The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: NITA Community

NITA Remembers Faculty Jim McElhaney

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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.

Welcome the Newest NITA Advocates and NITA Master Advocates

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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.



  • Andrew J McBride | Adams & Reese LLP
  • James P Harrison | CCPOA
  • Maria LU Estanislao | Loventime Law LLC
  • Alan Ostergren | Muscatine County Attorney
  • Christopher Nuneviller | Nuneviller Law
  • Sam XJ Wu | Law Ofc of Sam XJ Wu
  • Beti Bergman | Peninsula Law


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  • Chad S. Pehrson | Parr Brown Et Al
  • Brian W. Capell | Liskow & Lewis
  • Donald A. Lancaster | Lancaster Law Group APC
  • Richard C. Watson | Watson Law Group APC
  • Amit Bindra | The Prinz Law Firm
  • Sarah Allison Havens | Office of Sarah A Havens
  • Justin DeLacruz | CCPOA
  • Carmin Shaffer | USAA
  • Suzu Tokue | Law Office Of Suzu Tokue

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

NITA Trustee Barbara Bergman to Receive Distinguished Achievement Award from UNM School of Law

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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.

Kansas Bar Foundation Awards Grant to Fund Annual Public Service Program

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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.

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

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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