Those who teach for NITA are special people. NITA instructors are the crème de la crème of trial lawyers, judges, and law professors—with skills as both advocate and teacher. Just as professional sports chooses All-Star teams and the arts recognizes excellence through their mega-awards, NITA too recognizes its “best of the best.” Each year, NITA asks its “family” to nominate those who have been leaders during the previous year. NITA’s awards recognize Excellent in the Development of Teaching Techniques and Program Design (the Hon. Prentice H. Marshall Award), Outstanding Service in Instruction (the Robert E. Keeton Award), and Outstanding Service to NITA (the Robert E. Oliphant Award). Awards season is upon us, and NITA seeks nominations for these three designations.
The Hon. Prentice H. Marshall Faculty Award is for Development of Innovative Teaching Methods or Programs recognizing development of new ideas in how NITA teaches trial skills or in the creation of new courses. It is named for the late Prentice Marshall, one of the original teachers at the National Session and a fixture on the NITA faculty, who pioneered the efforts to support pro bono advocacy and teaching at major law firms and by the judiciary. Marshall helped develop NITA’s four-part teaching methodology.
The Hon. Robert E. Keeton Award is for Outstanding Service as a NITA Faculty Member and recognizes excellence in teaching. This award is named for Robert Keeton, one of the original teachers at the National Session and a longtime contributor to many programs. Judge Keeton authored one of the first texts on trial advocacy and served as NITA’s director from 1973 to 1976.
The Robert E. Oliphant award is for Outstanding Service to NITA in all areas, including program directorship, public service, writing, and support. It honors Professor Robert Oliphant, NITA’s first administrator, who has taught at the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell law schools for over 35 years. Recipients of this award demonstrate dedication to the NITA mission through instruction, program administration as a program director or as a team leader, and writing.
Members of this year’s awards committee are Chair Mark Caldwell, John Baker (2012 Oliphant Award recipient), Barbara Barron (2012 Marshall Award recipient), James Gailey (2012 Keaton Award recipient), the Hon. Nancy Vaidik, and L.C. Wright. This committee provides recommendations to NITA Executive Director Karen Lockwood for designating award winners.
Nominations are now open for each award. The deadline for submission of nominations is Friday, March 7, 2014. The committee asks that you complete a nomination form so it has sufficient information to consider each nominee. Emails that simply suggest a name do not do justice to the person you wish NITA to consider for recognition. Committee members want to know what you know about your nominee and to understand your case for his or her deserving the award you name.
Each person who shares his or her time by writing or teaching for NITA is special. They honor NITA and the legal profession by donating time and expertise to all who attend our programs, read our texts, or use our case files. The Keaton, Marshall, and Oliphant Awards are NITA’s means of recognizing volunteers who have gone above and beyond in our mission to promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy, train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice, and develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice. Please take the time to nominate a NITA colleague who you believe deserves special recognition as one of NITA’s best.