College of Law receives $2 million gift to support advocacy training

Monday, September 16, 2013

The University of Illinois College of Law has received a $2 million gift from the Jerome Mirza Foundation to create The Jerome Mirza Program in Advocacy, designed to advance advocacy training at the College. The Program will support (1) The Jerome Mirza Trial Academy, a Chicago-based program that will provide training to upper-level law students and practitioners in advanced advocacy techniques, including e-discovery, cross-examination, and effective use of trial exhibits; (2) The Jerome Mirza Chicago Practicum, which will expand course offerings in the College of Law’s innovative Chicago Program; and (3) The Jerome Mirza Fellows Program, which will fund one-year fellowships for recent graduates of the College of Law to serve in county public defender offices, where they will gain real-world practice experience assisting indigent citizens of the state of Illinois, under the supervision of experienced public defenders.

“Jerry Mirza was a legendary trial lawyer whose approach to litigation emphasized honesty, empathy, courage, technological skill, and real-world experience,” said Dean Bruce Smith. “This transformative gift from the Mirza Foundation will help our students and recent graduates develop and hone these qualities by strengthening our already formidable Trial Advocacy Program, as well as the College’s Chicago presence. We are tremendously grateful to the Mirza Foundation and proud to honor Jerome Mirza’s legacy in this, the 50th anniversary of his graduation from the College of Law.”

“Advocacy has a long and distinguished tradition at the University of Illinois College of Law,” observed Steve Beckett (’73), director of the College’s Trial Advocacy Program. “I had the privilege of knowing Jerry, and his reputation as a litigator was unrivaled. Jerry had a firm belief in the value of trial advocacy education. This gift will expand opportunities for our students and further accelerate their transformation into top-flight advocates.”

A 1963 graduate of the College of Law, Jerome Mirza (1937-2007) was a nationally recognized trial lawyer who served as past president of both the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA). He was a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates and a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mirza served as a member of the College of Law’s Board of Visitors and hosted The Jerome Mirza College of Advocacy annually on the Urbana campus.

“We are very happy to be involved in the College of Law's efforts to offer to its students a broader practice-oriented curriculum. We are especially pleased that through this gift, Jerry's legacy of trial advocacy training at the University of Illinois will continue,” said Debbie Peters, president of the Jerome Mirza Foundation.