The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) joined forces with Nassau Suffolk Law Services this year for a public service trial skills program. The program occurred May 10-12 and was held in Plainview, NY. This three-day intensive training of 24 public service attorneys was led by Program Director, Barbara Barron, who has taught over 100 NITA programs.
Furthermore, Supervising Attorney at Nassau Suffolk Law, Rezwanul Islam, who worked closely with NITA to get the program underway, stated the attorneys at Nassau Suffolk Law Services provide a wide range of civil legal services to indigent communities throughout Long Island. Many of the clients they represent include those in family court proceedings, landlord/tenant disputes, and various administrative hearings. Islam also stated, “The training was intense but fulfilling. I have incorporated aspects of the training into my everyday practice, including case analysis, client interviews and preparation for administrative hearings. What I found particularly helpful was that each instructor had a different practice background, style and personality.”
In order to meet the needs of the attorneys, NITA customized a public service program which included skills such as: direct and cross examination, impeachment, closing arguments, and witness examination. In true NITA fashion – each skill was presented in a “learning-by-doing” methodology where participants were able to learn the skill, practice, and receive immediate feedback/critique. One participant, Susanna Laruccia, stated, ““The NITA public interest training provides an experience that can benefit both experienced attorneys and more recently admitted advocates. I appreciated having the opportunity to try, to sometimes fail, and ultimately to improve my trial practice in a simulated environment.”
According to Barron, “I believe that the best work we do is in our public service programs where we are training lawyers who advocate for those who normally would not be able to have a voice in the system. Providing public service lawyers with the skills tool box required to do battle for those deserving clients is the best part of advocacy teaching.”