The Legal Advocate

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Monthly Archives: February 2017

NITA Advanced Trial Advocacy Program for the Trinidad and Tobago Legal Aid and Advisory Authority Held in Port of Spain

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by guest blogger and NITA faculty Doris Cheng

NITA provided advanced trial advocacy training to thirty-two attorneys from the Trinidad and Tobago Legal Aid and Advisory Authority (LAAA), a unit of the Ministry of Legal Affairs that provides affordable legal assistance to indigent citizens in criminal and civil cases, including family and property matters. The program was funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) through the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) as part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). The three-day skills program furthered the CBSI’s intention to improve the rule of law by supporting the development of the justice sector. Similar programs have been held for prosecutors in the Bahamas, Antigua and Jamaica for prosecutors in the Easter Caribbean.

JoAnne Richardson (NCSC Program Director), Hon. Teri Jackson, Dina Abaa-Ogley (Director of INL at the US Embassy), Israel Khan (Chairman of LAAA), Doris Cheng, JoAnne Roake, J. Michael Roake, and Cynthia Goode Works in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

The Advanced Criminal Trial Advocacy Program for the LAAA was held in Port of Spain on January 26–28, 2017. Dignitaries from the U.S. Embassy, Ministry of the Attorney General, LAAA, and NCSC gave opening remarks, describing their respective commitment to creating and sustaining a fair and just legal system. Members of the LAAA’s Head Office, Arima District Office, San Fernando District Office, Couva Office, as well as the Legal Aid Clinic, participated in the training. NITA provided the case file, State v. Baker, an intricate murder case with claims of domestic violence and self-defense.

Five NITA faculty members—Doris Cheng, J. Michael Roake, JoAnne Roake, Cynthia Goode Works, and Hon. Teri Jackson—lectured on opening address, oral presentation techniques, examination in chief and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, contending with difficult witnesses, and summation. The faculty led workshops with video review in each of these areas with immediate results. NITA Program Director Cheng remarked, “The LAAA attorneys were quick studies and implemented many of the techniques seamlessly. The workshops helped the participants develop a ‘muscle memory’ of the skills that the participants deftly integrated into their performances. As usual, NITA’s trademark learning-by-doing process brought to life the effectiveness of great advocacy.”

The closing ceremony was filled with enthusiastic praise for the success of the training program. The LAAA attorneys expressed an interest in gaining additional NITA training. The legal advocacy training in Trinidad, as with others held around the world, is part of NITA’s ongoing commitment to improving justice by helping lawyers develop and refine their advocacy skills.

Quinlan v. Kane, Third Edition

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In NITA’s case file, Quinlan v. Kane, Third Editionat what point does a friendly conversation end and a business consultation begin? That is the question explored in this business contracts case file written by authors Frank D. Rothschild, Deanne C. Siemer, and Anthony J. Bocchino.

The plaintiff, Roberta Quinlan, demands a broker fee of $300,000 that she is convinced she is entitled to be paid for her services as a business broker. The defendant, Brian Kane, however, maintains that Quinlan simply offered friendly advice on the sale of his business, Kane Electronics, to Nita Computer World and therefore he owes her no fee. There are two witnesses for both the plaintiff and the defendant. This third edition also includes a CD that contains video deposition clips, exhibits, and a PowerPoint slide show.

Retail Price: $38

Order Here: Print or Epub 

February 2017 Executive Director’s Letter: NITA’s Stellar Publications Department!

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Last month I started a series of features on NITA’s staff. We introduce them by department. Publications is up this month – and boy are they up! Writers love to write. I hope you enjoy these greetings from the six peoples who handle all of our casefiles, treatises, special releases, and online offerings.

Marsi Buckmelter

Senior Legal Editor
I primarily work as an editor managing book projects, but also do a fair bit of writing (marketing copy, newsletters, NITA Foundation grant applications). That includes my weekly post on NITA’s blog, The Legal Advocate, which includes an interview series called Asked and Answered. In a completely different direction, though, I must say my favorite work week of the year is assisting my dear friends Michael Johnson and Joleen Youngers with on-site support at the Northwest Trial Skills Program in Seattle (which is where I live). The program is like a family reunion every year, and I find meaning as an editor to watch one of “my” NITA case files given life at a program when attendees blossom in their skills.

When you think of American democracy, the essence of it is the law. Whatever its flaws in execution may be, the theoretical foundation of the American judicial system is the envy of the free world and our Rule of Law a model for every emerging democracy on earth. The work that judges, and the trial lawyers who appear before them, do is the very deed of democracy in action, forming what I call “the thin black line” of civilization that separates us from chaos. Maybe I’m just a great big nerd or am overly verklempt, but I believe our work matters. The law is the most essential work of a democracy, and each tiny bit we do at NITA—whether we are a faculty member, author, trustee, or employee—inches us closer, one tender soul at a time, to a more perfect union.

