The NITA Foundation recognizes the generosity of a longtime supporter, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Foundation (IATL). The organization recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the NITA Foundation to boost the scholarship program for 2018. The grant represents the latest gesture of goodwill in IATL and NITA’s longstanding relationship, which is based in part on the organizations’ shared value for the administration of justice in the United States.
The NITA Foundation has received scholarship funding from the IATL for many years. So far this year, the 2017 IATL grant has sent ten public service lawyers or lawyers of financial need to the NITA trial skills or deposition program of their choice. These scholarship winners practice in Arizona, California, Florida, and Virginia, and work at a local Legal Aid office, a federal agency, county legal services, a public defenders’ office, and their own small firms. They have attended NITA programs in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Washington, D.C.
The IATL is a group of elite trial lawyers who purpose includes elevating the standards of honor, integrity, and courtesy in the legal profession. Their outstanding commitment to NITA enables us to fulfill their purpose by training public service lawyers through scholarships to NITA public programs to become effective, ethical, and professional advocates.
For more information about the IATL Foundation, visit iatl.net.
Congratulations to NITA Program Director Marcia Levy, who has recently been named the Director of Externships and Field-Based Learning at Columbia Law School. Dean of Columbia Law School, Gillian Lester, announced the new position for Marcia which will become full-time on November 1st. Marcia currently serves as the Director of Pro Bono Partnership and is also an active member of the bar and has devoted much of her time to pro bono service. She is currently the program director of NITA’s Deposition Skills: NYC program and has taught with NITA for over 17 years on over 100 programs.
|Contact: Daniel McHugh||FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
National Institute for Trial Advocacy Names New Executive Director—
Wendy McCormack Selected to Lead Boulder-Based Nonprofit Beginning December 1
BOULDER, Colo., September 19, 2017 —The Board of Trustees of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) today announced that Wendy McCormack will become NITA’s Executive Director on December 1, 2017, succeeding Karen M. Lockwood upon her retirement. McCormack is currently the Associate Executive Director of Operations (AED) at NITA, and has invested eleven years in multiple roles at NITA.
“This is a wonderful time for NITA and for Wendy,” Lockwood commented. “NITA has adopted many new initiatives to deepen our impact, strive for smart innovation, and strengthen our business strategies over the last several years. Wendy has made major contributions in each of these areas. NITA began forty-five years ago as the most unique and respected organization of lawyers teaching lawyers. It remains so, and with Wendy’s leadership, NITA is poised for even greater growth, deeper impact, and smarter innovation.”
Joe Loveland, Chair of NITA’s Board of Trustees, echoed Lockwood’s comments. “We are fortunate to have a person with Wendy’s talent, enthusiasm, and commitment to NITA to step into Karen’s shoes. Wendy’s experience with NITA as Associate Executive Director responsible for Operations, her vision in creating Studio71, and her keen knowledge of all aspects of NITA’s mission and programs combine to give us the ideal leader for NITA going forward. I and the other members of the board look forward to working closely with Wendy.”
“Daily, I am inspired by NITA’s mission, the critical work of our staff and faculty, and the great commitment of the people who entrust us with their training needs,” McCormack said. “Our work is vital as we amplify our collective voice, and project NITA’s vision of justice, ethics, and excellence in advocacy into our future and around the globe. It will be an honor to lead NITA and continue our work together. Karen has demonstrated over her lifetime a passion for trial advocacy and defending the rule of law. She brought that passion to NITA. And we’re going to carry it forward.”
McCormack joined NITA in 2006 and has served as Director of Programs from 2006 to 2010 and led Operations since 2010. As Associate Executive Director from 2013 to date, she provides leadership and oversight of NITA’s operations. She oversees and mentors the NITA leadership team in Marketing & Sales, Program Operations, Publications, and Information Technology. She works collaboratively with professional staff, the Board of Trustees, and the organization as a whole in building and maintaining relationships with the external NITA community. As Director of Programs, McCormack directed all aspects of core business and operational development function for 300 continuing education programs across the United States and internationally. She has been accountable for strategic planning, business development, enrollment policies and procedures, database administration, grant management, and administering departmental budgets.
