Wendy McCormack, Executive Director, announces the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Award winners.
The National Institute for Trial Advocacy annually recognizes outstanding contributions to NITA by making three acclaimed awards. Honoring members of NITA’s faculty, author, and staff communities, the awards highlight exceptional teaching, innovation in teaching, and service to NITA through contributions other than teaching.
Members of NITA’s faculty, authors, and staff, including trained NITA teachers and their appointed Program Directors, and Team Leaders, are eligible for nomination by their NITA colleagues. These creative and dedicated lawyers, many serving as volunteers, provide the rigor and originality in advocacy for which NITA is known. They fan across NITA’s public programs, custom programs, and public service programs. Their case files and books are used by practitioners and law students alike across the nation.
Nominations from the NITA community speak to the nominee’s work in one of three areas, each award year honoring the prior year of service. Each is named after one of NITA’s pioneers who exemplified the teaching, innovation, and service that the awards honor.
The awards for 2017 work are:
Robert Keeton Award for Outstanding Service as a NITA Faculty Member (recognizing exceptional work as a NITA faculty member):
Hon. Christopher T. Whitten, Superior Court of Arizona. Below are some comments that highlight Judge Whitten’s talent, enthusiasm, friendliness, and dedication to improving the quality of advocacy and NITA<br/ >“Chris simply shows up and gets to work helping . . . the participants, the P.D., other faculty or the support staff. And, it’s not as if Chris is merely a “good worker.” I’ve seen him interact with the participants and his method is sound, his comments are creative and on target, and his demeanor creates a trusting bond with the lawyers who he assists. It’s fairly common to see Chris after a breakout session walking with some of the participants and going deeper on an issue, answering a question or just listening to their experiences.”
Robert Oliphant Award for Outstanding Service to NITA (recognizing service to NITA in ways other than teaching, such as program administration, authorship, business support, and volunteer service, each of which enhances NITA’s mission):
Mary Jo Barr, The Law Offices of Gilbert & Barr. While the process of selecting an award winner is a challenging job, the final decision is often difficult, as many nominees merit recognition. Below are comments from Mary Jo’s nominator and just a few reasons as to why she is so deserving of this award.
“MJ has devoted countless hours to serving NITA over the past quarter century, as a Program Director, instructor, and general goodwill liaison.”
“Having taught at NITA’s Teacher Training, MJ frequently becomes a mentor to new faculty, including the Next Generation faculty that she invites to teach in San Diego every year.”
“Few, maybe none, have been as active as MJ in teaching, mentoring, improving programming, or contributing to the success of NITA and the legal profession.”
Prentice Marshall Faculty Award for the Development of Innovative Teaching Methods with NITA (recognizing creativity in program development or teaching methodology):
Karen Steinhauser, Law Office of Karen Steinhauser. The below quote speaks to Karen’s innovation in developing and implementing an implicit bias session at the 2017 National Session:
“The session was very powerful and the participants gave very strong positive reviews. It is likely that the success of the session will be a catalyst for NITA to repeat the program and/or further develop opportunities to take on this important issue. Karen is deserving of recognition for her courage in pursuing this innovative idea.”
Of the pool of 2017 nominees, NITA Executive Director Wendy McCormack said: “Out of the nominations that come in, it’s very hard to pick just one. Our awards committee does a great job reviewing and weighing many criteria. Mary Jo Barr, Judge Whitten, and Karen Steinhauser join a long list of NITA greats who carry out the NITA mission consistently with passion and inspiration.”
Please join us in thanking them, and extend your congratulations.
James “Jim” W. McElhaney, Professor at SMU and Case Western and NITA Faculty member in our early days, passed away in New Mexico, late October. Jim taught with NITA from the beginning and is remembered and loved by many who taught alongside him. NITA Faculty Robin Weaver stated that Jim is a part of NITA history, and many agree.
According to NITA Faculty Tom Geraghty, Jim was a stalwart NITA teacher in the early days. In the early 2000’s Jim struck out on his own and began writing, lecturing, and consulting. However, his early years at NITA made a big impact on many.
