The Legal Advocate

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

Category Archives: Asked and Answered

Learn more about NITA’s Program Directors, Faculty and Participants

Asked and Answered—Mike Dale

Posted On By

It seems funny now to think of him this way, but once upon a time, Mike Dale was a NITA attendee. “My first encounter with NITA took place at Hofstra Law School, when, as a trial lawyer practicing in Phoenix, I traveled east and took NITA’s trial skills program on Long Island,” he says. “After becoming a law school professor and teaching trial advocacy, I took the NITA teacher training program.” The rest, as they say, is history—a history with NITA that includes directing the Florida Deposition program for over twenty-five years, helping develop the new NITA Experiential Skill-Based Course on interviewing and fact investigation techniques now being offered to law schools, filming a lecture series and a webcast on child advocacy, co-authoring a case file on juvenile delinquency, and contributing articles to this very blog. Small wonder, then, that he received the Robert Oliphant Service to NITA Award in 2009. “Mike is a true NITA ambassador,” says Wendy McCormack, AED of Operations. And to think, it all started because Mike enrolled in a trial skills program. Catch him this summer teaching at NITA family law programs at Hofstra and in Boulder.

Mike Dale at Charles University in Prague, with a Czech law student and his grandfather, both of whom attended Mike’s speech on the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.

What made you want to become a lawyer?
Before going to law school, I passed the tests and was accepted into the Foreign Service. President Nixon froze the waiting list. So I went to law school hoping I would eventually be able to work as a lawyer in the State Department.

When you set out as a young lawyer, did you envision yourself one day as a law professor? How did it happen?
It never occurred to me during law school or for fifteen years thereafter that I would ever teach law. However, while practicing in Phoenix, I taught trial advocacy as an adjunct at Arizona State University. That experience caused me to think about teaching law.

What is the most exciting or interesting thing happening at law schools in 2017?
Watching and reading about the Ninth Circuit oral argument on the Trump executive order case on immigration. When the attorney representing the government hesitated and, in answer to a question from the panel, said there was no review of the order, the significance of Marbury v. Madison, which is taught in every constitutional law class, came back into vivid focus

You’ve mentored a number of your students in writing substantive articles that have appeared here on our blog over the last few years. How did they come into this opportunity? How do you decide the topic for each post?
My research assistants and I have written ten substantive blog articles for the NITA Legal Advocate, and three more are in the pipeline. The topics come from experiences I have had during NITA training programs when litigation-related questions pop up and it is clear that the answer the question is unclear. I have taken these questions back to the law school and have assigned my research assistant to write approximately five-page articles answering these very pragmatic litigation- and trial-related questions.

Why do you teach?
When one has done as many uncontested divorces, landlord-tenant trials, name changes, juvenile delinquency loitering cases, and fender-benders as I have, one develops some knowledge of the basics of the practice of law that one wants to pass on. The best way to do that is to teach both doctrinal and skills law courses from a very pragmatic vantage point. Seeing the light go on in the eyes of the student is what I describe as psychic income

What three things are vital to your day?
First, checking in with my wife and two daughters, both of whom, for reasons that continue to escape me, became lawyers. Second, teaching and meeting with students. Third, checking English soccer scores

In what ways are you the same as your childhood self?
I wear white shirts and ties to work, including at NITA programs just as I did when I went to Easter dinner at my relatives’ in Brooklyn.

If nothing were holding you back, what would you like to be doing in ten years?
Watching English Premier League soccer games in person in places like Southampton, Sunderland, and Swansea.

What song makes you nostalgic?
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.”

What bores you?
Interrogatories, food programs on television, and faculty meetings.

What is your motto?
“Do what’s indicated”—my father’s way of saying do the right thing.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee early, tea late—but not chamomile.

Early bird or night owl?
Early bird.

Introvert or extrovert?

City or country?

Cats or dogs?

Classic or modern?

Popcorn or candy?
Candy: licorice.

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction—Colm Tóibín. Non-fiction—Robert Caro.

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—Jason Young, NextGen Class of 2016

Posted On By

James Thurber once observed, “The wit makes fun of other people; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.” In Jason Young, NITA has a humorist on its hands. Jason is also a member of NITA’s NextGen Class of 2016— and, as you’re about to discover, an advocate, colleague, teacher, and mentor of considerable humanity. Catch him at next month’s Rocky Mountain Trial Skills program, where he’ll joins other “Asked and Answered” interviewees Judge Bob McGahey and Judge Amy Hanley and many other top-notch faculty at our headquarters in Boulder. In the meantime, enjoy getting to know Jason in this week’s “Asked and Answered.” We certainly did.

