To round out public service programs in 2017, NITA and Inland Counties Legal Services joined together to offer a public service program for legal service attorneys in Riverside, California. This trial skills program was held December 13 – 15 for 27 attorneys. NITA Program Director, Kathleen Cannon worked with Inland Counties Legal Services attorney Sang Banh to put the program into action and fulfill the training needs of the participants.
Kathleen felt very fortunate to work on this public service program and stated, “Being able to help create a personalized NITA trial program for the Inland Counties Legal Services was an incredibly uplifting experience. Tailoring our exercises specifically to the needs of these participants proved exceptionally valuable. We focused on areas they were most concerned about and in the end – every one of those involved praised the program because they felt the dramatic improvement of their trial skills in just three days.”
Likewise, Sang also found the training very beneficial to all of those involved and stated, “[The training] provided both experienced and inexperienced attorneys with proper techniques for trial advocacy to further our firm’s mission to provide access to justice for all. I have received numerous compliments on the NITA trainers and the NITA method of learning by doing.”
The participants agreed with Kathleen and Sang in stating that the training was very beneficial and completely worth taking the time to partake in. “[The training] was very realistic and relevant. The instructor’s teaching and feedback was very helpful. I left feeling much more competent and comfortable for trial work,” stated one participant.
After a great year for public service programs in 2017, NITA is excited to see what 2018 has in store!
NITA and Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) worked together in 2017 on a public service training program, November 30 – December 1 in Montgomery, Alabama. This program was headed by Program Director Michael J. Dale. Michael, along with four other NITA faculty members, traveled to the headquarters of SPLC to work alongside SPLC’s most senior trial lawyers and train 48 SPLC litigators. Michael also worked closely with Legal Administrative Manager at SPLC, Rosi Smith, in order to put together a training schedule that would fit the needs of the attorneys.
This trial skills public service training was conducted over two days where skills such as direct and cross examination, how to work with exhibits, impeachment, and much more were practiced. According to Michael, SPLC works in a variety of civil rights areas in a number of southern cities dealing with issues of racial discrimination, juvenile justice, and immigration – to name a few. SPLC is led by civil rights icon Morris Dees and Managing Attorney Richard Cohen.
After the training concluded, many of the attorneys who attended found the course useful and a good introduction in a short period of time. “I found it helpful. I just graduated law school and never did any trial advocacy classes, so this training was a good introduction,” stated one attendee.
Likewise, another attendee stated, “As a very new attorney, I found the course to be extremely helpful. All the presenters were clear and engaging… it was helpful to receive tips on what techniques are most likely to resonate with juries.”
This year, NITA joined forces with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) for a public service trial skills program, December 4 – 6 in New York, NY. The three-day program trained 12 attorneys and was led by Program Director Tom Swett. Tom worked with NITA Faculty Jeanne Jourdan to train the 12 attorneys on skills such as case analysis, direct and cross examination, and motions practice. Tom also worked closely with Director of Litigation at LDF, Sam Spital, to put together the trial skills schedule to fit the needs of the attorneys for this program.
According to Tom, “It was a pleasure to work with the talented attorneys of the LDF of the NAACP. NITA’s mission of promoting justice and ethical advocacy dovetails with the LDF’s mission of obtaining equal justice in employment, education, housing, voting rights, and criminal justice. The LDF trial attorneys today are continuing the legacy of Thurgood Marshall and all of the other civil rights attorneys who give voice to the voiceless and promote equality in all aspects of American lives.”
Furthermore, not only did Tom see positive growth in the attorneys at the end of the program, but participants also had positive remarks at the conclusion. Attendee Christopher Kemmitt, Senior Counsel at LDF stated, “NITA’s program gave us a great opportunity to learn new skills, experiment with different approaches, and get helpful feedback in a low-stress environment.”
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On November 15th NITA and the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) teamed up for a public service program in Washington, DC which trained 26 attorneys on deposition skills. NACA is a nationwide organization with more than 1,500 attorneys who represent consumers victimized by fraudulent and abusive business practices. NITA Program Director Mark Drummond, who has been a faculty member with NITA on over 100 programs, worked with Manager of Education for NACA, Rebecca Smolar, to put together a training program that would fit the needs of the attorneys.
At the conclusion of the program, Rebecca Smolar stated, “It was a pleasure working with NITA to host the deposition training for legal service attorneys. Most of the attorneys present had been trained by NITA before, but very few had given a deposition before. Upon leaving the program, most of the participants felt they had gained a new methodology for doing depositions and they understood how valuable depositions are to achieving successful outcomes for their cases. We could not have been more pleased with the results.”
Likewise, many of the attendees enjoyed experiencing the NITA method and especially felt the Funnel Technique helped in their questioning. One attendee stated their biggest takeaway from the program was, “Listen so you can funnel down the response, instead of trying to take notes of answers.” Similarly, another attendee stated the Funnel Technique helped them to make a conscious effort not to narrow questioning too quickly.
Furthermore, at the conclusion of the one-day program, one attendee stated, “I put in time with the materials in advance of the training, and I was rewarded with a rich training experience. I am so grateful that NITA offered this steeply discounted training to LSC grantees and I will make great use of the techniques offered in my practice.”
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: