The Legal Advocate

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Monthly Archives: December 2012

December 2012 Executive Director’s Letter: You Say Good-Bye, and I Say Hello . . . (Feel the Beat)

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Karen M. Lockwood

Whether you remember the Beatles’ song, or you remember John Baker’s ED Letter in November’s NITA Notes, you will know this:  John has wistfully said good-bye as NITA’s Executive Director. Thank you, John, for your terrific service.

And I say hello – hello from our staff of 32, and hello from me personally to each of you.

May we impress you with a few 2012 data points about NITA?

  • 5000 attorneys trained in public, custom and public service programs
  • 59 public programs across the nation
  • 125 custom programs for agencies, firms, and entities
  • 24 public service programs
  • 10 international programs
  • 750 superb selected trial lawyers, judges, and professors teaching in our programs
  • 3 Next Generation award winners to teach in public programs
  • Many newly released print publications
  • 59 videos – some NITA classics – posted for downloading on studio71
  • 20+ e-Books!  On Amazon and iTunes, ready for your e-reader to notate, highlight, and personally index
  • ** First Ever!  Enhanced e-book you can WATCH – The Effective Deposition. Stay i-tuned . . . .
  • 161 scholarships for public-service and need-based applicants to learn-by-doing with us
  • 13 law firm, foundation, and organizational donations to the NITA Foundation
  • 139 individual and firm donors to the NITA Foundation as of this writing

Feel the beat as we enter 2013.  We have two pillars of NITA that orient much of what we do:  Learning-by-Doing, and Trial Advocacy.

Under the first pillar, we work amid a changing environment wherein law schools – and colleges – flock to their new imperative of integrated learning. This is a concept and practice that NITA’s founders invented 41 years ago. Our program clients have practiced this with us over the years. NITA has much to contribute.

Under the second pillar of Trial Advocacy, we write and teach advocacy amid a change in the balance among venues where advocacy takes place.  Though that change is blamed perhaps on the recession, it is now and will remain a force in the practice of law.

What implications and opportunities flow from these dynamic environments is our key question for 2013. We have the right stakeholders to draw together in examining that question:  faculty, authors, program clients, Board members and founders, who work on a long tradition of creating collaborative and inventive NITA practices.  And we have the right staff – committed, imaginative, eager, skilled, poised for the charge forward.

I invite all of our stakeholders to contribute with NITA to this growth.  Our mission, to advance justice by training an ever-more-ready bar of ethical and highly skilled trial advocates, will gain and excel in this changing environment.  I say hello, . . . hello, hello (feel the beat).





Karen M. Lockwood

Katie Strand, World Traveler

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2013 not only starts a new era of executive leadership for NITA but also sees the departure of one of the longest-tenured NITA staff members.  Katie Strand was one of the first hires when NITA moved to Colorado in 2006 and December 31st 2012 will be her last day with NITA.  She and her husband, Zane, have accepted a job teaching English in Shanghai, China.  This will kick start the beginning of their lifelong goal to live abroad and travel the world.  The words below, from people Katie has worked with during her time at NITA, paint the picture of how much she will be missed.

Wendy Velez—Associate Executive Director, Operations: “Katie has been my right hand and sounding board for nearly seven years. She has developed relationships, partnerships, and alliances with a great number of NITA faculty, board members, customers, and staff. I watched her grow personally and professionally and couldn’t be more proud of her and what she contributed to NITA over the years. We will miss her dearly.”

Mike Roake—Program Director and Faculty Member: “Katie Strand is one of the most competent PD coordinators imaginable.  She approached every challenge with humor and a can-do attitude.  Often she needed the humor to deal with prima donna behaviors from PDs (myself included), and it always worked.  If there was any issue, Katie is the go-to person.  Bright, talented, and committed to NITA, she is the essence of all that is best in a supervisor charged with herding cats.  She will be missed, not only as an able program coordinator, but as a friend.  Shanghai is the lucky beneficiary of her talent.  Thanks, Katie.”

Terre Rushton– Associate Executive Director, Programs: “Katie is smart, organized  and has a wicked sense of humor that saves us all on the worst of days.  She has done so much to make NITA professional, the business that it is and should be to sustain itself as it competes and flourishes in the future.  I have learned so very much from her about organization and systems, and will be Skyping with her every day in China to ask questions about CRM.  I will miss her.”

Mike Kelly—Program Director and NITA Trustee: “During my tenure as a Program Director for Teacher Training I had the opportunity to work closely with Katie on ten different programs in California, Colorado and New York.  She was indispensable in making those programs a success. Always energetic, insightful and willing to help whenever problems crept up, her approach to challenges was uniformly positive.  She was a phenomenal ambassador for NITA.  From facility selection, to participant recruitment, to on site administration, Katie was a Program Director’s best friend. Her dedication to NITA’s mission and goals, and in working to guarantee that our public programs were superior to any other training, was second to none.”