How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?
Former [Denver District Court] Judge Tina Habas (simply known at present as “The Habas”) and current [Colorado Eighteenth Judicial District Court] Judge Steve Collins had been encouraging me to get involved for a few years. I think they were both just secretly looking for a way to spend more time with me.

Where did your year of traveling and teaching for NITA take you?

I got to teach at programs in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, and of course Boulder (the mothership). I would have loved to teach at additional programs, but I could not get anyone to take me . . . which is a recurring theme in my life.

What was the most interesting thing you experienced in 2016 as a result of being NextGen faculty?

I have always, oddly, been obsessed with the JFK assassination—even as a kid. My parents gave me a set of the original newspapers from November 22, 1963; they are framed and hanging in my dining room. I even tracked down the exact same rifle Oswald used (6.5x52mm Carcano Model 91/38, built in 1940 at its factory in Terni, Italy) just to see if I could get three shots off in under nine seconds. So, when I was given the opportunity to teach at the LSCO [Legal Services Corporation] program at the UNT Dallas College of Law, I jumped at the opportunity. Much to my surprise, when I arrived I learned that the law school was moving into the old Dallas Municipal Building where Oswald was held after the assassination, all the iconic photos of him were taken, and where he was assassinated by Jack Ruby in the parking garage.

I learned that the cell Oswald was being held in would be moved down to the first floor and preserved, but I was dying to see it in its original state. I mercilessly begged our program director Professor Cheryl Wattley (and any staff member I could chase down . . . administrators, the poor guy emptying the trash, etc.) to get me into the building. I was informed that it was a construction area and I could not get in; I was told I would need a hard hat . . . I promptly offered to buy three. My begging was without any semblance of self-respect or dignity, but to no avail. However, I was assured by Professor Wattley that I would be invited back to see it once the move was complete. . . but based on my annoying and single-minded obsession, I can only assume that she deleted any record of me the instant I left Dallas.

What surprised you during this year of back-to-back teaching?
I had taught the Boulder trial skills program for several years prior to getting this opportunity, so I had a good grasp of how things were done. But, seeing how things were done differently (in varying degrees) at other programs was eye opening. When you teach that many programs that close together, you really get to see what concepts work well and what ones may be more challenging. For instance, I always thought using participants own phones to record their performances would be a simpler and easier way to go. However, when we did it at one of the programs it was surprisingly difficult. A lot of participants did not have enough memory on their phones, would borrow someone else’s phone, get to video review and realize they did not know the password, have to go back, etc. That is just one simple example of many. Seeing different approaches to the NITA programs was educational and worth its weight in gold.

What is one piece of advice you might offer to this year’s incoming NextGen class?
Take every opportunity you are given and go in with an open mind. Also, if you get to go to Dallas don’t pester Professor Wattley incessantly to see Oswald’s cell . . . she has enough to worry about.

You have an academic background in history and kinesiology, which rather begs the question: what career path might you have taken besides the law? And why did you end up choosing the law?
I always wanted to be a doctor. History has always fascinated me and I majored in the subject out of personal interest, but I was also pre-med. Once I realized all the pre-med requirements went toward a kinesiology degree, I said to myself, “Well, if I have to take all the classes anyway, I may as well have something to show for it.” I spent every break in college working in surgery at a hospital in Colorado Springs; I got to watch every surgery imaginable, carry severed limbs to the pathologist, etc. But, my grades were not good enough to get into medical school and I realized that I suck at science (small problem). I got into grad school for kinesiology with the intent of trying to get into medical school afterward.

It always fascinates me to talk to people who knew they wanted to be a lawyer, or even more specifically a judge, when they were small children. I was not that guy; I never even met a lawyer until college. I only became interested in law school during my junior year of college when one of the surgeons put me in touch with his daughter who was an investigator with the Public Defender’s Office . . . and I was hooked (by the career path, not by the surgeon’s daughter). A week after I got into the graduate program for kinesiology, I found out that I got into law school. I figured being done in three years, instead of getting a master’s degree and trying for med school in two, was a more sensible way to go. Based on my aptitude for science, it could not have worked out better. A lot more people are likely alive today because I chose to pursue law instead of medicine.

What are the first websites you look at in the morning?
Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Who am I kidding . . . I look at Yahoo. My wife reads The Economist. I prefer books with pictures where I don’t need to sound out the big words.

