Dedicated to improving the quality of legal practice in the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.
The FFA Trial Advocacy Program is highly unique. No other federal court has shown this level of dedication to pro bono representation by opening its doors to full trial exercises with the active participation of sitting judges and magistrates. At the time that the FFA Bankruptcy Pro Bono Program was inaugurated, one of its objectives was to provide opportunities for inexperienced litigators to develop their trial skills with the assistance of more senior attorneys. It eventually became apparent that it would be necessary to provide more structured opportunities for training young lawyers in order to achieve this goal. In 2006, the FFA approached the bankruptcy judges with a novel concept that would involve dedicating their time and their courtrooms to the development of trial skills among bankruptcy attorneys. The bankruptcy judges agreed to preside over mock trials, providing immediate feedback to the participants throughout the exercise. A number of Denver’s most prominent civil litigators agreed to serve as instructors. The first program took place in 2007. It was somewhat experimental and limited in scope. At its conclusion, the judges, instructors and, most importantly, the participants, agreed that it was a resounding success. It was thus continued and expanded in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, the FFA approached then Chief Judge Daniel with the proposal that the program be expanded into the District Court. The objective was to support the FFA Counsel/Co-Counsel program and encourage pro bono participation at the District Court level. The magistrate judges agreed to preside over the mock trials, with some of the District Court judges circulating among the courtrooms and offering comments and critique for the participants. The program thus doubled in size, simultaneously occupying four bankruptcy courts and four magistrate courts. This program was successfully repeated in 2011 with increased involvement from the District Court judges. After obtaining feedback from the magistrates and District Court judges, the program was revamped in 2013 in order to include a skills workshop and mock trial.