At the dawn of a new year, Ted Schmidt is a man on a mission.
The 1977 alumnus, who maintains a highly regarded national trial practice, has long been a fervent supporter of both the college and the University of Arizona, serving in leadership roles with the Law College Association, the college's Board of Visitors, and the University of Arizona Foundation.
Now Ted is championing “A New Day in Court,” the college's most ambitious capital undertaking in more than a decade. The project is particularly close to his heart, reflecting more than forty years of teaching, mentoring and coaching students.
The $4 million-dollar initiative funds construction of new state-of-the-art courtroom, classroom, and lobby spaces that literally put litigation skills front and center of the law school.
“I have loved my years of teaching and coaching students,” Schmidt says, “and my goal has always been to teach them to communicate with sincerity in a persuasive way. You're trying to teach them how to motivate and persuade jurors - not just with words, but, with gestures, visual aids, outlines, and other tools that supplement the oral presentation. To do this effectively, you need to have a seamless command of the technology, confidence in your physical presence within the courtroom, and experience interacting with others in an environment that can seem theatrical. This just can't be done in the law school's current outdated courtrooms.”
Ted, with other members of the all-Wildcat law firm Schmidt, Sethi & Akmajian, recently made a substantial leadership gift to the initiative, in great part to honor their common teacher and mentor, iconic Professor Thomas Mauet:
“What Tom Mauet did for so many of us – and not just at Arizona – was to create modern architecture for the teaching of trial skills. That hadn't been done before and has not been done better since. We want to see that tradition of excellence continue. The programs Tom Mauet and Barbara Bergman have developed already lead the nation in the teaching of advocacy. Its time that Arizona Law's facilities reflected that prominence in this important aspect of legal education."
With construction slated to begin in early summer, building support now is essential. Ted takes time almost every day to talk to alumni, friends and firms about the project, and, more broadly, about the importance of skills training for students:
“The teaching of advocacy is an enormously important part of legal education, even for students who aren't going to go on to trial careers. The ability to present a position, make an argument and persuade an audience are skills important to lawyers in virtually all fields of practice. Trial practice is the highest form of advocacy we can teach at the law school and the skills learned translate into many aspects of lawyering.”
Ted is excited about the state of the art technology and open design plans which he believes will spark interest among current and prospective students, noting that:
“Being able to imagine yourself in a courtroom is key. Students will see others working in the courtroom day after day, and might think “Whoa, that looks like something I could do."
Learn More About "A New Day In Court
Professor and Director of Advocacy Barbara Bergman describes the Project and its goals. Watch here.
For more info including donor naming and recognition opportunities, please contact Senior Director of Development Megan O'Leary at [email protected] or 520-621-8430.