NITA Faculty Jamie Carey stated, “I met Jim at the Midwest Regional program in the early 1970’s, where I was a faculty member and Tom [Geraghty] was program director. Jim gave lectures on evidence, essentially following in Irving Younger’s footsteps… Jim who was already at the time famous for his witty, erudite articles on trial advocacy in the ABA Journal, was a worthy peer of Younger’s. He had the gift of all great teachers: to simplify, to interweave apt anecdote, and infuse the dry stuff with humor.”
Likewise, NITA Faculty Patricia Bobb fondly remembers teaching with Jim. “To say that Jim was a stalwart of NITA is an understatement. Jim was one of the core members of the NITA family and gave his heart and soul to the organization for many years as one of its’ most talented and passionate teachers. He leaves a legacy of having made thousands of trial lawyers the better for his commitment to excellence in trial advocacy. He will be missed by all.”
Similarly, NITA Faculty Judge Ann Williams stated that Jim was a magnificent teacher and an even better mentor. “Funny, creative, witty and knowledgeable are four words that describe him. His lectures were spellbinding and the articles he penned during his many years as editor of chief of the ABA Litigation magazines were legendary. I was his Assistant Team Leader for at least four regional and national programs and had the extraordinary opportunity to see him interact with participants and faculty. He was thoughtful and kind and knew how to bring out the best in people. An added plus and key part of Jim was his love of music. He was a great piano player and we all loved singing with him. He often brought to NITA sessions his double bell euphonium! I am the teacher I am today because of Jim.”
So many of NITA’s longtime faculty members felt their lives impacted by Jim’s gift as a teacher, writer, and speaker. We are so thankful to have had Jim as an integral part of NITA. Please click here to read the memorial page.
NITA is proud to announce the 2017 fourth quarter recipients of the Advocate and 2017 recipients of the Master Advocate Designations. These designations are awarded to a person who has taken a well-rounded set of courses, proving they are serious about trial advocacy.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our congratulations to go NITA Trustee Barbara Bergman for being one of four recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award, in recognition of her years of teaching service at the University of New Mexico (UNM) School of Law. She will receive the honor at the law school’s annual dinner this Friday, October 20, at the UNM Student Union Building ballroom in Albuquerque.
“I am deeply honored to be receiving this award from UNM,” Barbara told The Legal Advocate. “I spent twenty-eight years teaching at the UNM School of Law, and I treasure the time I spent helping educate the wonderful students at that law school.” Barbara became a NITA Trustee in 2006, after several years of service as a program director and faculty member at NITA’s Southwest Deposition Skills, the Southwest Trial Skills, and the Connecticut Child Protection Trial Skills programs, among others.
Established in 1993, the Distinguished Achievement Award honors people who have served the legal community in a significant way, celebrates notable accomplishments and dedicated service by lawyers and others in the legal community to the UNM School of Law, the New Mexico legal community, and the greater community inside and outside of New Mexico.
The dinner, attended by approximately 450 guests or more each year, helps fund the Law Alumni/ae Association’s three full-tuition merit scholarships at the Law School through its proceeds. The dinner has raised over $500,000 benefitting the law school and law students.
For more information, click here to view the UNM press release.
The NITA Foundation would like to recognize the generosity of a longtime supporter, the Kansas Bar Foundation. The organization recently awarded a $10,226 grant to the NITA Foundation to fund next year’s eighth annual Kansas Public Service Advocacy Skills Program. Under the grant, twenty-four attendees—comprised of Kansas prosecutors, public defenders, legal services lawyers, and other advocates for justice—will attend a three-day, NITA trial skills training at no cost to their respective agency.
The NITA Foundation and the Kansas Bar Foundation since 2011 have shared a great camaraderie as they worked toward their common goal of supporting legal service lawyers in Kansas through this program, which is held each year in October. Later this month, Judge William Ossmann will reprise his role as program director for the program, which will be held October 26–28 at the Steinberg Museum in Hays, Kansas. This program is funded by a Kansas Bar Foundation grant awarded last fall.
The Kansas Bar Foundation supports programs that provide access to the legal system for low-income Kansans, advocacy for children in need of care and victims of domestic violence. Funding also provides scholarships, educational materials and teacher training for public and private schools about the role of law and lawyers in society. Founded in 1957, the foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations, and IOLTA. Click here to learn more about the Kansas Bar Foundation.
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: