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 16, 2019 to March 20, 2019
Program Information:

Held at Harvard Law School | Cambridge, MA

Sponsored by Lisa Blue and Williams Kherkher

About the College:

With the inaugural program held at Harvard University in 1990, ATLA's Ultimate Trial Advocacy Course®: The Art of Persuasion was the first of its kind to train trial lawyers in advanced communication skills and trial strategies. Using more than 25 years of ATLA/AAJ research, ATLA's Ultimate remains the national gold standard of trial advocacy programs.

In 2019, 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. 

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. Only experienced trial lawyers with five or more jury trials are admitted to this program. Few spots available!

Note: Due to the eligibility requirements of this program, please note that your registration application is pending until you recieve confirmation from AAJ Staff.

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.​

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

Contact Education 800.622.1791 | 202.965.3500, ext. 8612 |


Saturday, March 16

Registration at Harvard Law School
9:00 - 10:00am

Morning Session
10:00am - 12:55pm
• Welcome and Faculty Introductions
• Preparing Your Case to Overcome Jury Bias
• Integrating the Overcoming Juror Bias Model into Your Case
• Neuroscience and Decision Making

Workshop Introductions and Lunch
12:55 - 1:45pm

Afternoon Session
1:45pm - 5:45pm
• Case Framing
• Communication Skills Workshop: Capturing, Holding, and Directing the Jury's Attention

Sunday, March 17

Welcome back Networking Breakfast
8:30 - 9:00am

Morning Session
9:00am - 1:00pm
• Case Story Delivery and Messaging, Demonstratives, and Anchoring
• How to Counter Negative Juror Perceptions and Beliefs Before You Have Established Credibility
• Storytelling and Theming in Opening
• Ethical Issues at Trial

Lunch break
1:00 - 2:00pm

Afternoon Session
2:00 - 5:45pm
• Workshop on Opening Statements

Networking Reception
6:00 - 8:00pm

Monday, March 18

Welcome back Networking Breakfast
8:30 - 9:00am

Morning Session
9:00am - 12:15pm
• Voir Dire: Strategies to Identify and Expose Bias
• Focus Groups: How to Interpret Jury Selection Behavior
• Live Focus Group: Jury Selection Demonstration and Debriefing

Lunch break
12:15 - 12:45pm

Afternoon Session
12:45 - 6:45pm
• Telling the Story through Direct Examination
• Techniques in Cross-Examination
• Preparing Witnesses for Direct and Cross-Examination
• Workshop on Direct and Cross-Examination

Tuesday, March 19

Welcome back Networking Breakfast
8:30 - 9:00am

Morning Session
9:00am - 12:00pm
• How to Move the Jury to Your Damage Goal
• Communication Skills Workshop: Voice and Movement

Lunch break
12:00 - 1:00pm

Afternoon Session
1:00 - 6:30pm
• Master of the Art of Closing Argument
• Final Impact: Making Rebuttal Summation Count
• Workshop on Summation

Closing Banquet
7:00 - 9:00pm

Wednesday, March 20

Welcome back Networking Breakfast
8:30 - 9:00am

Morning Session
9:00am - 1:00pm
• Relating to the Jury: Being Human
• Maintaining Rapport with Decision Makers
• Science and the Art of Persuasion
• Nuggets from the Faculty


Invited Faculty:

Ed Ciarimboli

Ed Ciarimboli concentrates his practice in automobile collision, products liability, medical negligence, trucking collision, premises liability, and insurance bad faith claims litigation. While earning his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law, he was admitted to the Order of the Barristers for excellence in courtroom advocacy and was a national semi-finalist in the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) Moot Court Competition. Mr. Ciarimboli served as a law clerk to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas and the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Mr. Ciarimboli has continuously been named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers and as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer. He is a member of the Luzerne County and Pennsylvania Bar Associations, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, and is a Sustaining Member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ). He is a member of AAJ’s Insurance Law Section, the Professional Negligence Section, the Birth Trauma Litigation Group, and the Trucking Litigation Group. Mr. Ciarimboli donates to AAJ PAC and is a member of AAJ’s National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees. He is a partner in the law firm of Fellerman & Ciarimboli, located in Kingston, Pennsylvania.

Richard 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.

Katherine James

Katherine James is a trial consultant who specializes in live communication skills based in the discipline of theatre, Katherine James has been working to make attorneys and witnesses better courtroom communicators since 1977.  Over 40,000 attorneys have taken ACT of Communication workshops she developed with co-founder Alan Blumenfeld.  She has worked on over 2,000 cases and helped prepare thousands of witnesses.  She has taught for numerous AAJ colleges including The Ultimate (founding faculty member), Deposition College, Nursing Home Litigation Group, among others as well as many private law firms, TLAs and bar associations.  Attorneys across the nation have purchased her Online/DVD series “What Can Lawyers Learn From Actors” and “How To Make Your Witness A STAR” encapsulating her unique witness preparation system.  She has also developed “GoodLawyer/BadLawyer Hats” for attorneys to use in witness preparation.  She has been widely published and her articles can be read in the Knowledge Tank on the ACT of Communication website.  She and Alan Blumenfeld are proud members of The American Society of Trial Consultants.  An active theatre artist who performs and directs regularly, she holds a BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and an MFA from The American Conservatory Theater.

