M&S’ senior law partner, Lee S. Michaels, is not only a top New York personal injury lawyer, but also an award winning adjunct professor at Syracuse College of Law. He teaches young soon-to-be lawyers how to try a court case. This is called “trial practice” in law school. The Syracuse College of Law website recently featured an article about Lee’s amazing trial teaching techniques.
Lee’s trial teaching philosophy is simple: The best way to learn to try a case is – well – to try a case. So his students all have to try one to get their final grade. It’s just a simulated trial, sure, but a very realistic one nevertheless. The students take on roles such as prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer, and witnesses in a fictitious criminal trial.
Lee tries to make the simulated trial as realistic as possible, “with a little help from his friends”. He calls on former students – now judges – to act as trial judges. Lee’s class’ most recent “trials” starred Auburn NY’s City Judge David Thurston and US Northern District Magistrate Judge Thérèse Dancks, both former students of Lee’s. Also participating were Auburn City Judge Michael McKeon and Lee’s former student Kevin Kuehner, a Syracuse trial lawyer
One thing that is very special about Lee is how he has made life-long friends out of former students. Even decades after they have taken his trial class, when they are seasoned trial lawyers or judges, they continue to keep in touch with him and stay loyal to him. They often call him for advice on trials they are going to be in. He often gets letters from them, telling him how they prepared for trial by taking out their old class notes and re-reading the rules and concepts he drilled into their heads. Year after year, they volunteer to come to his class and act as “real” judges for Lee’s trial practice final trial.
Kudos to Lee for his fine trial teaching. He has been helping to produce some of the finest trial lawyers in upstate New York and elsewhere in the country for nearly three decades now. We know: Some of them end up on the other side of us in court as very formidable opponents!
To read the Syracuse College of Law Journal’s article about Lee’s class, click here.