Trial Law Institute

The Trial Law Institute (TLI) is an association of trial lawyers established under the auspices of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA). The TLI’s primary purpose is to perpetuate, elevate and preserve the art of trial presentation and techniques, and to advance and educate on new technologies designed to enhance the admission of evidence in courtroom settings.  Membership includes all Fellows of the LCA and CLSA (Construction Lawyers Society of America) and and is open to others invited upon nomination or recommendation by members, but is limited to one percent of the bar, excluding judges, law professors and governmental lawyers.  Members of the Trial Law Institute who are not already LCA Fellows are reviewed periodically for consideration of LCA Fellowship, which is limited to 3,500 Fellows internationally.

The Trial Law Institute (initially the Institute of Trial Presentation) was established in 2009 based on the design of the late J. Ric Gass (1943-2019) of Gass Weber Mullins LLC of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Lead counsel in over three hundred jury trials, Mr. Gass maintained the goal of educating lawyers on advanced trial techniques learned and created over his long and illustrious career.  He served as the 2012 President of the Litigation Counsel of America and was appointed Life Dean of the TLI in 2013.

James A. Varner, Sr. (Jim), of Varner & Van Volkenburg, P.L.L.C., of Clarksburg, West Virginia, and the late Stephen G. Morrison (1949-2013) of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia, South Carolina, acted as Co-Founders of the TLI and taught at previous annual TLI Forums.

Though invitation only, the TLI is open to trial lawyers of every practice and orientation.  Its members are called upon to promote professionalism, ethics and civility throughout their practice of law and held to high ethical standards in order to maintain membership.  In the event of ethical concerns or complaints by the association or its members, membership may be withdrawn.  The composition of the TLI’s membership is highly diverse and designed to be inclusive, particularly among the newest generation of outstanding trial lawyers.

The periodic Trial Law Institute Forum is the showcase event of the association. At the Forum, selected trial masters from across North America instruct on advanced courtroom presentation. The content of the Forum is geared toward a combination of past-generation tried-and-true techniques combined with the newest technologies available.

The TLI is also the host of the Renaissance Symposium, held annually at the Harvard Club of New York City, typically the first Friday in December.


TLI Advisory Board

J. Ric Gass, Chair (1943-2019)
Gass Weber Mullins LLC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

David A. Axelrod
David A. Axelrod & Associates, P.C.
Chicago, Illinois

Michael E. Barrack
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Toronto, Ontario

Joseph C. Blanton, Jr.
Blanton, Nickell, Collins, Douglas & Hanschen, LLC
Sikeston, Missouri

The Honorable Michael B. Brennan
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Brian G. Cahill (Fellow Emeritus)
Gass Weber Mullins LLC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sidney K. Kanazawa
Alternative Resolution Centers
Los Angeles, California

Richard I. Levin
Levin, Riback & Adelman
Chicago, Illinois

Anita Modak-Truran
Butler Snow LLP
Nashville, Tennessee

James A. Varner, Sr.
Varner & Van Volkenburg, P.L.L.C.
Clarksburg, West Virginia

Kathleen T. Zellner
Law Offices of Kathleen T. Zellner & Associates
Downers Grove, Illinois


2024 LCA Conference & Celebration of Fellows

October 23-25, 2024
Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Event Registration


Where are the Women's Voices by LCA Senior Fellow Sheryl L. Axelrod

Where are the Women's Voices by LCA Senior Fellow Sheryl L. Axelrod Read on


Thomas A. Mesereau Cup

Each year the LCA awards the Thomas A. Mesereau Cup to a deserving lawyer practicing in the area of criminal law. The award recognizes excellence and commitment at the highest level.

Read on

LCA Scene

2024 LCA Spring Retreat

2024 LCA Spring Retreat Read on