Tag Archives: National Institute for Trial Advocacy

Individual Donors Make a Big Impact

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Special Thanks to Mike Ginsberg, Doug Irish, Leo Romero, Ben Rubinowitz, and Robin Weaver.

The NITA Foundation spotlights the generosity of individual donors who are passionate about supporting new Public Service Slots for Public Programs. Mike Ginsberg, Chair-Elect of the NITA Board and Partner with Jones Day donated $2,500. Doug Irish, NITA faculty member and attorney with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, gave $1,000. Leo Romero, Chair of the NITA Board and Emeritus Law Professor at the University of New Mexico Law School, gave $1,500 for scholarships to Rocky Mountain regional programs. Ben Rubinowitz, NITA Board member and Partner with Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz, donated $5,000 for scholarships for Northeast regional programs. Robin Weaver, NITA Board member and Partner with Squire Sanders, gave $1,800. We are so grateful for these donations. To join their efforts please make a gift today at www.nita.org/Donate.

International Academy of Trial Lawyers Show Support

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Donation of $10,000 to the NITA Foundation

The International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) made a generous gift to the NITA Foundation in June of $10,000. The contribution to the Annual Fund will be used to bolster scholarships and public service programs.

The Academy is a group of truly elite lawyers representing both sides of the Bar: prosecutors and defense lawyers in criminal cases and plaintiff’s and defense counsel in civil litigation (including business and personal injury cases). While the majority of the Fellows come from the U.S., the Academy includes lawyers from more than 30 countries. Fellowship is by invitation only, and trial lawyers are invited to become Fellows only after an extremely careful vetting process. For more information about IATL please visit www.iatl.net.

State Bar of New Mexico Supports Public Service Slots for Public Programs

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The NITA Foundation would like to thank the State Bar of New Mexico for its recent $600 donation and its ongoing support of the Public Service Slots for Public Programs.

“The State Bar works closely with the University of New Mexico Law School and the Board of Bar Commissioners and felt that the expenditure was for a worthwhile and important program,” said Joe Conte, Executive Director, State Bar of New Mexico.

The State Bar is a professional membership organization comprised of attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of New Mexico. Established in 1886, the State Bar currently has over 8,871 members. The State Bar of New Mexico was incorporated under the laws of the State of New Mexico in 1978. Prior to that, the State Bar operated as an agency of the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico, established by State Statute on March 17, 1925. For more information please visit www.nmbar.org.

Public Service Slots for Public Programs

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Your Donation Will Help Raise the Final $46,200!

Thanks to donor support, the new Public Service Slots for NITA Public Programs has raised $25,500 in donations but our 2012 goal is $71,700! The scholarship requests are still flooding in!

The new 2012 pilot, Public Service Slots for NITA Public Programs, fully funds program attendance (minus a $200 registration fee). The scholarships are only awarded to public service attorneys in the same region as the public program, and provides four public service slots per trial program and two public service slots per deposition program.

In January, NITA hosted its annual Program Directors meeting and discussed the need for public service attorney slots in NITA public programs. With donor help, NITA is now offering up to four “public service/government” attorney spaces in our public basic trial programs, which will allow these public services lawyers representing the impoverished to train alongside attorneys from private law firms. Since NITA runs almost 15 regional trial programs and 30 deposition programs in geographically diverse cities all over the United States, these spaces will be in high demand and offered to local public service attorneys to attend NITA programs without the need to incur substantial travel costs.

The NEW Public Service Attorney Slots for Public Programs:
* FULLY funds program attendance (minus a $200 registration fee)
* ONLY awarded to attorneys in the same region as the public program
* PROVIDES four designated public service spaces per trial program and two public service spaces per deposition program

These scholarships are distinct from the NITA Foundation’s standard General Scholarship Fund which awards both partial and full scholarships for attending NITA sponsored or co-sponsored public service programs OR public programs; requires applicants to be 100% need-based; and is globally awarded (not limited to a specific region).

In 2011, NITA absorbed the cost of these public service slots accounting for $60,640 of discounts and sponsored 31 attendees. Moving forward, we desperately need funding for these slots to cover the incremental cost of each attendee — $600 for a NITA Trial program or $350 for a NITA Deposition program. The total needed for all the 2012 Public Service Slots is $71,700. Individuals or firms can fund just one public service attorney slot or make a regional gift for multiple attorneys by calling the NITA Foundation at (303) 953-6845.


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Author: Mark S. Caldwell

Few lawyers can successfully try a case without the benefit of some form of notes. Notes can either be a crutch that robs the trial lawyer of spontaneity and persuasiveness or a tool that provides guidance and assurance.

The most common problem with the use of notes is a lawyer’s over-reliance on what he or she has written. This robs the examination, opening statement, jury questioning, or argument of spontaneity and persuasiveness. Worse, reading the written word aloud sounds unnatural and stilted because our brains process aural information in a different location than written information. Except for direct quotes that use specific language for a purpose or evidentiary foundations, the use of written questions should never occur at trial.

The best notes may be compared to refreshing recollection. They are there as triggers that spark our memory on specific topics. Notes are the checklist to ensure that all of the elements are covered.

Notes are as individual as finger prints – no two lawyers’ notes will look the same as we all have different memory triggers. Therefore there is no single model for the best type of notes to use at trial. Following are a list of generalized formats for your experimentation:

1. Initially write out your questions/statement to help organize your thinking and get a visual picture of what you are doing. With your presentation laid out as you want it to flow use your questions to create an outline. Use topics or phrases in place of the written questions;

2. Begin with an outline that organizes your thoughts in chronologic, topical, or relational format;

3. Write out the answers you hope a witness will give. You may even consider writing out the specific story your witness will tell once on the stand. In either case, follow up by distilling the information to outline topics.;

4. Use story boards or pictures that trigger your memory for each topic.;

5. Use the most comfortable of the above mentioned forms to craft an initial outline. Once you have organized the presentation create a chronologic list of headnotes/transitional phrases that divide the presentation into digestible pieces. The headnotes give you guidance but leave you free to craft language on the fly.

The bottom line is that you must find a system that best fits your own comfort zone and then consistently employ that system in everything you do at trial.

Notes should always be large enough that you can read them from several feet away. Consider using type that is large enough to read from two paces away from the lectern. Remember the graphic designer’s mantra, “white space is your friend” and don’t try to crowd too much information on a page. Consider separate pages for each topic. Use a typeface that you can easily read, for example Times Roman or Tahoma.

To make your notes even less of a crutch consider a process that has a headnote or transition for every five to eight questions. Everyone can ask that number of questions without the need of looking at notes for guidance. You can maintain eye contact and appear interested in the answers. It will aid in staying focused on the witness and make the examination appear to be conversational.

The most important part of the process is to experiment before you get to trial. Find out what works for you before you walk into court.