The Legal Advocate

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October 2013 Executive Director’s Letter: The Evidence on NITA Programs

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Karen M. Lockwood

Karen M. Lockwood

As we conclude “evidence month” on NITA’s blog, I turn the discussion from “how to use evidence” to evidence itself – evidence that working on your trial and deposition skills in NITA live programs brings better lawyering and better results.

Within two weeks after the National trial skills program in Boulder, we received an exuberant report from a young lawyer that she had won a difficult round in court by putting her new skills – and her new confidence – to use immediately. Springing from her work at NITA to a dispositive evidentiary hearing, she had handled evidence and argument with new authority, and with success. She won.

Just this week – three months later — we heard this praise from a lawyer who had stepped up his skills in that same July trial program: “Thanks in large part to what I learned and re-learned at the National Session, I got a defense verdict on Friday in a case where just about everyone said we could not win.”

Three points from two stories.

  1. NITA live programs are transformative. Lawyers know this as they depart on their last day, excited, proud, a bit surprised at how much range and control they have mastered. The point of these two stories is that “transformative” is the right word.
  2. The lessons and confidence learned at NITA take hold right away, and last through time. We work with the person to uncover the advocate and to use proper techniques. The lessons are not learned simply in the head, to be forgotten. They are learned also in the grit, the heart, and the muscle memory.
  3. Each level and age of lawyer finds this transformation. Seasoned lawyers “learn and re-learn”; younger lawyers learn at their level. Because we work with the person, we unwrap the next layers of the advocate and advance techniques for the individual’s level.

NITA live programs deliver this around the country. My two stories are from the National trial program. Our other trial programs and our deposition sessions work the same way, and see this kind of transformative learning.

I love these stories. I, like our program directors, team leaders, and broad national faculty, do these jobs because we love teaching together, and reap our rewards by marveling at the transformations.

Our advocate learners love it because it improves lawyering, improves results, and improves justice. Reach out to those who don’t know; tell them this is one of the most valuable things they can do for career, clients, and results.

“What a wonderful program. I am so glad I got to take part. The training and feedback were invaluable and the faculty and other attorneys were great. I wish I could jump into a jury trial right now to apply all the new skills I acquired!”

2012 Building Trial Skills: Western Participant


Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President & Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

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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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