The Legal Advocate

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

All posts by Wendy McCormack

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.

From the Director’s Desk: May 2018

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I have an obsession with time. It is a fascinating thing―it breeds acknowledgement of things past, gives focus to things present, and instills a vision of things future. Time is a continuum. It can create a sense of accomplishment, or of laziness. It allows us to reflect on the impact of our activities as well as the people in our lives. So in that stream of thought, I’ve gone back in time a bit to review some important NITA history.

Last month, the board of directors for the International Society of Barristers (ISOB) invited me to speak at its annual conference. The ISOB has been a longtime donor and supporter of NITA training, with a similar mission and overlap in great leadership. Upon researching our history and partnership with the ISOB, I reflected on time.

Digging into the history of NITA has brought me the opportunity to learn about the many influencers who have guided and impacted our incredible organization―the great trial organizations like ISOB, IATL, ABA, AAJ (formerly ATLA), ACTL, and ABOTA, all who helped shaped who NITA is today. I’m inspired to read their mission statements to see how we fit together then and now. Has time divided us? Are we united in our efforts like we were in the early ’70s . . . and if the answer is no, then why? Over time, we change and adapt―yes, that’s true, we change with the times to adapt to technology or implement new learning techniques―but fundamentally, we remain loyal to who we were in the 1970s. And we were created to endure around a shared belief.

One thing I know for certain is that history + partnerships are a rich combination. Partnerships allow us to build trust, such that where we have a gap, our partner may be able to fill it and vice versa, or that we can mutually benefit from aligning on initiatives that forward both missions and causes. And therein lay the beauty of time: developing important relationships that endure.

I hope to continue to grow our relationships in the months and years to come. Thank you to all our partners, big and small, who help us forward our mission.

Wendy's Signature

 

 

 

Wendy McCormack
Executive Director
National Institute For Trial Advocacy

From the Director’s Desk – April 2018

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The core values of an organization are the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us, that throughout the changes in society, government, politics, and technology, they are still the core values we will abide by.

In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do.

Like many great companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Disney, and Starbucks, NITA was built with a dream, at a kitchen table, with people. We’ve heard the saying “People are your most important asset!” Wrong! “The right people are your most important asset.” That is the magic of building and sustaining a great organization: the right people.

Over four decades, we’ve had the right people and the wrong people. Here is what the right people ―the type of people who excel here and the associated behaviors these people consistently possess―mean to us at NITA through exemplifying our five Core Values.

    • Respect: mindful manners, listens, open to ideas, willing to help, is responsible, accountable, authentic and honest
    • Integrity: takes ownership, committed to our mission, builds trust through follow through, true to your word
    • Flexibility: listen to feedback, overcomes new challenges on short notice, interested in finding a solution, not blaming, constant evaluation of processes, let go of ego or position for the greater good
    • Innovative: creative, challenges assumptions, encourage idea sharing, try new things, fail, try again, learn and grow from mistakes
    • Collaborate: solutions-oriented, a helpful resource, volunteers for projects

You have seen and will continue to see us incorporate the use of our five Core Values into daily interactions and decision making, as well as when we hire, promote, review, reward, and yes, even terminate.

These aren’t standards just for our staff. We hold all who work with NITA to these values. Let’s challenge ourselves and each other to exemplify our Core Values consistently, and to have them at the forefront of all our interactions, always.

Wendy's Signature

 

 

 

Wendy McCormack
Executive Director
National Institute For Trial Advocacy

From the Director’s Desk: March 2018

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I had a 100-day plan: a platform, a place to start before undertaking the role of NITA’s fearless leader, a way to measure my first 100 days on the job. Want to know what was on my 100-day plan?

  • Writing and coordinating press releases and announcements.
  • Training and developing a transition schedule.
  • Conducting a New Leaders Assessment (you’re thinking, what the heck is that? It’s related to a 360 evaluation but more strategic) by seeking feedback from our Board, Program Directors, and staff; analyzing that feedback; and reporting back to those constituents the takeaways.
  • Developing an ED-specific communication strategy: still a work in progress and I want to make sure we get it right, for you. It includes items you’ve already seen—Facebook posts, ED letters, welcoming program participants at NITA HQ—but there is more, so much more, that I can and will do in my role. Stay tuned.
  • Completing 10-city listening tour. I gave myself 90 days to complete a 10-city listening tour. Between January and February, I spent 10 days traveling to those 10 cities to engage with our community (a mix of faculty, alumni, professional development personnel, partners, law professors, board and advisory council members). Now the work to summarize and identify themes from all the information I learned from guided discussions and exercises begins—all to take us into the April Board retreat as we continue our strategic planning.