Vanessa Munzert—Customer Service Specialist: “We have been friends for years and I knew Katie was a wonderful, kind and clever person before I started at NITA. What struck me when I became her coworker, though, is what a fabulous leader she is! She remains calm, cool and collected no matter what the situation, whether it is a crisis or mere quibble. Her ability to remain unaffected by the reactions of the people around her and to move steadily forward towards a solution is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome. I know she will enjoy success in all her future endeavors but it cannot be put into words how much NITA will miss her leadership and guidance. She truly is a one of a kind, irreplaceable, and exceptional person. Katie, you are the best; safe travels and good luck!”

John Baker—Former Executive Director: “In her six years at NITA, she transformed! No, not just the name change, when Zane was lucky enough to get her to marry him. No, not just the many “title changes” she went through (from Program Coordinator to Lead Program Coordinator, to Assistant Director of Programs to Director of Programs.)  It was much more! She became a self-confident leader of people, deeply loyal to NITA, but willing to “tell it like it is!”  It was that honesty and that transparency that endeared her to the PD’s, the faculty, and the rest of the staff, including me.  Good luck on the new adventure.  NITA will miss you greatly.  So you need to keep in touch!  Please!”

Jay Leach– Program Director and Faculty Member: “Katie – DON’T GO!  Seriously, I do know that you are looking forward to new adventures, and that is always good.  Your ever-present good spirits and can-do attitude, which made you so valued a colleague in our work together, will make you both successful and happy – an unbeatable combination.  You were a great “right hand” to me on our programs, and of course I will miss that; but the skill you lavished on your work continues in the good training you have passed on to your successors.  Thank you for everything!”

Mark Dobson– Program Director and Faculty Member: “Every great organization has someone who is the ‘go to’ person when folks have questions. For the past several years that person at NITA has been Katie. On the few occasions when she doesn’t know something she’s asked, she makes sure to find the answer and promptly get back to person asking. Katie has been a real joy to work with and will be very much missed. I’m sure someone will pick up her mantle, but she leaves a ‘tough act to follow’.”

Megan Melich—Lead Program Coordinator: “It is hard to put into words how much Katie will be missed.  She has been a leader, a listener and a mentor to me over the past year.  I’ve learned so much from her and know that there is still so much knowledge that she has, it makes it hard to imagine NITA without her.  It has been a true honor and joy getting to work alongside such an amazing individual.  I know that she will take her experiences from NITA combined with her compassionate nature and achieve wonderful things in her journey to China as well as other life experiences yet to be imagined.”

Henry Brown–Program Director and Faculty Member: “Sweet, smart, dedicated, extremely hard working, organized beyond description, adventurous, good natured – frankly an adequate description of Katie is beyond my limited capacities.  For years she worked with Jay and I on the organization of the Western Regional Trial and Depo programs.  Katie was always the perfect partner – her organization and energy served us well.  Her good-natured spirit made her an absolute joy to work with.

“While I will always be appreciative of her incredible work the thing I will miss the most about Katie is her spirit.  Her smile is infectious.   And I have long since ceased being amazed by her many adventures in life.  Marathons and triathlons at all times of the year.  As she embarks on her latest adventure Katie stands as an inspiration that life is to be lived, not merely to exist.  It is sometimes easy to fall into the trap of just existing from day to day standing pat with whatever brings us a sense of security.  Katie always stands as a reminder that life is to be lived, experienced and enjoyed to the fullest.  Katie is a reminder that hard work and stability are not incompatible with a life lived to the fullest.  Good luck Katie.  You will be missed.”

* * *

As you can see, Katie has made quite an impression on everyone she has worked with.  If nothing else, these comments show that she is going to have a lot of NITA people to keep in touch with throughout her travels.  Good luck with everything you do, Katie, and have a blast while you’re doing it.

Thanks you for everything.


The NITA Community

Thank You to Professor Wilbur C. Leatherberry

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NITA offers a warm thank you and farewell to Professor Wilbur C. Leatherberry.  We extend our congratulations to Bill on his retirement both from his long-running position as a faculty member at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, as well as his Co-Program Director position with NITA at the Deposition Skills: Great Lakes Program. He retires from Case Western after 39 years with the university.  He served as NITA’s Great Lakes Program Co-Program Director for eight years, and we would like to thank him for his assistance and support of NITA and the Great Lakes Program.  We wish him all the best in his retirement.

NITA Movie Review: Miracle on 34th Street

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Photo courtesy of

Post written by guest blogger: Judge Bob McGahey.

“The One and Only Santa Claus!”

Miracle on 34th Street (the one from 1947) is the second greatest Christmas movie ever.  The climax is when a white-bearded jolly gentleman named Kris Kringle goes on trial for lunacy, after insisting that he really is Santa Claus.  The legal machinations surrounding that trial are some of the best things about the movie – and the main reason I chose Miracle on 34th Street for December’s review. (Well, that and the fact that it’s a Christmas movie!)

