiques of your skills by highly experienced faculty. Your recorded workshops are yours to take home for further study. You will be divided into groups based on factors such as years in practice, experience, and location of your firm, allowing you to work with colleagues of a similar skill and experience level.

Registration Fees:

​AAJ Members: $2,545

  • If you are an AAJ member and have been admitted to the bar for five years or less, you can attend ATLA's Ultimate for 25% off. (Does not apply if you have previously attended an AAJ Education seminar or college.) Discount not available online, please call 800-622-1791.
  • Register two or more lawyers from your firm at the same time, and take $70 off the registration fee for each registrant. Discount not available online, please call 800-622-1791.​

Only experienced trial lawyers with five or more jury trials are admitted to this program.
To register, please call 800-622-1791 or complete the registration form (download HERE).​

Hear from Past Participants:

"The Ultimate is far and away the best college I have ever attended. The insight that I gained from the lectures and workshops was incredible. I am a better lawyer for attending this college."
—Christopher M. Miller, Pittsburgh, PA, 17 years in practice
"I cannot wait to use the insights and techniques discussed and demonstrated during this course. The difference between the way we do things and the way we should do things could not be more clear after attending this college."
—Michael Lalli, Philadelphia, PA, 7 years in practice
"I was reminded why we do this work. I was supported, encouraged, taught so much that was profoundly helpful. I'm inspired. And, I take on faith the honest invitations by every faculty member that I can call them with questions, concerns, and issues. Thank you so much."
—Emily Joselson, Middlebury, VT, 30 years in practice

To register, email or call 800.622.1791 or 202.965.3500, ext. 8612


Saturday, March 10

9:00 - 10:00am

Morning Session
10:00am - 1:00pm
• Maintaining Rapport with Decision Makers
• Juror Perceptions and Beliefs
• Case Story Delivery & Messaging, Demonstrative, and Anchoring​

Lunch (provided)
1:00 - 2:00pm
• Workshop Introductions​

Afternoon Session
2:00 - 5:15pm
• Lawyers and Jurors as Viewed from the Bench
• Demonstration: Storytelling and Theming in Opening
• Demonstration: How to Counter Negative Juror Perceptions and Beliefs in Opening​

Networking Reception
6:00 - 7:30pm

Sunday, March 11

Continental breakfast available
8:30 - 9:00am

Morning Session (lunch provided)
9:00am - 3:45pm
• Communication Skills Workshop: Capturing, Holding, and Directing the Jury’s Attention
• Workshop on Opening Statements​

Afternoon Session
3:45 - 6:30pm
• Panel Discussion: Ethical Considerations in the Negotiation Waltz
• Preparing Witnesses for Direct and Cross-Examination
• Telling the Story Through Direct Examination

Monday, March 12

Continental breakfast available
8:30 - 9:00am

Morning Session
9:00am - 1:00pm
• Workshop on Direct Examination​

Lunch (on your own)
1:00 - 2:00pm

Afternoon Session
2:00 - 5:30pm
• Relating to the Jury: Being Human
• Cross-Examination: Homicide or Suicide?
• Reaching Your Goal: Let’s Talk Damages
• How to Interpret Focus Group and Jury Selection Behavior​

Evening Session
7:00 - 8:30
• Voir Dire Lecture and Interactive Session

Tuesday, March 13

Continental breakfast available
8:30 - 9:00am

​Morning Session
9:00 - 11:45am
• Final Impact: Making Summation Count
• Demonstrations: Masters of the Art of Closing Argument
• The Psychology of Decision Making

Lunch (on your own)
11:45am - 1:15pm

​Afternoon Session
1:15 - 6:15pm
• Workshop on Cross-Examination
• What Have We Learned About How to Win For Our Clients?

