The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: NITA Community

Our Thanks to the International Academy of Trial Lawyers

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The NITA Foundation recognizes the generosity of a longtime supporter, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Foundation (IATL). The organization recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the NITA Foundation to boost the scholarship program for 2018. The grant represents the latest gesture of goodwill in IATL and NITA’s longstanding relationship, which is based in part on the organizations’ shared value for the administration of justice in the United States.

The NITA Foundation has received scholarship funding from the IATL for many years. So far this year, the 2017 IATL grant has sent ten public service lawyers or lawyers of financial need to the NITA trial skills or deposition program of their choice. These scholarship winners practice in Arizona, California, Florida, and Virginia, and work at a local Legal Aid office, a federal agency, county legal services, a public defenders’ office, and their own small firms. They have attended NITA programs in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Washington, D.C.

The IATL is a group of elite trial lawyers who purpose includes elevating the standards of honor, integrity, and courtesy in the legal profession. Their outstanding commitment to NITA enables us to fulfill their purpose by training public service lawyers through scholarships to NITA public programs to become effective, ethical, and professional advocates.

For more information about the IATL Foundation, visit iatl.net.

Press Release: Wendy McCormack Named New Executive Director of NITA

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Contact: Daniel McHugh FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel.: 303.953.6828
Email: dmchugh@nita.org
Date: 9/22/17

National Institute for Trial Advocacy Names New Executive Director—
Wendy McCormack Selected to Lead Boulder-Based Nonprofit Beginning December 1

BOULDER, Colo., September 19, 2017 —The Board of Trustees of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) today announced that Wendy McCormack will become NITA’s Executive Director on December 1, 2017, succeeding Karen M. Lockwood upon her retirement. McCormack is currently the Associate Executive Director of Operations (AED) at NITA, and has invested eleven years in multiple roles at NITA.

“This is a wonderful time for NITA and for Wendy,” Lockwood commented. “NITA has adopted many new initiatives to deepen our impact, strive for smart innovation, and strengthen our business strategies over the last several years. Wendy has made major contributions in each of these areas. NITA began forty-five years ago as the most unique and respected organization of lawyers teaching lawyers. It remains so, and with Wendy’s leadership, NITA is poised for even greater growth, deeper impact, and smarter innovation.”

Joe Loveland, Chair of NITA’s Board of Trustees, echoed Lockwood’s comments. “We are fortunate to have a person with Wendy’s talent, enthusiasm, and commitment to NITA to step into Karen’s shoes. Wendy’s experience with NITA as Associate Executive Director responsible for Operations, her vision in creating Studio71, and her keen knowledge of all aspects of NITA’s mission and programs combine to give us the ideal leader for NITA going forward. I and the other members of the board look forward to working closely with Wendy.”

“Daily, I am inspired by NITA’s mission, the critical work of our staff and faculty, and the great commitment of the people who entrust us with their training needs,” McCormack said. “Our work is vital as we amplify our collective voice, and project NITA’s vision of justice, ethics, and excellence in advocacy into our future and around the globe. It will be an honor to lead NITA and continue our work together. Karen has demonstrated over her lifetime a passion for trial advocacy and defending the rule of law. She brought that passion to NITA. And we’re going to carry it forward.”

McCormack joined NITA in 2006 and has served as Director of Programs from 2006 to 2010 and led Operations since 2010. As Associate Executive Director from 2013 to date, she provides leadership and oversight of NITA’s operations. She oversees and mentors the NITA leadership team in Marketing & Sales, Program Operations, Publications, and Information Technology. She works collaboratively with professional staff, the Board of Trustees, and the organization as a whole in building and maintaining relationships with the external NITA community. As Director of Programs, McCormack directed all aspects of core business and operational development function for 300 continuing education programs across the United States and internationally. She has been accountable for strategic planning, business development, enrollment policies and procedures, database administration, grant management, and administering departmental budgets.

McCormack received her master’s degree in education, with an emphasis on organizational development and human resources, from Colorado State University (CSU) in 2000, and her B.S. degree in Hospitality, Tourism and Event Management at Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1997. In 2016, she completed the intensive Organizational Leadership Program at the Employers Council’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute in Denver.

