The Legal Advocate

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

Category Archives: Giving Voice

Malawi Program Press Release

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Donations to the NITA International Rule of Law Fund help support programs abroad, which have a purpose of training effective and ethical lawyer advocates and judges. These programs are also a part of a national or regional purpose of promoting the rule of law or of promoting access to justice for underserved persons in a developing country. The first international program NITA supported this year was in Malawi in April, in conjunction with the Irish Rule of Law and Justice Advocacy Africa. To read the press release about this program, please click here.

The Giving Difference

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The Giving Difference…that you can make. Please watch this video to hear from the NITA Board of Trustees and Executive Director on what justice is and how the NITA Foundation connects better lawyering to better results and ultimately to better justice.

Scholarship attendee’s at NITA trainings:

  • Get the same broad-based experience as other attendees.
  • Find their voice.
  • Learn to be their best.
  • Take home new skills to better represent their clients.

After reading the above scholarship stories and watching our video, we encourage you to donate to the NITA Foundation to support future scholarship voices. Whatever you can do is important to NITA!

Grateful Voices of Scholarship Recipients

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“I want to thank you for granting me a scholarship to attend the NITA Deposition Training! It was invaluable. I found the program to be amazing and would highly recommend it to every attorney. The staff was friendly and the instructors were top notch. I would say that the exercises are the critical component that sets this program apart from other deposition trainings. It’s really surprising how much easier it looks when you are not the one doing a deposition.  I am definitely the type of person that learns by doing and this training gave me the opportunity to do that.  I have to admit the first two days were challenging–in a good way– but on the third day everything just clicked.

The NITA deposition training program is by far the best deposition training program I have attended because it will actually give you the “nuts and bolts” training on how to prepare to take your first deposition. The program combines theory with “hands-on” training which is critical and sets it apart from other programs.  You also receive critical feedback about your strengths as well as guidance about how to improve your weak spots. At the end of the program, you will have the tools to effectively take or defend any deposition. Thank you for this great learning opportunity.”

-Magdalena Reyes Bordeaux
Supervising Senior Staff Attorney for Public Counsel
2015 Scholarship Attendee of the NITA Deposition Skills:  Los Angeles

“I was fortunate to receive an across the board acquittal last Friday, in a rape case involving a juvenile complaining witness. This was my highest stakes case yet, and probably the best for me in terms of technique and direct exams.  The skills and methods we worked on in DC stayed with me – I look back fondly to rehearsing the closing argument while walking across Capitol Hill with my trial bag!

What a gift to spend a week surrounded by people who are committed to bringing trial skills to the next level. My classmates and faculty at the NITA DC Advanced Advocates became good friends and trusted guides so quickly.  From one day to the next, sometimes from one hour to the next, we were making huge strides as trial lawyers.

The level was truly advanced, and in a spirit of friendly competition, we exceeded our own expectations. By day 3, nobody was using notes anymore, and the nervous tics of trial work had subsided. By the last day of trials, I was convinced that my team could take on virtually any case, anywhere, using the skills we learned in DC. We turned off the email, shut down the devices, and learned about trial excellence by doing it.

I have such gratitude for the ability to attend, which would otherwise have been impossible given the demands of a busy solo practice. Each time I have put away daily office routines in favor of learning to be great at what I do, NITA has never let me down.

I look forward to the next opportunity to be surrounded by lawyers committed to excellence, and to helping others reach the same level. Thanks for the dedication to the program, and I look forward to attending a future NITA class.”

-Richard H. Maurer

Attorney at Law
2015 Scholarship Attendee of DC Advanced Advocates

An Interview with Scholarship Recipient Tim Riviera

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We are privileged to share the story and experience of one of our scholarship recipients, Timothy J. Riviera, a Senior Staff Attorney from Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc. Tim graciously took the time to be interviewed about how the NITA program affected him and his clients.

Tell me about your organization.

Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc. works to improve education in DC. We are a provider of direct legal services, giving advice and training parents. We put on training for parents and on special education law. We take on individual cases and have exposure to schools. There is a range of topics we work on to resolve things informally such as safety concerns and helping kids who have been expelled.