Closing Banquet
6:45 - 9:00pm

Wednesday, March 14

Continental breakfast available
8:30 - 9:00am

​Morning Session
9:00 - 11:00am
• Communication Skills Workshop: Voice and Movement​

Afternoon Session (lunch provided)
11:00am - 3:00pm
• Workshop on Summation

Invited Faculty:

Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James

Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James are cofounders of ACT of Communication in Culver City, California, whose workshops have trained more than 30,000 lawyers and whose work as part of trial teams has taken more than 1,000 cases to trial.  Mr. Blumenfeld is a working professional actor who recently appeared on The New Girl, Parenthood, Arrested Development, and Seth Rogen’s recent film The Interview.  He is a resident artist at A Noise Within in Pasadena, California and a company member at the Theatericum Botanicum in Topanga, California.  For the past thirty years, he has been regarded as one of the leading trial consultants in the United States, specializing in live communication skills.  He has taught for several continuing legal education colleges, including for the American Association for Justice for twenty-eight years and for private law firms and bar associations.  He and his partner and wife, Katherine James, are members of the American Society of Trial Consultants.  Ms. James specializes in live communication skills and coaches witnesses and their lawyers to reach, persuade, and activate jurors.  She has taught for AAJ and many private bar associations and law firms.  She has also appeared in television and film and is an active theatre artist who performs and directs as well as a playwright.

Lesley Ann Clement

Lesley Ann Clement focuses her practice on representing victims of abuse and neglect in institutional settings. Ms. Clement has been featured in Time, People, Frontline, New York Times, The National Law Journal, The SacBee, and The Sacramento Business Journal for her groundbreaking work in the field of elder abuse. She has long been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell’s American Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Ms. Clement is a past chair of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) Nursing Home Litigation Group and is a former member of AAJ’s Sections and Litigation Group Coordination Committee and Safety for Seniors Committee. Ms. Clement reached the highest level of AAJ’s National College of Advocacy’s Achievement Recognition Program, that of Diplomate in 2016. Clement & Associates is located in Sacramento, California.

The Honorable Geoffrey W. Crawford

The Honorable Geoffrey W. Crawford was appointed as Federal Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in 2014. Judge Crawford is a former Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. He began his legal career as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont. He was an associate at the law firm of Burlingham, Underwood & Lord in New York City and the law firm of Manchester & O'Neill in Vermont. In addition, he was a partner at the law firm of O'Neil, Crawford & Green. From 2002 to 2013, he served as a judge of the Vermont Superior Court. Judge Crawford presides over proceedings at U.S. District Court in Rutland.

Jaine E. Fraser, Ph.D.

Jaine E. Fraser, Ph.D. is a leading expert on trial psychology and jury selection. For more than 20 years, Dr. Fraser's psychology research and clinical practice has focused on group dynamics and group opinion formation. She uses her expertise and insights into the human psyche to help high-powered litigators win the country's most challenging jury cases. Dr. Fraser is a fellow and diplomate of both the American Board of Forensic Medicine (ABFM) and the American Board of Medical Psychotherapists and Psycho-diagnosticians (ABMPP) and diplomate of the American College of Forensic Examiners (ACFE). She has participated as a faculty member for a variety of seminars with the American Association for Justice (AAJ), National Expert Witness Conference, the Trial Advocacy College of Texas (TACT), and the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers (OATL). Trial Shrink is located in Dallas, Texas.

Robert M. Gerchen

Robert M. Gerchen is a senior consultant with Litigation Insights St. Louis, Missouri.  He began his legal consulting career in 1993 with the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office, Hardcore Gang Unit, where he trained attorneys in communication skills, argument preparation, and courtroom presence.  Currently, he works with clients on the development of courtroom themes and storytelling, as well as witness preparation, jury selection, and multimedia presentations.  His recent writings have focused on building mediation presentations, as well as on the prospective, as opposed to retrospective, closing and damages presentation theory.  Mr. Gerchen is the author of the book 101 Quick Courtroom Tips for Busy Lawyers and the founder of The SOZO Foundation, which seeks to curb human trafficking in the United States through changes in law and holding lawbreakers accountable.

Richard D. Hailey

Richard D. Hailey concentrates his practice in personal injury litigation.  Mr. Hailey is a past president of the American Association for Justice, fellow of the Pound Civil Justice Institute, former member of AAJ’s National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees, Governor of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), member of the ITLA’s College of Fellows, and donates to AAJ PAC.  He serves on the ITLA’s Board of Directors, has been listed in Best Lawyers in America, and was named the Melvin Belli Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Melvin M. Belli Society.  The law firm of Ramey & Hailey is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a member of AAJ’s Leaders Forum.

