The Legal Advocate

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NITA’s 2017 Faculty Award Winners Announced

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Wendy McCormack, Executive Director, announces the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Award winners.

The National Institute for Trial Advocacy annually recognizes outstanding contributions to NITA by making three acclaimed awards. Honoring members of NITA’s faculty, author, and staff communities, the awards highlight exceptional teaching, innovation in teaching, and service to NITA through contributions other than teaching.

Members of NITA’s faculty, authors, and staff, including trained NITA teachers and their appointed Program Directors, and Team Leaders, are eligible for nomination by their NITA colleagues. These creative and dedicated lawyers, many serving as volunteers, provide the rigor and originality in advocacy for which NITA is known. They fan across NITA’s public programs, custom programs, and public service programs. Their case files and books are used by practitioners and law students alike across the nation.

Nominations from the NITA community speak to the nominee’s work in one of three areas, each award year honoring the prior year of service.  Each is named after one of NITA’s pioneers who exemplified the teaching, innovation, and service that the awards honor.

The awards for 2017 work are:

Robert Keeton Award for Outstanding Service as a NITA Faculty Member (recognizing exceptional work as a NITA faculty member):

Hon. Christopher T. Whitten, Superior Court of Arizona. Below are some comments that highlight Judge Whitten’s talent, enthusiasm, friendliness, and dedication to improving the quality of advocacy and NITA<br/ >“Chris simply shows up and gets to work helping . . . the participants, the P.D., other faculty or the support staff. And, it’s not as if Chris is merely a “good worker.” I’ve seen him interact with the participants and his method is sound, his comments are creative and on target, and his demeanor creates a trusting bond with the lawyers who he assists. It’s fairly common to see Chris after a breakout session walking with some of the participants and going deeper on an issue, answering a question or just listening to their experiences.”

Robert Oliphant Award for Outstanding Service to NITA (recognizing service to NITA in ways other than teaching, such as program administration, authorship, business support, and volunteer service, each of which enhances NITA’s mission):

Mary Jo Barr, The Law Offices of Gilbert & Barr. While the process of selecting an award winner is a challenging job, the final decision is often difficult, as many nominees merit recognition. Below are comments from Mary Jo’s nominator and just a few reasons as to why she is so deserving of this award.

“MJ has devoted countless hours to serving NITA over the past quarter century, as a Program Director, instructor, and general goodwill liaison.”

“Having taught at NITA’s Teacher Training, MJ frequently becomes a mentor to new faculty, including the Next Generation faculty that she invites to teach in San Diego every year.”

“Few, maybe none, have been as active as MJ in teaching, mentoring, improving programming, or contributing to the success of NITA and the legal profession.”

Prentice Marshall Faculty Award for the Development of Innovative Teaching Methods with NITA (recognizing creativity in program development or teaching methodology):

Karen Steinhauser, Law Office of Karen Steinhauser. The below quote speaks to Karen’s innovation in developing and implementing an implicit bias session at the 2017 National Session:

“The session was very powerful and the participants gave very strong positive reviews. It is likely that the success of the session will be a catalyst for NITA to repeat the program and/or further develop opportunities to take on this important issue. Karen is deserving of recognition for her courage in pursuing this innovative idea.”

Of the pool of 2017 nominees, NITA Executive Director Wendy McCormack said: “Out of the nominations that come in, it’s very hard to pick just one. Our awards committee does a great job reviewing and weighing many criteria. Mary Jo Barr, Judge Whitten, and Karen Steinhauser join a long list of NITA greats who carry out the NITA mission consistently with passion and inspiration.”

Please join us in thanking them, and extend your congratulations.

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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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