McCormack received her master’s degree in education, with an emphasis on organizational development and human resources, from Colorado State University (CSU) in 2000, and her B.S. degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management at Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1997. In 2016, she completed the intensive Organizational Leadership Program at the Employers Council’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute in Denver.
Jennifer Schneider, currently NITA’s Director of Publishing & Digital Content, will assume the role of Associate Executive Director of Operations during the leadership change on December 1. Schneider joined NITA in 2013, after a twelve-year career at Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minnesota. She received both her J.D (2000) and her B.A. in journalism (1997) from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Upon retirement, Lockwood will reside near Boulder, Colorado, and Edinburg, Virginia. She has served NITA as Executive Director since December 1, 2012. She is excited to rejoin NITA’s national faculty and to combine her insights into NITA’s strong service with her other lifelong interests in improving the profession’s diversity and its focus on access to justice.
About the National Institute for Trial Advocacy
The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) is the world’s leader in advocacy skills training and publications. A §501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, NITA’s mission is to train and coach lawyers to be skilled and ethical advocates in the pursuit of justice. To learn more, visit nita.org, or call us at 303.953.6828.
This year, we at NITA wanted to give program Alumni ample opportunity to connect and engage with NITA as well as their fellow NITA alumni. Therefore, the NITA Alumni Association was born. There are no dues to pay or forms to fill out to join, if you went to a program you are a member. The goal of the associaiton is to privde past program attendees the opportunity to engage with fellow alumni as well as NITA Faculty members through alumni only events including receptions, happy hours, CLE events, webcasts and more.
We hosted our first Alumni networking event in Seattle on August 4th on the last day of our 2017 Seattle Deposition skills program. Here, current deposition skills attendees and faculty mingled with past attendees and faculty from the Seattle area.
On September 28th, NITA’s studio71 will be hosting an alumni only Q&A webcast featuring NITA faculty members Christina Habas and Karen Steinhauser. This unique opportunity provides past program participants access to our esteemed faculty, getting answers to questions that alumni may have since taking their NITA program. It’s like having a NITA faculty member right at your fingertips.
Our second Alumni networking reception is in the works, and is tentatively planned on being held during the Advanced Trial Advocacy: Next-Level Trial Techniques Program in Washington DC in early November. Formal invites to the event will be sent out next month.
Interested in attending next week’s Live Q&A webcast? Register Here
Gal Gadot is a terrific actress, but if you ask me, the real-life Wonder Woman is someone right here at NITA: our own Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla. After all, what else would you call someone who runs her own international consulting firm, writes books (two in four years, with a third in progress), and teaches at NITA programs, while enjoying married life with a big (as in “ten kids” big) familyand who is also a wise, lovely, interesting, generous person to boot? (See what I mean? Wonder Woman.) This past winter, NITA published Point Well Made: Oral Advocacy in Motion Practice, a hands-on practice guide that Rebecca and co-author Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote about effectively arguing motions before the court. I don’t know how Rebecca made the time to treat us to a round of “Asked and Answered,” but I’m awfully glad she did.
How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?
I met NITA back in 2010 through a longtime client. Teaching alongside Judge Nancy Vaidik and other such talented faculty was addictive, and I’ve enjoyed teaching with NITA ever since.
You’ve now written two books for NITA. What was the inspiration for each one?
I was inspired to write Foolproof after coaching thousands of lawyers, from both the transaction and litigation sides. In my work, I noticed lawyers were taught to communicate well through the written word, but little was being done with non-written communicationfor example, voice, body language, and tone. I thought Foolproof would be an efficient way to give practical advicethe basicsto all lawyers.
Prior to writing Point Well Made, I pushed pause on writing to focus on a few sizeable cases for my clients. Judge Vaidik, now a dear friend, approached me about co-authoring a book on motions practice . . . and I couldn’t resist working with her. We both saw a gap in the market and thought we could fill the need for litigators to learn proper motion delivery. Working with her on this book was an incredible experience; everything just clicked.
What was your first job in the law?
My first job in the law was during law school. I worked for a lobbying law firm in D.C. on banking derivatives and transportation legislation. I worked with friends from law school, and we would leave work and head to law school at night. It was fabulously fast-paced.
In your consulting business, Lumen8 Advisors, you work with lawyers to improve their oral communication skills so they become better advocates and communicators. How did you transition from being a lawyer yourself to helping them in this specific, but important, little niche?
