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    Letter from the President
  • TWO full jury trials
  • Expert witness sessions with both economic and technical expert witnesses
  • Motion argument sessions
  • Jury selection exercises
  • Focus groups for trials
  • Special lecture presentations by noted authors
  • National faculty, composed of specially invited lawyers, judges, and law professors
  • Networking opportunities with lawyers from across the United States and from around the world
  • More trial experience than many lawyers see in years
These are the reasons to attend this year's 38th National Session. Led by Team Leaders Michael D. Johnson (Little Rock, AR), Ben B. Rubinowitz (New York, NY), and Susan Ross Steingass (Madison, WI), the faculty will be composed of judges, lawyers, and professors selected from the highest ranks of NITA's national faculty. By all accounts, this program will continue the tradition of excellence, innovation, and professionalism that has distinguished the National Session since its inception in 1972.
Those who are selected to attend the National Session will have the finest experience that NITA can provide, and they will be able to proclaim themselves a NITA National Session graduate joining a cadre of over 4,000 alumni.
In a time when lawyers must be assertive in showcasing their skills, I urge you to attend the National Session this summer or recommend a colleague or associate.
Many of us can trace our success in the courtroom and the profession to our attendance at the National Session. We look forward to the success of this summer's participants as they join our ever-growing community.
Lonny Rose 

Laurence M. Rose
President & CEO

Judge Earl Strayhorn, Well Wishes to a NITA Friend

February 15 marked a sad day in NITA history, long-time NITA faculty member Judge Earl E. Strayhorn passed away at the age of ninety. 
Many NITA community members have had the privilege of knowing Judge Strayhorn (pictured right, photo courtesy of The History Makers, Judge Strayhorn was an original faculty member of the Building Trial Skills: Midwest program and a frequent faculty member at the National Session throughout the years.
"I knew him [Judge Strayhorn] as a wonderful teacher," said James Carey, a NITA program director and a professor at Loyola University School of Law in Chicago.
"I had several cases in his court, three or four ended in trials. He was very tough, yet humane. If you knew your stuff he treated you with professional courtesy. If you did not, he was prepared to be quite rough. He never treated public defenders differently from "private" lawyers. Nor did he unload on defendants in sentencing in order to make himself look good or to inflate his number of dispositions. He was a proud man, a former Army officer, and full of compassion and good humor. I always felt he was someone to emulate. This is a sad loss." 
To help continue Judge Strayhorn's legacy of service to NITA, consider making a memorial gift in his name to the NITA Foundation. Funds raised will be used for scholarship assistance for attorneys attending the Midwest Regional Program. As a thank you, we will send a letter to Judge Strayhorn's family notifying them that you have chosen to honor his memory in this unique and enduring way.  To make a gift today, please click and write "Judge Strayhorn" in the special request section when you finalize your transaction or e-mail us at for more information.
To read more about Judge Strayhorn's impressive accomplishments and contributions to the country and legal community, read a recent article published in The Chicago Tribune

