Texas attorney Dominique Sims says she learned a lot at the Northwest Trial Skills program we held in Seattle last fall, a program she attended through a scholarship funded by the NITA Foundation. “I love NITA programs, and I have grown as an attorney because of them,” she shared recently. “I am living proof of how much the scholarship helped build my infrastructure as an attorney.” It was only natural, then, that we’d want to follow up with Dominique to learn more about her program experience, the unique niche in which she practices, and how NITA fits in, to the benefit of her clients. When Dominique says she loves NITA programs, she’s not kidding: she’ll be in Boulder next month for the National Session, the crème de la crème of our trial skills teachings. Good luck, Dominique!
How did you hear about the Trial Skills program you attended last fall?
Through a friend who suggested the program as a new attorney practicing in complicated civil litigation matters.
How do you think finessing your trial skills has benefitted to your clients?
It helps with your overall bargaining power and understanding the strength and weaknesses of your case. Understanding what’s important to discovery early on in a case is what wins cases. Also, you realize how much you do not know. It is important to build a strong foundation. Once you build a strong foundation, the sky is the limit.
What surprised you about yourself when you were at the program? (A good surprise, or a suboptimal one—just something you were surprised to learn about yourself.)
How much I move my body when I talk. What appears to me as “making someone feel comfortable” when I move my body is actually more of a distraction. It takes the emphasis out of what I say.
You’re the first lawyer I’ve met who has a national security practice, which must be an intriguing space to work in. What kinds of things do you do?
As a national security lawyer, I advise companies on how to maintain their security clearance, which makes up approximately 10 percent of every government contract. For individuals, I help them maintain their security clearance. Oftentimes, when employees lose their security clearance, they lose their jobs. I fight to keep it.
How did you get into this specialized niche?
My father and godfather are military veterans. Plus, I saw a niche in which only a handful of attorneys practice. Even more surprisingly, no one offers the dual service of training and advocacy.
How often are you in court?
I am in court approximately once or twice a month. Oftentimes, I am advocating for my client through motion practice.
What do you most enjoy about working in the law?
I enjoy helping people fight for their rights.
What three things are vital to your day?
A computer, a printer, and my assistant, Angela; without her, I would not have a practice. Building a strong team is vital to your practice, no matter what developmental stage of you are in. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”
What do you like to do when you’re not busy doing all things lawyerly?
I coach fifth, sixth, and seventh grade girl’s AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball. I am a former college athlete, so I try to help young aspiring athletes attain their goal of a college basketball scholarship.
What are you looking forward to?
Looking forward to the future. The future is unknown but it’s exciting. One day I hope to be on the front cover of Forbes.
Who are your heroes?
Jessica Alba. I know Jessica Alba is a weird choice, but look at the empire she has built from the ground up. She was an actress turned entrepreneur turned multimillionaire. Her story is very fascinating.
Also, my dad, because I would not be the person I am today if he did not expect the best from me.
The NITA Foundation awards a number of scholarships for our public trial and deposition programs to worthy applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and/or financial need. Please support NITA’s mission to promote justice by training and mentoring lawyers to be effective advocates for their clients and donate now.
Enjoy this interview? Find more of our “Asked and Answered” interview posts with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.