The Legal Advocate

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Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project – NITA Public Service Program

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Kicking off 2018, NITA joined forces with Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, a nonprofit legal service organization, for a public service trial skills program. The program took place in Phoenix, Arizona, February 6 – 9. It was led by NITA Program Director, Judge Christopher T. Whitten, who worked closely with Managing Attorney at the Florence Project, Laura Belous, to put together a program that would suit the needs of the attorneys.

Judge Whitten felt inspired by the end of the program and stated, “In case you haven’t noticed, immigration is an issue that has received a whole lot of attention in the press recently. Even before a bright spotlight hit the topic, however, since 1989, there have been a group of amazing lawyers at the Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project working hard to make sure that children and adults in Arizona’s immigration system were treated fairly. No small task. Today, the Florence Project is dedicated to providing free legal services to more than 3,000 people detained on any given day in remote detention facilities in Arizona. It was a real pleasure to spend a week with these selfless hero-lawyers working on honing the persuasive skills they already possessed and developing some new tools. Even in areas that were outside their normal practice, well outside their comfort zone, the Florence Project lawyers were eager and willing to try new things. [NITA Faculty] M.J. Barr, Ashley Willcott and I left the week feeling inspired by their bravery, talent and dedication.”

Furthermore, Executive Director at the Florence Project, Lauren Dasse, stated, “The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project is grateful to NITA for conducting an on-site, comprehensive trial skills seminar, tailored to immigration law and our realities here in Arizona. The talented NITA instructors pushed our attorneys to think creatively, push us outside of our comfort zone, and try new strategies — and remember those we learned in law school. In addition, the seminar brought us together as a team, allowing us to brainstorm and think strategically across offices and programs. It is truly an honor to partner with NITA. We thank NITA for your partnership, and for all you do for our legal community.”

This four-day trial program covered skills such as storytelling, closing arguments, witness preparation and more using NITA’s learning-by-doing method. Ms. Belous stated at the conclusion of the four-day program that they had a truly awesome experience.

Likewise, many of the attendees also had a very positive experience during the training. “This was a great opportunity to refresh my litigation know-how and apply it in a learning environment specified to my area of practice. NITA offers a great program with stellar trainers,” stated one attendee.

NITA is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an engaging group of attorneys and we thank our amazing faculty for another job well done.

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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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