Inn of Court Program Expands

Judge Larsen kicks off this year's program.
Judge Larsen kicks off this year’s luncheon series.

With the commitment and support from the Clerk’s Office, the Federal Court Advocates Section of KCMBA and the tireless leadership of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Larsen and 16th Circuit Judge W. Brent Powell, the Inn of Court program continues to thrive. The program has expanded to absorb more participants or “barristers,” and the participants’ performances during live mock trial settings are videotaped to assist in recognizing and building skills.

Judge Larsen points out that Western Missouri’s program is “unlike any in the country with a focus on advocacy and education.” The educational program presents a problem and then provides an opportunity for participants to become trained on how to prepare a case for trial, with training sessions in front of experienced litigators.

Judge Larsen detailed the functional experience gained by participants in the area of advocacy:

•  Proper conduct during trial
•  Approaches to consider when presented with ethical concerns
•  Dealing with opponents
•  Recognizing when advocacy or cooperation is appropriate


Another exciting addition to the program this year is the availability of scholarships for those with financial need. Judge Larsen commented that the scholarship program broadens the ownership of the Inn with six scholarships offered by the court, a scholarship funded by the Association of Women Lawyers, and two offered by the KCMBA Diversity Section.

Participants attend the September Inn of Court CLE Luncheon.
Participants attend the September Inn of Court CLE Luncheon.

Inn of Court runs from September through April each year and focuses on equipping new lawyers with trial skills. The annual program is comprised of three components: (1) a CLE luncheon series; (2) preparatory sessions; and (3) performance sessions. The CLE luncheons are held monthly at the Whittaker Courthouse and focus on practical skills such as depositions, pretrial motion practice, jury instructions and ethics. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Larson leads the training sessions and covers the six major components of a trial:

  • Voir Dire
  • Lay Witness Direct & Cross Examination
  • Opening Statements
  • Evidentiary Foundations
  • Direct & Cross Examination
  • Expert Witnesses (using actual FBI agent witnesses)
  • Closing Arguments

Judge Larsen appreciates the continued underlying tone of “lawyers and judges helping newer lawyers” and also that the Inn “creates an inventory or pool of lawyers available to courts to handle pro se civil litigants.”

To learn more about the program, view more information at or contact Rebecca Suroff at

To view the 2011-2012 program agenda, visit

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