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‘There’s No Better Training than In-Person Training’: How 3 Phila. Firms Mold Future Litigators

The Legal Intelligencer

With litigation work making up for the softness of the transactional market across the country, training the next generation of litigators has taken on heightened importance for law firms confronting quickly evolving technology, and, of course, the fast-paced changes brought on by the pandemic.

A look across three of Philadelphia’s Am Law 100 firms shows that associates value hands on experience when it comes to trial training, with trial academies and mock trial simulations a popular means for more senior associates to develop connections inside the firm as well as cultivating hard skills needed for the courtroom.


“I remember when I was a young associate, some of the partners in litigation had come on the ground with an organized mentoring training exercise…For three hours after work, we would order-in a dinner and I would have to cross-examine one of my fellow associates,” recalled Blank Rome litigation department co-chair Daniel Rhynhart. “It was so memorable. It’s easy to sit and watch someone tell you techniques, but its not memorable at all.”


For Blank Rome, the pandemic inspired a virtual modification of its trial academy program. Rather than hosting a virtual mock trial, the “Trial Accelerator” program offers Zoom classes across the firm’s platform discussing trial skills such as story-telling, depositions, and managing expert testimony, with the firm continuing to develop the program post-COVID.

“It started like a wrap-around training on all other parts of litigation aside from actual trials,” explained Rhynhart. “The accelerator program would be now for all levels of associates and taught by our expert trial lawyer partners…[The thought was] people will go through this program and ultimately do trial academy and graduate.”

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"‘There’s No Better Training than In-Person Training’: How 3 Phila. Firms Mold Future Litigators," by Amanda O'Brien was published in The Legal Intelligencer on November 13, 2023.