The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Executive Director Letters

April 2017 Executive Director’s Letter: And Now We Feature NITA’s Finance Gurus

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Each month this winter, my column has featured our NITA Staff members, in person and in their own words – Programs, Publications, Sales & Marketing.  And now it is Spring and we turn your attention to our Finance Department. They bring Spring every month to the mountain of data on our transactions, whether it is your on-line credit card enrollment, or the myriad small-dollar purchases to supply every program with venue, supplies, nourishment, publications, or another type of our many transactions. They help us to stick to our budget, providing great compilations and estimates and forecasts. They think deeply and do forecasts and analyses. And like us all, they love the significance of NITA’s work including public service programs.

I am proud to say how seamlessly our finance professionals work with and support all of our staff. We could not do what we do so well without their ingenuity, insight, insistence on prompt and correct information . . . and their hearty laughs and great teamwork.

Please meet them below, in their own words.

Kay Dragon

Associate ED for Finance
I have one large role, and that is to support people in their efforts at NITA.  The fun is in how this differs, depending on the situation.

My goal is to help the individuals in our Finance team do their jobs well, whether it’s getting faculty paid on time, staff paid and benefits tracked, authors paid their royalties, reports completed accurately on time for various needs, or all the many little details our accountants handle effortlessly.

My goal is also to provide support to help all NITA do their jobs well.

My goal as well is to help our governing board do their jobs well.

The fun in how these goals pull on my desire to contribute. Creativity comes in, especially when working with other NITA teams, like marketing.  Or communication skills come to play when trying to convey complex issues to our board volunteers so they can make decisions with the confidence that they understand the key facts and issues at hand.  Teaching comes in when working across departments to help them understand things that will help them in their work but are not in their area of expertise.  I love supporting our committed staff by doing what I can to continue our tradition of excellent benefits.  There is never a dull moment, and never a lack of opportunities to add value.

Bridget Hamilton

Accounts Receivable, Payroll Specialist, Accounting Assistant
I am responsible for Payroll and Accounts Receivable.  I contribute to NITA’s success by ensuring that our employees are paid accurately and on time!  I also prepare, verify and process most of the invoices that are sent to our customers.  I’m learning more every day and hope to help out our team even more in the future!

I see NITA as a place where I can grow in the future, and the core values that NITA holds are very important to me.  This is a unique industry and one that I have enjoyed learning about.  I appreciate the opportunities that I am being given in my department and I hope to be at NITA for a long time to come.

Carrie Newell

Accounts Payable Specialist, Accounting Assistant
As NITA’s AP Specialist, my addition to NITA’s success is making sure that all of the wonderful faculty and vendors – who dedicate their time and talent to help make our programs a success — get their invoices paid correctly. I do many other things too, to assist NITA such as keeping our state non-profit registrations current.

What makes NITA important to me is that the people I affect will continue to be a part of NITA, and that is really important because of the work that NITA does to help justice.

Laura Rogers

I’m the Controller for NITA’s amazing Finance Department.  I’m accountable for the accounting operations of NITA, to include the production of periodic financial reports, maintaining accurate accounting records in an efficient manner, resolving complex issues when they arise; and providing internal control and cross-training.  I’m very lucky to be working with three amazing and extremely competent women, Kay, Carrie and Bridget.

When I came to NITA 1½ years ago, I could clearly sense that all the employees, program directors, teachers, and board members have the common bond of NITA’s mission.  NITA is not a self-advocacy environment, it’s an environment to assist mentor and promote others in their successes.

The future of NITA from my eyes is sustainable growth in servicing our mission while leading the industry with the highest quality legal skills education available. This future will be supported by mutually beneficial partnerships and a never-ending quest to improve overall legal advocacy across this country and abroad.

Please say “thanks” the next time you talk to our Finance team members. I am proud of them.

And thank YOU.





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

March 2017 Executive Director’s Letter: Get To Know NITA’s Sales & Marketing Staff!

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Each month this winter, my column features our NITA Staff members, in person and in their own words. In January you met our Programs folks, and in February, Publications. Today, please say “hello” to the Sales and Marketing pro’s, who make it easy for our participant lawyers and custom clients to arrange their NITA experience. With their insight into where the lawyers are who need NITA, they help us to reach far. They meet you with their sense of service. And the wholeness of the NITA Mission. Read on . . .

Kathy Behler

Online Marketing Specialist
I am responsible for NITA’s Digital Marketing initiatives. I help spread the word about NITA’s unique training methods in today’s online world.

NITA has always stood out with its learning-by-doing approach to trial advocacy training. I don’t see that changing. However, with new technology and strategies constantly emerging in the courtroom, you can bet you will see them in a NITA classroom as well.

Tom Hintz

Director of Client Relations and Manager – East
My job is to continually reinforce that NITA is the preferred skills development training solution for law firms, government agencies and individual attorneys. With empathy, I know and stay current with the challenges our potential clients face, and focus on solving any obstacles to enable them to work with NITA for their immediate and long-term benefit. We constantly seek new relationships with firms and agencies to help their attorneys learn and own great advocacy skills. In addition, we are working hard to bring greater awareness of the quality and affordability of NITA’s various training tools to more mid-sized and small firms.

Growing relationships with new clients as well as always bringing fresh ideas to our treasured existing relationships is the cornerstone for accomplishing NITA’s non-profit mission. I deeply enjoy both the discipline and curiosity that I use in bringing NITA’s mission and excellence to new clients. It is the part of the job that generates both the most frustration and the greatest personal reward.

Alli Keefe

Sales & Marketing/Programs Associate
My role in the Sales & Marketing Department has greatly developed over the past year and a half that I’ve been at NITA. Three very important tasks I continue to work on with my team include: developing content for our social media sites to promote NITA, assisting the Sales Team in lead generation, and working closely on the Public Service Programs to reach out and work with various organizations in the public interest realm.

The work I do at NITA is important to me because I believe by getting our name out there, and by always reaching out to organizations who may not know us, I can help NITA continue to grow. In growing, we train as many attorneys as possible, especially those in public interest who may not be able to afford training but desperately need it. I feel humbled to bring such a great tool for success to these people. I feel that because our marketing efforts expand each month, we grow each month, showing we are succeeding in our outreach.

Daniel McHugh

Director of Sales & Marketing
The best part about my role in the Sales & Marketing department is that I get to watch an amazing group of people defy one of the age-old business clichés: Every time you DO something new, you DON’T DO (or do less of) something else.” I say not so fast my friend. We pride ourselves on trying something new while keeping other items running smooth. When the new things work, great, let’s do more of it. When they don’t work, great, let’s figure out why and try something else.

I see NITA continuing to be more and more focused on public service each year. We’ve done great public service work for many years but the momentum we have gained in the past 2-3 years is phenomenal and this year looks to be no exception. I see that continuing to grow and in an effort to help that growth, I am going to let you get to the rest of NITA Notes so we can go sell some more programs. Enjoy!

Pam Morton

Client Relationship Manager – West
I have the pleasure of reaching out to faculty and clients in the western region to talk about the value of NITA programs. My goal is to ensure that the maximum number of attorneys can benefit from NITA training, via either custom or public programs.

As a former ski instructor and reading teacher, I know that learning by doing is the only way to transform any skill set. NITA’s faculty and methodology are unparalleled, and will continue to be relevant as long as there are attorneys who want to better represent their clients!

Zane Strand

Client Relationship Manager – Central
As a member of NITA’s sales and marketing front line I act as a seek-and-collaborate missile. I identify groups of people from firms, companies, organizations, and associations who use or should use NITA’s expertise, and collaborate with their leadership and decision makers. This constant building of relationships and learning their needs has me contacting and visiting people daily so they are aware of all the great things NITA does and has to offer.

The future of NITA from my eyes is sustainable growth in servicing our mission while leading the industry with the highest quality legal skills education available. This future will be supported by mutually beneficial partnerships and a never-ending quest to improve overall legal advocacy across this country and abroad.

Please say “thanks” the next time you talk to these Sales & Marketing team members. I am proud of them.

And thank YOU.





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

February 2017 Executive Director’s Letter: NITA’s Stellar Publications Department!

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Last month I started a series of features on NITA’s staff. We introduce them by department. Publications is up this month – and boy are they up! Writers love to write. I hope you enjoy these greetings from the six peoples who handle all of our casefiles, treatises, special releases, and online offerings.

