We wish to thank our friends at the Kansas Bar Foundation for awarding an $8,000 grant to NITA that will be used to hold a trial skills program next year for public service lawyers in Kansas. The services that governmental, nonprofit, and legal aid lawyers perform is essential democratic “bedrock” work, and NITA is honored to support these advocates again next fall with scholarships to attend trial skills training at no cost to them or their agencies.
Thanks to a grant award NITA received last year, we trained 24 lawyers at the 2016 Kansas Bar program in Topeka this past October. Here is a snapshot about the three-day program.
- Judge Bill Ossmann of the Third Judicial District served, as always, as Program Director. He was supported by faculty members Mark Caldwell (NITA’s Program Development and Resource Director), Duston Slinkard from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Bob McGahey of the Second Judicial District in Denver, Judge Amy Hanley of Kansas’s Seventh Judicial District, and practitioners David Cooper, Richard Lake, Paul Oller, and Tom Swett.
- Eighty-three percent of the program attendees work for governmental agencies. The remaining seventeen percent work for nonprofit or legal services agencies.
- Nearly all attendees had between one and five years of legal work experience.
And while we at NITA express our gratitude to the Kansas Bar Foundation for its generosity, it is the attendees themselves whose words carry the most meaning.
- “While I was nervous to practice and deliver closing argument or examine a witness, it was incredibly helpful to be able to practice such things in this setting.”
- “I do not have any trial experience. My objective was to gain the knowledge and experience that would help me to effectively prepare for a trial. Not only do I feel I have more knowledge to prepare for a trial in the future, I learned skills that will be valuable in other everyday aspects of my practice, such as depositions and even in drafting motions.”
- “The drills were extremely beneficial. The drills allow the student to implement the lessons learned, obtain valuable feedback, and improve.”
- “I really enjoyed having to think on my feet and perform on the fly. I thought the drills regarding foundation and admitting exhibits were very effective because they made us more comfortable by repeating the process over and over again.”
- “I signed up for this course to expose myself to more trial experience and polish skills that have been dormant since law school, as I’m not in trial on a day-to-day basis. My objectives were met because I had the opportunity to learn from others who were more comfortable with their trial advocacy skills and by being around them, my confidence and comfort level increased, as did my knowledge.”
Our deepest appreciation goes to the Kansas Bar Foundation for its scholarship support. We look forward to hosting another great program for Kansas public service lawyers in October 2017.