EATS 2023 Recap: A Successful Gathering of Advocacy Educators

Dozens of conference attendees gathered in the Great Hall during the 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference.
The 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference brough over 100 attendees to Stetson Law.

More than 100 professors, program directors, and coaches from across the country gathered at Stetson Law for the annual Educating Advocacy Teachers (EATS) Conference June 12-14 to collaborate and discuss important issues related to teaching advocacy. 

One of Stetson Law’s most important events on the national trial advocacy stage, EATS invited attendees to explore the art of advocacy through a variety of lenses, from pop culture to breakthrough technology. Education professionals passionate about advocacy were invited to talk trade in a collegial setting, with sessions ranging from conversational keynotes to insightful breakout sessions.

Professor Elizabeth Boals speaks at a podium at the 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference.
Law Professor Elizabeth Boals at the 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference.

“EATS is all about collaboration and this year’s conference not only brought together many experienced advocacy educators, but also dozens of new advocacy teachers from both established and developing programs all across the country,” said Law Professor Elizabeth Boals, Director of Stetson Law’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy.

From AI to Lessons from Lasso

The event kicked off with a tour of the new Stetson Advocacy Institute, an innovative facility scheduled to open in the fall.

Conference topics included the forthcoming advocacy component of the Nex-Gen Bar Exam; developments in artificial intelligence and their impact how advocacy is taught; utilizing new technology tools to explain and present evidence; model competition rules; effective storytelling and skill-building exercises; and extracurricular and development initiatives. A beloved TV show was even the focus at one point.

A man stands with a microphone in front of a screen that says "Ted Lasso for Trial Lawyers."
University of Texas School of Law Advocacy Center Director Mike Golden gives a keynote address during the 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference.

During a lunchtime keynote, advocacy skills were explored  through key moments from Ted Lasso, a series in which the namesake character’s unflappable optimism collides with a flailing U.K. soccer team. The speaker, University of Texas School of Law Lecturer and Director of Advocacy Mike Golden, used clips from the show to emphasize the importance of shaking off a loss, curiosity over judgment, and being oneself.

While winning competitions is thrilling, he concluded, advocacy coaches and teachers should always be focused on helping students build on their skills.

“Why we do this is not for wins and losses – it’s to make these folks be the best versions of themselves,” he said.

The perfect place to talk shop

Each year, EATS brings the national advocacy community  together at a venue famous for its leadership in advocacy.   Stetson Law has ranked No. 1 in advocacy by U.S. News and World Report numerous times, including in its most recent rankings cycle.

A banner on a gate on the Stetson Law campus says "Welcome Annual EATS Conference."
Welcoming attendees to the 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference.

Stetson’s  advocacy competition teams have won countless awards at the state, regional, national, and international levels, and Stetson annually hosts important tournaments like the National Pretrial Competition and the International Environmental Moot Court Competition.  It’s an ideal setting to welcome the tightknit advocacy community to discuss and collaborate on the work about which they are so passionate.

A man talks to a group of people surrounding him in a classroom.
A breakout session during the 2023 Educating Advocacy Teachers Conference.

“Through panel presentations, group discussions, and enthusiastic debates, the conference attendees were able to explore and learn new ways to best teach their students the art of advocacy,” Boals said. “The future of advocacy education is bright, and we are already looking forward to next year!”