The Legal Advocate

A blog brought to you by the national institute for trial advocacy

Monthly Archives: October 2016

October 2016 Executive Director’s Letter: I Want To Talk To You About Money

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Lockwood_KarenWhat I have to say is easily expressed, and I know you already understand its big impact on justice. We need more donations.

  • NITA contributes to public service lawyer training.
  • NITA also provides scholarships to lawyers in financial need for them to attend NITA programming.
  • These funds come from donations to our NITA Foundation and some grants.
  • Our board inspires further donations by allocating additional funds from NITA for its public service objectives.
  • All these gifts are inspiring.
  • But inspiration takes its meaning from the act of someone else who has also been inspired. When we see private, individual or family donation levels increase, we know we are reaching you, and that you are inspired.
  • I am not seeing it increase yet.
  • And so I wish to inspire further. If you are inclined but seek inspiration or information, please call me! 303-953-6801.

The need is as great as ever. We regularly must disappoint program applicants who clearly make a difference in practices serving people lacking access to Justice. Or who are in real sustained financial need. When we don’t have funds, we have to say “sorry” to scholarship applicants. Neither our program leaders nor our applicants like that. I don’t either.

Why don’t we have room? Because the allocation across programs of limited scholarship dollars does not spread far enough.

Now, you know me as a passionate, mission-oriented person. I am as true-NITA-blue as anyone. But I must say “no” to adding “just one more” scholarship applicant to “just this” program. I must give chances to applicants to all of our programs.

I also am a business person and a lawyer who staunchly defends NITA’s renown, its brand, it fiscal health, its future, and — more than anything — the NITA Network.

You are the NITA Network. Please join me. Go talk to friends who are not part of the NITA Network and tell them what you and we do! Donate regularly yourself, this year, or every month. Or calendar your commitment for every quarter. (It is easy to direct your donation online at: You have my promise that donations are treasured and directed wisely to further meet the demand.

We at NITA Central and across the NITA Network have so much else right. Help make us powerful enough to stop turning away scholarship applicants.

Thank you. Go NITA-Blue!




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

Here Comes the Judge! Amy Hanley Appointed to District Court in Kansas

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hanley_amyNITA faculty Amy Hanley will be sworn in as District Court Judge for the Seventh Judicial District of Kansas, in Lawrence, Douglas County. Amy was appointed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and will preside over a civil and domestic docket when she takes the bench on December 1. She is currently the Prosecution Section Chief for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s Criminal Litigation Division, a position in which she has served for five of her seven years at the Kansas AG’s office.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to continue my career in public service in my home state,” Amy said. “As a judge, I will remember what it was like to be an advocate and use my position to further improve the legal profession.”

Amy is a member of NITA’s NextGen Class of 2014 and is a NITA faculty regular, teaching six to eight times a year at Trial Skills programs in San Diego, Seattle, Boulder, and the Kansas Public Service Program, among others. She is much beloved by attendees, fellow faculty, and NITA, and we wish Amy all the best as she opens this transformative new chapter in her life. Congratulations, Amy!

Excerpts from Amy’s biography:
Amy Hanley’s courtroom highlights including her role as lead prosecutor in State v. Kahler, a capital case in which the death penalty was imposed, and State v. Seacat, a premeditated first-degree murder trial, resulting in conviction, that was nationally televised and featured on Dateline NBC. She has earned honors and recognition for her leadership, teaching, and work in the courtroom. In 2011, she was awarded the KCDAA Associate Member Prosecutor of the Year. In 2014, she was named a member of NITA’s Next Generation Faculty. In 2014, students voted her Adjunct Faculty of the Year at Washburn Law School for making the most difference in their lives and educational experience.

Ms. Hanley serves in numerous leadership roles in the prosecution community. She is an Associate Director on the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) Board of Directors where she has served on the Executive Committee. She was a co-founder of the NDAA Women Prosecutors Section and currently holds the office of Section Vice Chair. In July 2015, she received the NDAA President’s Award for her leadership in establishing and moving the Section forward. She is a member of the Continuing Legal Education and Best Practices committees for the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association (KCDAA). She directs all training for the Kansas Attorney General’s Criminal Litigation Division, implementing statewide capital litigation training and supervising a series of AG Calls. She leads the annual Focus Forum of Kansas capital prosecutors. She also serves as a voting member of the Kansas Sentencing Commission.

