The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Executive Director Letters

January 2015 Executive Director’s Letter. Fulfilling Their Expectations:  Our Memories, Broader Than Sorrow

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Lockwood_Karen

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.  

M.J. Tocce February 15, 2014
“her life’s mission to work with women working to achieve success”

 

Eddie Ohlbaum March 13, 2014
“playfulness, the kind that creates collegial learning”

 

Keith Roberts March 15, 2014
“the fine art of gentlemanly advocacy in the courtroom”

 

Myles Malman April 21, 2014
“resolve, determination and contagious sense of humor as he prosecuted his cases”

 

Daniel Grove July 21, 2014
“free penchant for arguing and teasing, for quick funny references, for repartee, and for being one’s self”

 

Jim Carrigan August 11, 2014
“his insight into justice, what justice requires, and how much injustice exists that is to be addressed and reversed”

 

JoAnn Harris October 30, 2014
“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”

 

Bill Keating January 1, 2015
“trial skills, humor, and humanity that made him both dangerous in the courtroom and a joy in the classroom”

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

December 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: A Meditation at Year’s End

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Lockwood_KarenThis month closes a good year at NITA. Our programs filled. Our publications moved into the e-book space. Our website brings you fresh views and more information every month. Our webcasts attract hundreds of viewers live and remain on line for you if you missed them. Our blog, The Legal Advocate, brings you articles on litigation insights that help show off our faculty’s expertise, news about our NITA community, and more — even the occasional movie review.

And so we turn our attention to building programs for public service lawyers. We serve these lawyer groups in special ways. They have limited means due to their client base, and they serve clients who otherwise would have no lawyer amid extenuating circumstances.  They come from legal aid practices, advocacy agencies for children, groups helping those in poverty or underserved populations, tribal justice systems, criminal practice by public defenders, under budgeted state and local prosecutor offices, and other special groups.

(1)  Our first question in planning this project was one for NITA’s Board:  can we fund public service programs in advance of the upcoming year? Having a budget stated in advance, which we know is available, gives us the power to build programs we have always wanted to do. 

The Board responded with an astounding surprise – they committed a percentage of reserves to be spent each year for the NITA public service mission. This nest egg is seed money. With it we will be building new opportunities for service.

(2)  Next, the second question is for you. As you find the Board’s leadership inspiring, will you join NITA’s effort to expand the budget needed to create and provide programs uniquely suited to public service audiences?  The Board knew, when it partially funded a public service budget that others would follow its commitment.   

This is the time of year to ask, and so we do.  We need you to remember the transformative power of NITA live programs. We need you to help others to experience that transformation. They need your gift to NITA’s Public Service Program Fund.  Remember, we need these funds to initiate 2015-16 programs that purposely target certain public service practices that need more of NITA than they can get. We will find them. Please click here to make your gift.

As you give, consider a gift in memory of JoAnn Harris to the public service fund.. JoAnn regarded her work to teach NITA in Indian country as one of the most significant accomplishments of her life.

Equally you may consider a give in memory of Jim Carrigan. If you wish to support more scholarships – which always are underfunded — you may consider the Jim and Beverly Carrigan Scholarship Fund (touching Colorado and area lawyers). 

We are grateful for all that you, our NITA community members, do to support NITA’s public interest and scholarship projects.  

May you have a blessed holiday season, and a peaceful 2015.  Thank you for your NITA work, and your NITA generosity.  

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

November 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: Looking Forward – A Moment of Thanks

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Lockwood_KarenA week from today, you and I will be busy getting ready to be really busy. Running off our turkey feasts, planning the weekend sports line-up, and considering our December tasks, we’ll hunker down.

What comes with that is reflection. At NITA, in that pause after next Thursday’s holiday, we will be reflecting on our year’s successes. We’ll be finalizing our plans for greater successes in 2015. And we’ll be measuring success by NITA standards.