James B. Lees, Jr.

James B. Lees, Jr. is a former cochair of the American Association for Justice’s National College of Advocacy Board of Trustees, a Diplomate of AAJ’s NCA, an AAJ PAC donor, and a frequent lecturer and teacher of trial tactics throughout the United States. He is a nationally recognized trial attorney and communications consultant, a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law, and a former Deputy District Attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he successfully prosecuted 44 first degree murder cases and six death penalty cases. Mr. Lees has litigated both civil and criminal cases in private practice throughout the United States since 198 and has tried over 250 jury trials to verdict. Together with Alabama-based attorney Greg Cusimano, Mr. Lees created the five-part DVD series Commanding the Courtroom, the quintessential “how-to” video series for litigation and case development strategy, available from the American Association for Justice. Mr. Lees now consults frequently throughout North America on persuasive communications for attorneys, businesses, and political candidates and has lectured on the use of psychology and persuasion in over thirty states in the United States, as well as in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. He has personally conducted over 900 focus groups over the past decade and has appeared as a guest on ABC’s Good Morning
America, anchored a state-wide radio talk show, taught persuasion techniques at Harvard Law School, and written a monthly newspaper column. Mr. Lees ran for governor of West Virginia in 2000 and is the owner and operator of Hunt & Lees, LC, located in Charleston, West Virginia.

Artemis Malekpour

Artemis 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.

Mark Mandell

Mark Mandell is the author and innovator of Case Framing, the renowned method which focuses jurors on key issues and empowers them to make decisions. A past president of the American Association for Justice and Rhode Island Trial Lawyers Association, Mark will share the fundamental principles of Case Framing.

Phillip H. Miller

Phillip H. Miller has an exclusively personal injury practice.  Mr. Miller has handled a wide range of cases including trucking litigation, nursing home claims, pharmaceutical torts, and day care center child abuse.  In addition to his law practice, Mr. Miller has extensive experience working as a trial consultant on a wide variety of cases.  He is a former member of the American Association for Justice’s (AAJ) National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees, a Diplomate of AAJ’s NCA and a past president of the Tennessee Association for Justice.  Mr. Miller is a member of AAJ’s Jury Bias Litigation Group.  He is the coauthor (with Paul Scoptur) of Focus Groups: Hitting the Bull’s-Eye (AAJ Press 2016); Advanced Depositions Skills (AAJ Press/Trial Guides 2013), has produced a DVD of the same title, and a DVD on The Defense Medical Examiner.  Miller Law Offices is located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Eric Oliver

Eric Oliver is a national trial consultant specializing in verbal, nonverbal, implied and visual communication with over 35 years experience working with and training trial attorneys, who has been integral to the successful resolution of thousands of cases and has helped produce several first-of- their-kind outcomes, often in MDLs. His “Whole Brain”TM model of persuasion for successfully influencing legal decision makers bridges the gap for attorneys between theory and practice. His premise is that all legal judgments derive from how the facts and law are “perceived”, not how they are explained, and he specializes in helping attorneys develop the presentation of a case as a story. Mr. Oliver also offers unique approaches to focus group research and an innovative method for attorney conducted voir dire that aligns with the potential juror instead of challenging their character and fairness. Mr. Oliver is the author of four books including Persuasive Communication; 25 years of Teaching Lawyers (2009), Facts Can’t Speak for Themselves: Reveal the Stories that Give Facts their Meaning (2005 NITA) and the new updated edition, Facts Still Can’t Speak for Themselves (2015 NITA) He recently published Mirroring and Rapport, the first of three DVD programs in The Persuasion Edge for Legal Communication DVD series, in which he teaches how to successfully influence legal decision makers in during negotiation, mediation and trial. (Trial Guides, 2012). Mr. Oliver is the founder of MetaSystems, Ltd. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can find out more about him and his work at

Amy Pardieck

Amy Pardieck
Perceptual Litigation

Shayla M. Reed

Shayla Reed concentrates her practice in the area of nursing home litigation. Ms. Reed serves on AAJ’s National College of Advocacy (NCA) Board of Trustees and has taught trial advocacy skills at several AAJ National College of Advocacy continuing legal education programs. Ms. Reed also serves as the current secretary of the AAJ Nursing Home Litigation Group. She is a graduate of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College and was commended by the International Academy of Trial Lawyers for distinguished achievement in the art and science of advocacy. Ms. Reed is a member of the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys, AAJ and donates to the AAJ PAC. Reed Law Offices, PC, LLO is located in Omaha, Nebraska.

