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NITA Announces Award Winners for 2013 Teaching Year

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The National Institute for Trial Advocacy Awards recognize outstanding work by our family of Program Directors, Team Leaders, faculty, and staff. These people contribute to NITA by working on Public Programs, Custom Programs, and Public Service Programs. They are authors, teachers, and innovators.

NITA’s work in 2013 generated the largest number of nominations in some years, and the NITA Awards Committee struggled to make choices from an array of highly qualified NITA advocates. This year’s Awards Committee was comprised of Mark Caldwell (NITA staff and committee chair), John Baker (2012 Oliphant awardee), Barbara Barron (2012 Marshall awardee), Jim Gailey (2012 Keeton awardee), Nancy Vaidik (Program Director), and L.C. Wright (NITA Board). The committee considered all of the nominations and made its recommendations to Executive Director, Karen Lockwood, for her final selection.

The three awards—the Robert Keeton Award for NITA teaching, the Robert Oliphant Award for outstanding service to NITA, and the Prentice Marshall Faculty Award for the innovation—each are named after one of the pioneers of NITA who exemplified the nature of the specific award.

The recipients of the 2013 awards are:

Robert Keeton Award for Outstanding Service as a NITA Faculty Member (recognizing exceptional work as a NITA faculty member):

rubinowitz_benBen B. Rubinowitz, Partner, Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz. In considering his nomination, it was recognized that “Ben is a ‘best’ teacher and deserves the best teacher award.”  He began teaching early in his career, and has contributed to new and evolving methods, such as “drills” and the drill room. He lectures in the same persona that he presents to a jury—a consummate role model.



sher_beth Elizabeth J. Sher, Partner, Day Pitney LLP. Throughout comments nominating her, Beth’s lasting teaching contributions to NITA include accolades such as, “Beth has dedicated herself to teaching, program directing, and team leading.” “She is the consummate faculty member, always prepared and on time, willing and ably delivering lectures as well. She shares ideas, thinks carefully about the program and how to make it better.” “Collaborative, supportive, and—most importantly—a great teacher, she is always loved by participants.”


Robert Oliphant Award for Outstanding Service to NITA (recognizing service to NITA through program administration, volunteer service, and other participation that enhances NITA’s Mission):

toomey_danielDaniel E. Toomey, Duane Morris LLP. Paraphrasing from his nominations, “Dan has not limited his NITA service to being Program Director and Team Leader of the DC Trial Program. Rather, he has participated as faculty at many programs, including National, Southeast Regional, Building Trial Skills—Florida, Teacher Training at Harvard (under Urban Lester and Sandy Brook), Teacher Program at USF Law School (under Mike Kelly), DC Deposition (under Don Green and Dick Leighton), and Philadelphia Deposition (under Lou Natali and recently Hayes Hunt). He continues to regularly teach in the program he led for over 20 years, the Building Trial Skills: DC Program. In 2010, Dan was selected to the NITA Faculty for Belfast, Northern Ireland. Dan has also directed and been a faculty member on in-house programs during his almost 38 years of service to NITA. Dan continues as an ‘apostle’ for NITA through his instrumental work setting up the D.C. Advanced Trial Program and—just last month—the first off-shore public program, the San Juan, Puerto Rico Trial Skills program (with Ken Suria, Esq., of San Juan, P.R.).”

Prentice Marshall Faculty Award for the Development of Innovative Teaching Methods with NITA (recognizing creativity in program development or teaching methodology):

mccrystal_jamesJames L. McCrystal, Brzytwa, Quick & McCrystal LLC. Mr. McCrystal’s dedicated imagination and craft creating constant innovations in NITA’s Deposition Skills Programs have brought improvements to both program structure and teaching methods. His efforts in public service and assistance in leading newly created programs, most recently the San Juan Puerto Rico Trial program, demonstrate his creativity and service to the organization.

The NITA family is filled with exceptional people who regularly do exceptional things. In 2014, we recognize these four special people for all they have done for NITA through the years.  We know they will continue to contribute, always in energetic and imaginative ways.         

Please join us in thanking them, and extend your congratulations.    

4 thoughts on “NITA Announces Award Winners for 2013 Teaching Year
    • Thank you, Karen and the Committee. I am honored and humbled by this recognition from fellow teachers I admire so greatly. Many congratulations to Ben, Dan, and Jim — all of whom I have taught with, learned from, and admire greatly for their immense skill and their dedication to NITA.

  • […] NITA Awards! We couldn’t do it without our stellar, imaginative, and devoted faculty members. Among the many, we receive many nominations for our three annual awards. This year the awardees are Jim McCrystal (Cleveland), Ben Rubinowitz (New York), Beth Sher (New York), and Dan Toomey. Thank you again, Jim, Ben, Beth, and Dan for all that you do—it is done with great talent! In case you missed the Press Release, click here. NITA Award Winners! […]

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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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