What book have you re-read the most in your life? Perhaps not necessarily a favorite book, but one that keeps drawing you back into it?
On The Road, by Jack Kerouac. It just speaks to me differently every time I pick it up. The “journey” of life certainly has a different meaning for me at forty than it did at twenty. Despite the fact that the words do not change, my interpretation of their meaning does and it always fascinates me how looking at the same thing through a different “lens” can greatly change one’s interpretation.

If you had to live somewhere else, where would it be, and why?
Borrowing from the theme above, I would live “on the road.” I try to take a solo cross-country motorcycle trip every summer to clear my head; last year I rode through sixteen states. Each time I go, the harder it is to come back. I always seek out offbeat things to amuse myself and detach from the practice of law for a week or two. In the last couple of years, I’ve gone to the alien museum in Roswell, New Mexico; ridden the Extraterrestrial Highway by Area 51 in Nevada; had lunch at the Little A’Le’Inn; stopped at a haunted Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada; had a snake bite me on the leg at a cemetery in Aurora, Texas when I was walking through looking for the headstone of an alien that was supposedly buried there in 1897 (there is an official State of Texas plaque at the site commemorating the event); participated in an all-night ghost hunt at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky; ghost-hunted at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico; visited the “Mothman” in Point Pleasant, West Virginia; watched the movie Fargo on a pit stop in . . . Fargo, North Dakota; and many more as I zig zagged my way across the country. I am sure I would get tired of it at some point . . .or not . . . .

If you were on death row (because you didn’t hire a NITA trial lawyer, obviously), what would your final meal be?
Either a well-prepared filet mignon . . . or Chipotle. I’m a pretty simple guy, so I would probably land on Chipotle. In addition, I generally eat so much at Chipotle that I wish for death anyway . . . so it makes sense.

What terribly music do you sing along to in the car when no one else can hear you? (Ok, I’ll go first: Kelly Clarkson.) (I know.)
I like a wide range of music, with the exception of country music or jazz. I don’t get either one. I’ve been known to belt out “MMMBop,” by Hanson . . . that is one catchy tune. [Ed.: Brave admission, Jason.] But, my favorite all time band is Tool (or any other Maynard spinoff). I’ve got fourth row tickets to a show in April . . . I am beyond excited.

What is your motto?
I approach my job with humility and a sense of humor. I realize the law is something I do, but now who I “am.” My legal career has afforded me a lot of great opportunities, but I have also had to deal with a lot of serious cases. I tried my first murder case when I was twenty-seven and went on to try several other life sentence cases since that time. I once had to look a sixteen-year-old kid in the eye and tell him he was going to die in prison and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. After eight years as a Public Defender, I transitioned into civil litigation where I have tried cases ranging from a few thousand dollars to seven figures. After dealing with all the stress and trauma involved with serious criminal cases, I found that civil lawyers tend to take themselves far too seriously. Overall, as a profession, I find we all tend to take ourselves far too seriously. We have important work to do, and it is important to respect the craft. But, I also bear in mind that fighting over money in a personal injury case is not the saving the world.

On a personal note, my wife was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma in January 2015. Months in the hospital, surgeries, chemo, baldness, etc. She was fortunate to make it through and is in remission . . . only to be diagnosed with leukemia a year later. The leukemia is also treatable, and we consider ourselves to be lucky. We all have to deal with tragedy and serious issues in our personal lives; we cannot forget how important life is outside of the law. Our lives changed drastically overnight, and that can happen to any of us at any time. As I held my wife’s hand while she vomited from the chemo at two in the morning, I certainly was not thinking, “I wish I spent more time at the office.”

So, here is my motto: “The law is important, but it is not everything. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—Judge Amy Hanley

Posted On By

Between announcing the incoming Class of 2017 faculty and our interview with Jayme Cassidy, it would seem The Legal Advocate has NextGen on the brain lately. Because of its importance to NITA’s continuity and growth, today we’re talking with Amy Hanley, another standout “graduate” of the program. “Amy is one of my favorite new NITA stars,” says Mark Caldwell, Program Development and Resource Director at NITA. “She brings creativity, steadfast adherence to the NITA teaching format, high energy, and compassion to any classroom.” Amy brings a lot to NITA, and we’re fortunate to have her onboard as faculty. She’s a keeper.

