The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Programs

Training the Lawyer to Represent the Whole Family – NITA Public Service Program

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NITA had the wonderful opportunity to partner once again with Hofstra University Law Clinic for a public service program, “Training the Lawyer to Represent the Whole Family.” This program took place June 4 – 8 and was offered at a highly reduced rate to attorneys who work primarily in the areas of child protection, custody, or juvenile justice. The program was led by NITA Program Director Theo Liebmann for the 11th year in a row.

As the program director, Theo stated, “One of the best parts of this program is being a part of such an inspiring group of practitioners. Both the faculty and the participants do more than improve crucial skills – including trial techniques and child interviewing – they remind each other of how vital family advocacy work is, and how it deserves to be approached with at least as much intensity, passion and diligence as any other field of law.”

Furthermore, the program aimed to develop the skills necessary to be competent and skillful attorneys for families and children involved in these proceedings. Participants worked with a faculty made up of nationally recognized experts in family and children’s legal issues while covering topics such as: opening statements, closing arguments, direct and cross examinations of fact, expert and child witnesses, impeachment, interviewing skills, and much more!

At the conclusion of the training, one participant stated, “NITA was a wonderful training, I feel like it helped remind me of the fundamentals and I emerged a more confident litigator.”

Likewise, another participant stated, “By far this has been the best CLE program I have taken in my six years of practice. I am confident that my litigation skills have improved as a result of the 5 days I spent in the program, and I believe my clients will be better represented in court as a result.”

NITA continues to be grateful for our ongoing partnership with Hofstra University Law Clinic and for the opportunity to continue training family law advocates.

Southern University Law Center – A NITA Public Service Program

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NITA Faculty (from left to right): Anita Royal, Arvind Wiswanathan, Judge Michael Washington, Angela Porter, Lauren Reeder, and Jude Bourque

On May 21 – 24, NITA continued our partnership with Southern University Law Center (SULC) in Baton Rouge, LA, by putting together a trial skills training public service program for over 30 attorneys. NITA Program Director Jude Bourque led the training which was met with high praises from the participants. The 4-day training aimed to improve trial skills for both new attorneys, and refine those skills for attorneys who have been in practice for several years. Some of the skills taught included: direct/cross examination, exhibits and laying foundations, opening statements and closing arguments.

Jude also worked with Director of Clinical Legal Education at SULC, Virginia Listach, to put together a schedule that would suit the needs of the participants. Virginia stated, “This is the 3rd year Southern University Law Center has hosted the NITA trial skills training for law students and public service attorneys. The skills training and NITA instructors were again outstanding lending themselves as a tremendous source of information, innovative skill techniques and positive motivators. Our participants expressed an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in the skills training they received.”

At the conclusion of the training, one attendee stated, “This training was remarkable. As you know I have little trial experience but I feel like I could handle a short trial right now. I was exposed to direct examinations, re-direct, cross examinations, as well as impeaching a witness. This training was by far the best one I have attended in my short career. The instructors were great, realistic, and very non-threatening. I highly recommend this training for first year attorneys.”

Likewise, another attendee stated, “The NITA training was an excellent refresher and enhancement to my trial skills. As far as assisting legal aid clients, it will help because the training gave me new and different perspectives on trying a civil case… many thanks to everyone who made this training experience possible.”

NITA is grateful to have had the chance to continue working with SULC for the third year in a row on a public service program as we continue in our journey to providing access to justice for all attorneys.


Regional P&A Advocacy – A NITA Public Service Program

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On April 24 – 26, a group of NITA faculty went to Frankfort, KY for a public service program for 24 attorneys – all from a variety of organizations such as Disability Rights of Pennsylvania, Kentucky Legal Aid, Disability Rights of Ohio, and more. The program was led by Jayme Cassidy, who began teaching with NITA in 2004.

