In 1986, James E. Ferguson, II and Ken S. Broun traveled to South Africa at a time of height of the politically intensive and violent struggle to overthrow the apartheid government. They embarked upon the initial joint NITA Black Lawyers Association Trial Advocacy Program. They went to South Africa with the mission of assisting members of the Black Lawyers Association and other lawyers interested in providing legal services to the liberation struggle. That year, a number of lawyers were trained and for every year thereafter, a Trial Advocacy Program was held under the auspices of the BLA. This foray by James E. Ferguson, II and Ken S. Broun began NITA’s cooperation with other legal entities and governments around the world in providing trial advocacy training.
I first joined the America faculty in South Africa Trial Advocacy Program in 1992. Political violence and repression was still in existence. In fact, on my first two days there, Henderson Hill and I were confined to our hotel rooms as the Black Political parties had declared two days of work stoppages called a “Stay Away.” There was intense pressure for all people of color to abide by the “Stay Away.” The “Stay Away” was a huge success and another milestone in the transfer of political power.
The Individuals who participated in the BLA’s Trial Advocacy Program, both participating attorneys and judges, were all committed to the overthrow of the apartheid government and to the freedom and justice for all people. Many of the persons who received training and who provided training were later tapped by the new South African government to provide leadership and services in the new government. Many of them went to serve in the judiciary as members of the Constitutional Court (the late Arthur Chaskalson, Richard Goldstone, the late Pias Langa, and Dikgang Moseneke) and the Land Court, Justice Justice Moloto, who also serves as South Africa’s representative to the International Court at The Hague. Many former participants of the Trial Advocacy Program now serve in the High Courts, some as Presidents of their High Courts, or Deputy Presidents of the High Court, and numerous members of the Magistrate Court. After the new government, many participants were recruited to join industry as in-house counsel or to lead corporations as directors. Mojunku Gumbi, at one time a participant at NITA in the United States, went on to head the BLA as its Executive Director. She later served as the director of the Elections Commission for the first election for the new government in 1994. She was later Legal Counsel for then Deputy President Tambo Mbeki and later when Mr. Mbeki became President, she served as Special Legal Counsel and Consultant to him. Pansy Takula, also a Director of the BLA, later succeeded Mojunku Gumbi as the Director of Elections Commission. She remains in the role today and has served as consultant to their African countries on their election processes.
Over the years, the Trial Advocacy Program has been expanded to include the training of various governmental agencies.
Homewood Suites by Hilton – Boulder, CO generously made an in-kind gift to the NITA Foundation. The hotel donated four rooms to need-based public service attorneys attending NITA’s Rocky Mountain Deposition Skills program December 6-8, 2012.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed our business relationship with NITA throughout 2011 and 2012 and want to show our support of the organization’s efforts to develop, coach, and educate lawyers across all spectrums of the law,” said Ms. Lee VanLith, Director of Sales, Homewood Suites by Hilton – Boulder, CO. “We are dedicated to providing clean, comfortable lodging with exceptional guest service to all NITA faculty members and course participants who stay with us for one of NITA’s many offerings.”
The NITA Foundation is excited to announce that the Ohio State Bar Foundation has awarded us a grant for $11,708 to fund a 2013 NITA Public Service Teacher Training program in Ohio. The three-day program will accommodate twenty four program participants and six program volunteer law school students, and will be run by one Program Director and five NITA faculty. The dates of the program have yet to be determined but be on the lookout for more details coming soon.
NITA Teacher Training programs like this one are the backbone of NITA’s 40-year “learning by doing” legacy, and have positively fostered strong advocacy skills for many lawyers and advocates. NITA believes that the primary goal for a Teacher Training program is for participants to enhance their teaching and critiquing skills, to sharpen their understanding of the most current trends in the legal profession. By maintaining a knowledge of current trends, NITA faculty members are able to capture the needs of their students and equip them with powerful and effective tools to bolster their advocacy skills and thus improve the overall administration of justice.
Teacher Training is important for a number of reasons. It helps NITA spread training by teaching individuals the skills necessary to independently deliver programs to legal service groups. It also expands the pool of public service lawyers who know how to teach for NITA, allowing NITA to offer more public service programs.
While we realize that being a great lawyer doesn’t necessarily make someone a great teacher, equipping an aspiring NITA faculty member with the tools and techniques needed to articulate the legendary NITA teaching methodology is vital for the future of our organization.
About the Ohio State Bar Foundation
As the charitable arm of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Foundation advances the philanthropic goals of Ohio’s lawyers: to recognize excellence, improve the justice system, and enhance public understanding of the law. For more information about the Ohio State Bar Foundation, please visit www.osbf.net
Written by John Baker, former CEO of NITA, during his last few months leading the NITA team.
Injustice, inequality, suppression of fundamental freedom– these are all issues confronted globally. Fortunately, NITA’s reputation for excellence in advocacy training has spread worldwide. In addition to its unprecedented value here in the US, NITA’s international programming promotes the core principles of the Rule of Law embodied by an adversarial trial system of oral advocacy in courtrooms and tribunals. In recent years, NITA and the NITA Foundation have supported the “learning by doing” training of attorneys, barristers, solicitors, solicitor advocates, magistrates, and judges from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, Kenya, Japan, and Macedonia.
Through our relationships with the U.S. Department of Justice, USAID, Lawyers Without Borders, Justice Africa Advocacy, and other legal organizations, some of our international programs are co-sponsored with NITA and therefore require no funding from the NITA Foundation. For example, in early September six NITA faculty members and I traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland to teach a six-day trial skills program. The program, NITA Advanced Advocacy for Solicitors, was held at the Queen’s University Belfast Institute of Professional Legal Studies for 49 solicitor advocates from Northern Ireland. The program was designed and taught cooperatively by the NITA faculty members as “American tutors” and NITA-trained local “Irish tutors,” drawn from the bench, bar, and the Law Society of Northern Ireland. NITA also continues to teach co-sponsored programs in Japan through the PSIM consortium of Japanese law schools. Mike Ginsberg and I traveled to Nagoya, Japan in early November to speak to the Consortium.
In addition to our co-sponsored NITA programs, the NITA Foundation funds international NITA programs, primarily in Africa, that are not possible without donor support. In fact, NITA has been active in enhancing the Rule of Law in developing countries in Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, and Liberia. NITA board members and faculty have been working with and providing trial skills training for the Black Lawyers Association in South Africa for more than 30 years. Over the past seven years, NITA has led delegations of judges and lawyers to Kenya, Liberia, and Uganda to provide trial skills training for prosecutors and magistrates. In all of these African countries, the effort includes teacher training for local attorneys so programs can be self-sustaining. NITA has supported these efforts by paying for travel costs for faculty and providing the programs with books and other teaching materials. In 2010, the NITA Foundation committed $50,000 to support Rule of Law efforts in developing countries with the NITA International Rule of Law and Access to Justice Programs Fund. Over the last three years, we have received a greater demand for international support and while our funds have been applied to worthy efforts they have subsequently diminished. Looking ahead, we respectfully ask for your help to continue international NITA programs for attorneys dedicated to advancing the cause of justice through Rule of Law in their countries.
Join me as a global advocate of justice and give to the NITA Foundation to ensure NITA’s ability to be a world citizen, championing change and human rights for all. Please consider making a gift by visiting www.nita.org/Donate. We appreciate every donation, whether it’s $50, $500 or $1,500. Thank you for believing in our mission and making a positive difference.
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