The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: NITA Community

NITA Volunteer Spotlight: September Neil Kodsi

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As part of NITA’s efforts to recognize our vast volunteer community, we have initiated a monthly volunteer faculty spotlight. Recommendations come from our programs department staff, who work closely with our volunteers on our public, public service, and custom programs. NITA is pleased to announce Neil Kodsi as our September Volunteer Faculty Spotlight. Here are just some of the comments our staff used to describe Neils’s work with NITA

He taught at our Americans for Immigrant Justice program at the beginning of August. He was available to be Program Director in a pinch and received amazing praise from the attendees & faculty. It was especially helpful of him because he didn’t have much immigration law experience but was able to work with their faculty to teach an effective program.

When asked about how he was introduced to NITA, why he continues to teach for us and a little background of his teaching career, Neil had this to say:

I am truly honored and humbled by this. I have been a big fan of NITA for more than 20 years. As a young attorney, I was a student in all of the programs – Deposition, Motions practice, trial and Advanced trial, etc.. Then, as I became more seasoned, I volunteered to serve as faculty for programs at Wake Forest and I helped my law firm (Womble Carlyle) conduct in-house training. Then, after moving to Miami in 2005, I started an in-house NITA program at Carlton Fields with Jeff Cohen and I volunteered for the NITA deposition and trial practice programs at NOVA University whenever I could. Since 2005, I have served as a NITA faculty member about 15 times.

I participate in NITA because I feel it is the best litigation training program available for lawyers. At NITA, we give lawyers a chance to get on their feet and perform. There is no better way to learn. I also have enjoyed getting to know the other NITA faculty with whom I have worked and I am honored to think of myself as their peer. I think all good trial lawyers have to be good teachers. That is, in reality, what we do in trial. I come from a family of teachers and I have taught adjunct at Wake Forest School of Law, assisted them with their trial team and coached the R.J. Reynolds High School Mock Trial Team. NITA gave me the tools I needed to do all of this and I enjoy serving as a NITA faculty member where I can help give those tools to the next generation of trial lawyers.

We want to thank Neil for his continued passion and support of NITA’s mission. With 800+ faculty members and over 20,000 hours volunteered each year, we could not do what we do without people like Neil Kodsi.

Get To Know NITA’s 2017 100 Hour Club Part 1

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Here at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy we are fortunate enough to have over 800 volunteer faculty each year. We would like to take a moment and introduce to you those faculty who have given us over 100 hours of their time in 2017 to help train advocates all over the globe. In part one of this series we highlight three of these faculty members.

Allison Rocker
Assistant Director of the Prosecution and Code Enforcement unit at the Denver City Attorney’s Office
Volunteered 110 hours in 2017, teaching at several programs including; Building Trial Skills: Philadelphia, Deposition Skills: Bay Area, Building Trial Skills: San Diego, and our 2017 National Session.

How did you first become involved with NITA?
I was invited to attend teacher training by a close mentor and friend. From the first hour, I was hooked. I loved the method, I loved the people, and I loved the idea of better preparing those in our field in an effective and inclusive way.

Why do you teach for NITA?
I’ve worked in the public sector for my entire career―I see NITA as another way to serve my community. Hearing from students after courses―either with feedback or questions about how to put together an opening for an upcoming case―is incredible. The impact NITA has on the individual as a whole is obvious to me, and I find it inspirational to watch our students improve just in a matter of days.

Is there a particular NITA program that’s dearest to your heart?
I was invited to teach at a program on the Navajo Nation. The participants ranged drastically in age, skill, and legal knowledge. Yet, they were all deeply hungry to learn so they could better represent their community and their culture which they cared deeply about. I was teaching with a group of people who were so energizing and committed―it was a true honor.

What do you hope to bring to the legal profession?
It’s a privilege to do what we do―to work in the legal profession. If I can encourage an attorney to have more confidence in themselves by providing them with the tools and knowledge to be a more effective advocate―that’s a win.

Jayme Cassidy
Director of the Veterans Law Clinic and Legal Incubator at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law
Volunteered 178 hours in 2017, teaching at several programs including; Deposition Skills: Florida, Building Trial Skills: Philadelphia, Building Trial Skills: Florida, and Deposition Skills: New Jersey.

How did you first become involved with NITA?
I was invited to teach in the NITA Fort Lauderdale Trial program when I was a public defender. I would teach off and on when I had time. Longtime NITA faculty member, Mike Dale, reintroduced me to NITA when I launched the Veterans Law Clinic at Nova Southeastern University. Mike helped me appreciate that teaching for NITA is not something you do sporadically . . . it is a lifestyle.

Why do you teach for NITA?
The ability to work alongside attorneys who have the passion and ambition to teach and learn is rewarding. Each program is a dynamic opportunity to enhance my legal skills and cultivate relationships. Every program is an enjoyable, fulfilling experience.

Is there a particular NITA program that’s dearest to your heart?
I have met fabulous people through NITA programs. I look forward to seeing friends annually at some of my favorite programs. The public service programs are dear to my heart because the attorneys in those firms advocate for vulnerable groups, special populations, and social causes.

What do you hope to bring to the legal profession?
I hope to foster access to justice and make an impact on the current justice gap through innovation. Effective and ethical advocacy can be delivered in many platforms. Training lawyers and developing unique ways to help fellow attorneys deliver fair administration of justice will promote “justice for all.”

Michael Dale
Faculty at Nova Southeastern University Law Center
Volunteered 199 hours in 2017, teaching at several programs including; Deposition Skills: Florida, Next-Level Trial Techniques, ABA Family Law Trial Advocacy, and Building Trial Skills: Florida.

