The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Programs

Working To Help Achieve Justice In The New Mexico Criminal Justice System

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written by guest blogger and NITA Program Director William Elward

A broad range of our ace NITA instructors have donated their time to assist in the first Trial Advocacy Training Program to be conducted in Albuquerque New Mexico August 18 – 20th. This three day program will train both prosecutors and public defenders in trial skills including theory of the case, opening statements, direct examination, cross-examination, impeachment, exhibits, and closing argument. Working with local prosecutors and defense counsel, this program is tailored to provide the finest on your feet training NITA has—learning by doing in a real courtroom atmosphere.

NITA’s teaching method has been successful for over forty years because of learning by doing—getting lawyers on their feet and practicing with focused critiques by experienced trial advocacy instructors is the quickest way for attorneys to gain the skills and confidence to succeed in the fast-paced environment of a criminal courtroom.

The faculty includes some of NITA’s absolute finest teachers, including a number of award winning advocacy teachers and members of NITA’s next Generation instructor team. Local superstar attorneys Joleen Youngers, Molly Schmidt- Nowara, and Shannon Kennedy combine forces with NITA stalwarts Michael Johnson, Amy Hanley, J.C. Lore and Steve Wood to make up our faculty for this intensive three day program. The mission of this Dream Team is to help these public service lawyers achieve the right results in court. Since prosecutors do justice by seeking to speak on behalf of the innocent victims of crime, and because public defenders fight a never ending battle to speak for citizens who cannot afford counsel, our faculty have volunteered their time to make this program a success. Participants will be learning using the NITA file of State v. Jackson, an arson case that many of us know better as Flinders v. Mismo. Bill Elward is the program director.

NITA’s role in this program is direct product of our Board of Trustee’s commitment to offering public service programs. NITA is dedicated to helping provide training for under-represented areas, and is proud to assist in this essential training of public service advocates.

Meet NITA’s Upcoming Program Directors

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Building Trial Skills: Seattle
September 8, 2015 thru September 13, 2015
University of Washington Sch of Law

Johnson_MichaelMichael Johnson
UALR School of Law
Program Director

Michael Johnson is a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law. He teaches Evidence, Criminal Law, White Collar Crime, Trial Advocacy and Advanced Trial Advocacy. He also coaches the National Trial Advocacy Competition team.

Learn more about NITA’s Building Trial Skills Program in Seattle here.

Persuasive Power in the Courtroom
September 10, 2015 thru September 11, 2015
SMU Dedman School of Law

Mann_DavidDavid Mann
High Stakes Presenting
Program Director

David Mann specializes in persuasive presentation skills and storytelling. A theater artist for over three decades, David now trains attorneys and business professionals how to use performance and storytelling techniques to win. He has spoken at Fortune 500 events nationwide, inspiring groups to use the power of storytelling and effective delivery to get results every time.
As a persuasive presentation specialist for lawyers, David has taught with NITA, Professional Education Group, Loyola School of Law in Chicago, and Louisiana State University Law School. He works with private firms in Minneapolis, Pennsylvania, and Chicago to develop opening statements, motions, and demand letters that combine careful wording, engaging storytelling, and dynamic delivery. With David’s storytelling guidance, lawyers are armed with powerfully persuasive arguments that win.

Learn more about NITA’s Persuasive Power in the Courtroom here.

Deposition To Trial: Minnesota
September 12, 2015 thru September 18, 2015
William Mitchell College of Law

Sonsteng_JohnJohn Sonsteng
William Mitchell College of Law
Program Director

Learn more about NITA’s Minnesota Deposition To Trial Program here.

Robert F. Hanley Advanced Trial Skills
September 29, 2015 thru October 3, 2015
San Francisco, CA

Schoenberger_RichardRichard Schoenberger
Walkup Melodia Kelly et al
Program Director

Richard H Schoenberger is one of the most highly respected trial lawyers in California. In 2011, he was selected as the Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association. It was his second nomination for this prestigious award. Rich has been included in the national publication The Best Lawyers in America since 2005 and has been a Super Lawyer in Northern California for every year the designation has existed. He was selected to be in the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Northern California for the years 2010 and 2011. He is “AV” peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

He is an invited member of the most prestigious trial lawyer organizations in the country: the American College of Trial Lawyers, a fellowship extended only to a select group of experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards; the International Society of Barristers, an honor society of trial lawyers chosen by their peers on the basis of excellence and integrity in advocacy; and, the American Board of Trial Advocates, where he serves as an officer and chaired the San Francisco Chapter’s 2009 Masters In Trial program.

Learn more about NITA’s Robert F. Hanley Advanced Trial Skills Program here.