  • Did we reach lawyers at all levels of seniority through our public-enrollment programs?
  • Did we make new friends by bringing added value through customized programs
    • for firms of all sizes,
    • for agencies lawyers in adjudicatory hearings and trials,
    • for non-profits whose clients are underrepresented,
    • for state prosecutors and public defenders?
  • Did we leverage our transformative power in the public service by bringing it to
    • lawyer groups targeted by grants,
    • attorneys who specialize in child advocacy, tribal system advocacy, domestic violence, and other target populations?
  • Did we use the printed word and videos of NITA-quality advocacy in the service of NITA?
  • Did we find and invite the best talent in the country onto our faculty?

Yes we did. We are thankful to all of you who contribute so generously of your talents and time.

I measure success by impact – the highest quality in all that we do. And by reach – the importance of NITA training to even the most advanced advocates as well as those in their mid-career and early years.

Restless to do more, we are planning for even greater impact and reach in 2015. Our plans are concrete, and exciting. Watch these pages and my monthly letters for evolving news and insight.  And I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have a wonderful time of thanks in next week’s holiday. And again,

Thank You.

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

October 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: NITA Talent – Our Faculty Are Honored In Their Fields

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Lockwood_KarenProud of our faculty’s talents, in teaching as well as in the law, I share with you these accolades for members of NITA’s Faculty. Our faculty are leaders. They are thinkers. They are restless – the world should be better! They walk the talk – they work to extend knowledge and advocate for real justice. They pass it on – they teach NITA, making others into more skilled trial lawyers. They achieve – honors, results, justice. These folks exemplify NITA – we are true-blue through and through.

  • Pamela Bresnahan (NITA Board member, Chair Nominating Committee, faculty member). Pam was elected to the ABA Board of Governors to serve as an At Large Member for a three year term beginning in August 2014. The Board of Governors is the body that decides ABA policy and governs when the House of Delegates is not in session. Pam has served on top leadership committees and commissions of the ABA for years, and is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. She is a partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in Washington, DC. Read More
  • Thomas F. Geraghty (NITA Board member, Chair Publications Committee, faculty member). Tom received the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The award honors Tom for his professional accomplishments and dedication to justice. Tom is associate dean for clinical education and director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. He has been a member of the Northwestern Law community – and of NITA — for more than 40 years. Read More
  • Michael A. Kelly (NITA Board member, past Program Director Teacher Training). Mike was selected as Trial Lawyer of the Year by CAL-ABOTA, the American Board of Trial Advocates’ award honoring California lawyers. The award requirements are for the person to be an excellent advocate, have a distinguished career, have a superb reputation of civility, ethics and fair play, and have one or more outstanding trial results. Read More
  • Louise A. LaMothe (Emeritus Trustee, NITA Board, Past Chair, frequent faculty member). Louise is now Judge LaMothe, installed as United States Magistrate Judge for the Central District of California (Santa Barbara Division). She is past Chair, ABA Section of Litigation, served twice as a 9th Circuit Judicial Conference representative, and in other leadership roles. She is a Fellow and Board member of the College of Commercial Arbitrators, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. She practiced at Irell & Manella, LLP, and is distinguished as the first woman partner at Bird Marella. Read More
  • Marcia Levy (Program Director of NITA’s New York Deposition Program, public service and custom programs). On November 10, 2014, Marcia will become only the second Executive Director of Pro Bono Partnership. Founded in 1997, Pro Bono Partnership provides business and transactional legal services to nonprofit organizations serving the disadvantaged or enhancing the quality of life in neighborhoods in New York tri-state area, with affiliates in Atlanta and Cincinnati. Ms. Levy currently is Professor at Cardozo School of Law, and previously practiced with Sullivan & Cromwell. Read More
  • Leo M. Romero (NITA Board member & Past Chair; fmr Program Director NITA Southwest Deposition Skills). Leo is the 2014 Spirit of Excellence Award Honoree, bestowed by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession annually to a very select group of law leaders who lead in diversity as well. His address underscores the importance of UNM, and of Leo’s work from law school forward, to elevating the numbers and impact of diverse members of the bar. Read More
  • Leo is a “two-fer” this year. Past Dean of the University of New Mexico Law School, the law school also honored him at a soiree naming a major new classroom, the ”Leo M. Romero Classroom.” Read More
  • Andrew Schepard (Program Director, custom programs; NITA Author). A Professor at Hofstra University Law School, Andy was honored when Hofstra bestowed the title of Max Schmertz Distinguished Professor of Law. Andrew Schepard is a 1972 graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as articles editor of the Harvard Law Review, and served as a law clerk to then-Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Read More

(NITA faculty, please send us other honors and awards you know of – we would like to congratulate you and your colleagues too.)

