Tag Archives: Executive Director’s Letter

February 2013 Executive Director’s Letter: Where Do You Fit In at NITA?

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Karen M. Lockwood

Karen M. Lockwood

You are a lawyer with trial skills.  You want to join the NITA collaboration, so you want to know where to start.  Or you now teach on the NITA faculty and want to do more.  Matching your energy and ambition to NITA’s organization is not a mysterious process.  As Executive Director, I can suggest a few ways for you to join the fun and learn by “teaching-the-doing”–and in the process, catch the energy that comes from being on your feet among faculty and authors who admire talent and know how hard teaching-the-doing is!

There are many pathways to becoming a contributor at NITA.

Faculty at Public Programs: Find a public program regularly featured near you, and reach out to us or to its NITA Program Director, who is likely a lawyer in your community.  The specialized NITA method requires precise training,  and your training would continue in the first program. The Program Director may identify you as a future faculty member, and we will be happy to know of your expertise and interest!  Who are we looking for?  Some of this:  Suppose you know depositions backwards and forwards.  You know expert witness work.  You get to trial occasionally (these days), have had a large or complex trial, and take leading roles.  You love cross-examination; you make stars out of your own witnesses who tell the story on direct.  Your penchant for oral advocacy is your prize: you wax eloquent but pithy; you read Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill for their poetry; you watch 12 Angry Men or My Cousin Vinny for fun.  We are looking for you. Suppose you are on your way to being that person?  We want you in our Next Generation cadre.

Award Season:   Are you a NITA faculty member already? We need you to be a leader in bringing attention to a NITA colleague for outstanding service as faculty, for development of innovative teaching techniques, or for outstanding service to NITA in general.  Please nominate your candidates for one of the three NITA awards. Be quick!  The deadline is March 1, and if you see reminders in your inbox over the next 10 days, smile and send us a nomination!

NITA Publications:  Yes, NITA is also well-recognized for its high-quality publications specializing in the highest level of practice in trial and dispute resolution.  Whether you have an idea for a new case file that grows out of an interesting scenario snatched from the headlines (or your docket), for a short manual in a key area of advocacy skills, for a treatise on a specialized subject in the litigation or ADR practice areas, or for a fun handbook on the practice of law, let us know.  If you want to write it, let us know that too!  If you have already written something, submit it to our acquisitions group.  We are foresighted, innovative, and practical.  If you want to have fun providing essential advocacy skill knowledge, you will love being one of our authors.

Your Own Voice:  Suppose you have something really important to say about trial and ADR – the practice, the philosophy, the skills, the law school revolution debates, or the practice ethics and professionalism, to name a few ideas.  You don’t need to write an entire article or book.  We want you as a guest blogger.  As you increase the frequency of your guest blogs, you may even become a regular NITA blog contributor.  Contact our blogmaster Travis Caldwell to enter the NITA blogosphere, or just send him your proposed posting for review.

Your Viewpoint:  Don’t have time to write a blog post?  Comment on the blog topics we are already posting. Our topics range far beyond straight-up trial skills; they explore the life and experience of being a trial lawyer or ADR professional.  In February, for example, during Black History Month, we are running a series on race in the courtroom.  With three terrific posts up or soon to be posted, we will complete the series with an intense and inspirational video interview with Judge Harrell of the Colorado County Court.   In March we will address gender in the courtroom.  Join the conversation!  Or post your own tips on the LinkedIn Group page.

At NITA we are exciting, innovative, fresh, funny, collaborative, and serious about expanding trial skills across the country.  Watch NITA Notes online, and stay up-to-date with our blog, The Legal Advocate.

And write to me if you want to chat!  klockwood@nita.org






Karen M. Lockwood

January 2013 Executive Director’s Letter: Award Season

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Karen Lockwood

Karen M. Lockwood

Set 1:  As you stand in the well on cross-examination, do you play back particular words of a faculty critique that still help you, as you self-assess your courtroom performance in real time?

Set 2:  How many times have you thought, “I want to do an expert deposition as well as she did,” recalling a NITA faculty’s demonstration of the funnel technique on a particularly difficult expert subject?

Set 3:  Who did you find so innovative and effective in his NITA teaching method that you still find it remarkable?

You should nominate those impactful NITA teachers for one of the 2012 NITA Awards!  The Call For Nominations is on www.nita.org, and nominations close on March 1, 2013.

Whether you are a participant in a public, public service, or custom NITA client program; a NITA co-faculty member; or a NITA Team Leader or Program Director, you know that you learn from our collaborative faculty as soon as you step into the NITA learn-by-doing sessions.  We ask that you scan your memory of these experiences, and contribute nominations for our annual awards.

Three annual awards offer you several opportunities to make a nomination:

  • Robert Keeton Award:  Outstanding service as a faculty member
  • Hon. Prentice Marshall Award:  Development of innovative teaching techniques
  • Robert Oliphant Award:  Outstanding service to NITA


The Committee is eager to review many nominations of distinguished members of our community who excel in quality teaching, creativity in teaching and design, and service to the organization. We also provide with the Call For Nomination names of previous award recipients in each category. Please reflect upon your experiences with NITA throughout 2012 and before, and think of those not yet honored who richly embody the talents spoken to by these three awards.

The Nomination Form for the 2013 NITA Awards details the three awards. NITA will announce the Awards by May 1, 2013.