NITA’s Upcoming Program Directors

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Building Trial Skills: Northeast
August 10, 2015 thru August 15, 2015
Hofstra Law School

barron_barbaraBARBARA S. BARRON
Hofstra Law School
Program Director

Barbara S. Barron is a Professor of Legal Writing and Research and Director of Student Advocacy Programs at Hofstra University School of Law. Ms. Barron, a former Assistant District Attorney in the District Attorney’s Office for New York County, has practiced extensively in the areas of commercial and matrimonial litigation on both the trial and appellate levels. Before attending law school, Ms. Barron was a Russian linguist with the Department of Defense. Ms. Barron has been a team leader in the Hofstra Trial Techniques Program and has been a member of the Northeast Regional Program and the Master Advocates Program for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

kessler_larryLAWRENCE W. KESSLER
Hofstra Law School
Program Director

Lawrence Kessler is the Richard J. Cardali Distinguished Professor of Trial Advocacy at Hofstra University School of Law. Professor Kessler is a national expert in the field of trial advocacy training.

Learn more about NITA’s Building Trial Skills Program here.

Deposition Skills: Kansas City
August 13, 2015 thru August 15, 2015
Univeristy Of Missouri-Kansas City

C. WILLIAM OSSMANN
3rd Judicial District
Program Director

Bill Ossmann is presently a District Court Judge for the Kansas Third Judicial District.

Prior to assuming the bench in August 2013, he was the Chief Litigation Attorney for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. He assumed that position in November 1997. His responsibilities included directing and coordinating the legal defense of the state, the agency and its employees in federal and state courts.

Mr. Ossmann was in private practice for a short time following his admission to the bar in 1977 and his early experience included work as a Guardian Ad Litem with the Shawnee County District Court. He was a criminal prosecutor from November 1, 1978 until January 8, 1993 serving as an Assistant District Attorney and later First Assistant District Attorney in Shawnee County. He worked with the Kansas Department of Agriculture as a Special Assistant Attorney General from early 1993 until November 1997.

Mr. Ossmann has been certified as a Criminal Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (1992-1997). The Kansas County and District Attorney’s Association selected him to be Prosecutor of the Year in 1990. He is active as a Master in the Sam A. Crow Inn of the American Inns of Court where he is the President-Elect.

Mr. Ossmann is an adjunct professor at Washburn University School of Law where he teaches trial skills, depositions and cross examination. He has been selected as the Adjunct Professor of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.

In 2009 the Kansas Bar Association presented Mr. Ossmann with its Distinguished Government Service Award and in 2013 the Washburn Law School Alumni Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award.

Learn more about NITA’s Kansas City Deposition Skills Program here.

Deposition Skills: Seattle
August 11, 2015 thru August 13, 2015
Seattle University School of Law

MATTHEW W. WILLIAMS
King County Courthouse
Program Director

Matthew W. Williams is a King County District Court Judge. King County is the largest population county in Washington State and includes Seattle. Judge Williams handles both Criminal and Civil jury trial matters.

Since 1991 he has taught both Trial and Pre-Trial Advocacy at Seattle University School of Law (University of Puget Sound).

He is committed improving access to justice and the rule of law through out the world. He has led training for judges, advocates, and law enforcement personnel throughout the United States, as well in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Africa. He is a frequent speaker before local high schools, attorneys, and citizen groups, and has given over 500 presentations on issues related to our justice system.

Judge Williams began his legal career with the Nebraska, Iowa, and Washington State Attorneys General where he handled a wide variety of cases ranging from death penalty/criminal appeals to complex commercial and tax litigation. He served as an aviation prosecutor supervising drug and weapons interdiction efforts, and as the Managing Attorney of both governmental and private sector law offices.

Judge Williams is an active volunteer with the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation and serves as a board member of the Auburn Washington Rotary. He has served as a Special Disciplinary Counsel and as an Investigative Counsel for the Washington State Bar Association. He is a former Trustee of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers.

Learn more about NITA’s Seattle Deposition Skills Program here.

NITA Receives “ACLEA’s Best” 2014 Award of Outstanding Achievement in Programs

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photo[August 12, 2014, Boulder CO] The National Institute for Trial Advocacy was honored by the nation’s preeminent current legal education association as an “ACLEA’s Best,” receiving the 2014 Award of Outstanding Achievement in Programs. This 2014 award, occasioned by NITA’s redesign of the NITA Rocky Mountain Building Trial Skills Program, honored several NITA innovations, including incorporating a “flipped classroom” approach in the Rocky Mountain learning sessions. It was awarded at the ACLEA Annual Conference in Boston last week.