The transition happened at the University of Virginia Law School. We moved from New York City to Charlottesville so my husband could get his MBA at Darden. Almost immediately after we arrived, Bob Chapel, a dear friend and my former undergraduate theater director at UVA, called to tell me that the law school was looking for someone who was an actress and a lawyer. He recommended me, and I met with Bob Sayler, world-class litigator turned law school professor. We hit it off, and we co-developed a course in rhetoric and communication, which we taught at UVA Law School for a few years. Law firms caught wind of what I was doing at UVA and asked me to come and teach my class to their lawyers. Through word of mouth, I was asked to do more and more consulting and, when we moved from Charlottesville, I started my consulting company. Since then, my consulting has expanded from seminars and lectures on communication techniques to individual coaching on live matters and team coaching and preparations for trial.
What is the most common communication problem you see in the lawyers you coach?
The most common communication problems I see is a lack of self-awareness. Superstar litigators sometimes forget how to use their strengths and need to be shown what areas need attention. There is always room for improvement, irrespective of your level of communication proficiency. But I find the best are often the ones that want my help the most. They worked hard to be the best, and want to keep it that way.
What does a typical work week look like for you?
Every day is different. Some weeks, I’m on site with a client coaching a trial team; other weeks, I lecture and coach training workshops, while still other weeks, I do one-on-one coaching with lawyers from a variety of practice groups.
It is said that genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. What is that ratio like for you?
That sounds about right. Moreover, a similarly relevant idiom I’ve seen played out in my life is that “luck” happens when [hard work and] preparation meets opportunity. I am grateful that I’ve been inspired to be a bit risky and do something off the beaten path, but I’m thankful to my family for the support they’ve given me as I carved out time to work hard, perspire, and prepare to deliver my very best to my clients. There are only a few lawyer-communication coaches in the entire country, and I’m fortunate for the opportunity to blend two loveslaw and theatereach and every day, joyfully and successfully.
What do you most often do to procrastinate?
As a mom of many kids, I have learned through various self-inflicted trainwrecks not to procrastinate. I constantly fight it, and also realize that I can’t sacrifice the good for the perfect at home and at work. Sometimes life just doesn’t’ allow me to deliver the “perfect,” but procrastination can’t be my excuse.
Outside of your family, who’s been the biggest influence on your life?
A mother of some dear friends. She is confident, smart, and elegant. She lives a life full of joy and purpose, with a big family, many grandchildren, and a deep faith. She suffers tragedy with grace and hope. Just being in her presence inspires and humbles me.
What do you like the most about where you live?
The Washington, D.C. area is full of deep thinkers. On any given night, I could attend lectures or debates on any number of topics. It’s thrilling to be surrounded with brilliant lawyers and policy wonks who are tackling huge problems.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? And what do you like to order?
Eighteen years ago, my husband and I went to Italy on our honeymoon. We were driving near Verona and stopped into a village restaurant to have lunch. I had the richest risotto, creative salad, and a humble table wine. It was rustic and not fussy. Best of all, I got to gaze at my handsome husband. Pretty perfect.
What guilty pleasure music do you sing to in the car when there’s no one there to hear (or judge)?
You’d be hard-pressed to find me NOT belting out a song in my car, alone or with passengers. My house and car are full of me and kids singing show tunes, pop, and indie hits.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee and tea. My husband makes me a dazzling cappuccino every morning, and I chase it with a couple more cups. In the afternoon, I usually turn my allegiance to an Earl Grey.
Winter or summer?
Winter. D.C. summers are brutal with the humidity. Plus, I like winter fashion better.
Scrambled or fried?
As long as there is cheese on it, I’ll take my eggs any way you make them.
iPhone or Android?
Popcorn or candy?
And finally, what is your motto?
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate. While you’re at it, why not download Delivering a (Last-Minute) Point Well Made , the free NITA webcast that Rebecca and Judge Vaidik recorded this spring? It is a solid hour of value-added content, lots of little tips and tricks that you can put into practice at the end of the webcast. Rebecca’s first book, Foolproof: An Attorney’s Guide to Oral Communications, is terrific, too, and bursts with advice that anyone, and not just lawyers, would find useful in their daily lives.
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.
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