Marsi Buckmelter

Senior Legal Editor
I primarily work as an editor managing book projects, but also do a fair bit of writing (marketing copy, newsletters, NITA Foundation grant applications). That includes my weekly post on NITA’s blog, The Legal Advocate, which includes an interview series called Asked and Answered. In a completely different direction, though, I must say my favorite work week of the year is assisting my dear friends Michael Johnson and Joleen Youngers with on-site support at the Northwest Trial Skills Program in Seattle (which is where I live). The program is like a family reunion every year, and I find meaning as an editor to watch one of “my” NITA case files given life at a program when attendees blossom in their skills.

When you think of American democracy, the essence of it is the law. Whatever its flaws in execution may be, the theoretical foundation of the American judicial system is the envy of the free world and our Rule of Law a model for every emerging democracy on earth. The work that judges, and the trial lawyers who appear before them, do is the very deed of democracy in action, forming what I call “the thin black line” of civilization that separates us from chaos. Maybe I’m just a great big nerd or am overly verklempt, but I believe our work matters. The law is the most essential work of a democracy, and each tiny bit we do at NITA—whether we are a faculty member, author, trustee, or employee—inches us closer, one tender soul at a time, to a more perfect union.

Virginia Judd

Legal Editor
Like most of the Publications staff, I work remotely—I live in Cleveland, Ohio, where we will win the World Series this year! I work ¾ time for NITA and maintain a small consumer bankruptcy and family law practice. Client work keeps me in touch with the issues of attorneys, which in turn helps me to edit case files with a view toward realistic courtroom situations and practical outcomes.

This year, much of my work is focused on updating different states’ “Rules of Evidence with Objections” books. These handbooks provide quick reference for trial attorneys to the evidence issues. Whether they wish to make or respond to an objection, these books serve as guides. Because several states have made major changes to their evidence rules, it is essential that we update these books in order to provide optimal reference for our clients. That project is well underway.

Jennifer Schneider

Director of Publications Digital Content
As Director of Publishing and Digital Content, my job is to ensure the successful planning and implementation of both tactical and strategic goals for all of publications and online content, as well as to lead my team to innovate and execute.

I love working for an organization with strong ties to its core mission and history, which also embraces new ideas and technologies, all to ensure lawyers are the best possible advocates for their clients.

Eric Sorensen

Managing Editor
My first role in the Publications Department is to assure that NITA’s pubs are meeting the needs of its clients – including those in public and public service programs, custom programs, law schools, and individual practitioners. Part of this involves working with authors to develop useful, readable, attractive, and correct books and case files. Another part involves work with authors, PDs, and others to create varieties of tailored materials such as special and advanced printings or new concepts like the Law School Experiential Learning Packet. A second aspect of my job is to help the Director of Publications with administrative and research projects.

I see NITA as a vibrant community of like-minded individuals who work together in various ways to better the quality of lawyering. The value of this community is of course the skills development itself. But beyond that, the community’s dedication to improving the profession unites them; and the faculty’s lawyers model good lawyering and professionalism for those learning the skills. This will be my tenth year with NITA, and I have seen how NITA has adapted to, and met, the many challenges the legal profession has faced. NITA has adapted also to the rapidly and radically changing social and technological landscape. It remains at the forefront of integrating such innovations into its tried-and-true learn-by-doing method. NITA’s future is one that I am excited to be a part of.

Michelle Windsor

Publications Product Manager
As the Publications Product Manager I get to be involved with our products at many different stages. I see authors and content at the early stages, starting with the product proposal, then I follow them through the publishing process all the way to final publication. I provide access to NITA products through our licensing system, and additionally I consult with law school professors and firm training managers to help them find the products that will meet their needs.

The practical nature, along with the quality, of NITA products and programs is what has made NITA invaluable to attorneys and students. I know as NITA staff we are all committed to this invaluableness as we also work to provide material and training in new ways.

Charlie Woodcock

Media Specialist
I run NITA’s studio where we produce live webcasts plus educational and promotional content for all aspects of NITA’s mission. In addition, I manage NITA’s video library content and user experience, and create and edit new material to add to NITA’s ever growing library.

With over 45 years of setting the standard in legal education, NITA is currently reaching more attorneys than ever before, not only with its learning-by-doing in-person programs, but also in offering so many mediums to access top quality legal education. These include publications, an extensive video library, and streaming live presentations. In staying modern, but keeping roots firm in the quality experience; it’s an exciting time to be part of NITA’s mission.

Please say “thanks” the next time you talk to these Publications team members. I am proud of them.

And thank YOU.





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

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.





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 /

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 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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