The Legal Advocate

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Monthly Archives: November 2014

November 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: Looking Forward – A Moment of Thanks

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Lockwood_KarenA week from today, you and I will be busy getting ready to be really busy. Running off our turkey feasts, planning the weekend sports line-up, and considering our December tasks, we’ll hunker down.

What comes with that is reflection. At NITA, in that pause after next Thursday’s holiday, we will be reflecting on our year’s successes. We’ll be finalizing our plans for greater successes in 2015. And we’ll be measuring success by NITA standards.

  • Did we reach lawyers at all levels of seniority through our public-enrollment programs?
  • Did we make new friends by bringing added value through customized programs
    • for firms of all sizes,
    • for agencies lawyers in adjudicatory hearings and trials,
    • for non-profits whose clients are underrepresented,
    • for state prosecutors and public defenders?
  • Did we leverage our transformative power in the public service by bringing it to
    • lawyer groups targeted by grants,
    • attorneys who specialize in child advocacy, tribal system advocacy, domestic violence, and other target populations?
  • Did we use the printed word and videos of NITA-quality advocacy in the service of NITA?
  • Did we find and invite the best talent in the country onto our faculty?

Yes we did. We are thankful to all of you who contribute so generously of your talents and time.

I measure success by impact – the highest quality in all that we do. And by reach – the importance of NITA training to even the most advanced advocates as well as those in their mid-career and early years.

Restless to do more, we are planning for even greater impact and reach in 2015. Our plans are concrete, and exciting. Watch these pages and my monthly letters for evolving news and insight.  And I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have a wonderful time of thanks in next week’s holiday. And again,

Thank You.

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

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

Invitation to Write for NITA’s Blog

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NITA’s blog, The Legal Advocate, is a great way to get word out about everything NITA has to offer. Not only does it help generate interest in the programs and publications we offer and  increase NITA’s visibility in online searches like Google, but our blog also provides a service to lawyers looking for expert help in all areas of trial advocacy. In the spirit of continuing to provide this service, we are looking for writers to contribute blog posts in 2015. Interested? Then read on.

  • “From the Judge’s Bench” series. Are you a sitting judge? We’re looking do to a year-long series consisting of one post per month and called “From the Judge’s Bench.” Topics might include a variety of things from what you expect (or don’t expect) from trial attorneys while in court, humorous (or not so humorous) anecdotes from your experience on the bench, or how to write motions and briefs.
  • Topical monthly series. Each month, we post four to five weekly articles on a given subject of value to our readers, ranging from cross-examination to technology in the courtroom—and everything in between. If you think something’s interesting for in-depth investigation, it’s likely our readers will, too.
  • Publication reviews. When we release a new publication, you write a review. Many of our new case files feature social media evidence and feature online “microsites” that are fun to check out. And our tradebooks on advocacy are so well written and interesting that they practically read themselves!
  • Fun, lighthearted, or newsy posts.  These posts could be reviews on the law as portrayed in fiction, movies, or televisions shows, or musings and observations about a current legal event or trial in the news. A post regarding a particular holiday and its effect on the legal industry, for example, would fit into this category. If it’s got a legal slant, we’re interested.

You may write a single blog post or an entire series. You can write something now or wait until later in the year. The timing and topics for a post are endless, and the above are just a handful of suggestions we have. However, we’d love to discuss what you think our readers might enjoy. If writing for The Legal Advocate sounds like an offer you can’t refuse, please contact Kathy Behler, NITA’s online marketing specialist at kbehler@nita.org or 303-953-6832.

NITA TV Review: Praise for an “Old Bailey Hack”

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Written by guest blogger Judge McGahey

rumpole

TV and radios talking heads are fond of putting together all-star teams or all-time great lists. One manifestation of this is the “Mount Rushmore”: the four quarterbacks on your Mount Rushmore, the four guitar players on your Mount Rushmore, the four chefs on your Mount Rushmore, etc.  If I had a Mount Rushmore for TV and movie lawyers, you’d easily guess three of them: Atticus Finch, Perry Mason, and Vincent Gambini.  But you might not recognize my fourth: the ineffable, irascible, and totally original Horace Rumpole, self-described “Old Bailey hack.”