Virginia Judd

Legal Editor
Like most of the Publications staff, I work remotely—I live in Cleveland, Ohio, where we will win the World Series this year! I work ¾ time for NITA and maintain a small consumer bankruptcy and family law practice. Client work keeps me in touch with the issues of attorneys, which in turn helps me to edit case files with a view toward realistic courtroom situations and practical outcomes.

This year, much of my work is focused on updating different states’ “Rules of Evidence with Objections” books. These handbooks provide quick reference for trial attorneys to the evidence issues. Whether they wish to make or respond to an objection, these books serve as guides. Because several states have made major changes to their evidence rules, it is essential that we update these books in order to provide optimal reference for our clients. That project is well underway.

Jennifer Schneider

Director of Publications Digital Content
As Director of Publishing and Digital Content, my job is to ensure the successful planning and implementation of both tactical and strategic goals for all of publications and online content, as well as to lead my team to innovate and execute.

I love working for an organization with strong ties to its core mission and history, which also embraces new ideas and technologies, all to ensure lawyers are the best possible advocates for their clients.

Eric Sorensen

Managing Editor
My first role in the Publications Department is to assure that NITA’s pubs are meeting the needs of its clients – including those in public and public service programs, custom programs, law schools, and individual practitioners. Part of this involves working with authors to develop useful, readable, attractive, and correct books and case files. Another part involves work with authors, PDs, and others to create varieties of tailored materials such as special and advanced printings or new concepts like the Law School Experiential Learning Packet. A second aspect of my job is to help the Director of Publications with administrative and research projects.

I see NITA as a vibrant community of like-minded individuals who work together in various ways to better the quality of lawyering. The value of this community is of course the skills development itself. But beyond that, the community’s dedication to improving the profession unites them; and the faculty’s lawyers model good lawyering and professionalism for those learning the skills. This will be my tenth year with NITA, and I have seen how NITA has adapted to, and met, the many challenges the legal profession has faced. NITA has adapted also to the rapidly and radically changing social and technological landscape. It remains at the forefront of integrating such innovations into its tried-and-true learn-by-doing method. NITA’s future is one that I am excited to be a part of.

Michelle Windsor

Publications Product Manager
As the Publications Product Manager I get to be involved with our products at many different stages. I see authors and content at the early stages, starting with the product proposal, then I follow them through the publishing process all the way to final publication. I provide access to NITA products through our licensing system, and additionally I consult with law school professors and firm training managers to help them find the products that will meet their needs.

The practical nature, along with the quality, of NITA products and programs is what has made NITA invaluable to attorneys and students. I know as NITA staff we are all committed to this invaluableness as we also work to provide material and training in new ways.

Charlie Woodcock

Media Specialist
I run NITA’s studio where we produce live webcasts plus educational and promotional content for all aspects of NITA’s mission. In addition, I manage NITA’s video library content and user experience, and create and edit new material to add to NITA’s ever growing library.

With over 45 years of setting the standard in legal education, NITA is currently reaching more attorneys than ever before, not only with its learning-by-doing in-person programs, but also in offering so many mediums to access top quality legal education. These include publications, an extensive video library, and streaming live presentations. In staying modern, but keeping roots firm in the quality experience; it’s an exciting time to be part of NITA’s mission.

Please say “thanks” the next time you talk to these Publications team members. I am proud of them.

And thank YOU.





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

Welcome the Newest NITA Advocates and NITA Master Advocates

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NITA is proud to announce the most recent recipients of the Advocate and Master Advocate Designations. These designations are awarded to a person who has taken a well-rounded set of courses, proving they are serious about trial advocacy.



  • Kyle, Thomas | Pitman, Kyle, Sicula & Dentice
  • Michael Howard | Ravich Meyer
  • Emily L Maxwell | Law Office of Emily Maxwell
  • Christopher Aniche | Curling Moore Solicitors & Adv
  • Alex J. Mili | New Castle County Register of Wills


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  • Emily L. Maxwell | Law Office of Emily Maxwell
  • John S. Cramer | Law Office of John Cramer
  • Tricia L. Roelofs | Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Steven A. Anderson | Anderson Law Offices PA
  • Serhiy Stavynskyy | Valley County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
  • Michael Jones | L.O. of Gregory V. DeBernard
  • Karin Coombe

If you have any questions on how you can receive the NITA Advocate or NITA Master Advocate Designation, please review the information on our Advocate Designations page, or email

Asked and Answered—John Cleaves

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There’s a reason “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” and John Cleaves knows it. He’s a Trial Technology Attorney and the Manager of the Trial Technology Consulting team at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles—and the author of Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics for Trial, a hands-on how-to that teaches readers how they too can put those “thousand words” into a memorable image or GIF that jurors will recall in the deliberation room and beyond. If all you’ve ever seen from PowerPoint are endless bullet point lists devoid of intrigue and context, you may be surprised by this video, which John created to show such cool animations as the articulated movement of an artificial knee joint in a patent blueprint, a definition being torn from the page of a dictionary to form a callout, and a 911 call scrolling across the screen in real time—all created in PowerPoint. We caught up with John to learn more about his interests and background, and how we can all learn to put the power in PowerPoint.

