The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Giving Voice

Asked and Answered: Dominique Sims

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sims_dominiqueTexas attorney Dominique Sims says she learned a lot at the Northwest Trial Skills program we held in Seattle last fall, a program she attended through a scholarship funded by the NITA Foundation. “I love NITA programs, and I have grown as an attorney because of them,” she shared recently. “I am living proof of how much the scholarship helped build my infrastructure as an attorney.” It was only natural, then, that we’d want to follow up with Dominique to learn more about her program experience, the unique niche in which she practices, and how NITA fits in, to the benefit of her clients. When Dominique says she loves NITA programs, she’s not kidding: she’ll be in Boulder next month for the National Session, the crème de la crème of our trial skills teachings. Good luck, Dominique!

How did you hear about the Trial Skills program you attended last fall?
Through a friend who suggested the program as a new attorney practicing in complicated civil litigation matters.

How do you think finessing your trial skills has benefitted to your clients?
It helps with your overall bargaining power and understanding the strength and weaknesses of your case. Understanding what’s important to discovery early on in a case is what wins cases. Also, you realize how much you do not know. It is important to build a strong foundation. Once you build a strong foundation, the sky is the limit.

What surprised you about yourself when you were at the program? (A good surprise, or a suboptimal one—just something you were surprised to learn about yourself.)
How much I move my body when I talk. What appears to me as “making someone feel comfortable” when I move my body is actually more of a distraction. It takes the emphasis out of what I say.

You’re the first lawyer I’ve met who has a national security practice, which must be an intriguing space to work in. What kinds of things do you do?
As a national security lawyer, I advise companies on how to maintain their security clearance, which makes up approximately 10 percent of every government contract. For individuals, I help them maintain their security clearance. Oftentimes, when employees lose their security clearance, they lose their jobs. I fight to keep it.

How did you get into this specialized niche?
My father and godfather are military veterans. Plus, I saw a niche in which only a handful of attorneys practice. Even more surprisingly, no one offers the dual service of training and advocacy.

How often are you in court?
I am in court approximately once or twice a month. Oftentimes, I am advocating for my client through motion practice.

What do you most enjoy about working in the law?
I enjoy helping people fight for their rights.

What three things are vital to your day?
A computer, a printer, and my assistant, Angela; without her, I would not have a practice.  Building a strong team is vital to your practice, no matter what developmental stage of you are in. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

What do you like to do when you’re not busy doing all things lawyerly?
I coach fifth, sixth, and seventh grade girl’s AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball. I am a former college athlete, so I try to help young aspiring athletes attain their goal of a college basketball scholarship.

What are you looking forward to?
Looking forward to the future. The future is unknown but it’s exciting. One day I hope to be on the front cover of Forbes.

Who are your heroes?
Jessica Alba. I know Jessica Alba is a weird choice, but look at the empire she has built from the ground up. She was an actress turned entrepreneur turned multimillionaire. Her story is very fascinating.

Also, my dad, because I would not be the person I am today if he did not expect the best from me.

The NITA Foundation awards a number of scholarships for our public trial and deposition programs to worthy applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and/or financial need. Please support NITA’s mission to promote justice by training and mentoring lawyers to be effective advocates for their clients and donate now.

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

Requests for Public Service Applications

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Part of NITA’s mission is to provide high-quality training to all attorneys so they become effective and ethical advocates. Notice the emphasis on “all” attorneys. NITA training isn’t just for Big Law, and it isn’t just for rainmakers. We are dedicated to working with public service attorney groups to provide them with the same training that takes place in our public and custom programs.

We realize it’s unlikely that most public service organization can fully fund this type of training, so we’ve developed a reduced pricing structure that’s flexible enough to meet the budgetary needs of your office. The majority of these programs are Trial Skills or Deposition Skills—but again, we can be flexible to better meet your training needs. To qualify for this type of training under the reduced fee structure, your organization must meet the following public interest programming criteria:

  1. Attorneys or advocates who serve indigent or disadvantaged populations, including, but not limited to, child advocacy, death penalty defense, disability, domestic violence, criminal law areas, immigration, legal services matters, and tribal justice; and
  2. Public agency attorneys working in these areas are eligible automatically.

Agencies and organizations wishing to apply for our reduced fee public service programming must meet the criteria above and provide some level of funding to train their attorneys. We welcome the opportunity to work within an organization’s funding parameters and require a specific agreement that ensures everyone understands their responsibilities for the financial and staffing resources to make for a successful program.

If you’re interested in applying for a public service program for your organization, please complete this application and submit it to sales@nita.org. We look forward to working with you.

Quarterly Giving

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When you give to the NITA Foundation, 100 percent of every dollar you donate is spent on the mission work that fulfills our goal of including public service lawyers in those who benefit from NITA’s training. We’d love to count on your support of the NITA Foundation and its important work of awarding scholarship assistance and creating programs for worthy applicants working with underserved and historically disenfranchised populations—which is impossible without help from loyal donor like you.

Since 2003, the NITA Foundation has disbursed over $3 million in support to our programs and scholarships. There are so many ways to give—cash donations, memorial or honorary gifts, stock donations, planned giving, and even donations of your NITA teaching proceeds or NITA book royalties—and each way helps us award program scholarships to public services lawyers, provide NITA training programs in the public sector, defray travel expenses for program participants, and ensure the rule of law and access to justice in emerging democracies through our international programs. Please think of us during this season of giving. Visit www.nita.org/donate to make a secure online gift and learn more about how you can help.

A Special Thank-You to the International Society of Barristers

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Last year, our friends at the International Society of Barristers (ISOB) gifted NITA with a generous grant that provided tuition assistance to twenty-eight public service lawyers, enabling them to attend a NITA Trial Skills program in 2015. The first portion of the grant funded the second annual Craig Spanenberg/John Liber Scholarship. Eight recipients from around the country applied their scholarship funds to attend the Trial Skills program of their choice. The remainder of the ISOB grant served as seed money for the inaugural Excellence in Advocacy Trial Skills program last November. Twenty lawyers, employed by various publicly funded agencies, converged on NITA headquarters for four days of intensive training that sharpened the skills they need to effectively represent their clients in both state and federal courts. We invite you to watch the videos below to see how these ISOB-funded scholarships affected the lawyers who received them. Our gratitude goes out to the ISOB for making these opportunities possible.

Year-End Giving

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When you give to the NITA Foundation, 100 percent of every dollar you donate is spent on programs that fulfill our mission of public service to the legal community. With just a few days left in the tax year, we’d love to count on your support of the NITA Foundation and its important work of financially supporting access to NITA programs for public service and financially needy lawyers. This includes specialized public service programs (domestic and international), and awarding scholarship assistance to worthy applicants working with underserved and historically disenfranchised populations—which is impossible without help from loyal donor like you.

Since 2003, the NITA Foundation has disbursed over $3 million in support to our programs and scholarships. There are so many ways to give—cash donations, memorial or honorary gifts, stock donations, planned giving, and even donations of your NITA teaching proceeds or NITA book royalties—and each way helps us award program scholarships to public services lawyers, provide NITA training programs in the public sector, defray travel expenses for program participants, and ensure the rule of law and access to justice in emerging democracies through our international programs. Please think of us during this season of giving. Visit www.nita.org/donate to make a secure online gift and learn more about how you can help.

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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