Rumpole of the Bailey was a long-running British TV show that was a regular part of Masterpiece Theater here in the States. The show centered on a crusty English barrister, Horace Rumpole, and his adventures in and out of court.  The series started as a single episode show on the BBC in 1975.  That show was well received and eventually led to seven series of episodes, on and off between 1975 and 1992, along with the occasional special.  Rumpole was the creation of John Mortimer, who was a barrister in real life.  His experiences gave the series a ring of truth and legal accuracy that are frequently missing from shows about the law.  Interestingly enough, Mortimer turned each series of scripts into books of short stories that were published after the shows themselves aired.  Like the TV shows, the books are well worth reading.

From the beginning, Rumpole was played by the brilliant Leo McKern.  Rumpole is a criminal defense lawyer who likes inexpensive cheroots (cigars) and cheap red wine, “Chateau Thames Embankment,” which he consumes at his favorite haunt, Pommeroy’s Wine Bar.  He is fond of poetry, making frequent references to The Oxford Book of English Verse, particularly Wordsworth. Rumpole is a member of Chambers at 3 Equity Court, where many of the other members find both Rumpole and his practice embarrassing and distasteful. Even so, at some point or another, every one of those other members of chambers calls on Rumpole to extricate them from some potential ethical, legal, or moral dilemma, which, of course, he does.

Rumpole is a barrister who refuses the higher rungs of the British legal profession. He wears a tatty gown and his wig is old and threadbare. He has no desire to be Head of Chambers, or a judge, and particularly no desire to “take silk, [i]” that is become a Queen’s Counsel (“QC”), a barrister who is able to represent the Crown in both civil and criminal matters.[ii]  The last is what matters to Rumpole, for as he frequently says, “Rumpole never prosecutes!” (Although he does, once, sort of.) You learn very early that Rumpole’s goal is always justice—although it can be interesting to see how he achieves it.

Rumpole is surrounded by a bevy of other wonderful characters.  There are the other members of Chambers: Guthrie Featherstone ( a snob with a social-climbing wife; he later becomes a judge), “Soapy Sam” Ballard (a prissy religious zealot who marries the Matron of the Old Bailey Jail), Claude Erskine-Brown (described as “so dull that he had been chosen to bore for England”), and Phyllida Trant (a female barrister that Rumpole takes under his wing.  She later marries Erskine-Brown and becomes a judge, too.)[iii]  There are the judges that Rumpole butts heads with: Judge Bullington (“The Mad Bull”), Judge Graves, and Judge Oliphant.  There are the support folks in chambers like Albert and Henry, the Chambers clerks, and Diane, the Chambers secretary.  And there are the various members of the Timson family, a large clan of “minor South London villains” who look on Rumpole as the family lawyer.

But most of all there is Rumpole’s long-suffering wife, Hilda, known as “She Who Must Be Obeyed.”[iv] Hilda is ambitious for Rumpole; her father was an extremely well-respected QC and she longs to see Rumpole take what she considers his rightful place in the hierarchy of barristers.  Rumpole’s permanent refusal to do so is a constant thorn in her side.  But even as Rumpole and Hilda argue over things, it is clear that they love each other and that she is, ultimately, Rumpole’s rock.  The portrayal of a long-married couple who are still devoted to one another is one of the highlights of the show.

For those of us connected to the legal profession, the show is wonderful for many other reasons.  It gives us an inside look at how the English chambers system works.  This is nothing like an American law firm.  For example, members of chambers can appear opposite one another in cases.  There is the fact that barristers alone can appear in court and must wait to be hired on behalf of clients by solicitors, lawyers who do not appear in court.[v]  There is the faithful replication of British courtroom practice, with barristers referring to their opponents as “my learned friend,” and judges “summing up” (telling the jury what the judge thinks of the evidence(!)) at the end of trials.

Best of all, there is Rumpole’s inner monologue during trials.  I fell in love with this show primarily because of this.  When Rumpole comments internally on what’s happening during a trial, he says exactly what real lawyers think about in these situations. He comments on witness testimony, on jurors paying attention, on the behavior of his opponents and on the conduct of the judge—and boy, does he comment on that! I thought his comments were wonderful when I was a lawyer.  Now that I’m a judge, sometimes I cringe a little.

You don’t have to be an Anglophile (like me) to love Rumpole of the Bailey. If you like great acting, inventive plots, and crackling dialogue, you’ll love Rumpole.  And if you care about trial work, you’ll love Rumpole even more.

