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EXPLO Pre-College + Career  |  Colby College Trial Law + The American Justice System

Explore current issues around justice and established law principles and discover how they are playing out in the real world. Learn and practice essential lawyering skills, from opening arguments to witness examinations to introduction of evidence. Talk to practicing attorneys and legal academics about topics from law school to the future of the profession. Finally, under the guidance of Hon. Richard L. Gabriel, former trial attorney and current Colorado Supreme Court judge, prepare to take a criminal case to the courtroom.

Academics Trial Law + The American Justice System

About this Concentration

Campus: Colby College Grades: 10-12

If you’re passionate about justice, there’s perhaps no more direct way to engage with the moral and ethical challenges of our time than entering the courtroom. In this program, you will learn to be prepared for any number of complex legal situations that could arise. Thinking on your feet is critical; creating arguments on the fly is the objective. Start legal bootcamp with a simulated law school seminar, and quickly move to the practice of law as you prepare your client for litigation.

While many cases settle out of court, you and your team will need to be prepared to go to trial at any point. Your first steps are to familiarize yourself with the facts and develop the theme and theory of the case. Then, you’ll prepare for the trial itself. Sort through the evidence to see what you can get in and what you might keep out. Hone lines of questioning and prep your witnesses. Consider the strategy and learn the process of voir dire (jury selection) to give your client the best possible edge. Sharpen your cross-examination skills both by preparing effective objections and rehearsing what to do in the event that a witness becomes hostile. Learn and use rules of evidence to respond to objections and get your evidence entered into the record. Draft a compelling opening statement and closing arguments under the mentorship of judges and practicing attorneys. Discuss with your colleagues current legal topics such as civil rights litigation, ethical issues in the practice of law, the practice of plea bargaining, and the importance and limits of attorney-client privilege.

This program offers the unique opportunity to not only do a deep dive into all facets of trial advocacy techniques, but to learn about the practice of law from a team of legal experts, including Justice Richard Gabriel, who will lead students through all aspects of final trial preparation, from jury selection to closing arguments.

College credit available through Sarah Lawrence College. Learn more.


  • Trial Preparation and Coaching with Hon. Richard L. Gabriel

    Former trial lawyer and current Colorado Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Gabriel will take students through the lawyer’s role in all phases of a jury trial, including jury selection, opening statement, direct and cross examination (including objections to the introduction of evidence), and closing argument. Justice Gabriel will also teach techniques for effective advocacy at each of these phases of a trial, and the art of persuasion generally.

  • Trial Proceedings in Action

    Watch a live judicial proceeding in process and analyze the techniques and choices of practicing attorneys and judges in a post-court debrief.

  • Socratic Style Seminar

    A longstanding, powerful approach to examining complex and (sometimes) contentious ideas, the socratic seminar is a staple of law school and engages students in a fast-paced dialogue on cases ranging from negligence to insider trading to the role of plea bargaining.

  • Go to Trial

    After weeks of preparation, put on your suit and head to the courtroom. A sitting judge will preside while you make your case.

  • World-Class Legal Experts

    Connect with leading experts including practicing attorneys, sitting judges, and legal thought leaders who are deeply involved in the American legal system. Hear more about their work, unique career pathways and gain insight into what has made them successful in their field as well as the mistakes they’ve made along the way.

    Example past speakers: Hon. Justice Richard Gabriel, Justice, Colorado Supreme Court; James Foreman, Jr. Professor, Yale Law School. Michael Dorf, Professor, Cornell Law School.

  • Pre-Law and Law School Admissions

    Hear from pre-law advisors and top law school admission officers about the various pathways for law school applicants.

Concentration Details


  • Session 1: June 27 - July 9, 2021

Tuition: $5,875

Required Materials:

  • EXPLO Pre-College + Career students are required to bring a laptop, computer, tablet, or Chromebook to the program. All devices must be able to access the Internet and utilize basic word processing and presentation-type programs (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) Rentals are available after enrollment in the program. Please contact the Admission Team for more information.
The best part about [the trial] was learning to solve a problem by listening to other people and hearing their perspectives, which I think is important because I believe in justice. I also enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of the courtroom.

EXPLO Student

Sitting around a table, having a shared text, debating it, and having your ideas put to the test, by the teacher, by one another, and coming out of the classroom in a different place intellectually than you walked in — that's not the standard education in America. And that's something; the classroom experience that students have at EXPLO is closer to college than anything they would otherwise have experienced before getting to college. (Read more on our EXPLO Blog.)

James Forman Jr., Former EXPLO Guest Instructor

Learn From Our Experts

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