Trial School Symposium

Communicating, Connecting,
and the Ultimate Opening Statement

Orlando, FL | November 14 – 18

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Mark Lanier

The Lanier Law Firm

Carl Douglas

Douglas / Hicks Law

Louise Lipman


Jim Perdue Sr.

Perdue & Kidd

Joshua Karton

Communication Arts for the Professional

Mel Orchard

The Spence Law Firm

Doris Cheng

Walkup, Melodia, Kelly + Schoenberger

Joe Fried

Fried Goldberg, LLC

Kathleen Nastri

Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder PC

Mike Kelly

Walkup, Melodia, Kelly + Schoenberger

Mike Papantonio

Levin Papantonio Rafferty

Ben Crump

Ben Crump | Trial Lawyer for Justice

Chris Spagnolli

Greene Broillet & Wheeler LLP

Rich Newsome

Newsome | Melton

Andrew Finkelstein

Finkelstein & Partners

Jim Perdue Jr.

Perdue & Kidd

Troy Rafferty

Levin Papantonio Rafferty

Jesse Wilson

Tell the Winning Story

Zander Clem

Morgan & Morgan

Keith Mitnik

Morgan & Morgan

Julie Kane

Colson Hicks Eidson

Robert Bilott

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

Eric Oliver

Meta Systems

Chris Stombaugh

DiCello Levitt Gutzler

Event Agenda

Sunday – Nov. 14
Welcome Cocktail Reception and Opening Night Activity

Day 1

Monday, Nov. 15
Lectures: Opening Statement Best Methods

8:30 AM to 10:00 AM
Mark Lanier – Using Metaphor, Turning the Bad Into Good

10:00 AM to 10:15 AM

10:15 AM to 11:15 AM
Keith Mitnik – How to Deal with the Defense

11:15 AM to 12:00 PM
Mike Kelly – Opening 101

12:00 PM to 1:30
Lunch with Ben Crump
Trial Lawyers as Social Engineers and How You Can Make a Difference

1:30 PM to 1:45 PM

1:45 PM to 2:30 PM
Carl Douglas – Overcoming Fear

2:30 PM to 3:15 PM
Christine Spagnoli – Embracing Comparative Fault

3:15 PM to 3:30 PM

3:30 PM to 4:15 PM
Doris Cheng – Using Body Language

4:15 PM to 5:00 PM
Rich Newsome – MMA Template

5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Faculty Panel, Pizza and Beer – The Anatomy of Different Styles of Opening
Andrew Finkelstein (host), Zander Clem, Rich Newsome, Chris Stombaugh, Julie Kane and other Faculty members.

Day 2

Tuesday, Nov. 16
Lectures: Communicating and Connecting

8:30 AM to 11:00 AM
Joshua Karton – Tools and Methods to Connect with a Jury
Louise Lipman – Introduction to Psychodrama

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Joe Fried – Speed Trial Opening and Template

12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Lunch with Rob Bilott and Mike Papantonio
Dark Waters: The True Story of the War Against Dupont

1:45 PM to 2:45 PM
Mel Orchard and Jesse Wilson – Theater Tools to Tell It Like a Movie

2:45 PM to 3:30 PM
Ann Oldfather – Owning Negatives in Opening

3:30 PM to 3:45 PM

3:45 PM to 4:30 PM
Kathleen Nastri and Troy Rafferty – Powerful Communication with Demonstrative Exhibits:
A Survey of Available and Inexpensive Options for Visual Pursuasion

Sponsored by Total Trial Solutions

4:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Jim Perdue Sr. and Jim Perdue Jr. – Using Story to Speak for the Victim in Opening

5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

7:30 PM – Evening Event
Something fun and amazing, produced by Hello! Florida

Days 3 & 4

Wednesday, Nov. 17 and Thursday, Nov. 18

9:00 to 5:00 Wednesday and Thursday – During the third and fourth day of the Symposium, students will participate in workshops requiring them to get on their feet, learn new skills and tools, and practice an opening statement from one of their actual cases.

