Mark Lanier (’84) knows a thing or two about selecting a jury.
Lanier secured favorable verdicts against heavyweight medical and oil companies en route to becoming one of the best and most influential trial lawyers in the United States. This vast experience and tremendous success made him the perfect candidate to teach a one-credit summer voir dire course for Texas Tech Law.
“Voir dire is an important and under-taught skill, and we have one of the masters as an alumnus,” said Dean Darby Dickerson. “I attended 12 hours of this 16-hour course. It was an amazing experience for me and for the students. It’s rare that students can spend this much time with a true trial-master.”
During the course, Lanier demonstrated voir dire techniques, had students complete and discuss short- and long-form jury questionnaires, covered recent Texas cases on voir dire, invited another leading trial attorney to conduct a voir dire using students as venire persons, arranged for a top jury consultant to discuss factors to consider in jury selection and the top ten mistakes attorneys make during voir dire, and much more.
“Having this opportunity to train a new generation of lawyers with zeal and skill is an honor,” said Lanier at the conclusion of the first session, in which he advised students to create personal connections to potential jurors. “I don’t want to have a single person on the panel that I haven’t talked to, that I haven’t formed a personal relationship with,” he told students. “You’re making the trial a family event.”
Student Jason Smith (’15), from Dallas, said he took the course because he plans to practice trial work and the course fit his summer schedule. But Lanier’s presence as teacher provided his primary incentive. As student Carly Castetter (’14) of Austin summed it up, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain insights from one of the best lawyers in the nation.”