To encourage greater participation by less-experienced attorneys in the trial phase of section 337 proceedings, the U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission) Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) established the Nurturing Excellence in Trial Advocates (NEXT Advocates) Program, which launched last year. To augment that program, Commission ALJs will be participating with advocates in the inaugural International Trade Commission Trial Lawyers Association (ITCTLA) Mock Hearing Program, which will take place on Thursday, October 12, 2023, in the Commission’s courtrooms.

In the Mock Hearing Program, attorneys who qualify for the Commission’s NEXT Advocates Program (those that have given three or fewer substantive oral arguments or witness examinations in any federal tribunal) will examine and cross-examine actual expert witnesses in a series of mock evidentiary hearings before the Commission’s ALJs. The participants will gain valuable, hands-on experience in court proceedings before an ALJ, with feedback from that judge about effective trial practice. These mock hearings will prepare NEXT Advocates for success when they participate in actual investigations at the Commission. “In the past, some members of the bar may not have had opportunities to speak in court,” said Chief Administrative Law Judge Clark Cheney. “We want to change that. The Mock Hearing Program will help attorneys gain experience to take that next step in the courtroom.”

Interest in the program has been impressive, with attorneys participating from twenty different laws firms, who nominated attorneys from their firms to be eligible for the event. Helena Kiepura of the ITCTLA Executive Committee says, “The ITCTLA is thrilled to have collaborated with the ITC on the Inaugural Mock Hearing Program. It’s truly remarkable the outpouring of support we have had from both the ITC and those who practice there, with many people—including all six ALJs—devoting their time and expertise to helping train the twenty-four NEXT-eligible advocates who are participating in the program. The participating advocates will benefit tremendously from the opportunity, and we are excited to see how participation will shape their future careers.”

About ALJs.  ALJs at the U.S. International Trade Commission are independent, nonpartisan adjudicators who preside over the trial phase of unfair import investigations under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.  Such proceedings may involve allegations of intellectual property infringement, trade secret misappropriation, false advertising, and antitrust.