By gathering these examples of our faculty’s leadership, I ask that you extend NITA’s outstretched hand to others with such top legal talent, inviting them into the NITA community across the nation. Our community grows through lawyers who care. It is an act of friendship to turn to a most talented colleague and say, “You would be great at teaching too. NITA is the one.”

Then call me.

NITA teaching. Recognition as a leader. The two go hand in hand.

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

September 2014 Executive Director’s Letter: Speaking of Bias in the Courtroom . . .

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Lockwood_KarenImplicit bias – the silent judgment-maker that we are not aware of in a jury, our courtroom, our witnesses, our judge, our selves.

On August 19, 2014, I presented a free NITA Webinar on how important it is for a trial lawyer to understand implicit bias. And to learn to recognize where it might lurk.

On November 7, 2014, NITA is presenting a full 90-minute CLE on this important subject, dealing directly with the question, “what does a lawyer do about implicit bias in the courtroom?” Join us at the Annual Convention of NAPABA – the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. (NAPABA members, sign up now here.)

Why? This is a subject that, like NITA’s mission itself, directly affects the quality of justice. It affects “both sides of the courtroom.” To be clear, I am not talking about lawyers who litigate discrimination cases. I am talking about all of us – no matter the side, the practice, the claim, or the faith that we ourselves are unbiased.

Lawyers who seek a deep understanding of implicit bias will better represent their client, better handle the sometimes messy give-and-take of witness examination and credibility, and have a better shot at justice. Here is why:

  • Many of us are sure that we do not discriminate, we are fair. Good; so far as our behavior is concerned that is essential.
  • Some of us, further, are savvy to our own implicit biases. Those lawyers develop “stops” to check their judgments, decisions, and behavior in order to negate their biases. They are more ready for the courtroom.
  • Not a single one of us can erase the implicit biases we now own. They are our bear, looming behind us, making judgments for us that we are unaware of. (Some are good biases—embedded in the fight or flight center of our brains.) Many are destructive biases, changing perceptions, shortchanging objective judgment, instilling fear.

Since every human brain on earth relies on it to act quickly and “intuitively,” it follows that implicit bias joins all the players in the courtroom. Those of us who seek justice through advocacy are dealing with implicit bias throughout every witness examination, for example. Is the witness expressing a judgment, or recalling “events” changed by an unconscious reaction rooted in bias at the time of the event? Is implicit bias active in the discourse or conduct of counsel?

More to the point: a woman advocate wonders what underlies the behaviors and judgments directed her way. An African-American advocate in a North American courtroom sees some typical signs of bias and wonders how to deal with them. A witness is apparently confused by a racially biased perception, and the cross-examiner wonders whether to tread into the area, and how.

Of course, implicit bias is a topic much broader than “grouping” stereotypes: broader than gender, race, LGBT individuality, profession of religion, ethnicity, etc. But these visible and invisible differences among groupings of people are rife with stereotypes that predictably harm justice.

Reading more always raises our own awareness. And thus earns us some savvy thinking time as we consider ways to defuse negative implicit bias in the courtroom. You can start here: the first starts slow, using study testing implicit biases other than “grouping” stereotypes.

Impartial experts (expert conclusions on propensity for repeat offenses of sexual violence varied with whether prosecution or defense retained the expert )

DecisionQuest summary for ABA (implicit bias issues in jurors, counsel, judges).

Kang et. al article at UCLA (team of academics, scientists, researchers & federal judge seek ansers: “what if anything should we do about implicit bias in the courtroom”);

NITA free Webinar introducing the subject for trial lawyers (implicit bias in courtroom, “what and why / see it and address it”)

NAPABA Convention, Convergence of Bias and Reason on November 7, 2014 from 9:15am - 10:30am

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and 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 Goal is 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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