How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?
I was “discovered” in Hays, Kansas, by Mark Caldwell at the Kansas NITA Public Service Program. Judge Bill Ossmann had invited me to join him in Hays to teach prosecutors and public defenders. I had no idea what NITA was, but I prepared a presentation on closing argument and headed west. At that program, I met Mark and another NITA character by the name of Tom Swett. I followed their lead and must have done all right because I earned myself an invitation to teach in Colorado the next year. [Note: She’ll be back in Colorado next month to teach at the Rocky Mountain Trial Skills program.]

You were selected as a member of NITA’s NextGen Class of 2014. How did that year-long experience change your life?
The NextGen program added a missing layer of flavor to my professional life. My role as an advocate (I tried criminal cases in my former life) was much richer after flying all over the country to teach with lawyers/judges/professors from every area of the law. I learned much more than I taught. NextGen travel also introduced me to some of my now close personal friends.

You recently took the Seventh District bench in Lawrence, Kansas. What is the earliest recollection you have of realizing that being a member of the judiciary was something you’d be interested in and capable of?
About three weeks before I submitted my application—no joke. This stage in my career was completely unplanned. I was told that a judge in my district was about to retire. I had never considered it before, but the timing was right and I immediately knew I was ready to take that step.

Who has been your greatest mentor?
I would not have gone into trial work without the influence of my two mock trial team coaches at Drake Law School, Mark Godwin and Steve Foritano. Those guys are the real deal—über-talented trial dogs, but modest, with a sharp sense of humor.

Why do you teach?
For me, watching a student win a trial was more rewarding than winning one of my own.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken that paid off?
I always say yes when I’m asked to do something I think I might not be able to do. Personal growth is the payoff.

If you hadn’t gone into the law, what career path do you think you might have taken instead?
When my sister and I were young, we’d play school. I was always the teacher, “Miss Suzy Sunshine.”

How do you unwind in your off-hours?
Always one of these three: cooking, traveling, or shopping. On Saturday morning, I’m usually in my kitchen making a big brunch; Saturday afternoon, I’m at Nordstrom. If we have more than three free days in a row, John and I are on a plane.

What has been the most memorable meal of your life?
NITA sent me to Tokyo to teach. My first night there I had eight courses of sushi and sake at a restaurant that was 147 years old. It was divine!

If you could witness any event in history, what would you choose, and why?
Jury deliberations during the OJ Simpson trial. I’m intrigued by the secrecy of what happens during all jury deliberations, but I would love to have seen the details of that verdict unfold.

Judge Amy, the time has come for you to lip-sync for your life. What song are you going to sing?
Lost in Emotion, by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam while wearing tight-rolled jeans.

What is your motto?
You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

Coffee or tea?
Strong coffee, please. I have Swedish roots.

iPhone or Android?
iPhone despite my husband’s attempts to make us an Android couple.

Cats or dogs?
Three crazy rescue cats live at the House of Hanley.

Popcorn or candy?
Popcorn. Salt is life!

Introvert or extrovert?
Nobody ever believes me when I say this, but I am so very introverted.

Sunrise or sunset?
The best stories from NITA City unfold after sunset.

Classical or jazz?
I’m not cool or pretentious enough to be a connoisseur of either.

Rain or shine?
I love the mystery and intrigue of the rain. I’d choose Seattle over Florida any day. [Note: Catch Amy at our Seattle Trial Skills program in July.]

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—Jayme Cassidy, NextGen Class of 2016

Posted On By

While the mission at NITA has remained constant since its inception in the early 1970s, its faculty has not. It is a reality in all communities that even its most dedicated people will eventually move onto the next stage of their lives and leave the organization in the hands of their successors. The Next Generation (NextGen) program is one way NITA keeps an eye fixed toward its future. Each year, NITA selects three outstanding young faculty members to groom in leadership and the NITA teaching methodology by sending them to a year’s worth of programs from coast to coast. They end up doing a bit of their own “learning by doing,” as the act of teaching helps them learn to be effective instructors in trial advocacy.

The Legal Advocate has asked the members of the Class of 2016 to share their reflections on the experience each had during their year of teaching and traveling for NITA. Today we start with Jayme Cassidy, Director of the Legal Incubator Program and Law Professor at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law.

How did you first meet “Auntie NITA”?
I was invited to teach in the NITA Fort Lauderdale Trial program when I was a public defender. I would teach off and on when I had time. [Longtime NITA faculty member] Mike Dale reintroduced me to NITA when I launched the Veterans Law Clinic at Nova. Mike helped me appreciate that teaching for NITA is not something you do sporadically . . . it is a lifestyle.

