Jun 03, 2023  
2019-2020 Law School Student Handbook 
2019-2020 Law School Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Summer Trial and Evidence Program

1st S.T.E.P. - Summer Trial Evidence Program: (11 units)

Train as a litigator the summer after your first year of law school.

1st STEP is a nine-week, comprehensive summer program immersing students in the study of trial advocacy, presentation, motions drafting, and evidence.  This innovative litigation program is designed to teach mastery of evidentiary rules and their effective application when solving practical trial problems. The program utilizes case study exercises, motions argumenft, and hands-on trial practice. Each component of the course enhances student learning by sharpening basic skills until they become second nature. 1st STEP features rigorous skills training tailored to hone students’ courtroom technique and provide an early advantage in today’s competitive job market. Following 1st STEP, students are prepared to spend the fall of their second year working in law firms, government internships, legal clinics, and other litigation settings.

Week 1: Immersion Trial Training Week

Students are immersed in an intense, full-time week of trial advocacy training.  This demanding hands-on training course introduces all key aspects of conducting a full trial.  Students expand and perfect their litigation competencies as they are guided through lectures, demonstrations, and skills workshops. 

Instructors include GGU faculty, judges, mock trial coaches, and seasoned practitioners who lecture, demonstrate, and provide individual critique.  A unique aspect of 1st STEP includes assessment and feedback by a performance coach during weekly workshop sessions.  The extensive coverage of witness examination, motions practice, use of exhibits, case analysis, opening statements, closing arguments, impeachment, and over-all trial strategy boosts student skill and confidence in the courtroom.  At the conclusion of the first week, every student conducts a full-length trial, and enters the second half of the program with increasing effectiveness.

Week 2-9: Evidence, Trial Advocacy, Motions Practice and Evidence in the Courtroom

With a stronger foundation and understanding of the components of trial, students launch into the next seven weeks, focused on fine tuning skills and discovering new strategies and nuances in the courtroom.  Students concentrate on mastering advanced evidentiary principles and rules, using their new knowledge to handle more and more difficult trial problems.

Week two through nine continues with lectures and workshops, and adds in highly specialized guest speakers sharing tips and tricks on various litigation topics.  Students also visit State and District Court hearing calendars.  Trial lawyers inevitably claim that they truly only learn evidence once they understand how it is utilized throughout trial preparation, watching and doing cements this understanding.  Our 1st STEP students complete the course with their second full trial.  They graduate 1st STEP with the necessary skills to comfortably draft and argue motions, enter evidence into the record, and conduct witness examinations while integrating the Rules of Evidence seamlessly into practice. 

Our litigation skills programs and innovative teaching techniques also prepare our students for success at local and national mock trial and moot court competitions.  Participating students experience the opportunity to compete on a regional and national stage, providing them with first-hand experience arguing cutting edge cases and championing the latest legal and procedural issues. 

Our litigation students enjoy access to performance coaching and mentoring from world-class litigators, promoting their development into effective and persuasive legal advocates.  Our Litigation Center programs are effective and empowering, designed to transform students into persuasive litigators.


  1. Entering Students

Students may apply to 1st STEP as part of the regular JD application process by checking the Summer Trial and Evidence Program box on their admissions application. If you have been pre-admitted to 1st STEP, please understand that you must maintain the required law school GPA during your first and second semesters. These rules are in the Student Handbook. 

Students with a qualifying GPA and perceived interest in litigation may be pre-selected for 1st STEP upon admission to GGU. Part of the pre-admission process and to know your interest and enthusiasm for advocacy training, please submit an application and statement of interest to the Litigation Center, attn: BaxterFellow@ggu.edu. The application can be found on the Litigation Center website: http://www.ggulitigation.com/events-programs/first-step/. Your statement should address whether advocacy, litigation, or trial practice factored into your decision to attend law school.  Describe an experience in which you welcomed critique and feedback, incorporated the feedback, and turned the process into a positive result.  Understanding that advocacy, litigation, and trial training are available throughout your career at GGU Law, why is it important to you to gain this training in your first summer? How do you plan to use 1st STEP training during your 2L and 3L years of law school?

