Young lawyers sharpen trial skills at clinic

In the quarter century since it began, the annual training course for young lawyers at the University of Georgia School of Law has become an institution itself, evolving as a legacy of and for attorneys across the state and now renamed for one of its longtime leaders.

The Gary Christy Memorial Trial Skills Clinic was held June 23 through June 26 at the law school, drawing 48 young lawyers for four days of intensive practice, critiques and mentoring by 27 experienced attorneys from around the state. Many of the mentors knew and worked with Gary C. Christy, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 52 after complications from surgery. The young lawyers who didn’t know Christy learned about him along with their trial training.

“Gary Christy was a spellbinding storyteller,” said Stephen J. Harper, director of programs for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia and chairman of the clinic. “I’ve seen him take the notes out of a student’s hand and say, ‘Now, talk to the witness and we’ll get through this.’” Even in closing arguments for mock civil trials, Christy never failed to deliver “goose bumps,” Harper said.

“Gary Christy believed that it’s part of our duty to help other lawyers become good. You don’t get that in law school,” said Joseph A. Fried of Fried Rogers Goldberg, one of the clinic’s mentors.

“I don’t think anyone ever had a superficial conversation with Gary,” said another mentor, Michael S. Carlson, deputy chief assistant district attorney for the gang prosecution unit in DeKalb County. “His hopefulness about
people in general helped his practice and inspired his students.”

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