You see, NITA’s founders emerged from that first meeting over 40 years ago and started being program directors. They created the special ways that NITA teaches skills. They developed it over years of programs, working together to constantly verify, refine, and supplement their NITA-unique methods and content. NITA thus earned its legacy of collaboration. It has owned the fruits of that early collaboration ever since, with strong allegiance to our mission.
NITA is larger now, yes. Yet that legacy is as clear to us as ever.
Indeed, we carry forward that same warmth, excitement, and collaboration, vigilant to refine, and expand our method, and support our legacy’s growth. Thanks to this unique collaboration and trust among NITA program directors, NITA’s excellence in teaching trial advocacy skills is unlike anything you will find elsewhere.
This year, the program directors’ meeting focused on how we best bring the benefit of over 40 years of designing our NITA method of teaching to lawyers who may not know our breadth. We focused on how live advocacy takes its shape in courtrooms and meeting rooms across the country. We focused on how learning takes effect through live in-person programs. We shared insights on how the learner can profit from other learning tools presented online. And we talked in detail about the needs of various law practice specialties when their lawyers stand up to take on live advocacy.
Thank you to the program directors. Your warmth with each other is palpable — true to the trial lawyer‘s style of ideas, counter-ideas, stories, suggestions and counter-suggestions . Your focus on NITA’s unique station in the loose landscape of lawyer training is laser-sharp, true and “NITA-blue.”
We will continue to take our warmth, our spirit of collaboration and critique, and our support out to lawyers across the country. Lawyers who want to freshen, hone, or start learning stand-up live advocacy skills. We will find lawyers who may not even know how much they will learn with us. 2015 will be another very important year.
Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Our family of lawyers who teach, write, and administer for NITA is superb and close. NITA’s collaboration of talented trial lawyers, judges, and law teachers who share their skills at programs illustrates the true meaning of professionalism. At the Program Directors meeting this weekend, we are creating new course concepts. This work exemplifies how NITA continues to lead the field in advocacy teaching. Thank you for a superb and successful 2014.
Each year NITA recognizes our “best of the best” by presenting three distinct awards to those who have distinguished themselves from our cast of stars. I invite you to nominate candidates for the 2014 Awards from among those you know to have been leaders in 2014.
Our awards recognize Excellence in the Development of Teaching Techniques and Program Design (The Hon. Prentice H. Marshall Award), Outstanding Service in Instruction (The Hon. Robert E. Keeton Award), and Outstanding Service to NITA (The Robert E. Oliphant Award). The qualifications which further detail the standards for each award are described in the Nomination Form. This detail is new this year, will be helpful to your case for nomination, and will help the committee to distinguish among many fine nominees.
The Hon. Robert E. Keeton Award for Outstanding Service as a NITA Faculty Member acknowledges excellence in teaching. This award is named for Robert Keeton, one of the original teachers at the National Session and a long-time contributor to many programs. Judge Keeton authored one of the first texts on trial advocacy and was NITA’s Director from 1973-1976.
The Hon. Prentice H. Marshall Faculty Award is for Development of Innovative Teaching Methods or Programs. It recognizes a person who has developed and instituted new ideas in NITA’s methods for teaching trial skills, or has created new courses. It is named for the late Prentice Marshall, one of the original teachers at the National Session and a fixture on the NITA faculty. Judge Marshall pioneered efforts to support pro bono advocacy and teaching at major law firms and the judiciary. Marshall was one of the developers of NITA’s four-part teaching methodology.
The Robert E. Oliphant award is for Outstanding Service to NITA in all areas, including program directorship, public service, writing, and support. It honors Professor Robert Oliphant, NITA’s first administrator, who has taught at the University of Minnesota and William Mitchell law schools for over 35 years. Recipients of this award demonstrate dedication to NITA’s mission through instruction, program administration as Program Director or as a Team Leader, or writing.
Nominations are now open for each award. The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 3, 2015. Please submit a nomination by using our Nomination Form, providing sufficient detail to honor the nominee and describe how that person exemplifies the ideals supported by the award you propose. We receive increasing numbers of nominations each year; e-mails that simply suggest a name do not do justice to the person you wish us to consider. The Committee members want to know what you like about your nominee and to understand your case for their deserving the award.
If you propose more than one award for any person, please use a separate form for each award pertaining to that person. Nominations will be closed on Friday, April 3, 2015, so please submit your nomination to Mark Caldwell by then. Our goal is to announce the award winners by the end of June.
Many talented faculty and NITA volunteers contribute their time, energy, and expertise to NITA. These awards are a small way of acknowledging the important work that keeps NITA as the leader in advocacy training and continuing legal education. The Committee looks forward to receiving your nominations. Please do take the time to draft and to submit your nominations.
Thank you. We look forward to seeing another year of record-breaking numbers of nominations.
The best of what we learn about teaching and justice, of how we work intensely together to learn, of how we seek to instill the true advocacy that redeems justice . . . these things we carry forward from those who went first. They donated the foundation of our teaching, and the spirit and brilliance of our collaboration. Whether founder, designer, creator, faculty, trustee, or author, each person’s excellence in working with the NITA community is still the essence that contributes to NITA result.
At this start of the year, when we are fresh with news of recent losses, we do well to reflect on the way each person contributed. They knew what they brought. Their vision in contributing was to make a difference then and after they were gone. Yes, they had expectations of the everlasting value of their NITA work.
As we work within the NITA community, as we welcome our compatriots and revel in gathering each time a faculty is assembled, let us remember this: We are entrusted with fulfilling not only our goals but also the expectations of these great lawyer/teachers who went before us. They expected that newcomers would bring their genuine best, spar and give, create and critique, build bonds, and cultivate friendships. We do that still, and will into the future.
This NITA community is about honoring those we work with today for the very reason that we work together. It is about the larger vision of justice, which would be neither a formed goal nor an achievable mission without our community of sharing.
In tribute to the collective that is NITA, I draw from our NITA Community pages the names of those who have appeared there over the past year. I would prefer to honor all whom we’ve lost. Our lesson is drawn well, however, from this sampling. Look at the diversity of traits remembered throughout these pages about each of these NITA members at the time of their passing. Take them each as a reverent reflection. Take them together, and we know what they expect of us.
Carry it on. Carry it on.
“her life’s mission to work with women working to achieve success”
“playfulness, the kind that creates collegial learning”
“the fine art of gentlemanly advocacy in the courtroom”
“resolve, determination and contagious sense of humor as he prosecuted his cases”
“free penchant for arguing and teasing, for quick funny references, for repartee, and for being one’s self”
“his insight into justice, what justice requires, and how much injustice exists that is to be addressed and reversed”
“talent, leadership, and strong resolve to do the right things the right way”
“contributions that accentuated her keen eye for service to the public interest in justice”
“trial skills, humor, and humanity that made him both dangerous in the courtroom and a joy in the classroom”
Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Long-time NITA faculty member Benjamin Riddles recently lost his son Benny to sudden cardiac arrest. NITA’s Ben Riddles has been a prominent teacher at many of our programs in the DC area. NITA is deeply saddened by this news and offer our heartfelt condolences to the DC faculty and the Riddles family during this time of sorrow.
NITA extends our condolences to Gary Williams, our long-time Program Director and trial advocacy professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Gary’s beloved wife Melanie passed away on the night of January 2, 2015. The faculty and alumni of the Los Angeles Trial Skills Program at Loyola, a close-knit group, were with Gary as he opened NITA’s trial skills program that morning. We are grateful to our NITA friends for their support of Gary as his wife took ill. Gary remains very much in our thoughts during this challenging time. We extend our sympathies also to the faculty and friends of the Williams family.