Many contribute their time, energy, and expertise to NITA.  These awards are an important acknowledgment of the critical and innovative work that has made NITA the leader in advocacy training, and the originator of the learn-by-doing legal teaching method.  The award winners represent many like them among our loyal faculty, authors, donors, supporters, and collaborators.

Join us, and thank you!





Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.

Executive Director

December 2012 Executive Director’s Letter: You Say Good-Bye, and I Say Hello . . . (Feel the Beat)

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Karen M. Lockwood

Whether you remember the Beatles’ song, or you remember John Baker’s ED Letter in November’s NITA Notes, you will know this:  John has wistfully said good-bye as NITA’s Executive Director. Thank you, John, for your terrific service.

And I say hello – hello from our staff of 32, and hello from me personally to each of you.

May we impress you with a few 2012 data points about NITA?

  • 5000 attorneys trained in public, custom and public service programs
  • 59 public programs across the nation
  • 125 custom programs for agencies, firms, and entities
  • 24 public service programs
  • 10 international programs
  • 750 superb selected trial lawyers, judges, and professors teaching in our programs
  • 3 Next Generation award winners to teach in public programs
  • Many newly released print publications
  • 59 videos – some NITA classics – posted for downloading on studio71
  • 20+ e-Books!  On Amazon and iTunes, ready for your e-reader to notate, highlight, and personally index
  • ** First Ever!  Enhanced e-book you can WATCH – The Effective Deposition. Stay i-tuned . . . .
  • 161 scholarships for public-service and need-based applicants to learn-by-doing with us
  • 13 law firm, foundation, and organizational donations to the NITA Foundation
  • 139 individual and firm donors to the NITA Foundation as of this writing

Feel the beat as we enter 2013.  We have two pillars of NITA that orient much of what we do:  Learning-by-Doing, and Trial Advocacy.

Under the first pillar, we work amid a changing environment wherein law schools – and colleges – flock to their new imperative of integrated learning. This is a concept and practice that NITA’s founders invented 41 years ago. Our program clients have practiced this with us over the years. NITA has much to contribute.

Under the second pillar of Trial Advocacy, we write and teach advocacy amid a change in the balance among venues where advocacy takes place.  Though that change is blamed perhaps on the recession, it is now and will remain a force in the practice of law.

What implications and opportunities flow from these dynamic environments is our key question for 2013. We have the right stakeholders to draw together in examining that question:  faculty, authors, program clients, Board members and founders, who work on a long tradition of creating collaborative and inventive NITA practices.  And we have the right staff – committed, imaginative, eager, skilled, poised for the charge forward.

I invite all of our stakeholders to contribute with NITA to this growth.  Our mission, to advance justice by training an ever-more-ready bar of ethical and highly skilled trial advocates, will gain and excel in this changing environment.  I say hello, . . . hello, hello (feel the beat).





Karen M. Lockwood

John Baker

November 2012 Executive Director’s Letter: “Hello” and “Good-Bye”

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John BakerThe “hello” goes out to Karen Lockwood, who will  lead us as NITA’s 8th Executive Director on December 1, 2012.  I have known Karen as one of NITA’s fine public program directors for several years.  I have always viewed her as a talented NITA faculty member, who has had NITA loyalty flowing through her veins. Over the last few months Karen and I have worked shoulder to shoulder in this transition period and I have gotten to know her better.   I am confident that she will apply her considerable talents as a NITA teacher and as a long time trial lawyer to her new job as the future leader of NITA.  Please welcome Karen.

The “good-bye” part comes from me.  I feel honored to have served as NITA’s director for the last three years.  I view my term as being marked by both “a looking back” and “a looking forward.”  I was lucky to participate in last year’s 40th Reunion Celebration, which gave us all an opportunity to learn about our NITA history.  More importantly, the 40th anniversary allowed us to reconnect with our NITA “roots” that were characterized by NITA revolutionizing advocacy skills teaching in 1972.  As we all join with Karen to take NITA forward in this technology-driven 21st century we need to remember our history and be true to our roots of quality and excellence of our programs.

The “looking forward” part has been NITA’s recent exploration of whether and how we can apply the NITA method of learning by doing to online distance learning and other electronic formats. Over the last three years we found that applying the NITA method in these other formats will not replace our traditional face-to-face programs for most NITA participants.  However, the other formats can be used to supplement the traditional programs, to market our programs,  and to reach attorneys who will not ever be able to attend the face-to-face programs.   NITA publications branched out to e-books in a similar way.

This last three years was a NITA team effort. I need to thank all of the NITA team that I was fortunate to work side-by-side with for three years. First, the talented NITA Boulder staff members have gracefully transitioned through economic challenges, through changes in the NITA leadership, and even through change in location without whining and always with allegiance and loyalty to NITA and its mission. Second, the NITA faculty members and program directors have uniformly and unwaveringly supported the NITA mission through their volunteer teaching and their directing of our public and our public service programs. Finally, the volunteer members of the NITA Board of Trustees and NITA Foundation Board shared their talent, their time, and their treasure to insure that NITA weathered all of the rough seas of the last few years.  I have been honored to work shoulder to shoulder with all of you during this three year “adventure.”

I look forward to continuing to teach for NITA and help Karen in any way that I can.




John T. Baker