A lawyer at a large firm in Chicago snapped his attention from drafting at his desk to a vague spot on the wall opposite. His mind raced around that same loop: his trial—the first one he would first chair—was only two months off. No, he had not neglected his trial prep. His team was ready with proposed trial exhibits, the graphics for the economic expert were in final design, the handful of dispositive motions to narrow the issues would be argued in a month. His team was poised to then submit written motions in limine. The office preparation matched the timeline.
He looked up because, for the third time, he could not control his respiration rate as he contemplated delivering the opening. He could not get a bead on the approach to cross for three witnesses. And he just knew he would lag in confidence as he stood in the well of the courtroom. He had little direct trial experience—his advocacy work had been in motion hearings, trial-type administrative hearings, and as second chair taking a trial witness or two as assigned. And he felt rusty. “Well,” he said, “there has to be a first time.”
NITA alums share the assurance that they already met their “first time.” They confronted and conquered these same fears earlier, along with other NITA learners, when a client’s matter was not at risk, and when plenty of seasoned trial faculty were attentive with critiques, coaching, and support focused on each person. Whatever the new trial challenges they will meet, they will never again suffer the lead-foot, memory-erasing loss of confidence about guiding the trial and performing their advocacy.
What Else Alums Share
NITA Alums share more, too. When they look across the courtroom, they recognize other lawyers to be advocates who also learned trial skills at NITA.
More than this, they share a fondness for the memory of that NITA week even ten years later. They know that a colleague who took the NITA trial program five years earlier feels the same way. After whatever program, whenever performed, the alum understands its transformative power. And the alum knows that the other NITA alum across the courtroom feel the same way.
Now to my “special” point. NITA alums want to tell about their experience. They want to pass the secret on and invite someone they think is special to do NITA.
And so I conclude with my news: NITA Program Directors in programs around the country gather annually to plan and share their insights. This year, they are reaching out within their regions, and asking you to reach out too, to lawyers who should attend NITA now.
- Spreading the word means taking someone by the hand who is ready for this transformation, and asking them to sign up. You mean a lot to that person, and your NITA connection is special.
- Spreading the word means taking what you want to tell about your experience and actually sharing it.
- Spreading the word means making connections with other alums and remembering about your NITA experiences.
Sure, the Program Director in your area is the person who led the entire program as “dean,” as top coach, as master demonstrator, as chief cheerleader—as organizing advocate for your learning. But your faculty feels as strongly. And your colleagues in the program do. More than that—you know others who have done NITA but you have never introduced the conversation. Ask them! Find them! And when you find people who have not had the NITA experience, tell them about yours and the difference it made.
NITA alum share something special. I am asking you to share it when you speak with others. Invite them in. The stronger they are, the more they gain from NITA. We welcome all—the most inclusive “tribe” in America.
Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President & Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
2012 began NITA’s journey towards its next 40 years. The continued theme this year was innovation throughout our learn-by-doing programs, publications, and studio71. The end of 2012 has brought some exciting transitions to the NITA community. We say farewell and thank you to our beloved Executive Director, John Baker, and are excited to welcome Karen Lockwood as our new leader. She brings a new level of excitement and eagerness to NITA.
This year in Programs NITA ran 22 public service programs, 121 custom programs and 60 public programs. Technology and innovative advancements continue to reign through our in-person programming with adding in video lectures to be viewed prior to the programs, advanced drills technique, improved online program platform and training in new skills. Spanning the three sectors of programs and the dedication of our faculty, NITA has trained nearly 5,000 attorneys during this calendar year. You should all be proud of this number.
The NITA Foundation continues to sponsor a number of legal service attorneys and need-based attorneys to attend our public programs. The Foundation awarded 71 public service enrollment spots and 88 need-based scholarships. Thank you for everyone’s generous donations that make this possible.
The Publications team has published nearly 20 books. Of those books, six were new case file titles and four were new or updated additions to the Malone’s Little Books series. Since October, NITA has released 20 e-books, which are now available on Amazon and iTunes. We are also working on an enhanced e-book of The Effective Deposition which will include video, and should be released in January. Over the next year we plan to convert the rest of NITA’s backlist titles, as well as new titles as they are published, to the e-book format.
In its first full year studio71 really took off. We were able to hold, and fill, six online deposition programs and we have nine on the calendar for 2013. These programs truly are one-of-a-kind, as was shown when they were named the winner of the ACLEA’s Best Award for Programming in 2012. This fall marked NITA’s first live webcast which will kick start us going into 2013, when we will have at least one live, online event each month. In addition to the online learning-by-doing programs, live webcasts, and growing on-demand content library, studio71 also houses the content library for program directors to review and select content to be used in their programs. Thanks to everyone who has lent their expertise to this growing content library. We would not be able to make these innovative leaps without your contributions.
We cannot thank you enough for all you do for our organization. Your volunteer teaching efforts make a large impact on our mission to reach the legal community all across the world.
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