Patricia F. Kuehn

Patricia F. Kuehn, J.D., M.A., is a jury expert judicially qualified in the area of small group decision-making.  Working as a trial consultant she concentrates on strategic jury selection, jury decision research, and persuasive negotiation and trial tactics.  Ms. Kuehn provides her clients with strategies to enhance juror understanding and to satisfy juror expectations bringing about optimal results.  Since 1993, she has analyzed over 10,000 jury-eligible citizens regarding various litigation matters.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Trial Consultants.  She holds a degree in Social Psychology with emphasis on jury behavior and is licensed to practice law.  Ms. Kuehn’s litigation consulting practice is based in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Steven C. Laird

Steven C. Laird has been practicing law since 1980, and is part of the less than one-percent of Texas lawyers who are triple-board certified.   He is board certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and is also certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.  Mr. Laird’s firm specializes in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. He is a frequent national, state and local speaker on a variety of legal topics such as evidence, trucking collisions, torts, civility, and trial practice.  He has also co-authored a book chapter on spinal cord injuries. Mr. Laird has been consistently voted as one of the top 100 SuperLawyers in Texas for ten years and was also selected to Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury Litigation for the past seven years. He is a member of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) Birth Trauma Litigation Group, a fellow of the Pound Civil Justice Institute and donates to AAJ PAC.

John E. Leighton

John E. Leighton is the founding partner of Leighton Law, P.A., with offices in Orlando and Miami, Florida, where he concentrates his practice in personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death litigation nationwide.  Mr. Leighton is recognized as a national expert in the field of premises liability and is the author of Litigating Premises Security Cases (AAJ Press/Thomson West).  He received the Advocate of Justice Award from the National Crime Victim Bar Association for his work representing victims of violent crimes against corporate defendants.  He is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education programs nationwide.  He has commented on legal issues on national and local media, including CNN, NBC’s Today Show, and Inside Edition.  Mr. Leighton is the current chair of the American Association for Justice’s Inadequate Security Litigation Group and former chair of AAJ’s Motor Vehicle, Highway and Premises Liability Section, and served on AAJ’s National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees Executive Committee.  He is the chairman of the Academy of Trial Advocacy, has been included in The Best Lawyers in America continuously since 2008, has been selected as a Top Lawyer in the South Florida Legal Guide for twelve consecutive years, and is listed as one of Florida’s Legal Elite in Florida Trend magazine.  He is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubbell and rated 10/10 by

Artemis H. Malekpour

Artemis H. Malekpour specializes in focus groups, case strategy, and jury selection.  As a lawyer with a background in psychology and psychiatric research, Ms. Malekpour holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration with a concentration in mental health issues from UNC’s School of Public Health.  Before earning her degree with honors from Duke Law School, she worked in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Hospitals with children and adolescents coping with psychiatric disorders and legal issues.  She began her path to litigation consulting while still in law school, conducting extensive post-trial jury interviews in death penalty cases through an independent study she developed under the direction of Duke Law’s Death Penalty Clinic advisors, as well as interviewing jurors in civil cases as part of an internship with her mentor, David Ball. Ms. Malekpour is a partner with Malekpour & Ball, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Christopher J. O'Brien, course advisor

Christopher J. O’Brien has been a personal injury lawyer for 25 years and concentrates his practice in representing seriously injured people.  He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, has a 10.0 rating, and was listed in the Buffalo Law Journal’s Legal Elite’s Top 10: Best of the Best.  He is a past president of the Western Affiliate of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA), is chair of the National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees, and is a Diplomate of the NCA.  Mr. O’Brien is a frequent speaker at AAJ and NYSTLA continuing legal education programs, including AAJ’s Ultimate Trial Advocacy College, held annually at Harvard University, and is codirector of Trial Advocacy at SUNY Buffalo Law School.  He is the founder of The O’Brien Firm, P.C., located in Buffalo, New York.

Jerome F. O'Neill, course advisor

Jerome F. O’Neill concentrates his practice in litigation on behalf of injured persons and their survivors and commercial litigation.  He has served three times as a cochair of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees, is cochair of AAJ’s Jury Bias Litigation Group and chair of the Child Sex Abuse Litigation Group.  He has served as cochair of the Election Committee, chair of the Litigation Group Leaders Council, and member of the Organization Review Committee and Judicial Independence Committee. He has been a member of the AAJ Board of Governors for over 30 years. He has taught nationwide on trial advocacy topics and was the senior partner of O’Neill Kellner & Green for 26 years prior to joining Gravel & Shea.  He is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubbell and received the Wiedemann & Wysocki Award from AAJ in 2012 and the AAJ Distinguished Service Award in 2016.  He is a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers; a past president of the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association; a past president of the National Crime Victim Bar Association and member of the Vermont Supreme Court Evidence Rules Advisory Committee.  Gravel & Shea, PC is located in Burlington, Vermont.