John Romano

John F. Romano is with Romano Law Group, West Palm Beach, Florida. He is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by both The Florida Bar & NBTA. John Romano is Former President of: Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (now-FJA); Southern Trial Lawyers Association & The Melvin M. Belli Society. Romano is a 2016 inductee into The Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.

Lance M. Sears, course advisor

Lance M. Sears is a past president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association and former member of the American Association for Justice’s Board of Governors. In 1992, he was appointed by the judges of the Federal Court in Colorado to the Federal Court Advisory Committee, and was elected as president of the Faculty of Federal Advocates in the Federal District of Colorado in 2002. Mr. Sears served as chair of the Colorado State Judicial Performance Commission from 2001 to 2006 and lectures nationwide on trial skills and tactics, personal injury law, commercial torts, and legal ethics. He is one of only 26 AAJ members to receive the Advanced Studies in Trial Advocacy Designation given by the National College of Advocacy (NCA). He is a member of the NCA Board of Trustees. He has been listed as a Super Lawyer since its inception in Colorado and he is also rated “AV” by Martindale Hubbell. Mr. Sears is a 30 year member of the Colorado Bar Ethics Committee. He was named a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers (ISOB) in 2003, appointed state chair of the ISOB in 2006 and elected to the Board of Governors of the ISOB in 2008. He is a partner in the law firm of Sears & Associates, P.C., an AAJ Leaders Forum firm located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

David Wenner

David Wenner is nationally recognized as an authority on juror bias and decision-making. Mr. Wenner has spent the last two decades prosecuting wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases, speaking to lawyers across the country on juror bias and decision-making, and creating a successful juror bias model. He has served on the National College of Advocacy’s (NCA) Board of Trustees, is a Diplomate of the NCA, is cochair of the da Vinci Robotic Surgery Litigation Group and Jury Bias Litigation Group, and a member of the Professional Negligence Section and Section on Toxic, Environmental, and Pharmaceutical Torts. Mr. Wenner is a partner in the AAJ Leaders Forum member law firm of Snyder & Wenner, P.C., located in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kimberly White

Kimberly White empowers attorneys to communicate  with passion and clarity. She brings to her work a unique blend of dynamic, cutting edge techniques she has translated from 25+ years in the professional theater. Ms. White is one of 200 teachers world-wide trained and certified by Master Teacher Kristin Linklater in her premiere voice method, Freeing the Natural Voice.  She is an adjunct faculty member at the Seattle University School of Law where she teaches oral advocacy skills and leads CLE sessions. Ms. White has presented at the WSAJ, CAALA, SF Women’s Advocacy Project, SPD Training Academy, World Global Fellows, and at the American Society of Trial Consultants. With Seattle attorney, Mary Ruth Mann, Ms. White created and leads a 2- day training, “Compelling Voice, Compelling Story” throughout the Northwest and California. Ms. White's experience in the theater includes Text/Voice Director for Seattle Shakespeare Company where she coached over 24 productions, January Intensive faculty member and main stage coach at Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, Mass.), voice/dialect coach for the Canadian television series “The Transporter: Diva”. Acting roles include Juliet, Elizabeth & Margaret (Richard III), Olivia in 12th Night, Kate (Taming of the Shrew) and Celia (As You Like It). She holds a BFA from California Institute of the Arts. Ms. White is an Act of Communication Associate where she trained with Katherine James in witness consulting. She lives in Seattle and consults with attorneys on cases in preparation of witnesses and openings & closings, both by Skype and face-to-face.

Robyn Wishart, course advisor

Robyn Wishart
Wishart Brain and Spine Law


AAJ has a limited number of rooms available at the Sheraton Commander Hotel at a special group rate of $259.00 per night for single and double occupancy rooms, plus any applicable taxes (currently 14.45%) and fees. To reserve a room, click HERE or call the Sheraton Commander Hotel reservation line at (888) 627-7121 and state that you are booking with the American Association for Justice. For cancellations or alterations to existing reservations contact the hotel directly. AAJ is not responsible for cancellation or early departure fees.

The room block will cut off on Thursday, February 28th.  If you have any issue booking your hotel, please contact

Sheraton Commander Hotel
16 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: (617) 547-4800

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
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 Assistant at 800-424-2725, ext. 8335 or 202-965-3500, ext. 9604.​

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 March 1, 2019 will result in a refund in the form that payment was made less a 10% administrative charge. Cancellations received in writing March 2-8, 2019 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.

Event Address:
16 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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