How did you first become involved with NITA?
My first encounter with NITA took place at Hofstra Law School, when, as a trial lawyer practicing in Phoenix, I traveled east and took NITA’s trial skills program on Long Island. After becoming a law school professor and teaching trial advocacy, I took the NITA teacher training program.

Why do you teach for NITA?
I teach for NITA for two reasons. First, it is categorically the most effective means of teaching litigation skills to lawyers and law students. Second, for decades NITA has included in its mission training lawyers who could not otherwise afford the training NITA provides. This includes lawyers representing parties in child abuse and neglect cases, immigration cases, legal aid matters, and cases on Native American reservations.

Is there a particular NITA program that’s dearest to your heart?
Representing the whole child independence and juvenile delinquency cases at Hofstra Law School.

What do you hope to bring to the legal profession?
It’s simple. A commitment to the most professional and ethical practice possible.

Press Release: NITA Wins International Award From ALCEA

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Contact: Daniel McHugh FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel.: 303.953.6828
Email: dmchugh@nita.org
Date: 8/2/18

National Institute for Trial Advocacy Wins International Award

The Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has awarded the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) one of only 16 annual awards granted to competitors representing more than 300 organizations.

An Award for Professional Excellence was given to NITA for its “Office of the Public Defender Lagos State Ministry of Justice Expert Witness Program” in the Best Public Interest category.

Last November, NITA sent a team of American lawyers, judges, and professors to spend one week training 70 lawyers in Nigeria, where the country recently opened its first forensics lab. The primary focus of the NITA program was forensic science and how to prepare, present, and cross-examine expert witnesses, which filled a critical knowledge gap where there was significant need for both resources and training. Due to the recent introduction of the forensics facility in Nigeria, lawyers in the Office of the Public Defender in Lagos State were inexperienced in the fundamentals of incorporating this resource into their legal practice. They learned about pathology, firearms identification, documents, and fingerprinting, as well as how to handle expert witnesses in the courtroom. Detailed information on the program is available here.

ACLEA members are professionals in the fields of continuing legal education and legal publishing. Its annual ACLEA’s Best Awards are highly competitive and winning projects represent the highest level of achievement for the staff and volunteers involved.

NITA is the nation’s leading provider of legal advocacy skills training. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, NITA’s sole mission since 1971 has been to improve the quality of advocacy in our nation’s courtrooms.

ACLEA formally presented the award to NITA at the Annual Meeting of ACLEA in Portland, Oregon, on July 31, 2018.

July Volunteer Faculty Spotlight

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As part of NITA’s efforts to recognize our vast volunteer community, we have initiated a monthly volunteer faculty spotlight. Recommendations come from our programs department staff, who work closely with our volunteers on our public, public service, and custom programs. NITA is pleased to announce Mark Olson as our July Volunteer Faculty Spotlight. Here are just some of the comments our staff used to describe Mark’s work with NITA:

He has made his time available to us every month and has also taken on multiple online programs in a month. Each time he does a program, he comes in with smiles and does a wonderful job getting the participants engaged. He is very informative and gives them great critiques. He really tries to get to know who each attorney is by looking them up prior to the program. He really goes above and beyond.

When asked about how he was introduced to NITA, why he continues to teach for us and a little background of his teaching career, he had this to say:

In the 1990s, our Firm, Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly, retained NITA to assist in training our litigation associates in the area of Trial Skills. When I became the Litigation Associate Training Director in the early 2000s, I again reached out to NITA for assistance, and we successfully presented several training programs for our associates. During those sessions, I met Professor John Sonsteng, who asked me to be part of his NITA program at Mitchell Hamline Law School.

I have a passion for working with young and inexperienced lawyers to help them develop trial and litigation skills so that they can be more confident and so that they are equipped to effectively represent their clients. Because I was “thrown in the deep end of the pool” as a young associate and had to “sink or swim,” I vowed that if I ever had the chance to work with young lawyers to help them develop skills so they would be able to navigate the deep end of the pool, I would contribute whatever I could to achieve that goal.

I was an adjunct professor at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota Law School in the late 1980s where I taught Appellate Advocacy. Later, in the mid-2000s, I began teaching Trial Advocacy and Advanced Advocacy classes at the U’s Law School and also at William Mitchell Law School. In 2006, a couple of NITA Program Directors―John Sonsteng, Jay Leach, and Henry Brown―took a chance and invited a “rookie” NITA instructor to be part of their Trial Skills programs in San Francisco and St. Paul―and, as they say, “the rest is history.” Through their mentoring and tutelage (and patience), I have been blessed to be part of the NITA family for the past twelve years. I have taught public programs in Trial Skills, Deposition Skills, and Legal Strategy around the country and also several custom programs at law firms in the same areas. In 2014, I started teaching the Online Deposition Skills program and continue to do that today.

We want to thank Mark for his continued passion and support of NITA’s mission. With 800+ faculty members and over 20,000 hours volunteered each year, we could not do what we do without people like Mark Olson.

Welcome the Newest NITA Advocates

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NITA is proud to announce the 2018 2nd quarter recipients of the Advocate Designation. These designations are awarded to a person who has taken a well-rounded set of courses, proving they are serious about trial advocacy.

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  • Jeffrey Dornbos | Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge
  • Andrew A. Shank | Eller & Detrich PC
  • Katherine Zimmerman | Womble Bond Dickinson
  • Ignacio Garcia | BGFA
  • Marilu Merzthal Shigyo | Rubio Leguia Normand SCRL
  • Christopher M Humes | Brownstein Hyatt et al

If you have any questions on how you can receive the NITA Advocate or NITA Master Advocate Designation, please review the information on our Advocate Designations page, or email customerservice@nita.org.

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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