Tag Archives: NITA Notes

July 2014 Executive Director’s Letter. What “Real People” Activities Are You Planning in August?

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Here are some terms popular now in legal blogs, the legal press, and other purveyors of lawyers’ tools to understand the business of our profession better. (No judgment here – my greatest obsession is to achieve such wisdom.)

  • Teaching Legal Theory / Thinking / Writing
  • Graduate Employment Rates
  • Big-Law / Public service/ Agency
  • Experiential
  • Partner / Senior Associate / Associate / Contract Attorney / Staff Attorney
  • Lead / Empower / Network
  • Mentor / Marketing / Connect
  • Manage / Schedule / Balance
  • Client Development / Promotion / Advancement
  • Goal / Measurement / Assessment

Pause!! Let August recharge your individuality with “real person” activities. Here are some to consider:

  • Swimming laps
  • Community softball (outside the law firm leagues)
  • Jogging groups that include strangers
  • Two weeks with tent, Coleman stove, and a roadmap
  • Practicing with a community choir
  • Walking with the purpose of meeting neighbors

OK, these are not too exciting. That’s why I am starting a contest to share good and better ideas. What are your best “do-able” ways to see different ways of life. To spend time with people who are simply not thinking of topics that keep your attention. To replenish the human in you. To hear and consider how other people are thinking, what they are worrying about, what news headlines are important to them, what they think about these times and their troubles.

In short, how will you use August to deepen your humanity? To broaden your capacity to know how people think who are not at all like you.

In this, you also find your greatest capacity to excel as a trial lawyer. We lawyers need to be real. We need to know how the jury’s gut and heart inform their judgment. What they fear. How they reason. We need to be in their world. Happily, these qualities of a great trial lawyer are acquired by knowing and grooming your own humanity.

So, every week in August include a bit of reality training! Share with us what you are going to do. You might win!




Karen M. Lockwood, Esq.
President and Executive Director
National Institute for Trial Advocacy

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

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

NITA Members Speak at Japan’s PSIM Consortium

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NITA Board of Trustee Chair-Elect Mike Ginsberg and Former NITA Executive Director John Baker traveled to Nagoya, Japan in early November to reinforce NITA’s ties with the Japan’s PSIM Consortium. The consortium is a cooperative organization of over 30 Japanese law schools, designed to improve advocacy skills training in those law schools.  NITA and the Consortium have maintained a formal “cooperative agreement” for almost five years.

Ginsberg presented a speech on the history of NITA, and Baker made a presentation on NITA’s work in studio71, video products and programs, and NITA’s e-publications. The presentations went well and overall the trip successfully reinforced our cooperation agreement.

Regarding the trip, Michael Ginsberg had this to say: “The visit was a wonderful opportunity to reinforce NITA’s relationship with the PSIM consortium which is leading the development of skills training for Japanese law students and practitioners. By sharing NITA’s history, methodology, and plans for the future, we can minimize the learning curve for our Japanese colleagues.”