The Legal Advocate

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NITA Remembers One Of Its Greats — Professor Eddie Ohlbaum

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photoOn 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.

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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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