MWI21 (3)

02/04: How To Put Your Best Foot Forward

February 4, 2021 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM


Virtual - all times are eastern standard time

Learn from an expert on how to put your best foot forward in the virtual world

Theater Director and Acting Coach Gillian Drake will present a 90-minute master class on acting for IP Professionals.

Drake founded the Acting for Lawyers program 34 years ago when she realized that Washington’s huge population of lawyers provided a fertile market for her theater background—as a literary and casting associate at Arena Stage and currently as a director at the smaller Spooky Action Theater near U Street. (According to the American Bar Association, DC proper has more than 56,000 lawyers, or one for every 13 residents.) Drake figures she has taught about 1,700 attorneys over the decades. She runs more in-depth eight-week workshops, as well.

She doesn’t coach only trial lawyers, though their job is arguably closest to that of a performer onstage. Her classes draw attorneys who want to communicate better with clients, explain complicated practice areas more clearly, or give more compelling pitches to their bosses and potential new clients. Her company, On Trial Associates, also offers witness preparation, creates focus groups for trials, and supplies actors for mock trials.

Unlike public-speaking courses, Drake tailors her curriculum to the legal set, pushing students to think about how they come across in court and deterring them from using the bullying tactics that frequently wind up in an attorney’s playbook. “Lawyers often pick the easiest voice, which is to be louder,” she says, when a more modulated tone can actually be more persuasive. She also makes them do things that can at first seem silly, such as silently acting out the process of getting out of bed and starting the day—an exercise meant to show them how effective body language can be without saying a word.



  • Drake-Gillian200 Drake, Gillian

    Acting for Lawyers | Founder & President

    Gillian Drake is a nationally recognized expert on the courtroom behavior of witnesses, lawyers, and juries. She has consulted on hundreds of cases since 1985—many of them high-profile and diverse: from spies to priests accused of sexual abuse, from high-level government officials accused of corruption to financial and tax-services executives prosecuted by the federal government, from custody battles to malpractice suits. Ms. Drake is a member in good standing of the American Society for Trial Consultants.