Tag Archives: NITA

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

The Verdict: A Great Film, “An Ethical Nightmare”

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Image courtesy of IMDb

Image courtesy of IMDb

Paul Newman was one of our greatest actors.  He was nominated for eight Best Actor Oscars,  winning in 1986 for The Color of Money. That was sort of a Lifetime Achievement Award—a number of his other portrayals were much better, including his role as Frank Galvin, a Boston lawyer, in 1982’s  courtroom drama, The Verdict. The film is well-acted, well-directed, dramatic, and, as the book Reel Justice notes, “[I]t’s … in the running for Most Lawyer Misconduct in a Single Film.” (Mark Caldwell and I have used at least four different scenes from The Verdict in our film clip ethics presentations over the years).

Galvin is a lush so down on his luck that we first meet him he is trying to hustle business at the funeral of a man he didn’t know.  He gets a medical malpractice case from a friend. The victim is a young woman in a persistent vegetative state, brought on by a mistaken dose of anesthetic during childbirth.  Galvin is opposed by Concannon, a ruthless defense lawyer, brilliantly played by James Mason (who was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.) Galvin also has to take on the Catholic Diocese of Boston, who owned the hospital. This being a Hollywood movie, you probably have a pretty good idea on how this will end. But the twists and turns are mesmerizing and Newman makes Galvin’s road to redemption as a lawyer and a human being believable and moving.

However, it’s an easier movie to watch if somehow you can forget about all the egregious ethical violations: an ex parte meeting with the trial judge, bribing a witness to disappear, using burglary to obtain evidence, failing to communicate a settlement offer to a client, lawyers communicating with opponents who are represented by counsel, etc. If ethical violations were a drinking game, you’d be hammered before The Verdict was half over.

As a lawyer, you should care about all that, but you can love the movie anyway for its appeal to justice (even if that appeal isn’t based on any admissible evidence.) Whether you’re a lawyer or not, you can love The Verdict as a gripping drama, directed by a great director (Sidney Lumet, who also directed 12 Angry Men) and acted by real pros (Newman, Mason, Milo O’Shea, and Jack Warden, who played Juror Number 7 in 12 Angry Men). It’s those qualities that make The Verdict one of my favorite legal movies.  I bet it’ll be one of yours, too.


I have plenty of movies in mind I want to write about, but please let me know if there’s a movie you’d like to have me review. I’ll try to accommodate requests!

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

NITA Announces New Board President, Members for 2013

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BOULDER, CO: The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) has announced its new Board officers and new members of the Board of Trustees for 2013.  Michael A. Ginsberg, a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Jones Day, has been elected as the Board Chair.  “I am delighted to serve NITA as chair of the Board of Trustees.  I first encountered NITA as a law student nearly 30 years ago, and have had the great pleasure of serving as a faculty member in NITA public and public interest programs throughout the United States and in a number of foreign countries,” Ginsberg said.

Other Board officers for 2013 are:

Leo Romero, Past Chair
Emeritus Professor of Law
University of New Mexico School of Law
Albuquerque, NM

Angela Vigil, Chair- Elect / Secretary
Partner, Director of Pro Bono and Community Service, North America
Baker & McKenzie
Miami, FL

L. Joseph Loveland, Treasurer
Senior Litigation Partner
King & Spalding
Atlanta, GA

New members to the NITA Board of Trustees are:

Hon. Lee Smalley Edmon
Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
Los Angeles, CA

William J. Hunt
Clark, Hunt, Ahern, & Embry
Cambridge, MA

Andrea B. Tecce
Managing Director and Controller of Disputes, Investigations & Economics Segment
Washington, DC

Edwin John U
Partner, Litigation
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Washington, DC

“After more than 40 years of service to the profession, NITA remains the premier lawyer training organization.  I deeply appreciate NITA’s commitment to and focus on the development of the rule of law in emerging countries and its support of the mission of public interest legal organizations, as well as its commitment to training lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates,”  Ginsberg said. He continued, “I am honored and humbled to have been chosen to serve as Board Chair, particularly as NITA transitions to new leadership under the direction of Karen Lockwood.” (Lockwood took over as the new executive director of NITA December 1st 2012).