Where did your year of traveling and teaching for NITA take you?
I had the opportunity to travel to various trial and deposition programs all over the country. My journey included Orlando (ACLU), Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Boulder, Baton Rouge, Philadelphia, and back to my alma mater, Seton Hall Law, in New Jersey!

What was the most interesting thing you experienced in 2016 as a result of being NextGen faculty?
The San Francisco program had a powerhouse of dynamic faculty from all over the world. We made the best use of our one free afternoon and biked over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was breathtaking and challenging. I’m not going to mention any names, but there were some super-competitive athletes in the group.

What surprised you during this year of back-to-back teaching?
Our country is really diverse. I am from the Northeast and I don’t really blend.

What is one piece of advice you might offer to this year’s incoming NextGen class?
Embrace every opportunity! You never know whom you will meet. I have met talented people through my NextGen travels. My experience introduced me to attorneys that have had a significant impact on my life. Some made their mark during the program and moved on. Some will remain lifelong friends.

At Nova, you’ve headed up a couple of incubator programs. What is an incubator program? And what are the ones you’ve been involved in?
Currently, I run two separate law clinics and the Legal Incubator Program at Nova. The Veterans Law Clinic is a civil/ quasi-criminal pro bono legal resource for veterans. I launched the Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) Law Clinic in January 2017. AIDD Clinic offers pro bono legal services to adults and families of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

I developed the Legal Incubator Program a year ago. The Incubator is an opportunity for attorneys to give back to the community while establishing a small or solo law practice. There are so many low- and moderate-income individuals who earn too much to qualify for free legal aid but not enough to afford traditional law firm rates. Incubator attorneys fill this legal service gap in the community by providing pro bono or low bono legal services in exchange for business startup training and free office space. The Incubator Program also provides the attorneys a referral source for paying clients and mentorship opportunities.

What’s a simple habit you have that makes you consistently happier?
A to-do list. It provides me multiple ways to feel accomplished each day. Exercise and smile are always on the list.

In what ways are you the same as your childhood self?
In grammar school, I was considered to be an introvert. I would sit quietly and observe. In high school, I was shy and found it difficult to engage new people. As an adult, I can be awkward in social situations.

If you had to save three things from your house (other than people or pets), what would you take?
I have three one of a kind items that are priceless to me. The first item is my Jared Seff original portrait of my twins. Jared painted the twins when they were in grammar school and he was a freshman in high school. The second is a family heirloom. It is a religious art piece that has been passed down to the eldest for three generations. My grandfather was stationed overseas during the Korean War and it came home with him. The third item is an Irish crystal punch bowl that was a given to me as a gift. It’s over 100 years old. It was originally given to the recipient I received it from as a gift from her aunt over sixty years ago.

What are books do you have on your nightstand right now? How are they?
Two books are always on my nightstand. Constant re-reads that remind me that I should be grateful and appreciate what I have. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, by Theodor Geisel and A Short Guide to a Happy Life, by Anna Quindlen. My current read is The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Whitehead is a genius! This novel contains so many metaphors and analogies. It is riveting! A definite re-read.

What bores you?
Reality television. Seriously, follow a social justice attorney around for a day you get more dramedy than you can handle.

What is your motto?
My work motto with my students is, This is how we roll. We always look professional, and we are always prepared. My personal mantra is, I can do bad all by myself. I try to be the best Jayme I can be each day. Sometimes this is difficult. I get in my own way!

Coffee or tea?
Coffee Monday through Friday. Green tea latte on Saturday and Sunday.

Night owl or early bird?
Early bird. I am a military brat.

Movie theater or Netflix?

Sunrise or sunset?
I live two miles from Hollywood Beach. Sunrise makes exercise worth it.

Fruits or vegetables?
Both. I grew up in South Jersey. Lots of farms.

Call or text?
If it’s a real conversation, I need to hear your voice.

Truth or dare?
Truth. I can control the outcome.

Spring ahead or fall back?
Fall back. I never have enough time. It’s like I got an extra hour to live each autumn.

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

Asked and Answered—John Cleaves

Posted On By

There’s a reason “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” and John Cleaves knows it. He’s a Trial Technology Attorney and the Manager of the Trial Technology Consulting team at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles—and the author of Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics for Trial, a hands-on how-to that teaches readers how they too can put those “thousand words” into a memorable image or GIF that jurors will recall in the deliberation room and beyond. If all you’ve ever seen from PowerPoint are endless bullet point lists devoid of intrigue and context, you may be surprised by this video, which John created to show such cool animations as the articulated movement of an artificial knee joint in a patent blueprint, a definition being torn from the page of a dictionary to form a callout, and a 911 call scrolling across the screen in real time—all created in PowerPoint. We caught up with John to learn more about his interests and background, and how we can all learn to put the power in PowerPoint.

