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Federal Trial Practice Seminar

United States District Court for the District of Delaware

Federal Trial Practice Seminar

2024 Seminar Description

Purpose of the Seminar

The Federal Trial Practice Seminar (“Seminar”) is a program sponsored by the United States District Court for the District of Delaware and the District of Delaware Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. The Seminar is a multi-week instructional trial practice program for lawyers with between 5 and 10 years of practice experience who have an interest in regularly litigating in the District Court. The Seminar has two primary goals. First, it seeks to provide the participants with a venue in which they can practice federal trial skills and learn from experienced practitioners in order to hone those skills. Second, it offers an opportunity for the Court to educate the participants as to what is expected of those who practice in federal court in the District. This will be the seventh time the Seminar has been offered, with the prior Seminars occurring in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. 52 attorneys have participated in the Seminar to date.


Eligibility Criteria

To be selected as a Seminar participant, an applicant must: (1) have been admitted to a state bar for the first time between 5-10 years ago, and have been a member in good standing during that time; (2) be a member of the District Court’s bar; (3) have appeared as an attorney of record in at least 5 cases in the District Court; and (4) agree to attend all of the FTPS sessions. Because the Seminar has not been offered since 2019, this year we intend to increase the number of applicants selected from 8 to 12 participants. Should more than 12 individuals apply, then the 12 most senior applicants meeting the criteria above will be selected for participation in the Seminar.


Content of the Seminar

The Seminar participants will take part in instructional sessions once a week for six consecutive weeks, beginning in April 2024. These sessions will take place on Tuesdays, and all sessions other than the first session will be held in the evenings. Each session will be held in a courtroom (or courtrooms) at the United States Courthouse at 844 North King Street in Wilmington. The evening sessions will begin at 5:00 p.m. and will end around 8:00 p.m. These Seminar sessions will cover topics including Courtroom Presentation and Demeanor, Opening Statements, Closing Arguments, Direct Examination, and Cross Examination. Five of these six Seminar sessions will be “speaker-driven” sessions, where there will be a presentation on the topic from one of the Court’s Judges or from invited speakers. These presentations will also typically include a “how to” component, in which the speaker will demonstrate examples of how to effectively advocate in the courtroom regarding the given topic. Lastly, each of these speaker-driven sessions will include a discussion on the topic by a panel, which will be composed of the featured speaker, the Judges present, and each of our Program Mentors who are in attendance. Each of the speaker-driven sessions will include at least two hours of legal instruction. One of the six Seminar sessions will be a “Practicum” session. In this session, the participants will engage in a mock presentation relating to one of the topics that was the focus of a prior speaker-driven session. The participants will thereafter receive constructive criticism and feedback from the Judges and/or Program Mentors regarding their presentation. This Practicum session will include at least two hours of legal instruction. In addition to the six Seminar sessions with Judges and Program Mentors, the participants will argue a motion in limine at a pretrial conference pertaining to the Seminar’s Mock Trial. Lastly, after the Seminar sessions and presentations listed above are completed, the participants will participate in a day-long Mock Trial. As part of the Mock Trial, the participants will give opening statements, engage in direct and cross examination of witnesses, and make closing arguments, all before a real jury of Delaware citizens. After the trial is completed, a panel made up of the Judges and Program Mentors in attendance will provide feedback on how the participants performed. This Mock Trial will include at least five hours of legal instruction, and is scheduled to be held on May 21, 2024.


Other Benefits of the Seminar

As noted above, a group of Program Mentors will be an important part of the Seminar. These Program Mentors are Delaware-based practitioners with significant experience practicing in Delaware’s District Court. These attorneys will attend all or nearly all of the Seminar sessions, and will offer feedback and advice to the participants during each session. The Seminar also provides the participants with other opportunities to interact with the District Court Judges and Program Mentors. These interactions will include a Closing Ceremony, held after the completion of the Seminar. Participants are asked to invite a senior attorney to this event who has served as a mentor to them during their career. The Seminar will also allow for opportunities to interact with program alumni. These alumni can provide the participants with their unique perspective on how to take the skills learned in the Seminar and develop them in practice.


Applications and Additional Information

Those interested in applying for the Seminar should submit a resume and a letter of interest by January 31, 2024 to The Honorable Christopher J. Burke.  Letters of interest should include:  (1) the date on which the applicant was first admitted to a state bar; and (2) a statement confirming that the applicant is a member of the District Court’s Bar and that the applicant will attend all Seminar sessions; and (3) a list of all District of Delaware cases, including cause of action number, in which the applicant has appeared as counsel of record.  Please send applications by e-mail to:  Any questions can be directed to the Seminar co-coordinators:  Chad Stover (, Nitika Fiorella (, and Kelly Del Dotto (


A video that describes the Seminar and the experience of the participants can also be viewed at the following link: