The Legal Advocate

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July Volunteer Faculty Spotlight

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As part of NITA’s efforts to recognize our vast volunteer community, we have initiated a monthly volunteer faculty spotlight. Recommendations come from our programs department staff, who work closely with our volunteers on our public, public service, and custom programs. NITA is pleased to announce Mark Olson as our July Volunteer Faculty Spotlight. Here are just some of the comments our staff used to describe Mark’s work with NITA:

He has made his time available to us every month and has also taken on multiple online programs in a month. Each time he does a program, he comes in with smiles and does a wonderful job getting the participants engaged. He is very informative and gives them great critiques. He really tries to get to know who each attorney is by looking them up prior to the program. He really goes above and beyond.

When asked about how he was introduced to NITA, why he continues to teach for us and a little background of his teaching career, he had this to say:

In the 1990s, our Firm, Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, retained NITA to assist in training our litigation associates in the area of Trial Skills. When I became the Litigation Associate Training Director in the early 2000s, I again reached out to NITA for assistance, and we successfully presented several training programs for our associates. During those sessions, I met Professor John Sonsteng, who asked me to be part of his NITA program at Mitchell Hamline Law School.

I have a passion for working with young and inexperienced lawyers to help them develop trial and litigation skills so that they can be more confident and so that they are equipped to effectively represent their clients. Because I was “thrown in the deep end of the pool” as a young associate and had to “sink or swim,” I vowed that if I ever had the chance to work with young lawyers to help them develop skills so they would be able to navigate the deep end of the pool, I would contribute whatever I could to achieve that goal.

I was an adjunct professor at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota Law School in the late 1980s where I taught Appellate Advocacy. Later, in the mid-2000s, I began teaching Trial Advocacy and Advanced Advocacy classes at the U’s Law School and also at William Mitchell Law School. In 2006, a couple of NITA Program Directors―John Sonsteng, Jay Leach, and Henry Brown―took a chance and invited a “rookie” NITA instructor to be part of their Trial Skills programs in San Francisco and St. Paul―and, as they say, “the rest is history.” Through their mentoring and tutelage (and patience), I have been blessed to be part of the NITA family for the past twelve years. I have taught public programs in Trial Skills, Deposition Skills, and Legal Strategy around the country and also several custom programs at law firms in the same areas. In 2014, I started teaching the Online Deposition Skills program and continue to do that today.

We want to thank Mark for his continued passion and support of NITA’s mission. With 800+ faculty members and over 20,000 hours volunteered each year, we could not do what we do without people like Mark Olson.

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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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