I’m thankful for a lot of things at this time of year: my family, my friends, a roof over my head, and a full stomach. I’m also thankful for each and every person who makes NITA the gold standard for teaching trial skills everywhere!  I hope everyone has a bountiful Thanksgiving! – Judge McGahey


[i] In England, only QC’s can wear silk gowns to court.

[ii] At one time in England, there was no centralized prosecution service, and private counsel who were QC’s were often hired or appointed to prosecute criminal cases. The Crown Prosecution Service was established in 1985. It serves much like the United States Attorney or District Attorney does in this country.

[iii] One of the more interesting subtexts of Rumpole is how much more professional and progressive he is than almost every other lawyer in the show about working with woman barristers.

[iv] The reference is to H. Rider Haggard’s famous adventure novel, She. For a really cheesy film version, see She (1965), starring Ursula Andress.

[v] This is changing; there are now some solicitors who have courtroom privileges.

Fundraising Goal for 2014

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November is coined as philanthropy month and marks the busiest season for non-profits.  More importantly it is a time for all of us to reflect for a moment, to say thanks and to give back.  Before the close of 2014, we are asking you to include the NITA Foundation into your year-end philanthropic giving plan.

The NITA Foundation is asking for your donation in order to promote Better Lawyering, Better Results, and Better Justice.  The NITA Foundation accomplishes this by awarding scholarships and by funding specialized advocacy skills programs to groups of public service lawyers.

  • Critical Scholarships from NITA make it possible for both public service lawyers and lawyers in need to serve clients with more effective and efficient advocacy skills. Scholarship recipients attend our public programs, learning alongside lawyers who they might meet on the other side of the courtroom.
  • Public Service Programs created by NITA, teach relevant advocacy skills to dedicated groups of public service lawyers.  These programs directly target the lawyers who serve clients most in need of a voice.

In 2013, NITA trained 3,295 attorneys nationwide in 208 advocacy skills programs. Of these, 114 lawyers received NITA scholarships and 641 received their training in public service programming.

We strive to do more.Help us reach our donation goal of $200,000 for 2014.  We have nearly $100,000 remaining and we need your help!  Here are ways you can give to the NITA Foundation:

  • Cash donations
  • Authorize a pledge
  • Give in memory or in honor of a colleague, friend, or family member
  • Donate faculty pay for teaching at a NITA Program or royalty payments from your publications
  • Gift of stock
  • Planned giving – gifts made from an estate, life insurance, or retirement plan assets

No matter the amount, every dollar matters and every dollar raised goes to fund scholarships and public service programs.  Please visit www.nita.org/donate to make a secure online gift or mail donations directly to the NITA Foundation.

Our New Look!  Our Evidence of Public Service Passion!

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Lockwood_Karen

Welcome to our new look in Giving Voice, published by the NITA Foundation.  All dressed up to bring you current news about NITA’s public service mission and the NITA Foundation’s activities, we give you the same clean, clear look-and-feel that you recognize as NITA brand.  We give you instant comment and sharing space below each article directed to our blog so that your ideas, questions, bragging rights, and public service activities are for all to see.  By “giving voice” to you on these pages, we hope that you will inspire your colleagues as well.

Our Passion.  As Executive Director of the Foundation, I want to share other trending events.  The NITA Board and NITA Foundation Board members, in their regular fall meeting, acted with certainty and insight to dedicate additional NITA funding to our public service training work.  This is innovation in action. It also is preparation – broadening our public service platform and showing you the strong impact of your individual donations.  We picture that work to include NITA-initiated public service training programs, aimed at particular groups of attorneys, or particular client groups who are caught in a tradition of under-representation.

Impactful and innovative are the key words.  We will innovate our public service programming in ways that reach audiences we see, but where grant-makers’ goals do not necessarily reach.  We will grow our impact by showing you another way to explore and support with us the work of improving advocacy skills, across the country and in Rule of Law programs internationally.  Your donations will make a large difference.  This is uniquely NITA.

Thank you for being part of our donor family.  Whether you are a program participant, faculty member, author, past donor, or current donor, we ask you to join our initiative with your donations.  Larger resources make larger differences.  And we have a big difference to make.

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

Karen M. Lockwood
Executive Director
The NITA Foundation

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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