Your academic background is in history, economics, and law, yet your work is primarily in technology. How did your interest in computing and its intersection with the law come about?
I actually have always been in technology. I got my first computer, a TRS-80 from Radio Shack, a very long time ago. All through high school, I did my own coding—well, back then we called it “programming.” In college, my first major was in IT, but I found it very constrictive. So, I decided I would follow other interests, which were economics and history, perfect undergrad degrees for someone headed to law school—though I didn’t know it at the time. Getting back to technology, my first job after college was as an IS specialist, where I wrote custom software for a manufacturing company. I enjoyed it, but when the company was bought out I decided to go to law school. Yet, as much as I tried to avoid it, I just couldn’t leave my interests in technology behind. So here I am now, an attorney who uses technology to help other attorneys in trial.

When most of us think of PowerPoint, we think of boring slideshows full of bulleted lists that have no context when you look at them after the presentation. When did you start using PowerPoint to create dynamic demonstratives?
When I started in demonstrative graphics, Adobe Illustrator was the go-to choice. Only once a graphic was completed in Illustrator would I load it into PowerPoint for display in court. I definitely viewed PowerPoint as a static presentation device, almost like one of those old slide projectors. But when I arrived at FTI Consulting back in 2003, I discovered they were using the software in a very different way. The artists were creating graphics right in PowerPoint. I was amazed to learn PowerPoint had so many features built in. As an example, by using the built-in gradient and transparency features, we could create shadows of any object. Now, of course, the shadow tool is included in the ribbon, but back then it was a time-consuming, multi-step process that added an extra bit of “gee-whiz” to our graphics.

So, it was this informal competition among the team to figure out new techniques for creating graphics that inspired me to really delve into PowerPoint and figure out how to make pretty much anything.

What’s been the most memorable case you’ve developed demonstrative evidence for?

Hmmm—I’ve worked on so many cases! I put a number of them into the book as anecdotes to help explain how certain types of graphics were used effectively. But without going into names or other identifying details, the case I usually use to explain what I do was one where I billed an average of over twenty hours per day for six days. Some of those days were all-nighters, and some were “only” eighteen hours or so. I must have created hundreds of PowerPoint slides during that time. There were stacks of printed PowerPoint decks strewn everywhere around the war room. Graphics were taped to the walls. Dozens of boards were printed and wrapped in brown paper, ready to go to court. And then, just before the opening statements were to be given, the case settled.

Tell us about your iPad app, JuryTracker. What compelled you to create it?
JuryTracker is a result of my time both as an attorney and trial consultant. In the courtroom, I would keep an eye on the jurors and note how they reacted to various witnesses and testimony. Typically, I would write the notes on Post-Its and then review them at the end of the day with the rest of the trial team. When the iPad came out, I saw that it could be used in much the same way, so I sat down and designed the app pretty quickly. The key was to take many of the typical observations and make them into icons and emoticons the user could simply tap, reducing the need to take long series of notes.

How did you find your way to NITA?
Latham & Watkins brings NITA professors in to teach trial advocacy classes to the associates. I participate in the classes, giving a presentation on demonstrative graphics and how they have been used in court. Through those classes, I became friends with Frank Rothschild, one of the NITA instructors, who also creates demonstrative graphics. When I had an early draft of the book, I shared it with Frank to get his feedback and insight. Frank was kind enough to give me a detailed set of notes that I used to make revisions, and then to introduce me to the editorial team at NITA. The rest, as they say, is history!

When was the last time you traveled somewhere new, and what did you do?
For my most recent birthday, my family and I traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to see the Packers play the Chicago Bears. We were on the 25-yard line, 17 rows from the field—great seats! We also saw the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. I highly recommend both!

What is your guilty pleasure?
See’s Candies—milk chocolate only, please!

People are surprised that I . . .
. . . am a lawyer. It catches a lot of people off guard—though after they get to know me they typically say, “Yeah, ok, I can see that now.”

What’s a simple habit you have that makes you consistently happier?
I work diligently to try to remain calm, and to encourage others to remain calm too.

What’s your motto?
Don’t panic!

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

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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