Your academic background is in history, economics, and law, yet your work is primarily in technology. How did your interest in computing and its intersection with the law come about?
I actually have always been in technology. I got my first computer, a TRS-80 from Radio Shack, a very long time ago. All through high school, I did my own coding—well, back then we called it “programming.” In college, my first major was in IT, but I found it very constrictive. So, I decided I would follow other interests, which were economics and history, perfect undergrad degrees for someone headed to law school—though I didn’t know it at the time. Getting back to technology, my first job after college was as an IS specialist, where I wrote custom software for a manufacturing company. I enjoyed it, but when the company was bought out I decided to go to law school. Yet, as much as I tried to avoid it, I just couldn’t leave my interests in technology behind. So here I am now, an attorney who uses technology to help other attorneys in trial.

When most of us think of PowerPoint, we think of boring slideshows full of bulleted lists that have no context when you look at them after the presentation. When did you start using PowerPoint to create dynamic demonstratives?
When I started in demonstrative graphics, Adobe Illustrator was the go-to choice. Only once a graphic was completed in Illustrator would I load it into PowerPoint for display in court. I definitely viewed PowerPoint as a static presentation device, almost like one of those old slide projectors. But when I arrived at FTI Consulting back in 2003, I discovered they were using the software in a very different way. The artists were creating graphics right in PowerPoint. I was amazed to learn PowerPoint had so many features built in. As an example, by using the built-in gradient and transparency features, we could create shadows of any object. Now, of course, the shadow tool is included in the ribbon, but back then it was a time-consuming, multi-step process that added an extra bit of “gee-whiz” to our graphics.

So, it was this informal competition among the team to figure out new techniques for creating graphics that inspired me to really delve into PowerPoint and figure out how to make pretty much anything.

What’s been the most memorable case you’ve developed demonstrative evidence for?

Hmmm—I’ve worked on so many cases! I put a number of them into the book as anecdotes to help explain how certain types of graphics were used effectively. But without going into names or other identifying details, the case I usually use to explain what I do was one where I billed an average of over twenty hours per day for six days. Some of those days were all-nighters, and some were “only” eighteen hours or so. I must have created hundreds of PowerPoint slides during that time. There were stacks of printed PowerPoint decks strewn everywhere around the war room. Graphics were taped to the walls. Dozens of boards were printed and wrapped in brown paper, ready to go to court. And then, just before the opening statements were to be given, the case settled.

Tell us about your iPad app, JuryTracker. What compelled you to create it?
JuryTracker is a result of my time both as an attorney and trial consultant. In the courtroom, I would keep an eye on the jurors and note how they reacted to various witnesses and testimony. Typically, I would write the notes on Post-Its and then review them at the end of the day with the rest of the trial team. When the iPad came out, I saw that it could be used in much the same way, so I sat down and designed the app pretty quickly. The key was to take many of the typical observations and make them into icons and emoticons the user could simply tap, reducing the need to take long series of notes.

How did you find your way to NITA?
Latham & Watkins brings NITA professors in to teach trial advocacy classes to the associates. I participate in the classes, giving a presentation on demonstrative graphics and how they have been used in court. Through those classes, I became friends with Frank Rothschild, one of the NITA instructors, who also creates demonstrative graphics. When I had an early draft of the book, I shared it with Frank to get his feedback and insight. Frank was kind enough to give me a detailed set of notes that I used to make revisions, and then to introduce me to the editorial team at NITA. The rest, as they say, is history!

When was the last time you traveled somewhere new, and what did you do?
For my most recent birthday, my family and I traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to see the Packers play the Chicago Bears. We were on the 25-yard line, 17 rows from the field—great seats! We also saw the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. I highly recommend both!

What is your guilty pleasure?
See’s Candies—milk chocolate only, please!

People are surprised that I . . .
. . . am a lawyer. It catches a lot of people off guard—though after they get to know me they typically say, “Yeah, ok, I can see that now.”

What’s a simple habit you have that makes you consistently happier?
I work diligently to try to remain calm, and to encourage others to remain calm too.

What’s your motto?
Don’t panic!

Enjoy this interview? Find more of our Asked and Answered interviews with NITA personalities here on The Legal Advocate.

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


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: