The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Executive Director Letters

January 2017 Executive Director’s Letter: Introducing our Professional Staff – Stellar Program Department!

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Meet our staff members! While NITA is the faculty and author network that brings you learn-by-doing programs and materials, NITA’s professional staff in Boulder is the engine, director, and glue that makes it all possible. We coordinate, expand, envision, and deliver highest quality and efficient support of NITA’s mission. We direct our amazing network of lawyers, as they teach in the unique NITA way.

Over the next few months, I will be introducing you to NITA’s staff. This month, I bring you greetings from our Programs Department. As you work with them, you will admire their dedication – just hear what they have to say!

Alicia Branch

Program Specialist II
My eagerness to further NITA’s Mission engages my full support as I administer my programs, and “lend a hand” in the department’s other projects and goals.
I see NITA’s mission, creating the best advocates for our legal system, to be a constantly evolving goal. As we set the level of excellence in legal advocacy training, I draw great satisfaction from knowing that it means so much to so many people.

 

Mark Caldwell

Resource Director
Given my familiarity with program content, case files, materials, and other faculty resources, I consult with staff to help them support programs that succeed, and help support program directors.
NITA’s leadership in improving the quality of trial practice is unquestioned. Our philosophy of inclusion, regardless of the lawyer’s position in a case, means that NITA constantly strives to improve the quality of representation for all, including the underserved client base.

 

Katie Grosso

Senior Program Specialist
I contribute through pitching in on some of the more strategic aspects of our department, along with administering programs.
NITA for me is a job, a mission, and a vision. What makes it important personally is the big, awesome family; I value my NITA friendships inside and out, and enjoy seeing the program participants bond. As we face a changing market, it is our relationships and dedication to mission that carries us into the future.

 

Cindy Knaisch

Senior Program Specialist
In addition to running my programs, I support the team from my customer service and IT background, helping enhance the client experience as well as our staff’s efficiency.
I’m proud to work at NITA. We truly help empower attorneys to better serve clients, including the underserved. I picture my work as an integral part of that mission, as NITA continues to grow as the premier CLE provider in the legal profession.

 

Christine McHugh

Program Specialist I
I work to be a fun, awesome, sassy member of Programs, engaging with my team and my faculty, and working to create a well-oiled machine as we organize our programs.
I personally feel the most important role we have here is providing excellent customer service to our participants. It’s a pleasure coming to NITA each and every morning!

 

Michelle Rogness

Director of Programs
As the lead director of this amazing Program Department, I coordinate our goals and our work to provide consistently excellent programs for both public and private programs.
NITA provides chances for lawyers to get on their feet and learn. We have the teachers and the method to help advocates speak for others. We are aiming to provide relevant training for a changing playing field in all areas of advocacy.

 

Donielle Swires

Program Specialist I
I add to the group’s success by working to run each of my programs smoothly, and helping other specialists on the team.
NITA is a great opportunity for lawyers to build new skills and strengthen techniques they have used in the past. I feel NITA increases their comfort going into a courtroom. We at NITA expand into the future as we perfect what we do by working together.

 

As ED, I am proud of these Programs team members. Please say “thanks” the next time you talk to them!

And thank YOU.

Go, NITA!

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

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

December 2016 Executive Director’s Letter: Celebrating NITA At Year’s End

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Lockwood_KarenTogether, we have done amazing things. NITA continues to grow in influence, creativity, engagement with trial lawyers and advocates across the generations, and faculty excellence.

In this Holiday Season, my message is one of joy and thanks. Read both parts of this letter. First, the bullets of thanks. Second, the arrows for action.

First, my personal reflections in this season:

  • Thanks for all the faculty, authors, studio71 stars, and clients both individuals and custom groups. Thanks to all of you across the nation who are more connected and active than ever.
  • Joy for all the program directors, team leaders, and assistant team leaders who step up to leading programs and written content with their individual stamp of quality, true to what NITA is known for. We collectively rock!
  • Anticipation for the creative teams that are building to start 2017 with searingly relevant and effective new content in publications, programs, webcasts, articles and blogs.
  • Excitement for the creativity and progress that will mark 2017. We will organize a whole new collaborative focus on NITA–quality content of all types.

So, you have ideas, I know you. Call me! 303-953-6801 / klockwood@nita.org.

