L.A.W.: Lawyering, Arguing, Witnessing
Brad Bloch, Lecturer
- Course: POL SCI 193, SEM 001
- Class Number: 38151
- Credits: 3 SS
- Time: TR 6:30 – 7:45 PM
- Place: BOL B76
This is a “hands-on,” learn by doing course on America’s trial court process. UWM’s Classes of 2010 and beyond may be the first generation with true access to what occurs before the judiciary, once known as “the hidden branch” of our government. The parents and other ancestors of UWM freshmen knew what little was known of the courts from “Perry Mason,” the CBS Radio and TV program that remains “television’s most successful and longest running lawyer series.” For nearly 50 years, viewers asked themselves “Could I be Perry Mason?” But this instructor has learned, from his Freshman Seminar students, that “absolutely no freshman has ever heard of ‘Perry … Who?”
These days there are much better ways of experiencing “the nuts and bolts” of our justice system than watching old TV reruns. Citizens who understand the basics of trial advocacy better assess the operation of government, are more comfortable should their “day in court” arise and are capable of building their own arguments supported by more reliable evidence.
Students in this seminar do series of time-tested exercises that build experience with trial procedure. The exercises have evolved from both trial advocacy training for lawyers and the teaching of trial technique to everyone from middle school to law school students. Some of the exercises are completed individually but most involve working with another student or teams. The combination of tasks build to where a student can form and execute professional strategies. While the strategies fit the courtroom, they readily adapt to a wide range of curricular and career pursuits.
Students arrive with instructions to download the American Mock Trial Association Case and its Midlands Rules of Evidence. Those materials, expressly drafted for use by undergrads nationwide, are the bedrock for the active learn-by-doing approach.
Almost instantly and very naturally, the instructor gets into his seasoned coaching mode. Bloch’s belief is that the longer one does coaching assessment the broader is the ability to accurately assess others’ strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The coach, as teacher, works with the student to project the strengths while managing, sometimes eliminating, the weaknesses. When students see their rapid progress, they are receptive to reevaluating their true potential. Then the sky can be limit.
What students in this Firsst-Year Seminar soon see is that they are expected to make mistakes. Mistakes are great! Mistakes are a gold mine for an actively invested coach! If the student thinks she has no answer for a mistake or two, there are always places to turn. She can hang out for a few minutes because, right after his Freshman Seminar, Bloch teaches/coaches his mockers who are also preparing the AMTA Case. It will be obvious that this is a “work hard, play hard” proposition!
The “can-I-really-do-this” question has now been answered by decades of UWM students: “Of courts, we can!” But we have to give it a try and this First-Year Seminar has shown there‘s no better time for that “try“ than one‘s first semester on campus.
About the Instructor:
Brad Bloch has been a criminal defense attorney for more than 30 years. He has completed jury trials throughout the State defending charges ranging from Operating a Vehicle Without Eyeglasses to First Degree Intentional Homicide.
Throughout the length of his law practice, Attorney Bloch has also been “Coach Brad,” often abbreviated to just “Brad.“ Continuously since 1971, Brad has coached “argument” to high school and/or university students. Since 1987, the coaching has been UWM students active with the Mock Trial program. UWM has fielded intercollegiate mock trial teams since 1986 and mediation teams since 2000. In 2006, Brad started coaching UWM Moot Court as well and UWM became the first public university to field teams in all three established “Law Sports.”
One of the reasons “Coach Brad” dedicates his nights and weekends to his “Panther Cubs” is because he still remembers well his arrival as a UWM freshman the Fall of 1969. UWM was at least 25 times the size of young Brad’s high school. Finding anyone he knew on campus was like looking for the proverbial needles in haystacks. But Brad got lucky! He found UWM Debate, gained teammates who soon helped him meet the campus and traveled the country building his confidence that he could argue effectively with anyone. The combination of UWM’s outstanding curriculum and the opportunity to compete against all-comers has left this alumnus of some 40 years confident in arguing “the UWM education is second to none!”