The Legal Advocate

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

All posts by Alli Keefe

New Mexico Public Defenders/NITA Public Service Program

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This year, NITA joined forces with New Mexico Law Office of the Public Defender for a public service trial skills program, June 8-9 in Albuquerque. During the intensive two-day program, the public defenders learned skills such as opening and closing statements, direct and cross examination, and exhibits. With a “drills-style” and NITA’s tried and true “learning-by-doing”, attendees were able to enhance their trial skills in this customized two-day program. NITA Program Director and Attorney Mary Jo Barr worked with Metro Division Managing Attorney Patricia Anders at the New Mexico Law Office of the Public Defender, to make sure the program schedule was customized to fit the needs of the public defenders.

“I loved this course. It was a very effective in helping boost my trial skills. I especially like that the course helps improve individuals from whatever their current skill may be,” stated one attendee. NITA programs cater to various skills levels which can often create a wide range of attendees.

Likewise, one attendee stated, “This was very helpful. I do not have much trial experience, and it was very useful to get some guidance on being an effective trial advocate. I appreciated the opportunity to practice in front of people, even when I felt uncomfortable.” NITA’s learning-by-doing method calls for many opportunities in which attendees practice a skill and then are able to receive immediate feedback and critiques. This approach means many chances to be on your feet and practicing.

Not only did the public defenders share their successes of the program, but Program Director Mary Jo Barr also felt the course very worthwhile. “Public Service is the noblest good – we hear it so often is has become a platitude. Working with the public defenders of the State of New Mexico at the NITA trial skills program and the difference between talking about public service and doing public service could not have been more obvious or rewarding. It may be a platitude to say it these days but it remains righteous to do it.”

The Evolving Deposition

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NITA Faculty and Attorney Reuben Guttman co-wrote an article for Law 360, The Evolving Deposition. Guttman mentions NITA’s Deposition Skills: Seattle program in which he states, “practicing lawyers are trained in the skills of taking and defending the modern day deposition. Students are therefore counseled against making speaking objections, and an entire session is held on coping with obstreperous counsel.” To read the full article and learn about how depositions have evolved over the years, click here. Congratulations Reuben and thank you for being a proponent of NITA!

*Please note – when clicking the link you may have to register to read the entire article. However, if you do a Google search: The Evolving Deposition Law 360 and click the first link, you can view the article in its entirety without registering.

Association of Prosecuting Attorneys NITA Public Service Program

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Attendees of the APA Atlanta Trial Skills program

This year, NITA joined forces with The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) on three public service programs. These programs took place throughout the country in Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Spokane. Two of the three programs focused on enhancing trial skills for the prosecutors, while the third program focused on supervisory skills. Across all three programs, 79 prosecutors received training in the NITA method.

President of the APA, David LaBahn and Deputy General Counsel of the APA, Marlene Botros were integral in working with NITA faculty to put the programs together. “Our partnership with NITA has been an invaluable tool for prosecutors across the country,” said Mr. LaBahn. “It was a tremendous opportunity for all to both network and learn from other professionals from around the United States. These public service programs were extremely beneficial, and we look forward to continuing this successful alliance for years to come.”

Likewise, Attorney James Gailey who served as Program Director for the trial skills program in Atlanta stated, “The NITA public service trial program for prosecutors who handle domestic violence cases was a pure example of the importance of this type of training for lawyers involved in very important work but who might not have the resources to avail themselves of it. The prosecutors that we worked with were highly motivated and prepared and it was very gratifying to see their skills improve in a short period of time.”

Not only did Gailey understand the importance of the programs and how motivated the prosecutors were, but Professor at UALR School of Law, Michael Johnson, who served as faculty at the Spokane program, also recognized the dedication of the prosecutors. “The prosecutors who attended this program were very engaged and dedicated. They face a daunting task in the prosecution of domestic violence cases and the unique issues frequently encountered in trial. It was very rewarding to work with them and along with the APA attorneys that participated as faculty,” said Johnson.

Along with the positive feedback from the APA and NITA faculty, the prosecutors who attended the programs also shared their experiences. One attendee of the Atlanta trial program said, “The training was one of the most helpful I’ve been to… I really feel like I learned a lot and because I was able to practice and get feedback, the learning really stuck.”

With the success of all three programs this year, NITA hopes to continue our efforts to train prosecutors as part of our public service mission.

2017 SWBDA Awards Recognizes The Articulate Advocate: Persuasive Skills for Lawyers in Trial, Appeals, Arbitrations, and Motions

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This year at the 2017 Southwest Book Design and Production Competition (SWBDA) through the New Mexico Book Association, NITA Program Directors, Communication Specialists, and Authors Marsha Hunter and Brian K. Johnson, were recognized at the ceremony. Their book, The Articulate Advocate: Persuasive Skills for Lawyers in Trial, Appeals, Arbitrations, and Motions received a Special Recognition Award.

According to the New Mexico Book Association, they are the only statewide nonprofit serving all book professionals. They honor excellence in authorship, editorial preparation, design, and production.

NITA would like to extend a congratulations to both Marsha and Brian for this achievement. Both have worked together as Program Directors for NITA’s Articulate Advocate programs which teach communication skills to attorneys, focusing on linguistic, cognitive, and vocal skills required for oral advocacy.

To read more about the New Mexico Book Association and the 2017 SWBDA, please visit their website.

The Force of Logic

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Author Stephen M. Rice guides readers to develop powers of legal reasoning in a new way in his latest publication, The Force of Logic. As a lawyer and law professor, Rice understands traditional legal education often overlooks the practical wisdom of ancient philosophy as it teaches students how to “think like a lawyer.”

Rice believes when you know how to recognize logical fallacies, you will not only strengthen your own arguments, but you will also be able to punch holes in your opponent’s. In his book, Rice builds on the theoretical foundation of formal logic by demonstrating logical fallacies through anecdotes, examples, graphical illustrations, and exercises for you to try. This book will inspire readers to love legal argument, and appreciate its beauty and complexity in a whole new way.

Retail Price: $75

Order Here in: Print 

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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