Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy


The Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy capitalizes on its namesake’s distinguished history in litigation to cultivate a new generation of trial lawyers.

The Center has three broad goals:

  1. Offer unique skills-based training to KU Law students.
  2. Present valuable programming for KU Law alumni and the regional bar.
  3. Open new scholarly opportunities for KU Law faculty and nonfaculty studying related issues through a Fellowship program.

The Center was founded in June 2008 with generous support from Shook, Hardy & Bacon, an international law firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that counts among its partners and associates many KU Law graduates.

Skills Courses

Students who possess strong professional skills are better equipped for success when they graduate and enter the legal marketplace. At KU Law, students have ample opportunities to gain such experience while satisfying the school's professional skills requirement. Examples include:

  • Advanced Legal Ethics
  • Advanced Litigation
  • Estate Planning: Practice
  • Pretrial Advocacy
  • Corporate Transactions: Process and Issues

Additionally, KU Law offers three intensive simulation courses that allow students to gain hands-on experience in trial advocacy. Veteran attorneys teach the Deposition Skills, Expert Witness and Jury Selection workshops, providing invaluable guidance and feedback as students practice their skills with peers.

Deposition Skills Workshop
The Deposition Skills Workshop teaches students the art of taking and defending depositions. This professional skills course exposes students to substantive and procedural law, as well as the ethical rules, pertaining to depositions. It provides students a realistic deposition setting in which they will learn to conduct and defend a series of depositions in a simulated environment under the direction of experienced attorneys who serve as the workshop faculty.

Meet the 2014 faculty members.

Expert Witness Workshop
The workshop exposes students to the substantive and procedural law, as well as the ethical rules, pertaining to expert witness testimony. Moreover, it provides a realistic courtroom setting where students will learn to conduct and defend a series of expert witness examinations and cross-examinations in a simulated environment under the direction and guidance of experienced attorneys who will serve as the workshop faculty. Students conduct and defend at least 5 mini expert witness examinations and/or cross-examinations during a 1-credit workshop or 10 in a 2-credit workshop.

Jury Selection Workshop

Jury Selection Workshop
The two-day workshop seeks to take much of the mystery out of selecting a jury which determines the facts of a lawsuit. The course delves into the purposes sought by counsel beyond the ultimate goal of ending up with a fair and impartial jury. It attempts to blend the law and rules governing voir dire with such practical matters as keeping track of answers to questions along with assessing non-verbal cues from potential jurors. Students will also gain experience handling the difficult task of questioning and the chess game of de-selection of those who would appear to be unfavorable.

Course descriptions

Outreach Events
The Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy hosts events in the Kansas City metro area each year that are of interest to alumni and the bar. This year's events will be announced soon.

Advocacy Speakers Series
The Center hosts leading advocates from the region and the nation at large presenting on timely topics.

Previous speakers have included Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (2010) and then-Chief Judge Robert Henry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (2009).

The Center will also launch a "lunch-and-learn" style speaker series for KU Law students, faculty and practitioners.

Advocacy Fellows
Each year, the Center names a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy Fellow from among the ranks of non-law faculty.

Fellows bring an interdisciplinary element to the KU Law experience by relating their studies of jury decision-making, forensics or empirical studies of the courts through a series of lectures at KU Law and to the regional bar.

2013-14 Fellows

Federal Judges Michelle Burns and Michael Newman

Federal Judges Michelle Burns (District of Arizona)
& Michael Newman (Southern District of Ohio)

"The Role of Narrative in the Courtroom"
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Monday, October 21, 2013
104 Green Hall

2011-12 Fellow

Tom Beisecker
Inaugural Lecture: "The Role of Narrative in the Courtroom"
4-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011 | 106 Green Hall

Second Lecture: "Convenient Courtroom Fictions: How Rules of Evidence Relate to Jurors' Cognitive Behavior"
4-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | 107 Green Hall

Dr. Tom Beisecker is the inaugural Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy Fellow. Beisecker is a national expert on the empirical study of jury decision-making, how jurors infer missing facts, and how jurors reconcile inconsistent facts when arriving at verdicts. He is also a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Trial Consultants. Beisecker is an associate professor in the communications studies department at the University of Kansas.





Lumen Mulligan
Professor of Law

Why KU
  • One-third of full-time faculty have written casebooks and treatises
  • 2 KU law faculty were U.S. Supreme Court clerks
  • KU’s Project for Innocence: 34 conviction reversals since 2009
  • 7,600+ alumni in all 50 states, D.C., and 21 foreign countries
  • #18 “best value” law school in the nation — National Jurist Magazine
  • 12 interdisciplinary joint degrees
  • 20th nationwide for lowest debt at graduation. — U.S. News & World Report
  • 80 percent of upper-level law classes have 25 or fewer students
  • More than 600 employment interviews at law school, 2014-15
  • 92 percent overall employment rate for Class of 2014 – top 20 percent nationally
  • 23rd: for number of law alumni promoted to partner at nation’s largest law firms
  • #1 in Kansas and Missouri for July 2015 bar exam performance