The Legal Advocate

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Category Archives: Programs

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.

LEAP/NITA Public Service Program

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NITA once again joined forces with LEAP, a non-profit organization in New York, to provide a public service program. NITA and LEAP worked together in 2015 on a Teacher Training and a Trial Skills program but this year the topic was Trial Evidence. The training took place October 2-3 in New York and was generously hosted by the law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  Senior Vice President of CAMBA, Inc., Janet Miller, was instrumental in working with NITA to put the training together.

NITA Program Director Barbara Barron, who has been a NITA Faculty member on over 100 programs, brought her knowledge and advocacy skills to lead this program. Some of the skills taught included: direct examinations, evidentiary foundations, direct examination with exhibits, and more. As is true NITA fashion, the participants were able to practice these skills and received direct feedback.

One participant stated, “I really liked the course and am glad I was able to attend… The faculty was excellent at demonstrating and pushing us to perform.” Likewise, others agreed they gained many skills from this training

Kansas Public Service Advocacy Skills/NITA Program

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On October 26-28 NITA headed to Kansas in order to conduct a public service training which was funded by a grant from the Kansas Bar Foundation. This training has been conducted for many years and was once again led by NITA Program Director, Judge C. William Ossmann who worked alongside longtime NITA Faculty Mark Caldwell and Judge Robert McGahey from Colorado, as well Public Defender Jessica Glendening, Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Slinkard, and Criminal Defense Attorney Paul Oller. Together – this team trained a diverse group – 6 legal aid attorneys, 3 public defenders, 4 prosecutors, and 4 attorneys from the Attorney General’s office.

The faculty came from a variety of backgrounds which brought immense knowledge on trial skills to the training. Of the diverse faculty, one participant stated, “The faculty worked well together and I appreciated that their feedback and remarks had consistency.”

The trial skills training was held at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kanas. This three-day training included skills such as: direct and cross examination, analyzing exhibits, and opening and closing arguments – following the tried and true NITA Method.  One participant stated, “This course was fantastic and I was able to use the tips and tricks I learned that weekend as soon as I was back in the office on Monday. I already feel more confident going into court because I am following the steps NITA laid out for me.”

Furthermore, Program Director C. William Ossmann stated, “It was rewarding to see everyone using their time together to improve their trial skills to benefit their clients, no matter where they might be seated in the courtroom.”

The Kansas program shifts year to year from eastern Kansas to western Kansas and will return to Topeka in 2018.

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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