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UF Law School, Trial Lawyers Assist South African Advocates

Published: August 27th, 2001

Category: News

As the result of a connection between a UF law professor and a colleague in South Africa, that country’s legal system took a significant step forward with a 10-day session in trial advocacy training this summer delivered cooperatively by the law school and Florida Trial Lawyers Association. UF Professor of Law Winston Nagan, who organized the session, said the project was made possible by combined efforts of the Florida Trial Lawyers, which waived tuition; the U.S. government, providing travel and per diem; and UF, which supplied housing. “This was really an experiment that arose out of discussions I had in Capetown (South Africa),” Nagan said. “Lawyers there are looking for ways to effectively transform the legal profession to fit the country’s new Constitution.” Lawyers from England, where they are referred to as barristers, have come to UF in the past to participate in the trial advocacy program. But for South Africa lawyers, known as advocates, this was a first. Six barristers from England and 11 South African advocates participated. The lawyers took part in clinical sessions dealing with opening arguments, leading and cross-examining witnesses, and closing arguments. Essentially, they were learning how to try a case, and their instructors from the Trial Lawyers Association are among top lawyers in the state. “The advice and criticism provided by the trial lawyers was quite impressive,” said Anwar Albertus a South African advocate who helped organize the sessions with Nagan. “Their work was exceptional. The instructors are obviously good lawyers and good teachers. Both skills are necessary for a successful trial advocacy course.” One of the junior South African advocates said she learned more in the 10 days than she did in many years back home.That was one of many positive responses, Nagan said. “Some of the students told us it was a brilliant program and many of them said that it far exceeded their expectations.” Albertus said because of the training’s success, plans already are underway for a follow-up. “We want a contingent of Florida trial lawyers to come to South Africa and offer a similar course to that which was done in Gainesville,” Albertus said. “Practitioners who would participate in the program stand to get a tremendous amount of technical skill.”

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