Second, the engine that unifies all of these efforts:

We are the NITA Network. Not an association, no members, no formal applications with criteria. Rather, an enthused network of individual lawyers who are jazzed by the vision of future courtrooms, where all lawyers at the bar (or in any forum) perform advocacy effectively, efficiently, and ethically.

How do we succeed in keeping this network success going today in our 45th year, and forward through the next 45?

Our Staff!! You will read about them in my first few posts of 2017. You know that our NITA Network hits its mark because we the lawyers are good. And we are prepared. Who prepares and assures that we look good? Well, we hit our marks, build our programs, and sustain our energy thanks to our staff. They are thrilled with NITA’s mission. They are overjoyed when they connect with each of you. And they rejoice in each victory of a good program well-planned and beautifully taught. In a well-planned publication or studio performance, beautifully presented and timely. In the union of donors who energize our public service mission.

We don’t thank them enough – we can’t! I myself can’t do it enough either, and I reside here with many of them.

So please do two things for me, starting early and throughout 2017:

→ Thank every staff member at every contact moment you have, personally and as a colleague.
→ Read about each of our staff members in my next few posts beginning January 19. I will introduce to each staff member as a person, and each NITA department. You will learn how they accomplish the magic together. Hint – it is teaming with you.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! I extend my wishes to each of you for a reverent and joyful Holiday of your own following. Thank you to all of you, our individual and diverse friends.

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

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

November 2016 Executive Director’s Letter: What Can A Lawyer Do For Democracy – when you want to be non-political?

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Lockwood_KarenThis is not about the 2016 presidential election, which is an act now done.

It is about the question, “What do we do now?”

We who are lawyers must use our knowledge and our experience about the U.S. Democracy to educate entire communities. Seems hopeless. But remember the Chautauqua movement? Like that, a movement is needed to spread the talent of listening and the courage of speaking across disagreements. Say, a Listening for Democracy movement.

1. Do voters understand our democracy? Do they know that the grand experiment of the U.S. Constitution has worked for 240 years because it has three branches, and is built on an educated body of “We the People”?

There is a broad lack of knowledge about this, and it directly affects our choices as citizens and voters. It is non-political, completely, to say that we must re-educate our entire nation of residents. Sandra Day O’Connor called this issue out even before she retired in 2006. She founded the important initiative of “iCivics” education for children and youth.

But we have eroded more quickly than expected toward a predominantly gut-level basis for exercising one’s vote, not interested in actual facts. We have isolated ourselves into narrow belief groups, unable to find, much less listen to, separate belief groups, as an unforeseen and harmful symptom of social media communication channels. We are a nation of separate belief groups, not of states. And we are in trouble.

2. How can lawyers prevent our society — local, regional, and national – from fracturing? Think of these forces to start with:

  1. Purely value-based truisms used to skip education and vote by “gut“;
  2. Caustic individualism that acts out of pure self-interest;
  3. Internet sanctums of values-based reference points that do not talk to each other, but evolve ever more extremely to a closed set of beliefs among narrow factions in the democracy;
  4. Use of the vote (or the appointment power) by a population (or an official) to elevate leaders mostly from within one faction who will hold excess power without balance;
  5. Like-breeds-like communities that grow more understanding of others when they are diverse (think high population regions) and more intolerant when they are less diverse. This is how the human brain processes what is normal versus what is frightening, and is called implicit bias;
  6. . . . (there is a lot more).

This list is frighteningly real. It needs a nationwide re-messaging. Our nation needs to re-learn how to listen without voicing disagreement. Those who know democracy as a governing system must teach how to debate while refining our disagreements. We must be sure to preserve our democracy. We will always be more diverse, and the internet will always drive toward isolation in beliefs.

Lawyers can teach this. For now I don’t know how to create energy or a process to start a “movement.”

At NITA we know that we learn new ways – in the courtroom or out – by practicing them. Desired habits of learning, and understanding through listening, grow as we model and practice them.

Reach out. Listen. Teach. Advocate listening. Build listening in your community. Write to me about how to start a movement. As officers of the courts, in our non-political selves, we must step up.

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

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

October 2016 Executive Director’s Letter: I Want To Talk To You About Money

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Lockwood_KarenWhat I have to say is easily expressed, and I know you already understand its big impact on justice. We need more donations.

