A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy

The Program

The A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy at UCLA School of Law provides comprehensive training in the strategies and techniques required to be a successful trial lawyer.

Through an array of courses, competitions and clinical opportunities, students learn how to prepare for and conduct jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross examinations and closing arguments, as well as how to make and respond to evidentiary objections. Students are provided with opportunities to apply these skills in class simulations, mock trial tournaments, and on behalf of actual clients in state and federal courts. Students have an opportunity to learn from award-winning faculty, experienced trial lawyers, and nationally successful mock trial coaches.

Justin Bernstein is the Director of the program. "UCLA’s commitment to trial advocacy is virtually unique among top-tier law schools," said Professor Bernstein. "You won’t find many schools of UCLA’s academic caliber that have a trial program this robust or a trial team this competitive."

A. Barry Cappello

A Barry CappelloA. Barry Cappello, a graduate of UCLA and the UCLA School of Law, is one of the most successful trial attorneys in the United States. In a career spanning more than five decades, Mr. Cappello has obtained verdicts and settlements exceeding one billion dollars.

Mr. Cappello is the managing partner of Cappello Noël LLP in Santa Barbara. He specializes in complex commercial litigation including lender liability, class actions, catastrophic personal injury, and environmental litigation. He devotes much of his career to helping individuals fight for justice against financial institutions, government entities, and large corporations. He and his firm won a multi-million-dollar verdict, upheld on appeal, for thousands of minority borrowers alleging that a national bank gave them less favorable lending options compared to equally qualified borrowers in non-minority neighborhoods. With a lawsuit against the City of Santa Barbara, he negotiated voting rights protections for Latino citizens. Mr. Cappello is known as the pioneer of lender liability, fighting for borrowers against giant financial institutions; he wrote Lender Liability, a treatise now in its fifth edition.

Before his time in private practice, Mr. Cappello served as an assistant district attorney in the Santa Barbara, as deputy attorney general for the State of California in the Special Trials and Investigations Division, and as Santa Barbara’s City Attorney. As City Attorney, he was the chief litigator against Union Oil, Mobil, Gulf and Texaco for the massive 1969 Santa Barbara Channel oil spill. That litigation not only led to a $9.45 million settlement (equal to more than $100 million today) that helped rebuild Santa Barbara’s waterfront, but also ignited the Earth Day movement and helped spur the creation of the EPA and the first comprehensive air and water quality legislation from Federal and State governments. Mr. Cappello also won an injunction that halted installation of more oil platforms along California’s Central Coast.

Mr. Cappello’s generosity and vision led to the creation of UCLA’s Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy. His gifts have funded the Law School’s ceremonial courtroom, its award-winning Trial Team, numerous scholarships, and the certificate for students who demonstrate excellence in and commitment to trial advocacy.

Student Experiences

Alyssa Schabloski"Without the Trial Advocacy program at UCLA Law, I wouldn't have found my calling as a trial lawyer. I learned practical litigation skills from a fantastic faculty, and the mock trial was an enlightening and rewarding way of preparing to be an advocate."
--Alyssa K. Schabloski '08, deRubertis Law Firm

Eric Vandevelde"The Trial Advocacy Program at UCLA Law played a major role in preparing me to handle cases as a federal prosecutor and now in private practice. Faculty brought a holistic point of view to the litigation process, and mock trials with my fellow students allowed me to test my skills and preparation against others. I use concepts I learned in that program every single day."
--Eric Vandevelde '05, Gibson Dunn

Jenna Mersereau"Being a part of the Trial Advocacy Program has been one of the most practical, ‚Äčchallenging, and fun aspects of my career as a law student. Between mock trial and moot court, you can learn how to present a case from pre-trial through appeal while working alongside your fellow students and faculty members. My experience in the program has been invaluable in my preparation for legal practice."
--Jenna Mersereau '17

More Information

Contact Information

Justin Bernstein 70x80Justin Bernstein
Director of A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy
Lecturer in Law

bernstein@law.ucla.edu