The Legal Advocate

A blog brought to you by the national institute for trial advocacy

From the Director’s Desk: August 2018

Posted On By

A year ago, I took the month of August off of work: a month of no emails and barely a phone. During that month, I spent a week road-tripping out west with my teenage son Cole, went solo hiking in Switzerland, celebrated my great-aunt’s 90th birthday in Canada, and enjoyed some solitude in the mountains. I’d like to share some of my reflections from that month that, while personal, can and should be brought to our business world.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Spending time with a teenager helps you lighten up, helps you see the world through their eyes.

Take chances. As I followed behind Cole on a beautiful mountain bike ride in Moab, I realized that we all take different routes, have different levels of risk taking, and experience different levels of fear. The ride was about trying―and maybe even failing, as demonstrated by falling twice, getting back up, laughing at ourselves, and continuing onward to the next challenge.

Listen to your inner voice. The nice hotel we found online turned out to be not nice at all. It didn’t take long to listen to my inner voice to say, “No way. We are not staying here.”

Be an open-minded listener and ask better questions. There will be times we don’t want to hear what is being said, but if we listen, we may learn something new or see the situation in a different light.

Stop second-guessing yourself. In Moab, I was second-guessing my decision to go to Dead Horse State Park as we were driving there, thinking, “Why go the extra 50 miles, round trip, when there is perfectly good mountain biking right here with no extra driving?” I’ll tell you why. Because it’s worth it. The views, the trail, the experience with Cole. It’s a little piece of heaven, just like my new favorite place Torrey, Utah, right at Capital Reed National Park. We stayed in a teepee, and everything about this place makes it worth the five-hour drive there and the really long drive home the next day. And yet even a year later, as I was out driving earlier today, I was thinking about that experience and how it was so expensive and out of the way and was it really worth it? And again, the answer is absolutely, without a doubt. So sit back and enjoy the ride, and stop stressing about whether it’s the right decision.

Say “thank you” more often. Thank you!

You can’t control everything. Both of my flights to Switzerland were delayed. Getting worked up won’t change anything, so sit back and enjoy the ride. (We might have a theme here.)

Quiet space is essential for thinking. There is so much noise all around us. Escape it―even if only for a few minutes or an hour to allow your brain to rest, to daydream, to let thoughts in and out without too much analysis . . . or maybe it’s the perfect time and space to analysis a difficult situation or new idea. Quiet space, aaahhhhhh!

Honesty is the best policy. Switzerland has self-serve cheese shops, “honesty pay” gift shops. Trust people to make the right choice, and they usually will.

Don’t panic.I had anxiety about hiking my first big pass, being by myself, the weight of my backpack, missing the trains. So talk things through with the people who matter most.

Shed a tear. Acknowledge your anxiety instead of ignoring it. Work through it, not around it. Embrace it. Grow!

Cherish each other and our time together. Cole had moments of being the typical 13-year old-whiner, but he also held my hand, shared a bed with me, shared his food and drink with me, and said “thank you” a million times during our trip. I will miss these days. Relationships matter.

Connection is critical to our well-being. Our ability to relate, have empathy, feel validated, and be understood are absolutely necessary.

Throughout the West, Switzerland, Canada, and Colorado, I wrote a daily takeaway during my work-free August last year. I tried to always relate it back to both my personal and professional roles. I’m sure you have your own list of things to live by. These are just a few of mine.

Wendy's Signature




Wendy McCormack
Executive Director
National Institute For Trial Advocacy

Oh, and P.S. Eat often, and always get gas before you need it.

About Wendy McCormack

Wendy joined NITA in 2006, serving as Director of Programs through 2010, then led Operations, where she provided leadership oversight and mentorship the NITA leadership team in Marketing & Sales, Program Operations, Publications, and Information Technology. Wendy has directed all aspects of core business and operational development function for 300 continuing education programs across the United States and internationally. As Executive Director, she works collaboratively with professional staff, the Board of Trustees, and the organization as a whole in developing and implementing strategy, modeling and setting the company’s culture and values, and optimizing financial performance. Wendy received her master’s degree in education, with an emphasis on organizational development and human resources, from Colorado State University (CSU). In 2016, she completed the intensive Organizational Leadership Program at the Employers Council’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute in Denver.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.
Feature Products