DSO Training Events


Location: New Orleans, LA
Date: January 23 - 25, 2020

The Trial Skills Workshops are two and a half day programs that center upon specific components of criminal trial litigation. This first iteration focuses on expert testimony. The skills targeted include:  (1) Identifying & screening experts to support the theory of the case, with practical workshops on screening, interviewing, records collection and qualifying the experts to testify; (2) Understanding competency procedurally and strategically, including the strengths and pitfalls of diagnostic modalities; (3) Effective use of the Federal Rules of Evidence to make sure that your experts are qualified and the reports and documents that further your theory are admitted into the record; (4) Advanced theme-based cross examination of the government’s expert witnesses; and (5) Advanced direct examination and understanding  how to navigate the direct examination of a “hostile” witness.  An experienced and skilled faculty will lead this program. Elements of effective litigation advocacy skills will be presented in the plenary sessions. Participants will practice those skills and receive feedback in small group sessions.

Attendance at this program is limited and requires an application which will be made available when registration opens. Accepted applicants will be notified in advance. 

Orientation Seminar for Assistant Federal Defenders

Location: Santa Fe, NM
Date: November 11 - 15, 2019

This seminar for new assistant federal defenders includes a mix of topics on substantive federal criminal law, sentencing, trial tactics, evidence, and ethics.  Most topics are presented in plenary lectures while some are offered in breakout sessions.

For more information regarding this program, including registration materials, please contact Chuck Arberg at the Federal Judicial Center at (202) 502-4050 or e-mail him at carberg@fjc.gov. The agenda and materials will be posted at the Federal Judicial Center's intranet page

Winning Strategies Seminar I – Mindful Advocacy: Learning, Litigating and Leading on Mental Health Issues

Location: Austin, TX
Date: December 05 - 07, 2019

Winning Strategies Seminar I Mindful Advocacy: Learning, Litigating and Leading on Mental Health Issues brings together a dynamic group of attorneys, other legal professionals, and academic specialists to address a wide array of mental health topics, all designed to keep CJA practitioners and federal public defenders abreast of the law and best practices when appointed to represent clients living through mental illness. Sessions include both plenary lectures and smaller breakout sessions that meet the needs of advanced practitioners, less experienced attorneys and non-attorney legal professionals. The anticipated sessions include topics on effective communication, addiction, trauma, autism, adolescent and emerging adult brain development, hiring and working with experts, competency, building strong mitigation, the insanity defense, mental health courts, and ethical consideration on attorney self-care. A half-day workshop will be dedicated to trauma-informed care (separate registration required, which will open at the end of October).

We’re also excited to welcome the 2nd Annual Federal Defender Social Work Conference into this program. Registration will open shortly for this program. 

Limited financial assistance may be available for both programs to non-federal defender registrants for travel-related expenses.

The Andrea Taylor Sentencing Advocacy Workshop

Location: Houston, Texas
Date: November 14 - 16, 2019

The Andrea Taylor Sentencing Advocacy Workshop focuses on a vital area of federal practice that has evolved since the Supreme Court declared the federal sentencing guidelines were advisory and no longer mandatory. Since approximately 97% of federal criminal cases continue to the sentencing phase, participation in the Sentencing Advocacy Workshop should not be missed. The Sentencing Advocacy Workshop teaches a comprehensive approach to sentencing where participants are trained to develop persuasive, fact-based, sentencing theories, and are provided with the advocacy skills necessary to advance their theories both in writing and during sentencing hearings. Presentations and demonstrations at the workshop include client relations and interviewing for mitigation, fact busting, developing persuasive theories and themes, storytelling at sentencing, persuasive writing, and persuasive presentation. The workshop consists of plenary sessions and small group breakout sessions. In the small group sessions, participants will use pending cases of their own to bust the facts, develop theories and themes, practice storytelling, persuasively write part of their sentencing memorandums and discuss how best to conduct sentencing hearings. Please note that due to the workshop format of this program, participation in all of the sessions is mandatory.

Enrollment for this program is limited to 65 participants – priority will be given to those people who have not attended this workshop in the past. Limited financial assistance may be available to non-federal defender registrants for travel expenses.

Train the Trainers Workshop

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Date: October 24 - 26, 2019

The Train the Trainers (TTT) Workshop is designed to enhance training skills and expand the pool of experienced legal professionals available to serve as faculty at local legal education programs designed for Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel attorneys and federal defender staff, as well as national Defender Services Office, Training Division (DSO-TD) events. Participants will learn, discuss, and apply principles of adult learning, effective training design, small group facilitation skills, and persuasive presentation techniques and methodologies. The workshop is open to CJA Attorneys, federal defender staff (Assistant Federal Defenders, Research and Writing Specialists, Computer Systems Administrators, Paralegals, and Investigators) and others who provide services under the CJA. All participants must bring a laptop loaded with presentation software to the workshop. Prior to the beginning of the program, each participant is required to provide an outline of a presentation. Registration is limited to a total of 40 people. Limited financial assistance may be available to non-federal defender registrants for travel expenses.


Location: Long Beach, CA
Date: November 07 - 09, 2019

In the digital era, knowledge about managing, reviewing, and analyzing electronic discovery or voluminous discovery is a critical skill for criminal defense attorneys.  In fact, the first principle of the national joint electronic discovery protocol developed by representatives of the Department of Justice, Federal Public Defenders, CJA panel attorneys, and the Defender Services Office reflects this trend in the law: "[l]awyers have a responsibility to have an adequate understanding of electronic discovery." (See ESI Protocol). This is a position that the ABA has adopted. See Commentary to Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.1.

The Law & Technology Series: Techniques in Electronic Case Management (TECM) Workshop exposes CJA panel attorneys and FDO staff to the legal, strategic, and technological considerations involved with electronic and/or voluminous discovery.  This two-and-a-half-day program uses a combination of plenary presentations and small group, hands-on instruction.  Besides gaining an understanding of the legal, practical, and technological considerations in these types of federal criminal cases, participants will learn basic and advanced features of three litigation support software programs (Adobe Acrobat Pro, dtSearch, and CaseMap/TimeMap suite).  Attendees will better understand how legal litigation support programs work, and how to coordinate thoughtful workflow processes with co-counsel, staff, and potential vendors. They will also improve their overall ability to master case information, in order to better prepare a defense.