Tell me briefly about your NITA experience.
I learned a lot about myself and my talents in litigation that I didn’t realize I had. The faculty really took a look at my natural style and coached me on that in a way that I was comfortable with and could then translate to the jury. The coaching focused on strengths and building on them which was really effective.

The video review, like getting into a cold pool, you hate it first, noticing all the non-verbal distractions, but then you learn quickly from watching yourself.

What impact did receiving a scholarship have on you?
We are a small operation, less than 20 people, with a small training budget. The scholarship made it possible for me to go and really kicked up the value of the training. NITA scholarships allow small organizations the chance to attend valuable skills training and then apply it to the population of people they are representing.

If I win a case and bring in money to my organization then maybe they will be able to sponsor more training like this for our attorneys.

What impact did this training have on your clients?
It has made me a better advocate for them. I think every participant becomes a better communicator and a better story-teller in order to convince people. In my hearings for special education and expulsions it has made me more equip to give arguments, lay foundation and question better.

These types of  training give clients a stronger advocate and help to solve cases quicker. In my line of work, the student ends up getting a better education. The implications down the line are that the special needs students have an opportunity to graduate and become self-sufficient.

What would you tell someone contemplating signing up for a NITA program?
Do it. You will benefit from learning basic litigation skills if you are new to or have been doing it for years. Keep going and continue to take other NITA programs.

How was NITA different than other training you have attended?
It was practical and learning by doing. I liked that the notes were already done and didn’t need to worry about writing everything done. The presenters are more interesting than in other CLE training. It was great to see examples and demonstrations of what to do before we practiced it.

How did you hear about NITA?
I heard about NITA over the years through other attorneys and had a colleague who took a program in the 80’s. He said he was never nervous to enter a courtroom again.

What reservations did you have about signing up for the program?
I was already sold. I thought it could end up too state specific but it was not.

How was the program experience different from what you expected (better or worse)?

It was better in my opinion, because I never experienced a mock trial before. It was cool to see the jury deliberating. That was a surprise. There is no better way to learn than using this model. You are nervous and preparing for the hearing but then you see the impact of the work. Really makes you ready to learn and see how the communication skills impact the jurors.

LEAP Program from Staff Perspective

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In late 2014, the NITA Board committed to an annual allocation of funds to support Public Service objectives. The NITA staff was charged with identifying worthy program opportunities for these funds. After careful consideration, NITA choose to partner with Legal Advocacy Partnership (LEAP) for a program held at The City University of New York School of Law (CUNY). LEAP is a membership-based group of fourteen New York City civil legal services providers. Their outreach touches issues of housing, domestic violence, mental health, human rights, sexual exploitation, immigration, consumer debt, addiction, cycles of poverty, violence, and health, just to name a few. CUNY offers affordable and open access education opportunities and the Law School emphasizes Public Interest issues, which made it an ideal location.

This past June, Kay Dragon, NITA’s Associate Executive Director of Finance, attended this program as an observer. “Seven years into my adventure with NITA, I’d not taken advantage of visiting a remote program. I’ve sat in countless program sessions, teaching skills from opening to closing, direct to cross, questioning children to difficult witnesses, honing personal nuanced styles, and even participating as a juror and expert witness. This has all been at the NITA Education Center based in Boulder, CO,” Dragon said. “What I’d never seen is when NITA takes this show on the road, something that is done more often than not. I’d never seen a Teacher Training program, an integral part of NITA’s efforts to spread the wealth by mentoring attorneys in techniques to mentor others.”

Dragon recounted that the first two days of the program were devoted to teacher training for fourteen LEAP attorneys, and said she found this “an interesting nuance of NITA’s regular learning-by-doing training.” Then, ninety-three lawyers from the ten participating LEAP organizations arrived. Dragon observed the familiar NITA programming she had witnessed before but with the added bonus of watching the recently trained LEAP faculty members demonstrate their new NITA-Method teaching skills.

Dragon further elaborated on her experience, while alluding to NITA’s Mission, “From responsible spending of NITA’s resources, to collaboration with like-minded organizations, to volunteer faculty and students, to personally committed legal service attorneys, to volunteer students, to creative facility opportunities, it was invigorating and encouraging to witness the full circle of efforts to support justice and the rule of law.”

Stay tuned for a press release about this program’s success. Look for it in our next newsletter and through our social media channels.

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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