These workshops will include:

Opening Statements Workshops – During these workshops students will work on an opening statement from on of their actual cases using the methods and tools taught during the seminar. Trial School Faculty will participate in all these sessions and provide suggestions and coaching. These sessions will also be videotaped and reviewed by faculty members with each student.

Psychodrama Workshops – Psychodrama is one of the most powerful tools available to trial lawyers who represent people. It allows the lawyer to discovery the deeper story of a client’s case, tell the story visually to a jury, and speak for the client with a powerfully authentic voice of empathy and authenticity. These small group workshops will be led by professional psychodramatists Louise Lippman and Michael Traynor.

Tools from the Theater Workshops – This workshop, led by Mel Orchard and Jesse Wilson, has been developed to help trial lawyers learn how to overcome performance anxiety, be more compelling using voice, eye contact, and physical presence, and to use deliver words powerfully and persuasively. Mel and Jesse are both trained actors and will share lessons from the theater that actors and producers use to tell powerful stories to an audience.

Neurolinguistic Programming, or “NLP” – Nationally recognized jury consultant Eric Oliver has developed advanced methods for persuasion using NLP. These powerful tools bring persuasion to the next level. During this workshop, Oliver will work to teach students how to use some basic NLP skills in an opening statement.

Presence, Personal States and Persuasion – Chris Stombaugh has developed a unique and powerful method that will enable trial lawyers to overcome performance anxiety and become powerfully more persuasive quickly and easily. During this workshop students will not only learn how to use this method but will also get on their feet to experience this tool for themselves.

All topics are subject to change.
Additional lectures and workshops are in development.

Trial School Members

During this 5-day member-only event, Trial School will present cutting-edge and out-of-the-box methods for communicating and connecting with the jury.

This symposium will present today’s curated best methods for delivering a powerful and persuasive opening statement using a host of different approaches taught by the very best trial lawyers and nationally recognized consultants.

The Trial School Symposium will include on-your-feet exercises, motivational and inspirational activities, demonstrations, and practical templates you can take home and use in your trial practice.

Program Description


The 2021 Trial School Symposium will be a combination of lectures and break-out workshops. Like with the first two Trial School in-person events, this program is designed to curate and explore the various methods, both traditional and cutting edge, for trying cases. As always, our goal is to learn how to improve our collective trial advocacy skills through faculty collaboration and share these skills with other lawyers who represent people.

Trial School Lab Symposium Workshops


This year’s Symposium will focus on two topics: 1) openings statements, and 2) communication skills. The seminar will present the various methods used to achieve success at trial. The workshops build on the seminar topics by offering an opportunity to use these methods in practice. Workshops available this year include Psychodrama with Louise Lipman or Michael Traynor, Personal States with Chris Stombaugh, Tell it Like a Movie with Mel Orchard and Jesse Wilson, and Opening Statements with Trial School faculty.


Staying at Loews Portofino Bay is a lot like traveling to Italy without having to deal with that pesky jet lag—or worry about foreign exchange rates. The Italian-inspired architecture, sun-baked color palette, towering Italian Cypress trees, and romantic Harbor Piazza will have you thinking you’re in Europe. The Portofino Resort features three stunning pools and the luxurious Mandara Spa®.

Right next door to Portofino are two amazing theme parks plus the Universal CityWalk™ entertainment complex. And as a Portofino guest you get exclusive benefits and access to the theme parks.

A block of rooms has been reserved for Trial School Symposium attendees at a rate of $179. The cut-off date for that rate is October 22, but we recommend you reserve your room as early as possible, as the room block is a limited number at the discounted rate, and could sell out well before October 22.

Book your room

If you have any questions regarding your hotel reservation, call the Loews Reservation Center at 833-243-4727 and tell them you are booking a room in the Trial School Symposium room block.

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