Gary Gildin, NITA Author and Faculty, on the Changing Law School Landscape

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gildin_garyAs acting dean of the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State, Gary Gildin is well positioned to the identify the reciprocal changes law schools and the legal market have endured over the past decade, and how law schools are responding to the new demands of the marketplace. You may know Dean Gildin through his two NITA texts, Trial Advocacy Basics, Second Edition (with Molly Townes O’Brien), and the Stucky v. Conlee, Parsell, and the City of Nita case file (look for the new Second Edition later this fall), or perhaps you’ve taught alongside him at a Trial Skills or Depositions program NITA runs each year with the ACLU.

He shared his insights in a recent interview with the Oklahoma Legal Group Blog. Of note to NITA and all things “learning by doing”:

“Due to the demands of the modern legal marketplace, there now is a greater expectation from employers (and their clients) that students will arrive at the workplace ‘profession ready.’ This requires law students in the space of three years not only to learn analysis, fundamental substantive doctrine, and legal research and writing, but also to acquire practical skills of lawyering as well as array extra-legal competencies necessary to be of immediate value to their enterprise. Of course, this poses an equal challenge to law schools to provide competent instruction in these added skill sets.”

Along those lines, Dean Gildin mentions the new ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools that now requires law schools to incorporate six credits of experiential learning into their degree requirements—which NITA can help law schools fulfill with our new, one-credit, “add-on” module in NITA-style experiential learning, available beginning Fall 2017 semester.

It’s a pleasure to have Dean Gildin as part of our NITA family.

McNamara v. Energy Dynamics, Inc.

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mcnamara500In Theresa Driscoll Moore’s civil case file, McNamara v. Energy Dynamics, Inc., a small local dairy farmer is pitted against a large energy company which results in a case of negligence. Energy Dynamics has developed a new chemical, unlocking precious resources and untold millions of dollars. However, local farmers such as McNamara experience mysterious livestock deaths. Will the chemical breakthrough prove to be a dangerous breakout of a toxic chemical?

This case file includes witnesses and exhibits and truly encourages readers to vigorously fight for their client and see McNamara’s unique issues of the environment and public policy as a means to draw decision-makers into a human understanding of events and scientific issues.

McNamara is the third book in Moore’s Trial by Fire series of case files published by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

Retail Price: $38

Order Here in: Print or Epub 

Above the Law Reports on NITA’s Social Media Evidence Book

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social-media-coverLast week, we told you about Winning with Social Media, our brand-new book about how to harness the power of social media evidence in trials and litigation, written by NITA author Michelle Sherman. This week, we’re excited to share a book review that appeared in Above the Law, one of the top legal blogs (or “blawgs”) in the country.

In Stop Avoiding Social Media—Use It to Win, Olga V. Mack and Katia Bloom underscore Sherman’s message of the importance of lawyers learning how to deal with social media evidence:

Throwing in plenty of real-world examples and case law, [Winning with Social Media] covers the life of a legal action from the initial meeting with a client through trial. Sherman also foreshadows a day where lawyers may be risking sanctions or worse, if they don’t make social media part of their litigation strategy. Courts have less and less sympathy for lawyers claiming to be surprised by a client’s, or any other player in a particular case, use of social media. This notion also extends to jurors and what they’re saying publicly on social media. Lawyers need to be talking to their clients about preserving their social media footprint, not deleting or trying to clean it up.

There aren’t a lot of texts available about utilizing social media posts as evidence, and yet Facebook posts, tweets, Snapchats, and the like increasingly figure in cases ranging from divorce and child custody to wrongful termination, from narcotics trafficking to invasion of privacy, from breach of contract to intellectual property, from DUI to professional malpractice. In short: every practice area you can name.

“As a longstanding, loyal reader of Above The Law, this was truly a ‘bucket list’ moment for me as a writer to have them cover my book, and recommend it as a must-read to litigators and in-house counsel,” said Michelle.

Buy the book (print and electronic versions) here.

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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