The Legal Advocate

A blog brought to you by the national institute for trial advocacy

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Kids for Ca$h Debuts this Friday, February 28

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reposted with permission from the Juvenile Law Center.

kidsForCashJuvenile Law Center would like to let you know about a new film that debuts this Friday, February 28th, in theaters in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Denver (and in Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and New Orleans in the coming weeks).

Kids for Ca$h chronicles the Luzerne County, PA “kids-for-cash” judicial corruption scandal, which Juvenile Law Center uncovered in 2007 and continues to litigate. The film is produced and directed by Robert May, who also produced The Station Agent and the Oscar-winning film The Fog of War.

The film shines a bright light on many issues facing youth today, including harsh zero-tolerance policies that needlessly push kids into the justice system; barriers to access to counsel for youth who are facing system involvement; and the high emotional and financial burden that unnecessary juvenile justice system involvement places on kids, families, and taxpayers. Juvenile Law Center is currently taking a closer look at these issues in its blog series, Lessons from “Kids for Cash,” at

On February 28, in New York, Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates will moderate a Q&A with director Robert May following the 7:15 p.m. showing of Kids for Ca$h  at the AMC Village 7.

You can watch the official trailer for the movie below. Click here to find a theater in your city.

February 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: NITA Alums Share Something Special

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Lockwood_KarenA lawyer at a large firm in Chicago snapped his attention from drafting at his desk to a vague spot on the wall opposite. His mind raced around that same loop: his trial—the first one he would first chair—was only two months off. No, he had not neglected his trial prep. His team was ready with proposed trial exhibits, the graphics for the economic expert were in final design, the handful of dispositive motions to narrow the issues would be argued in a month. His team was poised to then submit written motions in limine. The office preparation matched the timeline.

He looked up because, for the third time, he could not control his respiration rate as he contemplated delivering the opening. He could not get a bead on the approach to cross for three witnesses. And he just knew he would lag in confidence as he stood in the well of the courtroom. He had little direct trial experience—his advocacy work had been in motion hearings, trial-type administrative hearings, and as second chair taking a trial witness or two as assigned. And he felt rusty. “Well,” he said, “there has to be a first time.”

NITA alums share the assurance that they already met their “first time.” They confronted and conquered these same fears earlier, along with other NITA learners, when a client’s matter was not at risk, and when plenty of seasoned trial faculty were attentive with critiques, coaching, and support focused on each person. Whatever the new trial challenges they will meet, they will never again suffer the lead-foot, memory-erasing loss of confidence about guiding the trial and performing their advocacy.

What Else Alums Share
NITA Alums share more, too. When they look across the courtroom, they recognize other lawyers to be advocates who also learned trial skills at NITA.

More than this, they share a fondness for the memory of that NITA week even ten years later. They know that a colleague who took the NITA trial program five years earlier feels the same way. After whatever program, whenever performed, the alum understands its transformative power. And the alum knows that the other NITA alum across the courtroom feel the same way.

Now to my “special” point. NITA alums want to tell about their experience. They want to pass the secret on and invite someone they think is special to do NITA.

And so I conclude with my news: NITA Program Directors in programs around the country gather annually to plan and share their insights. This year, they are reaching out within their regions, and asking you to reach out too, to lawyers who should attend NITA now.

  • Spreading the word means taking someone by the hand who is ready for this transformation, and asking them to sign up. You mean a lot to that person, and your NITA connection is special.
  • Spreading the word means taking what you want to tell about your experience and actually sharing it.
  • Spreading the word means making connections with other alums and remembering about your NITA experiences.

Sure, the Program Director in your area is the person who led the entire program as “dean,” as top coach, as master demonstrator, as chief cheerleader—as organizing advocate for your learning. But your faculty feels as strongly. And your colleagues in the program do. More than that—you know others who have done NITA but you have never introduced the conversation. Ask them! Find them! And when you find people who have not had the NITA experience, tell them about yours and the difference it made.

NITA alum share something special. I am asking you to share it when you speak with others. Invite them in. The stronger they are, the more they gain from NITA. We welcome all—the most inclusive “tribe” in America.




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

Welcome the Newest NITA Advocates and NITA Master Advocates

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NITA is proud to announce the most recent recipients of the Advocate and Master Advocate Designations. These designations are awarded to a person who has taken a well-rounded set of courses, proving they are serious about trial advocacy.



  • Samuel Chacko | Legis Point, LLC
  • Neal Eggeson  | Eggeson Appellate Services
  • Stuart Jones
  • David Milligan  | Law Office of David Milligan
  • Rick Pardue  | Pardue Law Group


advocates_header copy


  • James Fisher | Landye Bennett Blumstein, LLP
  • B. Thassanee Gutter-Parker
  • Edward Hafer | Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP
  • David Lane | USAA Staff Counsel
  • Daniel Lindsay
  • Whitney Passmore | Womble Carlyle et al
  • Michele Romelus | Office of Michele Romelus

If you have any questions on how you can receive the NITA Advocate or NITA Master Advocate Designation, please review the information on our Advocate Designations page, or email

The Gender Gap in Law Firms: A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action

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written by guest blogger Caren Ulrich Stacy

The lack of women lawyers in the upper ranks at law firms has been a problem for decades, and it’s only getting worse.

Although there is typically a 50/50 gender split at the entry level, only sixteen percent of partners are women.   And, to further exacerbate the pipeline issue, this year marks the fourth consecutive annual decline in the number of mid-/senior-level female associates in large law firms.

No one seems to debate that this is an important issue that warrants attention.  But it also seems that no one knows exactly what to do about it.  So, we talk about it.  We brainstorm.  We come up with ideas and then dissect them to the point that nothing ever gets done because the solution is not easily achievable.

Four major law firms—Baker Botts, Sidley, Cooley, and Hogan Lovells—are finally moving past the “talk” stage into serious action.  To replenish the leaky pipeline, they are banding together to pilot a new initiative called the OnRamp Fellowship.

The Fellowship is a re-entry platform for women lawyers who have taken a break from practicing for one reason or another.  These returning women broaden their skills, experience, and legal contacts through one-year, paid fellowships at top law firms through complex legal work and training provided by legal career development experts and CLE vendors.  There are fellowship opportunities this year in fifteen cities across the United States, including Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

The goal is to increase gender diversity in law firms.

But, for this initiative to succeed, the word must get out to women lawyers who want to return.  You can help by telling two people and asking them to tell two people.  Post an announcement about the OnRamp Fellowship on LinkedIn and Twitter.  “Share” this blog post with your colleagues.  Direct anyone who is interested to

A little “action” on your part will go a long way in helping us to increase gender diversity in the profession.

Leo Romero Receives ABA’s Spirit of Excellence Award 2014

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Romero_LeoLast Saturday at the ABA’s Mid-Year meeting in Chicago,  NITA’s very own Leo Romero was singled out as a 2014 Spirit Honoree by the ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.

The luncheon is a key event in the ABA’s annual mid-year meeting. It creates waves far beyond even the very influential Commission, and is attended by most ABA leaders and many mid-year meeting attendees. Honorees are persons of national visibility, chosen from nominees as “lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.” (See link below for the award brochure.) Leo certainly is all of that and more!

As our Immediate Past Chair of the NITA Board, Leo makes us justifiably proud as he achieves this honor. For all of your activities, Leo, in and for the profession, we are particularly grateful for your service—and we know continuing service—to NITA. Congratulations!

Click here for more information regrading this annual ABA event.

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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