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Florida Legal Aid Services Welcomed Trial Lawyers for Seminar at NSU Shepard Broad College of Law

FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE Fla – Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Shepard Broad College of Law (College of Law) hosted five Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL), who conducted a day-long trial skills training program for Civil Legal Aid Lawyers. The ACTL is a Fellowship of the most preeminent trial lawyers in America and Canada.

Gordon James III, an experienced Fort Lauderdale trial attorney, who also serves as a member of the NSU Shepard Broad College of Law Board of Governors and as an ACTL Fellow, worked with Florida Legal Services attorney, Kathy Grunewald, to organize the training. After opening remarks by James and NSU Shepard Broad College of Law Associate Dean, Debra Moss Curtis, the Fellows and their trainees met in small groups to focus on how to present and defend their cases in court. The training program was presented to 18 legal services lawyers and NSU Law Students acted as the witnesses.

From Left to Right: David Ackerman (West Palm Beach), Frank McDonald (Orlando), Mike Burman (West Palm Beach), Gordon James (Ft. Lauderdale), Sam Holland (Miami) and Michael Richmond, NSU Law Faculty member

From Left to Right: David Ackerman (West Palm Beach), Frank McDonald (Orlando), Mike Burman (West Palm Beach), Gordon James (Ft. Lauderdale), Sam Holland (Miami) and Michael Richmond, NSU Law Faculty member

The civil legal aid attorneys and NSU law students had each been given case materials to read prior to the seminar. During the seminar, staff attorneys gave opening statements, which the Fellows evaluated, giving feedback and guidance. The NSU Law students played the roles of witnesses, undergoing direct and cross examination. Staff attorneys also practiced admitting exhibits in the case. Following a discussion led by the Fellows on effective closing arguments, each civil legal aid lawyer gave his or her closing argument and again, received feedback.

“A​t the end of the day the participants from the legal services programs were enthusiastic, appreciative, and excited about the experience and the skills they were taught,” said Grunewald. “It truly is in keeping with the tradition of public interest and pro bono work that these attorneys understand the importance of paying it forward.”

The Fellows who were instructors were Sam Holland (Miami), Gordon James (Ft. Lauderdale), David Ackerman (West Palm Beach), Mike Burman (West Palm Beach) and Frank McDonald (Orlando). The Program has been very helpful to the legal services lawyers in teaching them the skills necessary to utilize in Court on a daily basis. Legal Services greatly appreciates the efforts of the American College of Trial Lawyers in supporting their lawyers.

According to James, a longtime Fellow, “the American College of Trial Lawyers strives to improve and elevate the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice and the ethics of the profession.” He confirmed that Fellowship in the College is extended only by invitation, to attorneys who have actively engaged in trial practice for at least 15 years and meet a number of criteria related to skill, ethics, professionalism and civility. Moreover, membership in ACTL can never be more than 1% of the total lawyer population of any state or province and occurs only after a very detailed “vetting” process, which can take up to 2 years.

For more information about the American College of Trial Attorney’s training seminars, please contact ACTL Fellow, Gordon James at

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Shepard Broad College of Law: Nova Southeastern University’s College of Law offers a cutting edge, skills-centered academic program in three-year full-time and four-year part-time divisions. With its recently redeveloped clinical programs, every NSU Law student is guaranteed a live-client experience. In-house clinical studies are supplemented by full-time field placement opportunities practicing law in Florida, across the United States, or select locations throughout the globe. To solidify student success after graduation, NSU Law pioneered a curriculum on the business of lawyering through the NSU Law Leadership Academy. NSU Law students have a myriad of curricular opportunities, including a rich, diverse curriculum, concentrations in International Law, Health Law or IP, Technology and Cybersecurity; dual degree programs abroad in Rome, Barcelona, or Prague; dual degree programs at many of NSU’s other 17 colleges; and much more.  For more information, please visit

About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Top 200 National Research Universities and located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa Bay, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit for more information about NSU.