Eric G. Oliver

Eric G. Oliver is a national trial consultant specializing in verbal, non-verbal, implied, and visual communication with 30 years of experience working with and training trial attorneys. His Whole Brain™ model of persuasion for successfully influencing legal decision makers bridges the gap for attorneys between theory and practice. He has been integral to the successful resolution of thousands of plaintiff cases. Mr. Oliver also offers unique approaches to focus group work and an innovative method for attorney conducted voir dire that aligns with the potential juror instead of challenging their character and fairness. He is the author of four books, including Persuasive Communication: 25 Years of Teaching Lawyers (Trial Guides, LLC 2009) and Facts Can’t Speak for Themselves: Reveal the Stories that Give Facts their Meaning (National Institute for Trial Advocacy 2006). He recently published The Persuasion Edge for Legal Communication DVD series (DVD: Eric Oliver, The Persuasion Edge (Trial Guides, LLC 2012) in which he teaches how to successfully influence decision makers during negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and trial. Mr. Oliver is the founder of MetaSystems, Ltd. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Karen R. Roberts

Karen R. Roberts worked as a television journalist before becoming a lawyer. As a trial attorney, she focuses her practice on litigating personal injury cases.  She has served on the Board of Trustees for the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) National College of Advocacy (NCA) where she helped to implement continuing education for attorneys across the United States. She is also former Chair of Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) Board of Advocates, an elected member of The American Board of Trial Advocates, and a member of the American Society for Trial Consultants. She regularly teaches trial skills for AAJ seminars and colleges throughout the nation and is a contributing author to the 4th Edition of Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit (Trial Guides, 2015).  She enjoys combining her skills in focus group research along with her communication and legal backgrounds to assist other lawyers with discovering the best strategies for communicating their cases to juries.  Ms. Roberts’ practice, Roberts & Roberts, is located in Tyler, Texas.

Paul J. Scoptur

Paul J. Scoptur has been a trial lawyer representing plaintiffs exclusively since his graduation from Marquette University Law School in 1978. He was a trustee and past cochair of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School, where he has taught litigation and trial skills. He has been named one of the “Best Lawyers in America” continuously since 2002 and is one of Wisconsin’s top 50 Super Lawyers. Mr. Scoptur is a Diplomate of the NCA and was one of the first lawyers to complete the Advanced Studies in Trial Advocacy (ASTA) curriculum offered by the NCA. He is a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants. He has a broad practice both as a trial lawyer and as a trial consultant and uses strategic case planning and focus groups extensively, both in his cases and in assisting other lawyers in preparing the discovery and trial of their cases across the country and in Canada. He is coauthor of Focus Groups: Hitting the Bulls-Eye (AAJ Press, 2016), Advanced Depositions Strategy and Practice (AAJ Press/Trial Guides, 2013), and has produced a DVD of the same title. He also produced The Defense Medical Examiner deposition DVD with Phillip Miller. In over 20 years of coaching basketball, he never got a technical foul.  He wishes he could still dunk a basketball. Aiken & Scoptur, S.C. is a member of AAJ’s Leaders Forum and located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Robyn L. Wishart

Robyn L. Wishart has appeared as counsel before the Provincial and Supreme Court of British Columbia and several administrative tribunals. While she has experience in a wide range of cases, including complex personal injury and insurance litigation, she concentrates her practice in spinal cord and traumatic brain injury litigation. She is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the Vancouver Bar Association. Ms. Wishart is a member of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) Jury Bias and Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Groups; the Insurance Law Section; and the Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway, and Premises Liability Section. Ms. Wishart serves on AAJ’s National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees and has taught trial advocacy skills at several AAJ NCA continuing legal education programs, including the Advanced Depositions College and ATLA’s Ultimate Trial Advocacy College: Art of Persuasion, held annually at Harvard University, and at AAJ’s Annual Convention. Ms. Wishart’s undergraduate studies were focused in sports psychology and she continues to study and teach neuroscience and its application to law and decision-making. Formerly of the firm Slater Vecchio LLP, Ms. Wishart is the founder of Wishart Brain and Spine Law BC in Vancouver, British Columbia.


