Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
II - July 16–August 2, 2019
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 declared interest in law and oral argumentation or mock trial, this intensive program immerses students in the world of the trial court.

Following an introduction to the structure of trial advocacy, students acquire a solid understanding of the trial process, including opening statements, direct and cross examination of witnesses and experts, introduction of exhibits, closing arguments, and trial strategy. Students learn to validate and analyze evidence with an eye on developing a trial strategy as well as incorporating the evidence into oral argument. This course pays particular attention to the Federal Rules of Evidence 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 oral argument most commonly used in legal 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 position 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, where students are divided into teams of prosecutors and defense attorneys to present a case prepared over the course of the program before a judge and jury.

It is recommended that participants bring a formal business outfit for the final trial.


Florina Altshiler

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

Ms. Altshiler has offered legal commentary throughout the country and has been quoted by the Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports 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 the NBC affiliate-WGRZ, Channel 2, CBS affiliate News 8 Rochester, and Time Warner Cable News.  She is also 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, sexual assaults, and drug-related crime. 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.

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. She also teaches Continuing Legal Education courses through the Erie County 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.