Gillian Drake is the founder and director of On Trial Associates, Inc., and Acting for Lawyers™. She is an accomplished theater director who, for over 25 years, has worked with lawyers and witnesses to elicit persuasive performances from even the most unwilling speakers. Ms. Drake also lectures on trial strategy, witness preparation, communicating with juries, and Acting for Lawyers™ training.
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.
Ms. Drake studied for three years in New York City with the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler and has an MFA in directing from Carnegie-Mellon University, as well as a BA from Bennington College in Vermont. For her entire career, Ms. Drake has been a professional theater director, producer, and voice coach. While on the artistic staff of Arena Stage in Washington, DC, Ms. Drake began applying her professional skills in a course called “Acting for Lawyers.” The course was enormously successful and soon after expanded into On Trial Associates, Inc.
Consultant & Teacher
Kim Schraf has worked with On Trial Associates, Inc. for over 15 years as a witness consultant and focus group facilitator. Her keen literary skills enhance all her work with On Trial, helping her to hear the story in the details. Her acting training helps her put herself in her witnesses’ shoes to bring out the most positive aspects of their story.
Kim has prepared scores of medical malpractice witnesses, as well as defendants in white collar crime prosecution. Kim does many of our “professional development” consultations. Through a series of one-on-one sessions, she can bring out the most reticent public speaker or ready someone for an interview, book tours, or professional development situations. She has also read testimony at trial and for focus groups.
Ms. Schraf has been a professional actor and narrator of audiobooks for over 20 years. She has performed in Washington, DC with Arena Stage, Studio Theater, Round House, the Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth, and Theater J, in such productions as Frozen, The Gigli Concert, Angels in America, Skylight, and A Prayer for Owen Meany. Kim is also a private audition coach, and for over 15 years she has served on the faculty of the Theater Lab whose specialty is adult theater education while also teaching as an adjunct professor at American University and Columbia Union College. For over 20 years, she has been a teacher, counselor, and accreditation coordinator with the Parkmont School. Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.
Melissa connects with her students and sees all the strengths and talents within and can pinpoint the challenges that prevent the student from successfully delivering the message. Her gift as a teacher is helping her clients develop performance dynamics and teaching the techniques to help reproduce those performance skills time after time.
Melissa is the Voice and Speech teacher at Catholic University where she teaches “Introduction to Theatre” and “Acting I and II” in addition to Voice classes for the graduate and undergraduate acting students. She was the resident Vocal Coach at Washington Shakespeare Company, and has also worked as a vocal coach for the Baltimore Shakespeare Company and on numerous productions with CUA. As an actress, Melissa has performed in Washington, DC with the Kennedy Center, Olney Theatre, Round House Theatre, The Shakespeare Project, Signature Theatre, Washington Shakespeare Company, Source Theatre, The Traveling Shakespeare Theater at the Folger and Arena Stage. She is a company member of Bard on Wheels, and in 1997 she co-founded Educational Theater Company. Ms. Flaim received her Master of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and French from Pennsylvania State University.
Robert Bowen Smith began working with On Trial Associates, Inc in 2016 as a teaching consultant, a public speaking coach, a witness preparation consultant and as the company administrator. He has led several 8-week Acting for Lawyers™ classes and worked one-on-one with many experienced and junior lawyers preparing them for speeches and presentations before conferences. He assists in designing and conducting oral advocacy and personal presentation workshops for associations, in-house firm training and retreats. Because of his extensive training in Shakespeare, he is particularly suited to help attorneys transform their own lawyer-language into clear and evocative language understood by anyone. His background in theater movement and dance help him coach clients in their ability to present information with precise, physical-storytelling choices which enhances the non-verbal messages of the presentation.
Robert is an actor, director, and choreographer in the Washington DC area who has garnered multiple Helen Hayes nominations. Rob has appeared as an actor in several area theaters, most notably Synetic Theatre, Keegan Theater, Theatre Alliance, The Hub Theater, Flying V, Spooky Action Theatre. He has choreographed on the stages of First Stage, Imagination Stage, Theatre Alliance, Flying V, National Gallery of Art. He earned an MFA in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance and studied Clown and Commedia with Maestro Antonio Fava.
He is also the Company Administrator for OTA, Inc. assisting in casting and scheduling of trial read-ins, mock trials, seminars, and focus groups.