AAJ Education’s block at the Sheraton Commander Hotel is currently full. For reservations, please book online or contact the Sheraton Commander directly. For cancellations or alterations to existing reservations contact the hotel directly. AAJ is not responsible for cancellation or early departure fees.

Sheraton Commander Hotel
16 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Toll Free: (888)-627-7121
Local: (617)-547-4800

There are several other hotels near Harvard Law School. We are encouraging our guests to book a room at these hotels if the Sheraton Commander cannot accommodate.

Le Méridien Cambridge-MIT

Le Méridien Cambridge-MIT
20 Sidney Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Residence Inn Boston Cambridge

Residence Inn Boston Cambridge
120 Broadway
Six Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 02142

Marriott Boston Cambridge

Boston Marriott Cambridge
50 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142


Your registration includes:
  • 43.3 hours of continuing legal education, including one hour of ethics, and NCA credits, which can be applied towards AAJ’s professional recognition programs
  • Recorded workshops with personalized feedback
  • Comprehensive reference materials provided on a USB drive
  • Complimentary daily continental breakfast and coffee and three lunches
  • Networking reception
  • Closing banquet
Program Location:

Sheraton Commander Hotel
16 Garden Street 
Cambridge, MA 02138
Toll Free: (888)-627-7121
Local: (617)-547-4800

MCLE/NCA Requirements:

AAJ has filed for MCLE credit in the appropriate jurisdictions.  Registered participants can receive 43.3* CLE credits depending on the jurisdiction and will be applied to your participation in AAJ’s professional recognition programs. AAJ Education programs are routinely accredited by states requiring continuing legal education. CLE questions may be addressed by reading our FAQ calling the CLE Coordinator at 800-424-2725, ext. 8335 or 202-965-3500, ext. 8335.​

Click here to learn more about AAJ's Professional Recognition Programs, Achievement Recognition Program (ARP) and Advanced Studies in Trial Advocacy (ASTA), or call 800.622.1791 or 202.965.3500, ext. 8335. The Achievement Recognition Program (ARP) provides Advocate, Fellow, and Diplomate recognition to AAJ members. To gain ARP credits, submit a certificate of attendance for every seminar, college, and convention you attend.

* Number of credits may vary depending on calculation method used by individual state accreditation agencies. AAJ is a State Bar of California MCLE-approved provider.

Special Assistance:

AAJ Education will make every effort to ensure that its meetings are held in facilities that are fully accessible to persons with mobility disabilities. If you plan to attend our program and need special facilities or assistance relating to a disability, please call 800-622-1791 or 202-965-3500, ext. 8612.

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellations received in writing on or before February 23, 2018 will result in a refund in the form that payment was made less a 10% administrative charge. Cancellations received in writing February 24 - March 2 will result in a 50% voucher of the registration fee, which may be applied toward any AAJ Education college, seminar, or webinar held within one calendar year of the date of issue. Requests for refunds or vouchers received one week or less before the program will not be honored. AAJ is not responsible for any room cancellation fees or other travel fees which result from your cancellation. Cancellation requests must be made in writing.  Fax or email your cancellation letter to the registrar at 202-625-7084 or

Contribute to the AAJ Education Fund:

Please consider a donation to the AAJ Education Fund 501(c)(3). Contributions support educational programs and activities to preserve and protect the civil justice system. Learn more>>

Terms and Conditions:

The American Association for Justice reserves the right to, in its sole discretion, refuse entrance to the event and/or remove any individual from the event whose behavior is disruptive and/or is not consistent with the character and purpose of the event. All American Association for Justice badges are the property of the American Association for Justice and must be returned upon request.

By registering for this AAJ Education program, you agree to receive electronic, written, and telephonic communication from AAJ staff regarding the program and to have your name, firm, city, and state included on the participant and exhibitor/sponsor roster.  AAJ may also need to contact you to service your membership record or to provide you with information about your membership, products and services, and advocacy and legislative updates.  By providing your contact information, including phone number, fax number, and email address, you consent and give permission for AAJ to contact you by any of those means, which may include calls to your mobile phone, faxes, or emails. You may contact AAJ at any time to change your preferences.

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