  • NITA contributes to public service lawyer training.
  • NITA also provides scholarships to lawyers in financial need for them to attend NITA programming.
  • These funds come from donations to our NITA Foundation and some grants.
  • Our board inspires further donations by allocating additional funds from NITA for its public service objectives.
  • All these gifts are inspiring.
  • But inspiration takes its meaning from the act of someone else who has also been inspired. When we see private, individual or family donation levels increase, we know we are reaching you, and that you are inspired.
  • I am not seeing it increase yet.
  • And so I wish to inspire further. If you are inclined but seek inspiration or information, please call me! 303-953-6801.

The need is as great as ever. We regularly must disappoint program applicants who clearly make a difference in practices serving people lacking access to Justice. Or who are in real sustained financial need. When we don’t have funds, we have to say “sorry” to scholarship applicants. Neither our program leaders nor our applicants like that. I don’t either.

Why don’t we have room? Because the allocation across programs of limited scholarship dollars does not spread far enough.

Now, you know me as a passionate, mission-oriented person. I am as true-NITA-blue as anyone. But I must say “no” to adding “just one more” scholarship applicant to “just this” program. I must give chances to applicants to all of our programs.

I also am a business person and a lawyer who staunchly defends NITA’s renown, its brand, it fiscal health, its future, and — more than anything — the NITA Network.

You are the NITA Network. Please join me. Go talk to friends who are not part of the NITA Network and tell them what you and we do! Donate regularly yourself, this year, or every month. Or calendar your commitment for every quarter. (It is easy to direct your donation online at: www.nita.org/Donate.) You have my promise that donations are treasured and directed wisely to further meet the demand.

We at NITA Central and across the NITA Network have so much else right. Help make us powerful enough to stop turning away scholarship applicants.

Thank you. Go NITA-Blue!

Karen_ShortSig

 

 

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

September 2016 Executive Director’s Letter: Turning the Focus Inside

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Lockwood_KarenQuite A Year . . . A September Snapshot

Reading back through my monthly letters to you this year, I note how actively they engage you and our world around us. They represent NITA’s leadership across the country.

Today I turn the lens around to talk a bit about the home front.

More than 1600 lawyers have already enrolled in our 2016 public regional programs – we organize these programs early and encourage enrollments far in advance to maximize your preparation. Get your spot here.

New program topics now appear steadily every year. Our new approach to creating exciting programs is underway. From our NITA Network of faculty, we select volunteers to work together with me in creating new programs. These trial advocacy teaching stars contribute their creativity, sweat equity, and NITA-expertise to produce new programs that will speak to your evolving needs. Again, stay tuned!

A year ago, we increased the strength of our outreach by appointing experienced NITA staffers as our three Client Relationship Managers. Wherever you live and work, you are in a region that has the special attention of one of these folks. Their purpose is to learn the particular approach of every firm, solo practitioner, agency, law school, and other law practice group in their region. Please reach out to them. You will find them by calling us – or email Wendy McCormack, Associate E.D. for Operations.

How about on-line learning? Many of our programs include on-line videos selected just for your program, and featuring our NITA faculty teaching core principles. You have them as you prepare to stand up and perform throughout the program itself.

How about “studio71”? Our webcasts are both in demand and on-demand! So far in 2016, we have registered 3200 learners to join the live webcasts. Indeed, this audience continues to grow so quickly that we are adding capacity to allow us to take even more than 250 live webcast attendees. What’s more you can view 68 past webinars on demand, on-line here. (But you get to ask questions when you are live!)

In each of these and many other ways, we have expanded and deepened NITA’s prowess over the last four years. While maintaining our busy program and publication schedules, we have worked behind the scenes to groom the talent and leadership, the creativity and innovation, the technology types and capacity, and above all the depth of our awareness of what you need. All of this – and the loyalty of our NITA Network of faculty – make us the place to be in trial advocacy. Our non-profit mission thrives. It does so thanks to a great concept 45 years ago, a very loyal excited Network, and a lot of diligent focus and growth. Thank you to every one of you – you know who you are

If you want to know who they are, join us! Call, write, or better yet, talk to a NITA faculty member in your region – you know who they are once you come to a program.

Best wishes for a stupendous 2016!

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 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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