The Legal Advocate

A blog brought to you by the national institute for trial advocacy

Category Archives: Public Service Efforts

NITA is devoted to providing all lawyers with access to legal skills training. Public service programs created by NITA teach relevant advocacy skills to dedicated groups of attorneys and advocates who represent underserved communities. We also try our best to accommodate organizations that apply and match our public service criteria by also extending reduced fee programming.

Capital Area Private Defender Services – NITA Public Service Program

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On September 19 – 21, NITA teamed up with Capital Area Private Defender Services (CAPDS) for a public service trial skills program in Austin, TX. CAPDS is a joint venture non-profit organization dedicated to assisting indigent clients facing criminal charges. This public service program trained 36 attorneys and was led by NITA Program Director Michael Dale, who has taught at over 100 NITA programs throughout the years.

Deputy Director of CAPDS, Bradley Hargis, worked closely with NITA to put the program into motion and stated that CAPDS was very grateful to NITA for making the training possible.

Likewise, one attendee stated, “Great course! One of the faculty described it as Spring Training and I agree. I could do this once a year. The faculty were outstanding. Nobody was there to show off. They were honestly there to teach.”

Similarly, another attendee stated, “It was a great course and I learned a lot. It was really helpful practicing the skills in small groups. I always found the commentary/feedback from the faculty really helpful and important. I feel like I really improved my skills and learned the practical notes that were taught.”

 

Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction – NITA Public Service Program

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On September 14 – 15, NITA had the opportunity to work with the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction (AAAA), for a public service program held at The Brown Palace in Denver, CO. This experiential program trained 120 attorneys by NITA Program Director JC Lore who did a series of lectures, demonstrations, and workshops for the attendees on skills such as direct/cross examination, case analysis, and taking/defending a deposition.

Attorney and AAAA Past-President, Colleen Quinn, worked closely with NITA to put the program into motion. At the conclusion, Quinn stated, “The NITA training provided by JC Lore was fantastic! In my 30 years as a trial attorney it was the best I have ever received. JC was entertaining, energetic and thoroughly knowledgeable. He delivered a day and a half of spot-on deposition and trial taking techniques that included a lot of trainee participation and  hands-on activities. In taking my first deposition after the NITA training, I felt so much more confident in my skill set. Thank you NITA and JC!”

A huge thank you to JC Lore for such a great program in this experiential format as NITA continues our training mission.

National Disability Rights Network – NITA Public Service Program

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For several years, NITA and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) have partnered on public service training programs in order to help improve the skills of these advocates. NDRN is a nonprofit membership association for the 57 Protection and Advocacy system agencies (P&A), a system which was established in 1975 by federal statute specifically to  protect the legal and human rights of persons with disabilities.

This year, Program Director Cynthia Goode Works, led the NITA faculty team in a 2-day deposition skills program training 16 advocates. The program took place in Baltimore, MD. Goode Works has served as a faculty member at over 100 NITA programs and continues to be a part of the NDRN program year after year.

“For almost 20 years I have had the opportunity to teach for NITA. Teaching in the NDRN Public Service Program is the most rewarding and most meaningful program I have taught. Some of the advocates have physical and mental disabilities but all of their clients have disabilities. These advocates represent this most deserving populations with tenacity and dedication to ensuring they receive the best representation possible. I commend all of them for their commitment to excellence in their craft and profession,” stated Goode Works.

NITA is very grateful to have had the chance to join forces for another year with NDRN and we hope to continue our partnership for many years to come.

Colorado County Attorneys – NITA Public Service Program

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NITA had the opportunity this year to partner with the Colorado County Attorneys for a public service program. The program took place June 7 – 8 in Grand Junction, CO as part of the Colorado County Attorney’s Annual Conference. Over 40 Colorado County attorneys were in attendance for the trial skills program led by NITA Program Director Tom Swett who had great things to say about the program.

“With a great team of experienced NITA volunteer-faculty, we provided focused trial skills training to Colorado county attorneys who often don’t have the resources or time to get skills coaching on how to be better advocates to protect children in dependency and neglect cases. The catch – we only had eight hours to teach and practice case analysis, direct and cross-examination, impeachment, and exhibits. The NITA training was offered as part of the Colorado County Attorney’s Association annual meeting so we only had a day’s worth of time to do what normally is taught in three days. So, instead of 45-minute lectures, we have mini-lectures and demonstrations (5 minutes at the beginning of each session) and used the majority of our time to have the attorneys practice these skills and receive individual feedback from F. Stephen Collins, Judge Robert McGahey, John Watson, Judge D. Brett Woods, and myself. With tight schedules and budgets, it takes extra creativity and dedicated volunteers to make this work. Luckily, since NITA’s start in 1971, it has had 47 years to nurture the collegiality and relationships so that attorneys jump at the chance to volunteer their time and talent to help continue this tradition for the next generation of attorneys,” stated Swett.

Likewise, Assistant County Attorney Rebecca Wiggins, who first reached out to NITA for this program opportunity, said that each faculty member was great and the program received very positive feedback.

One attendee stated, “The learning-by-doing method was outstanding, and the faculty did a good job of pointing out various areas of improvement with each student so everyone could benefit.”

NITA will be doing a follow-up program this fall with the Colorado County Attorneys and we hope to continue this great partnership for the future. Thanks again to NITA’s outstanding faculty members!

New Mexico Public Defender’s – NITA Public Service Program

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For the second year in a row, NITA joined forces with the New Mexico Public Defenders in Albuquerque for a trial skills public service program. NITA Program Directors Joleen Youngers and MJ Barr led the 32-person program and worked hard to develop a schedule that would help improve skills including how to present expert testimony and how to cross-examine experts.

Barr stated that, “The New Mexico Public Defenders are chronically out-numbered by their caseloads and the prosecutors while the state of New Mexico struggles to even the playing field. NITA, through its Public Service Programs, stepped in to lend a hand. This year’s two-day program focused on improving advocacy skills for examining experts at trial. Scientific advances continue to be injected into our courtrooms and lawyers need special skills to examine these special witnesses.”

Similarly, after the program concluded, the participants felt the NITA Faculty were of high quality and that the practice with objective feedback was an amazing learning tool.

Furthermore, Training/Recruitment Manager at the Law Offices of the Public Defender in New Mexico, Patricia Anders, stated, “Far too often public defenders are demoralized by the lack of resources available for high quality training on complex litigation matters. The hands-on NITA program reinvigorated and inspired our attorneys and provided them with the practical litigation skills necessary to achieve justice for indigent defendants in New Mexico.”

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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