Drake University Law School is unique. The school is the only one in the nation that has a program called the “First Year Trial Practicum.” This opportunity provides the entire 1L class a chance to watch a trial (typically criminal) from start to finish. With permission, I will be taking notes on how a trial takes place. I will not discuss the case, parties, jury, etc. As such, there are some rules that need to be followed. The purpose of this article is to outline what to expect, some of the rules, and other necessary logistics.


Sometimes a trial goes long and other times it ends early. The current trial will begin on Tuesday leaving Monday for some additional information about the Drake Legal Clinic.

  • Monday – Talk about the history of the clinic program at Drake, implicit bias discussion, nothing Monday afternoon
  • Tuesday – Trial Starts
  • Wednesday – Continued Trial Proceedings
  • Thursday – Possible Case Resolution
  • Friday – Finish trial if not complete on Thursday

Rules and Expectations

  • Students are not to have contact with jurors during the trial
  • Outside (an in) of the courtroom, students should not discuss the case
  • Students are not to redistribute documents. Those documents are private and for educational purposes only
  • No backpacks, or laptops are allowed in the courtroom. Cellphone must be turned off or on silent
  • Students need to bring identification for entry to the courtroom
  • Paper and pens are allowed to take notes during the case
  • Only water should be in the courtroom
  • Dress should be business casual (lean towards more, rather than less, formal)


  • Be seated in the courtroom by 9:30 (subject to change according to the judge)
  • Lunch – About an hour to an hour and a half for lunch (make sure to be back before recess ends)
  • Tuesday through Thursday – Students will have the opportunity to have lunch with the judge presiding over the case
  • There are both morning and afternoon sessions within the court. Students need to take attendance for both sessions afternoon

Will Laursen

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