With just a few date changes, the 100-day plan worked! The massive undertaking of a 10-city listening tour, assessment feedback and reporting out, training and transition, communication strategy, plus regular NITA operations, all happened as planned. I’ve spent a lot of time on messaging for staff to increase engagement, create a culture aligned with our core values, and push us to results-oriented thinking.

Developing my own communication strategy is still a work in progress. I am still thinking how to best connect with each of you on a more consistent basis. My overall goal remains to engage, align, inspire, and move people to act. That includes each of you.

Thank you to everyone who participated in a round table (we still have two scheduled), responded to my New Leaders Assessment, and called or emailed to tell me why NITA is important to you and how you view NITA’s future. I look forward to hearing from more of you as we move forward together.

Wendy's Signature

 

 

 

Wendy McCormack
Executive Director
National Institute For Trial Advocacy

From the Director’s Desk: February 2018

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I have a thirteen-year-old. Let me just repeat that for impact: I have a thirteen-year-old! Whether you have kids or not, we were all teenagers at some point. It’s an awkward time. Cole is a teenage boy in eighth grade and doesn’t know a life without a screen. Some call them iGen or Screenagers. I call him amazing. Yes, it’s true—he does most everything on his phone. Yet, he still has manners, he can talk to adults, and he does well in school.

I look at Cole and his classmates and think, “Someday, some of these kids will choose to be lawyers.” What does that world look like for them? What does law school look like in eight to ten years? What does continuing legal education look like post-law school in ten to fifteen years? How does NITA fit in?

First, as some of you have seen on social media (if you aren’t following NITA on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you are missing out), I’ve engaged in a ten-city listening tour to kick off my tenure to ask our community some of these questions. How do we futureproof NITA? I’m sitting down with 100 people, and I know that’s not nearly enough. There are thousands of you across the globe who know NITA and who have incredible ideas about the future. I want to hear from you. Help us futureproof the best, most admired, 47-year-old, learning-by-doing advocacy training organization on the planet.

The second BIG thing, because our community is so amazing and we don’t have one place for us to congregate to network and learn, is we created one and it’s called NITAVision. We have incredibly talented faculty, alumni, future alumni, professional development specialists, partners, and public service attorneys all over the country and each and every one of you should be here. Add your voice; come see what the NITA buzz is all about. NITAVision 2018: Inspiring Justice Together September 16–18, 2018, downtown Denver. NITAVision combines thought leadership as we explore and discuss the future of legal education, learning-by-doing skills tasters, and the importance of volunteerism into an impactful two-day event that you won’t want to miss. Register today.

Connect with us. Communicate with us. Collaborate with us. Change with us.

Wendy's Signature

 

 

 

Wendy McCormack
Executive Director
National Institute For Trial Advocacy

From the Director’s Desk: January 2018

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Welcome to 2018. As the new Executive Director, I am excited to lead NITA, and look forward to all that we can accomplish in our work together.

In my twelve years with NITA I have found myself consistently inspired by our organization’s ability to transform the careers, and lives of those in the legal profession, and in particular, to so many in the noble pursuit of justice.

In the last few years we have enriched our programming by adding supplemental content through new delivery methods, expanded our public service efforts around the globe, and continued to grow the network and sphere of NITA’s influence. In addition, we have continued to hold the trust and confidence of our clients; the firms, government agencies, and many other partner organizations who believe in and fund our work. We should be proud of these collective accomplishments. We also have work ahead.

Many have asked about my vision for NITA and I know there are questions about my own educational background. I intend to create the foundation and roadmap for a NITA as relevant to the next forty years of the legal profession as it was to the past forty. NITA is now poised to enter an era of new opportunity and growth. We come from a strong and impressive history, adhering to a teaching method that we know works, teaching confidence to the next generation of lawyers, and developing voices speaking meaningfully about NITA’s impact on their career. Building on that framework is the perfect place to begin NITA’s future; innovatation while adhering to our core values, and expanding our impact on the legal world while being true to our mission. I bring my own experience to NITA in business leadership and organizational development to guide us through our next chapter.

To do this effectively, I believe we must boldly embrace our heritage while developing and growing the platform, programming, and people that will carry us forward. In short, my focus will include three key things:

  • Evolving our programming to meet the changing marketplace for legal education;
  • Attracting and retaining talent and successfully managing transition planning;
  • Ensuring the heritage of the organization is sustained with the vision set for the future.

To begin the year and my tenure I am embarking on a multi-city Listening Tour.
I look forward to garnering important feedback on what the organization is doing well, what we can improve, and how we remain an invaluable resource to the profession. In April, the Board of Directors will convene to review the results of that tour and incorporate the learnings into our strategic planning.

I look forward to getting to know more of you in the weeks and months ahead and thank you, as always, for your ongoing support of NITA’s mission and work.

Wendy's Signature

 

 

 

Wendy McCormack
Executive Director
National Institute For Trial Advocacy

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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