One thing that makes Miracle on 34th Street so good is its terrific cast.  The story focuses on Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) and Susan Walker, a six year old girl played by the heartbreakingly young Natalie Wood.  Also prominent are Fred Gailey (John Payne), a young lawyer who represents Kris and Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara), and Susan’s mother, a no-nonsense divorcee who works for Macy’s as special events coordinator. Also making an appearance are Judge Henry X. Harper, played by veteran character actor Gene Lockhart, and his political advisor, Charlie Halloran, played by William Frawley, whom you may remember as the beloved Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy. There are other wonderful characters, all well played by excellent actors. (Watch for Jack Albertson in a literal throwaway part.) In addition to Edmund Gwenn, George Seaton (who also directed the film) won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, and Valentine Davies won one for Best Original Story. Miracle on 34th Street was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Gentlemen’s Agreement.

(As an aside, Doris was way ahead of her time: she was an independent, self-confident, successful divorced woman, raising a child without a husband.  Showing a “divorced woman” in a positive light got this movie a “B” rating  from the National Legion of Decency for being “morally objectionable in part”.)

The movie opens with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Gwenn actually played Santa in the 1946 parade, which was filmed for use in the movie.  Oddly enough, this movie was released in May of 1947, because Daryl Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, believed that more people went to the movies in the summer than in the winter.  The original publicity for the film suggests that it’s a love story between the two adult leads, with hardly any mention of the centrality of the holiday theme.

The legal elements of this movie are great.  Kringle’s trial for lunacy – and his potential commitment to an asylum if he loses – is portrayed convincingly, yet with humor.  The evidence is wonderful: Kris cheerfully agrees that he’s Santa, the DA immediately rests, Fred subpoenas the DA’s son as a witness, the Post Office gets involved, etc. But there are other, deeper things that the movie says about lawyers, judges, and justice that are important.

First of all there’s Fred Gailey.  He’s a junior lawyer with a prominent firm, and appears to be on an upward path in that realm.  But after he takes on Kris as a client and becomes more and more convinced of the righteousness of the case, he eventually loses his job and (for a while at least) his budding romance with Doris. Fred demonstrates that a lawyer’s duty to his client and to justice can have difficult and painful personal consequences. He shows, as the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct states, that  “[a] lawyer is a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having a special responsibility for the quality of justice.”

And then there’s Judge Harper.  Coming from Colorado, I’m a die-hard supporter of merit selection for judges.  Miracle on 34th Street shows, in humorous form, the pitfalls and dangers of electing judges.  The scenes between Judge Harper and his political adviser  Halloran, are hilarious when you watch them, but on another level, they emphasize how a judge could be influenced by having to appeal to various constituencies to stay on the bench. There’s also a wonderful scene between the judge and his grandchildren that demonstrates the potential consequences for a judge who has to make tough decisions. It’s so good that Mark Caldwell and I used it as part of an ethics presentation at the Colorado Judicial Conference in 2011.

There are three caveats about watching this movie.  First of all, try to watch it without commercials.  The pacing and flow are important – and since it’s a relatively short film (96 minutes),  those matter.  Secondly, try to watch it in black and white, as it was originally filmed.  I don’t want to get on a rant here, but colorization? Ugh! Finally (and I will rant here), DO NOT, under any circumstances, think that the 1994 remake is a viable substitute. It most emphatically isn’t!

I could go on.  Instead,  I think I’ll go home tonight, break out my black and white DVD copy, and watch Miracle on 34th Street.  And I’ll watch it again with my grandchildren after they all get here for the holiday.

And finally, as Susan says near the end of the movie: “I believe… I believe… It’s silly, but I believe.”  After watching Miracle on 34th Street, see if you don’t believe, too.

A happy and healthy holiday season to everyone in the NITA family!

NITA Members Speak at Japan’s PSIM Consortium

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NITA Board of Trustee Chair-Elect Mike Ginsberg and Former NITA Executive Director John Baker traveled to Nagoya, Japan in early November to reinforce NITA’s ties with the Japan’s PSIM Consortium. The consortium is a cooperative organization of over 30 Japanese law schools, designed to improve advocacy skills training in those law schools.  NITA and the Consortium have maintained a formal “cooperative agreement” for almost five years.

Ginsberg presented a speech on the history of NITA, and Baker made a presentation on NITA’s work in studio71, video products and programs, and NITA’s e-publications. The presentations went well and overall the trip successfully reinforced our cooperation agreement.

Regarding the trip, Michael Ginsberg had this to say: “The visit was a wonderful opportunity to reinforce NITA’s relationship with the PSIM consortium which is leading the development of skills training for Japanese law students and practitioners. By sharing NITA’s history, methodology, and plans for the future, we can minimize the learning curve for our Japanese colleagues.”

NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system.

NITA’s Goals are to:

  • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
  • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
  • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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