On the afternoon of Thursday, March 13, 2014, after a relatively short battle with cancer, NITA faculty member Edward “Eddie” Ohlbaum passed away. We are so very sad.
A devoted teacher of trial advocacy, Eddie’s untimely death creates a deep response within the NITA community. He was a leading NITA Faculty Member, and professor of trial advocacy at Temple University (view their tribute here), and so much more – an advocate for trial advocacy itself, plus a model of teaching that is superbly effective, of inventiveness that is collegial, and of advocacy that entertains.
“He was wicked smart, very funny, with a great heart and a gift for teaching,” said NITA Board Member Michael Kelly. “Simply a wonderful human being. The world will miss him.”
In 1984, Eddie was the first Team Leader at NITA’s brand new Gulf Coast Trial Skills Program. He continued to teach in many NITA programs throughout the 80’s and 90’s. His lecture demonstrations were legendary, especially those on closing arguments presented right here in Boulder, CO during our annual National Session.
“I certainly will miss the Ohlbaum wit and smile,” remembers Dominic Gianna, who is program director of the New Orleans Building Trial Skills program. “No doubt he is hard at work coaching heaven’s trial team as we speak and is chuckling at all of this. Objection overruled!! He was the best.”
Bob Stein, long-time NITA faculty member and former Program Director of the Boston trial program, chimes in: “Simply put, Eddie was an inspiration on so many levels, a gifted teacher, and a classy guy. In the dining category, he knew all the great restaurants (and dives) even before they were invented.” NITA faculty member Charlie Rose said, “He was a wonderful guy, full of piss and vinegar, and with a heart as large as the world in which we live. We will miss him each and every day.”
NITA Program Director Judge Mark Drummond recalls Eddie’s playfulness, the kind that creates collegial learning. “Eddie went with a group of us whitewater rafting and he tried to save me from falling out of the boat. Given my size versus his size, it did not work — but he tried. We gave him a little trophy with a little oar on it — the ‘Keep Your Oar in the Water Award’ for his display of heroism.”
NITA Executive Director Karen Lockwood notes what most singles out Eddie’s work. Eddie was marked by his devotion to his two crafts. First, teaching. Second, advocacy. Their marriage is what makes a NITA faculty member, and Eddie helped to develop and cement that admixture. He inspired everyone who taught with him – indeed he expanded the craft for all of those who teach trial advocacy.
Susan Steingass, NITA Board Member and former Board Chair, portrays the whole Eddie well: “Eddie was not only the best and the brightest but the funniest and the most compassionate. I will always see him at work and at play because they were the same Eddie. His loss leaves a hole that cannot be filled.”
Gifts in memory of Eddie may be made to the NITA Foundation under the Tribute Gift designation, or a desired fund (be sure to name Eddie Oldbaum). Donate here.
Please post a comment below to continue our sharing of thoughts and stories as we, together, remember NITA faculty member Professor Eddie Ohlbaum.
In my monthly letters this year, I have reflected on substantive topics of interest. In February: what does it feel like to be a NITA alum, not thinking only of the courtroom, but rather thinking of your image — in your city or region or practice, among your peers or role models, to your junior admirers? In January: what does “experiential learning” mean, and does it best fit after actual practice experience? And in December, I posed these and other topics that provide the essential inspirations of NITA.
Today, I report rather than reflect. Springing from my December points of inspiration, here are a few of our accomplishments during the first quarter of 2014.
As a zero-based budget organization, we cannot live beyond our means. Our public service budget for 2014 is 17% higher than the donations received in 2013 – already a challenge. More to the point, we must set our 2015 budget another 50% higher than that. We will do so if you show us now that we can budget for that higher capacity next year. Our public service depends on it, in this economy.
In short, we have a strong performance in the first quarter. We have a bigger-than-ever financial need for public service work. And we have built and are already walking concrete paths to expand our enrollments through your networking, continue grooming the best trial advocacy faculties in the nation, and support justice broadly by reaching all lawyers.
Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President & Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
We would like to congratulate NITA faculty member Thomas F. Geraghty, who received the 2013 Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer (IACDL) Lifetime Achievement Award for his professional accomplishments and dedication to justice. The IACDL honored Geraghty at the association’s annual dinner on November 15. Geraghty is the associate dean for clinical education and director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic and has been a member of the Northwestern Law community for more than forty years. He maintains teaching, fundraising, and administrative responsibilities at the law school and has an active caseload at the Bluhm Legal Clinic, concentrating primarily in criminal and juvenile defense, death penalty appeals, child-centered projects dealing with the representation of children, and juvenile court reform.
NITA would like to take a moment to honor the memory of a very talented and special member of the legal community, MJ Tocci. MJ died at age 60 on Saturday, February 15, at Canterbury Place in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania, after an extended illness.
MJ was a talented member of the NITA faculty, teaching many programs well into 2005. A former trial lawyer turned legal consultant, she made it her life’s mission to work with women who were working to achieve success. She went to law school at the University of San Francisco and into a job as a prosecutor for the Alameda County district attorney in Oakland, Calif. There, MJ discovered her skill for recognizing the cases that needed to be dropped and her talent for going after truly bad guys. Over the next fifteen years, she did just that, prosecuting many cases, starting with smaller scale crimes and ultimately heading the major fraud unit. She was named “one of California’s most effective prosecutors” by California Lawyer magazine.
She moved to Pittsburgh in 1996, where she became a consultant, founding Fulcrum Advisors, which taught women lawyers how to try cases, and worked with law firms and corporations to recruit, retrain, and promote talented women. Her focus on women also lead her to team up with Linda Babcock, a Carnegie-Mellon economist, to start and direct the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women, a five-month program for executive women. It was a professional accomplishment of which MJ was incredibly proud. In 2011, she was given the Athena Award by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. An engaging, focused and inspiring woman, MJ Tocci will be missed.
A memorial service in MJ’s honor will be held on April 5.
You can read more about MJ’s work here.
Press release reposted with permission from Vorys
Pamela A. Bresnahan, a partner in Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP Washington, D.C. office, was recently elected to the American Bar Association (ABA) Board of Governors. At the ABA mid-year meeting in Chicago last month, Ms. Bresnahan was elected to serve as an At Large Member for a three-year term beginning in August 2014.
The Board of Governors is the body that decides ABA policy and governs when the House of Delegates is not in session. Ms. Bresnahan has served in the ABA House of Delegates since 1987 and currently serves as the Chair of its Drafting Policy and Procedures Committee.
Ms. Bresnahan has also served on the ABA Section of Litigation’s Council and chaired the ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability. She has also served on the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary and on the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. Ms. Bresnahan presently serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. In addition, she is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and serves on its Commercial Litigation Committee.
Ms. Bresnahan’s practice focuses on representing lawyers, law firms, insurers, financial institutions, financial professionals, and officers and directors. She is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, California, and Illinois. She is the head of the Vorys D.C. office litigation practice group.
About Vorys: Vorys was established in 1909 and has grown to be one of the largest Ohio-based law firms, with nearly 375 attorneys in seven offices in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Akron, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Houston, Texas; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Vorys currently ranks as one of the 200 largest law firms in the United States according to American Lawyer magazine. Learn more at Vorys.com.