  1. Spring Admission & Application Deadline (December of 1L year)

All students may apply for rolling admission into the summer program in January after receiving their grades from the fall semester.Full-time 1L students are eligible to apply for admission into 1st STEP during the summer after their first year of law school. 1L students and transfer students may apply for rolling admission by January 30th, after receiving fall semester grades.Evening students may apply in January of their 2L year to participate in 1st STEP during their second summer term.

First-year students may also apply to join 1st STEP at the beginning of the spring semester. Details regarding the application process will be posted throughout the semester on the Litigation Center Website (www.ggulitigation.com), and in Law School News. Students interested in applying are encouraged to meet with the Baxter Fellow in Litigation to inquire about the course and application process. The Committee evaluates each applicant’s fall semester grades, applications, references, and letter of intent. The number of post-fall admittees to the program will depend upon the number of students already enrolled and the quality of applications. All eligible students are encouraged to apply.

  1. Part-Time Students Application Deadline (December of 2L year)

Part-time students are eligible for enrollment in 1st STEP during the summer after their 2L year. Part-Time students are allowed to submit their application during their first year of law school but must indicate on their application that they are applying for the summer of the following year.

Admission Criteria

Criteria considered for admission to the program include demonstrated success in law school, interest in and enthusiasm for a career in litigation, participation in GGU litigation activities, desire for advanced advocacy training, and the ability to perform successfully in a professional setting.1st STEP is limited to 24 students each summer. Admission to this innovative 9-week summer program is selective, but all eligible students are encouraged to apply. All students must maintain the required GPA to participate in 1st STEP.


Students who decide to withdraw from 1st STEP must meet with the Baxter Fellow and the Director of the Litigation Program and complete a Petition for Change of JD Academic Program form which requires the signatures of the STEP Director and either the Associate Dean or Director of Student Affairs, Law School.

Registration and Required Courses

First-year STEP students must sign and submit a summer program commitment form after being accepted into the program. Once committed, the registrar will assign each student to STEP. The STEP Director will work with the Registrar to administratively enroll students in STEP courses. STEP students are subject to the same rules as non-HLP JD students, including those regarding tuition, tuition credit, refunds, and withdrawals.

While it may become necessary to adjust the specifics of the 1st STEP curriculum for pedagogical or administrative reasons, the following curriculum represents the basic structure of the Summer Litigation Program:

Fall Semester - 1st STEP students must choose LAW - 706Z Lawyering: Introduction to Litigation - 1st STEP  as their elective for the spring semester.

Spring Semester - Applicants must complete LAW - 706Z Lawyering: Introduction to Litigation - 1st STEP  as their 1L elective.

Summer Semester - The 1st STEP students take (11 units) during their first summer,

  1. Immersion Week (40 hours)
  2. LAW 804T Trial Evidence and Advocacy (5 units)  
  3. LAW 804M Effective Brief Writing & Motion Advocacy (2 units)  
  4. LAW 804 Evidence (4 units)  

The summer session usually begins in late May and ends in late July. Classes generally are held Monday through Friday between 10:00 am and 8:30 pm. Final class schedules will be published as soon as they are determined. Because of the intense course schedule, STEP students are well advised not to make any plans which would interfere with daily attendance. STEP students are prohibited from being employed during the summer curriculum.


All STEP courses must be taken for a letter grade. Separate letter grades will be assigned for LAW 804, LAW 804M, and LAW 804T.

Certificate Programs

STEP students may earn the litigation certificate of specialization offered at GGU. See the “Certificates of Specialization” section of this Handbook. Students should contact the certificate advisor and the Dean or Director for Student Affairs for assistance in planning their academic schedules.

Financial Aid

The Financial Aid Office works closely with STEP students. STEP students pay the same tuition and are entitled to the same scholarship opportunities as non-STEP JD students. STEP staff and faculty do not have access to a student’s financial aid records. For any questions regarding financial aid, please contact the Financial Aid Office  .


STEP students receive a notation in the School of Law commencement program indicating that they are graduates of the Summer Litigation Program. Each year, the STEP Committee selects an Outstanding Student from among the graduating STEP students, with the award acknowledged in the School of Law commencement program.