At the conclusion of the program, Cassidy stated, “It was a pleasure designing this program and working with the Prosecution and Advocacy attorneys. These passionate lawyers come from various backgrounds both personally and professionally. They came together with a common goal to learn how to represent their vulnerable clients more effectively. One performance at a time, these advocates dedicated themselves to elevating their lawyering skills using the NITA method. It was rewarding for the entire team to witness significant improvement each performance!”

Not only did Cassidy find the program to be rewarding, but the participants as well found that they learned a great deal during the three-day program.

“I received great guidance regarding my oral advocacy skills, and I felt comfortable with my peers and advisors . The documents were thoughtfully made for the program. This was well-structured, organized, and I would take a course like this again,” stated one participant.

Overall, the participants felt the opportunity to practice their skills in front of a knowledgeable team of faculty was very beneficial and appreciated the feedback.

Office of the Public Defender Lagos State Ministry of Justice/NITA Public Service Program

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The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) and the Office of the Public Defender Lagos State Ministry of Justice worked together for the second year in a row on a public service program which trained approximately 70 attorneys on skills such as: direct and cross examination and use of experts. Judge Ann Williams served as Program Director – both in 2016 and again in 2017. Judge Williams worked with Yetunde Ajayi at the Office the Public Defender, in order to put together a 5-day program to meet the needs of the attorneys.

As a result, many of the participants felt their skills greatly improved by the end of the program. One attendee stated, “The course was illuminating and enlightening. I have gained a better understanding of the rudiments of examination and I am truly grateful to all the faculty members for this training.”

Similarly, another attendee stated, “The course was very effective, especially the relevance of the materials. The faculty was very knowledgeable and their teaching techniques were superb.”

Not only did the attendees who participated in the program have great things to say at its conclusion, but Yetunde also stated the program was fantastic once again this year. “It packed so much information and my colleagues and I learned so much in preparation for forensics being introduced into our criminal justice system with the opening of our new DNA & Forensic Center. The faculty was wonderful and we are so grateful to all the members who have offered up their time and NITA for providing the funds to make the program possible. Thank you very much.”


Furthermore, NITA Faculty J.C. Lore, who taught at this program, spoke with NITA’s Senior Legal Editor, Marsi Buckmelter, about his experience. To read the full article click here.

Equal Justice Works/NITA Public Service Program

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October 29-30, NITA and Equal Justice Works (EJW) joined together for a public service program held in Arlington, VA – one day after the Equal Justice Works Conference. NITA and EJW have worked together for several years – this year alone training over 30 EJW Fellows. NITA Program Director Marcia Levy, who has staffed over 100 NITA programs over the years, led the trial skills training, working with a team of NITA faculty and EJW Events & Special Projects Manager, Anita Adams.

The two-day training consisted of skills such as opening and closing statements and direct and cross examinations. After the training concluded, Marcia stated, “It was an incredibly rewarding experience to have gathered together a most dedicated team of NITA faculty, who volunteered their time to provide trial advocacy training to the Equal Justice Works Fellows. The Fellows are smart, passionate and fired up to represent the most underrepresented clients, and it was thrilling to be able to work with them to increase their skills, thereby supporting their impactful work.”

Furthermore, the attendees of this program felt as though their trial skills were greatly improved. One participant stated, “This was extremely helpful, and the instructors were all excellent in the direction and guidance they gave. I really appreciated this great learning opportunity.”

Another attendee stated, “The NITA training course was fantastic – it met me right where I was and provided concrete tips to improve. It also let me get out jitters about performing in the legal arena. Additionally, all of the teachers were helpful and incredibly entertaining. I highly recommend this program and am grateful I got to participate.”

As with all NITA programs, the participants were given the chance to practice each skill over the course of the training and receive immediate feedback from the faculty. Many of the participants agreed that this approach was very helpful and that the faculty were extremely knowledgeable. NITA is grateful to have been able to work with EJW once again on a public service program and hopes to continue training efforts together for many years to come.

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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