President's Column - DBA Trial Academy
By Paul K. Stafford
The resolutions of the New Year may have grown stale, butSpring is upon us and a sense of rebirth and renewal surrounds us.
I’m reminded of a woman who was gazing out of the window or her home one Spring, looking unto the sunny silent street of her quiet community…and looking even further into yesterday,…and she reflected upon a life that was, and that was not.
“What would you do differently?” she was asked. “What would you improve upon?” “Where would you start?”
She met the inquiry with the resolve and candor that had defined much of her life, and she stated “I’ve had a wonderful life, but there are some things that I would do differently and some things that I would improve upon.” “Phoenix,” she replied… “I would go to Phoenix.”
Her response was followed by a revelation as I realized the irony of her statement. Unlike the city or the mythical bird which was reborn from its own ashes, Phoenix is not a place or a thing, but a state of mind. It is a symbol of new beginnings, fresh starts, and opportunities to rebuild, improve, and enhance one’s life… professional and personal. Upon hearing the woman’s statement, the value of new beginnings and improvement were reinforced in me and I was reminded that, with diligence and hard-work, the improbable is not impossible. Accordingly, I constantly strive for professional and personal improvement, and I constantly encourage others to do so as well.
Contrary to popular belief, we as lawyers are a dynamic and adaptable profession. Quite often, we rebuild, reinvent and redefine ourselves to adjust to the changing times and the legal environment. We constantly strive to be excellent lawyers, increase our legal knowledge, enhance our legal skills, and improve the effective administration of justice. It’s possible to commit ourselves to improving the legal profession in numerous ways, and as members of the legal community, we are committed to improving ourselves and our profession.
The Dallas Bar Association has countless members dedicated to improving the legal profession on a daily basis, and has displayed this commitment in various ways for many years. This continuing commitment has been renewed in 2012. Consistent with this renewed commitment the Dallas Bar has embarked on a unique effort to improve our profession in order to better serve our clients and our community.
Due to the increase in the number of attorneys in our profession, and the decreased opportunities for hands-on litigation experience, the Dallas Bar Association and other stakeholders in the legal community realized a need to provide our younger and less-experienced members an opportunity to increase their trial knowledge and improve their trial skills. As a result of this need, the DBA’s Trial Academy was formed.
The Trial Academy is a collaborative effort with various groups, including the sister bar associations, members of the local judiciary and local law schools. Under the able guidance of DBA Director Mary Scott and a host of planners, instructors and facilitators, the Trial Academy is intended ensure that our younger and less-experienced members have the technical and trial advocacy skills that they need to be more effective litigators. The DBA’s Trial Academy will address the need to improve the technical and trial advocacy skills of participating members while also enhancing the
quality of legal services available to our community. The Trial Academy will be available to a select number of members, will be provided at no cost to the participants, and will consist of several “modules,” including pre-trial procedure, voir dire, opening statements, direct and cross examination and closing argument. It is the Dallas Bar’s hope that the Trial Academy will provide an opportunity for participants to improve their trial advocacy as litigators while fulfilling our organizational commitment to rebuild, improve and enhance the legal profession.
Like the rebuilding, renewal and improvement symbolized through the advent of Spring and the mythical firebird, it is our hope and intent that the Trial Academy will provide our members an opportunity for personal and professional growth, improvement and renewal.