What does this honor mean for the lawyer? That, even regardless of CLE requirements, NITA’s programs are and will continue to be among the very best investments that earn gains for the lawyer already in practice. “This 2014 Award underscores that NITA’s work is dynamic, its teaching relevant to changes in the practice, and its programs essential for every trial lawyer and future trial lawyer,” said Karen M. Lockwood, Executive Director.

What makes the Rocky Mountain Building Trial Skills Program award-winning? The award recognizes several innovations.

  • First, NITA prerecorded the Rocky Mountain Program’s lectures and demonstrations, offering them online to program participants shortly before, during, and briefly after the course. “Making this information available outside the program permitted us to increase the amount of performance time at the program—sometimes by as much as two hours each day,” said Program Director and designer of the Rocky Mountain Program, Mark Caldwell of NITA.
  • Second, NITA ran and filmed an actual focus group addressing the case file to be used for the program. By watching it online, participants improved their pre-program case analysis, ability to design direct and cross-examinations, and insight into questions appropriate for jury selection. Over ninety percent of program participants viewed the focus group recording before and during the live program.
  • Third, the NITA program faculty added individual coaching to their teaching arsenal. Building on the legendary NITA-specific faculty critiques and video review feedback, faculty added coaching opportunities to help participants try out faculty’s suggestions for improvement. Participants take this coaching back to the performance room, and see the quality of their own skill further improve.

In past years, NITA received recognition for its books, online deposition programs, and marketing. These 2013 innovations were introduced at the Rocky Mountain Trial Program by Mark S. Caldwell, NITA’s Program Development and Resource Director. Caldwell and Hon. William D. Neighbors serve as co-Program Directors of Rocky Mountain Trial. Team Leaders Hon. F. Stephen Collins, Andrew Deiss, and Amy Hanley also contributed to incorporating these innovations.

NITA is the premier provider and the originator of “learn-by-doing” trial skills training programs. Headquartered in Boulder, CO as a non-profit, it boasts over 700 faculty members around the nation who are trial lawyers, judges, or professors. Founded in 1973, NITA has achieved ongoing innovation in learning, and the respect of the legal profession and law schools.

The Association of Continuing Legal Education Administrators (ACLEA) is the national trade organization for continuing legal education providers, bar association training arms, law firm professional development, and law school CLE instructors. Each year, ACLEA recognizes achievements in program design, publications, and marketing. Receiving an award is acknowledgment by peers for excellence in providing containing education for lawyers.

Teaching with NITA: A Report from the Rocky Mountain Basic Trial Program

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This article was re-posted with permission from Chris Behan and the Advocacy Teaching Blog

Suparna Malempati is the Director of Advocacy Programs at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. From time to time, she guest blogs for us. In this blog, she shares her recent experience teaching in a NITA program. I wholeheartedly endorse all she has to say about teaching with NITA, and I recommend the experience for anyone who loves trial advocacy, teaching, learning, and having fun with a great group of people.

The end of an enriching work trip is often bittersweet. On the one hand, you are glad to be home to familiar surroundings and the routine of daily life. On the other hand, you miss the intellectual challenge of being in the company of highly accomplished professionals. I certainly felt that way after four days of teaching with NITA at the Rocky Mountain Basic Trial Program. 

I had wanted to teach with NITA for years. I am not entirely sure how I finally ended up on the roster, but I am grateful to Mark Caldwell for allowing me the opportunity. The program was extremely organized and well run.

I was asked by a few people whether it met my expectations. But before I arrived in Boulder, I truly was not focused on what the experience would be like for me. I was primarily concerned with my own preparation. I reviewed all my notes from the NITA teacher training, I re-read Steven Lubet’s book, I watched all the NITA webcasts, and of course, I read the problem. I wanted to make a good impression and I wanted to impart something useful on the participants. And I hope I did. 

The program was designed to provide maximum time for participants to be on their feet executing skills, while allowing for continuous faculty feedback. The pace of each day was constant, with very little down time. Students received oral feedback from at least two faculty members, individual feedback on their videos, and one-on-one time with a faculty member to repeat the skill. Organization of all the moving parts was tremendous and effective. 

What impressed me as well was the camaraderie among the faculty and the sincerity with which they all approached their task. Our common goal was to impart useful advice, skills, and tips to new lawyers to help them improve their trial techniques. Each and every faculty member brought a unique perspective, but shared the desire that the students grow from their participation in the program. The students were also sincere and eager to learn. The combination of exceptional faculty and earnest students made the experience phenomenal.

Moreover, I learned a great deal from my colleagues. Trial lawyers do not mind when other trial lawyers use their material—we permissibly steal from each other. I am renewed and excited to continue teaching trial skills and advocacy. And if it is not completely obvious, I thought the program was fantastic. 

Suparna Malempati 

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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