Jennifer Schneider, currently NITA’s Director of Publishing & Digital Content, will assume the role of Associate Executive Director of Operations during the leadership change on December 1. Schneider joined NITA in 2013, after a twelve-year career at Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minnesota. She received both her J.D (2000) and her B.A. in journalism (1997) from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Upon retirement, Lockwood will reside near Boulder, Colorado, and Edinburg, Virginia. She has served NITA as Executive Director since December 1, 2012. She is excited to rejoin NITA’s national faculty and to combine her insights into NITA’s strong service with her other lifelong interests in improving the profession’s diversity and its focus on access to justice.

About the National Institute for Trial Advocacy

The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) is the world’s leader in advocacy skills training and publications. A §501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, NITA’s mission is to train and coach lawyers to be skilled and ethical advocates in the pursuit of justice. To learn more, visit nita.org, or call us at 303.953.6828.

NITA’s Alumni Association

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This year, we at NITA wanted to give program Alumni ample opportunity to connect and engage with NITA as well as their fellow NITA alumni. Therefore, the NITA Alumni Association was born. There are no dues to pay or forms to fill out to join, if you went to a program you are a member. The goal of the associaiton is to privde past program attendees the opportunity to engage with fellow alumni as well as NITA Faculty members through alumni only events including receptions, happy hours, CLE events, webcasts and more.

We hosted our first Alumni networking event in Seattle on August 4th on the last day of our 2017 Seattle Deposition skills program. Here, current deposition skills attendees and faculty mingled with past attendees and faculty from the Seattle area.

On September 28th, NITA’s studio71 will be hosting an alumni only Q&A webcast featuring NITA faculty members Christina Habas and Karen Steinhauser. This unique opportunity provides past program participants access to our esteemed faculty, getting answers to questions that alumni may have since taking their NITA program. It’s like having a NITA faculty member right at your fingertips.

Our second Alumni networking reception is in the works, and is tentatively planned on being held during the Advanced Trial Advocacy: Next-Level Trial Techniques Program in Washington DC in early November. Formal invites to the event will be sent out next month.

We welcome any thoughts/questions and ideas you might have for the association, please contacts us via phone at 1.800.225.6482 or email at customerservice@nita.org with those suggestions.

Interested in attending next week’s Live Q&A webcast? Register Here

Give to the NITA Foundation This Quarter

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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. As this quarter comes to a close in just a few weeks, we’d love to count on your support of the NITA Foundation and its important work of awarding scholarship assistance and creating programs for applicants working in careers that meet our public service attorney training objectives. This work is impossible without help from loyal donors like you.

Since 2003, the NITA Foundation has disbursed over $3.3 million in support of 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. Visit www.nita.org/donate to make a secure online gift and learn more about how you can help.

P.S. Last week, we told you about the new Robert VanderLaan Memorial Scholarship being funded through the NITA Foundation. The founding donors are matching donations for the first $30,000 in contributions, so now is the perfect time to make a donation and maximize its impact.

Robert VanderLaan Remembered with Scholarship Fund, Memorial in Chicago

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This winter, NITA lost a beloved member of its family, when Program Director Bob VanderLaan passed away on February 28 in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In the words NITA’s Executive Director Karen Lockwood, “Bob’s tremendous energy and talent in teaching touched countless people through NITA. He taught with NITA for thirty-five years, and his immense heart, genuine charm, and energetic legal advocacy made Bob unforgettable to everyone he taught—and taught with.”

Losing Bob was a tremendous blow to the NITA community. Two of his closest NITA friends, Program Director Dan Rabinovitz and longtime faculty member Jon Barnard, have taken the lead to memorialize Bob’s legacy by creating a NITA program scholarship in Bob’s name. Dan recently spoke to The Legal Advocate about the new Robert VanderLaan Memorial Scholarship, how he and Jon will host NITA’s collegial faculty in celebrating Bob’s life at one of Bob’s favorite places in Chicago this fall, and what made Bob such an inspiration to those who knew and loved him best. 

How did you meet Bob?
In the early 1990s, during the Midwest Regional Trial Program in Chicago, several faculty members, including Bob, regularly attended performances by Chicago bluesman Son Seals. During the same period, I was an Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney and played trumpet for Son Seals. At one of those shows, Bob learned I was a prosecutor, and shortly thereafter, he spearheaded an effort to obtain a scholarship for me to attend NITA’s National Session in Boulder. During that National Session, in 1994, Bob was my team leader and we became friends.

What qualities made him unique among NITA instructors?
Bob’s infectious level of energy made him unique literally everywhere he went. When you look up the phrase “natural charmer” in the dictionary, it shows his picture. He had a seemingly magical way of critiquing a student’s performance, by delivering the appropriate criticism, while at the same time making a student excited to continue to improve. This approach was not only consistent, but it was completely natural and totally effortless.

Do you have a favorite memory of working with him?
There are so many to choose from, but I think my favorite memory of working with Bob was when he was selected to be the Program Director of the National Session, which coincided with NITA’s fortieth anniversary celebration. He was so proud to have been selected to lead that program at that special time. He threw himself into leading that event in such a meaningful, soulful way that it made each and every person associated with that program felt proud to be working with and for Bob. The same natural ability he had to make a student feel great was just as powerful a tool for relating to the faculty members who taught with him.

What did you learn from Bob?
I learned how to be a better trial lawyer, a better instructor, and a better person. And I learned the importance of being able to survive on only a few hours of sleep, when necessary.

You’ve established NITA’s Robert VanderLaan Memorial Scholarship as a lasting tribute. How did it come about?
Almost immediately after Bob’s passing, [fellow NITA faculty member] Jon Barnard and I began brainstorming about organizing something that would honor Bob in a way that preserved his memory and spirit. This tribute is part of the way we are coping with the tremendous sadness we both feel. We wanted to do something that struck the same balance between work and play that dominated Bob’s life. And so we decided to raise funds for a scholarship in his name, so that for a very long time, each year at least one student gets to participate in a program Bob regularly taught. So that’s the work part. But Bob was also someone who loved to have fun—in many ways. One of those ways was to gather with friends, raise a glass or two, and tell and listen to great stories. So the second part of our tribute is an event where those who also enjoyed doing that with Bob can do that together.

What’s the best way to make a donation to the fund?
Making an online donation is fast and easy when you click this link: donate and from the “Select Fund/Amount” section, use the dropdown menu and select The Robert VanderLaan Memorial Scholarship Fund option. I want to mention that the founding donors of this scholarship fund have pledged to match the first $30,000 in donations that NITA receives—in effect, we will double your contribution if you donate now. Each year, this scholarship will provide tuition, travel, and lodging for one attendee to attend a program at which Bob taught.

Describe the plans for the memorial you and Jon Barnard are hosting in Chicago on November 11.
We are going to gather at one of Bob’s favorite Chicago places—Mike Ditka’s restaurant—and we are going to eat, drink, be merry and tell a bunch of Bob VanderLaan stories. Over that weekend, the Bears play the Packers in Chicago. We hope that element will elevate the energy at Ditka’s that evening. But I should add that if people plan on attending, they should let us know in advance, so we can make sure we have a big enough room, by emailing me at rabinovitzd@gtlaw.com.

How would you like Bob to be remembered?
I hope Bob is remembered as the smart, warm, funny, tough, talented, dedicated, and experienced human being that he was. I hope he is remembered as someone who through teaching for NITA for over thirty-five years helped literally hundreds, if not thousands, of young lawyers become better trial lawyers. And finally, I hope he is remembered as someone who day in and day out was fun to be around.

NITA would like to invite you to join Dan Rabinovitz, Jon Barnard, and Bob’s family and friends at Ditka’s on Saturday, November 11, 2017, to remember and celebrate Bob’s life. RSVP directly to Dan to make reservations and receive further details on the memorial. Please make your travel plans early, as we expect the Bears‒Packers Midwest rivalry will make hotel rooms and Airbnb rentals in Chicago scarce as game weekend draws near.

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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