written by guest blogger and NITA Program Director Theo Liebmann. Theo Liebmann is the Clinical Professor & Director of Clinical Programs at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.
The Whole Child Program came to Hofstra in 2004 under the leadership of NITA stalwarts Angela Vigil, Mike Dale, and Andy Schepard. Andy recruited expert faculty from around the country, and we have always mixed in NITA veterans like Angela, Mike, Sandra Johnson, and Ben Rubinowitz with newer stars like JC Lore and Zelda Harris, as well as local Legal Aid standouts like Brian Lamb, Carolyn Kalos, and Carolyn Silvers. The mission of this crew has always been to use NITA techniques to improve the skills of public service lawyers who represent vulnerable children and parents in overcrowded family courts—a client population in desperate need of high quality representation. Based on a case file developed by Angela, Tom Geraghty. and Diane Geraghty, the Program made some important choices right from the beginning that, in hindsight, were on the cutting edge:
While the participants have at times groaned a bit under the Program’s intensive workload, they deeply appreciate the training they are given and the effort and dedication that goes into it. Here are a few sample quotes to leave you with and no better way to say Happy Birthday to this program!
I signed up for this class to try to overcome my “shyness” and lack of confidence. The whole experience surpassed any and all expectations I had. I not only walked away with greater confidence in my abilities, but I was fortunate enough to meet so many wonderful people who care as passionately as I do about children and the law.
I signed up to really hone in on the nuances of my practice as well as correct some bad habits that have fallen into place. I feel confident and energized after finishing the program. I can’t wait to use some of the things I learned.
I knew that I had bad habits but was unsure on how to resolve these habits. My scripts now are getting sharper, more precise and less room for a respondent to take charge of the questioning. My closing statements are more structured.
People told me that I would work hard and learn a lot from any NITA course. They were right! This specific course, Training the Lawyer to Represent the Whole Family, is much needed in the field. I believe that as more practitioners take this course, the quality of practice in the field will increase and so will the outcomes for children and families in juvenile delinquency and child protective proceedings. Keep up the great work!
You may have heard the NITA Foundation is trying to raise $12,821.60 by March 31, 2014, to fund this vital New York child advocacy program through the NITA Foundation Public Service Program Fund. NITA cannot provide this and other public service programs without donor support, so please give today by visiting www.nita.org/Donate.
Cost: $0.00 | Runtime: 1hr | Program Type: Advocacy Skills
Check out this excerpt from NITA’s Webcast: How to Use Your Trial Skills to Prepare for Mediation. You can view the full webcast on demand here.
2012 began NITA’s journey towards its next 40 years. The continued theme this year was innovation throughout our learn-by-doing programs, publications, and studio71. The end of 2012 has brought some exciting transitions to the NITA community. We say farewell and thank you to our beloved Executive Director, John Baker, and are excited to welcome Karen Lockwood as our new leader. She brings a new level of excitement and eagerness to NITA.
This year in Programs NITA ran 22 public service programs, 121 custom programs and 60 public programs. Technology and innovative advancements continue to reign through our in-person programming with adding in video lectures to be viewed prior to the programs, advanced drills technique, improved online program platform and training in new skills. Spanning the three sectors of programs and the dedication of our faculty, NITA has trained nearly 5,000 attorneys during this calendar year. You should all be proud of this number.
The NITA Foundation continues to sponsor a number of legal service attorneys and need-based attorneys to attend our public programs. The Foundation awarded 71 public service enrollment spots and 88 need-based scholarships. Thank you for everyone’s generous donations that make this possible.
The Publications team has published nearly 20 books. Of those books, six were new case file titles and four were new or updated additions to the Malone’s Little Books series. Since October, NITA has released 20 e-books, which are now available on Amazon and iTunes. We are also working on an enhanced e-book of The Effective Deposition which will include video, and should be released in January. Over the next year we plan to convert the rest of NITA’s backlist titles, as well as new titles as they are published, to the e-book format.
In its first full year studio71 really took off. We were able to hold, and fill, six online deposition programs and we have nine on the calendar for 2013. These programs truly are one-of-a-kind, as was shown when they were named the winner of the ACLEA’s Best Award for Programming in 2012. This fall marked NITA’s first live webcast which will kick start us going into 2013, when we will have at least one live, online event each month. In addition to the online learning-by-doing programs, live webcasts, and growing on-demand content library, studio71 also houses the content library for program directors to review and select content to be used in their programs. Thanks to everyone who has lent their expertise to this growing content library. We would not be able to make these innovative leaps without your contributions.
We cannot thank you enough for all you do for our organization. Your volunteer teaching efforts make a large impact on our mission to reach the legal community all across the world.
NITA launched its first e-book pilot program with our new e-book, Modern Trial Advocacy by Steve Lubet. For the October Building Trial Skills: Pacific program in San Diego, attendees were invited to receive textbook either as an e-book or as the original hard copy version. Only a select handful of attendees opted to receive the e-book. The logic behind choosing the e-book for iPad or Kindle was that they would not have to lug the textbook around during the program. Yet with these eReaders, attendees can still make notes and mark their e-book just as they would a normal textbook.
Overall, this format for the materials was well received. It was easy to follow our downloading instructions to obtain the e-book and was easy to read on their eReaders. We did have one attendee make the comment that he feared that the courts, which typically allow their attorneys to use the hard copy of the textbook in court, may not be as flexible with an e-book, as the courts are still very cautious with what technology they will allow.
Upcoming programs that will also feature the use of ebook versions are:
To view other NITA publications available in e-book format, click here.
Since 1990, John Michael Roake has been a Co-Program Director for the NITA public trial skills and deposition skills programs in San Diego. In October of 2012, he experienced the Building Trial Skills: Pacific Program for the last time in the Program Director role and is passing the torch along. Michael has provided so much support, dedication, and teaching innovation to NITA across the public, public service, custom, and international programs.
Michael was honored as the 2011 winner of the Keeton Award for excellence in teaching and has volunteered for the ABA. Michael brings such diversity with his past experience in his past roles as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, the Chief Prosecutor, and as Regional Defense Counsel with the Marines, a trial judge, an instructor at the Dept. of Justice Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute, and a Level V Chief Capital Attorney with the San Diego County Defenders’ Office.
Michael passion for teaching and his infectious personality are noticed and appreciated at every NITA program he has been a part of for the last 25 years. Please join me in thanking Michael for all his years at NITA.
Michael will be passing the torch to Mary Jo (MJ) Barr for the Trial Skills program and Bibianne (Bibi) Fell for the Deposition Skills Programs. We welcome them to the team of NITA Program Directors.
Mary Jo Barr has been teaching for NITA for 20 years at nearly 80 programs in the public, public service, and custom program areas. Mary Jo began her practice in 1986 in San Diego, California as an associate with a small plaintiff’s and criminal defense firm. In 1989 Mary Jo joined the Office of the Public Defender for San Diego County. She was awarded a Prettyman fellowship at Georgetown School of Law School in 1988. Mary Jo has also served as an adjunct professor at California School of Law and the University of San Diego School of Law in their advocacy programs.
Bibianne Fell has been teaching for NITA since 2008 and will now take on the role of Co-Program Director at the Deposition Skills: Pacific Program starting in January of 2013. Bibianne has been named a Top Young Attorney twice by the San Diego Daily Transcript and a Rising Star by the Philippine American Business and Industrial Development organization. Bibianne first worked at an insurance defense firm, and then from 2005 to 2008 she worked in the business litigation and employment law departments at Baker & McKenzie LLP. Bibianne now practices business litigation and employment law at Fleming & Fell PC.