Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
II - July 21–August 7, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
Florina Altshiler

Experience with debate or oral presentation.

“I gained a lot of knowledge throughout this program, learning about the federal rules of evidence, the trial process, putting the facts together, and so much more.” – Chelsea B. | Richmond, California  

Course Description

Designed for students with a strong interest in law, oral argument, and mock trial, this course immerses participants in the adversarial world of the trial court.

Following an introduction to the United States legal system, students acquire a solid understanding of the trial process, including jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses and experts, introduction of exhibits, closing arguments, and theory building. Students have the opportunity to observe court proceedings; meet with judges, local law enforcement, and defense counsel; and hear from experts in the field.

Participants learn to validate and analyze evidence while working in teams of prosecutors and defense attorneys to develop a trial strategy, argue to preclude evidence, and prepare witnesses for trial testimony.

The course pays particular attention to the Federal Rules of Evidence (with distinctions made for New York state-specific rules) that govern the introduction of evidence at trial. The rules of conduct that govern the U.S. trial system are explored, as are the various strategies of trial practice.

Students attend lectures and demonstrations and are afforded the opportunity to practice the skills learned through daily classroom exercises. Participants should be prepared to orally argue their positions and will be called upon to make presentations frequently. At the heart of the program are daily exercises, designed to hone students' trial skills, that are rooted in a hypothetical legal case.

The program culminates in a mock trial session held at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Manhattan, where students are divided into teams of prosecutors and defense attorneys to present their case, prepared over the course of the program, through jury verdict.

Participants should bring business attire for the final trial; parents and family are encouraged to attend. Please be aware that the class has extended hours (9am to 4:30pm) during the two days of the trial (Wednesday and Thursday of the third week).


Florina Altshiler

Florina Altshiler is the lead trial attorney for the Buffalo, NY office of Russo & Toner LLP, a New York City-based litigation firm, where she specializes in the defense of large loss casualty matters. Her practice also includes medical malpractice, construction liability and general negligence law. 

Ms. Altshiler offers legal commentary throughout the country and has been quoted by the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports and the NY Post. She is published in the New York Law Journal and the Buffalo Law Journal. She appears regularly on the ABC affiliate-WKBW, Channel 7, to offer legal commentary on the evening news.  She has also appeared on CNN, the NBC affiliate-WGRZ, Channel 2, CBS affiliate News 8 Rochester, and Time Warner Cable News.  She is routinely quoted by the Buffalo News and has been interviewed by Dr. Drew for KABC Los Angeles.

Prior to relocating to Buffalo, Ms. Altshiler served as a prosecutor for the State of Alaska, where she handled the prosecution of all levels of crime through jury trial. She successfully prosecuted dozens of cases through verdict, including violent felonies and sexual assault. During her time in the Special Assaults Unit, she focused on felony-level crimes against children and sexually-based offenses as well as homicides. She also served as the coach to the West Anchorage High School Mock Trial team, bringing them to the National tournament two years in a row, and as a legal advisor to the Anchorage Youth Court.

Florina has served as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy, both civil and criminal, at St. John's School of Law, where she was a Rosenberg Scholar and an Institutional Merit Scholar. She has received the Dr. Thomas C. Beneventano Award for Legal Medicine and an Excellence for the Future Award in Criminal Trial Advocacy, as well as the U.S. President's Student Service Award for Outstanding Service to America and United Hospital Fund's Student Achievement Award. She was featured as Lawline’s Top 20 Female Faculty in 2016.

Florina’s experience includes over a decade of litigation: criminal prosecution; civil defense and plaintiffs' side; the defense of complex medical malpractice cases and all aspects of insurance claims, including premises liability and automobile and construction accident litigation. Additionally, she has served as a judge at national and state level mock trial competitions for high schools, colleges, and law schools. She continues to serve as an arbitrator for the Civil Court of the City of New York and is also a Certified Federal Mediator for the Western District of NY. She also teaches Continuing Legal Education courses through the Defense Research Institute, the Erie County Bar Association, ClearLaw, Lawline, Defense Trial Lawyers Association and the Women’s Bar Association on topics including litigation and trial technique.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.