Membership in the Trial Law Institute (TLI) is complimentary to Fellows of the CLSA. The TLI is an association of trial lawyers established under the auspices of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). The TLI’s primary purpose is to perpetuate, elevate and preserve the art of trial presentation and techniques, and to advance and educate on new technologies designed to enhance the admission of evidence in courtroom settings. Membership includes all Fellows of the LCA and CLSA and is open to others invited upon nomination or recommendation by members, but is limited to one percent of the bar, excluding judges, law professors and governmental lawyers.
The Trial Law Institute (initially the Institute of Trial Presentation) was established in 2009 based on the design of J. Ric Gass, of Gass Weber Mullins LLC of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lead counsel in over three hundred jury trials, Mr. Gass maintains the goal of educating lawyers on advanced trial techniques learned and created over his long and illustrious career. In 2012, Mr. Gass served as President of the Litigation Counsel of America and is now Chair of the TLI’s Advisory Board. In 2013, he was appointed Life Dean of the TLI.
James A. Varner, Sr. (Jim), of McNeer, Highland, McMunn & Varner, L.C., of Clarksburg, West Virginia, and the late Stephen G. Morrison (1949-2013) of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia, South Carolina, acted as Co-Founders of the TLI and taught at previous TLI Forums.
Though invitation-only, the TLI is open to trial lawyers of every practice and orientation. Its members are called upon to promote professionalism, ethics and civility throughout their practice of law and held to high ethical standards in order to maintain membership. In the event of ethical concerns or complaints by the association or its members, membership may be withdrawn. The composition of the TLI’s membership is highly diverse and designed to be inclusive, particularly among the newest generation of outstanding trial lawyers.
The periodic Trial Law Institute Forum is the showcase event of the association. At the Forum, selected trial masters from across North America instruct on advanced courtroom presentation. The content of the Forum is geared toward a combination of past-generation tried-and-true techniques combined with the newest technologies available.
The TLI is also the host of the Renaissance Symposium, held annually at the Harvard Club of New York City, typically the first weekend in December.