This Month's Best Practice By Shane Read

In each issue of NITA Notes we feature a NITA faculty member or author who writes an article about what he or she considers their "best practice." This month, Shane Read, author of Winning at Trial (NITA 2007), which won ACLEA's top award for professional excellence, shares his thoughts on closing arguments.
Closing Arguments Are Not Important
There, I said it. For many lawyers, such a statement is heresy. Conventional wisdom holds that closing arguments are the most important part of a trial. In fact, several books have even unwisely been written on the subject of the greatest closing arguments.
How many times have you heard other lawyers say: 1) "don't put all your best arguments in your opening, save some for closing," 2) when you are cross-examining a witness, "be subtle and make your points in closing, not with the witness," and 3) "don't worry if the point you made is not clear, you can tie everything up in closing."
Why are lawyers so often misguided? Accepted practice is based on the belief that jurors will follow the judge's instruction at the beginning of trial: "Keep an open mind during the trial. Do not decide any fact until you have heard all the evidence, the closing arguments, and my instructions."  However, just because the judge says it's so doesn't make it so.
The problem with such conventional wisdom is that while it may be conventional, study after study proves that it is mistaken wisdom. The truth is, jurors have already made up their minds long before you give your closing argument. Instead, you need to realize that the opening statement is the most important part of a trial. A study of 14,000 real and surrogate jurors found that over 80 percent of jurors make a decision about a case after opening statements. (Donald E. Vinson, Jury Psychology and Antitrust Trial Strategy, 55 Antitrust L.J. at 591 (1986).
Another study found that opening statements sharply influence how jurors perceive evidence for the rest of the trial. (Kurt A. Carlson and J. Edward Russo, Biased Interpretation of Evidence by Mock Jurors, 7 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied at 100 (2001).
But do we really need these studies to confirm what simply makes common sense? Malcolm Gladwell in his bestselling book, Blink, points out that there is now an entire field of psychology that studies why humans are constantly jumping to conclusions in a matter of seconds based on very little information.
So, as you get ready for your next trial, make sure that you prioritize your time. You need to put a lot of effort into delivering a powerful opening. That is when jurors are making up their minds about your case. How do you deliver a powerful opening statement? The best way is to model yours after great opening statements given in actual trials. In
 Winning at Trial (
NITA 2007), I show videos and transcripts of the best and worst actual trials to learn from.
You will find an example of a great opening statement in chapter three and an example of one of the worst ones on the DVD included with the book (
click here to see excerpts from the DVD). Good luck, and don't wait until closings to make your point or it will be too late.

Faculty Q&A: Douglas B. Harper 

In an effort to highlight and introduce NITA's faculty, program directors, and authors to the NITA community, we periodically publish one-on-one question-and-answer sessions. In this issue of NITA Notes we are talking to frequent NITA faculty member Douglas B. Harper of Chicago.
Douglas HarperNITA: A little bit about you. What is your legal background?
Douglas B. Harper: I work full time as a trial lawyer, running my own law office in Chicago. I handle general commercial litigation for my own clients, and I also serve as local counsel for law firms located outside of Illinois who need a cost efficient trial lawyer in state or federal court in Chicago. I graduated from Yale in 1981, received my law degree from NYU in 1984, and immediately started as an Assistant DA in Bronx, New York. In 1988, I came to Chicago and practiced civil litigation at a mid-sized law firm for ten years. When the firm dissolved in 1998, I opened my own office. In 2005, I finally caught up with everyone else in the twenty-first century by creating a website at   
NITA: How did you come to know NITA? What is your knowledge and experience of the organization's publications and programs?
DBH: I've been teaching with NITA since 1994, when it was my good luck to be introduced to Professor Steve Lubet who invited me to teach at the Midwest Deposition Program. I've been fortunate to have taught at the Midwest Deposition Program every year since then. Additionally, I've taught at NITA In-House and regional programs [around the country]. 
NITA: Describe your greatest success.
DBH: In January of this year, I achieved the release from prison of an innocent man who was serving a life sentence for crimes he did not commit (People v. David Fauntleroy, 83-C-4979, Circuit Court Cook County). Mr. Fauntleroy had already spent twenty-five years in prison. In 2008, I filed a petition which sought his release based on new evidence which was not available during his trial. In January, the court granted my petition, vacated his conviction, and ordered his release from prison. On January 9, 2009, he walked through the front door of the prison as a free man. I simply don't have the vocabulary to describe how it feels to have contributed to giving this man his life again. The whole event is really so much bigger than I am. It's very humbling in a way that I have no words to describe. 
NITA: How has NITA (or NITA training/experience) played out in your practice?
DBH:  The best thing NITA does for me is give me constant exposure to its amazing faculty. There is simply no underestimating the cumulative effect of working consistently with some of the best trial lawyers and educators in the country. It has been inspiring, educational, and humbling. Every time I'm invited to teach, I get a front row seat to watch good lawyers and teachers at work. 
NITA: Describe your teaching style in two sentences.
DBH: When I'm teaching, I try to figure out just one thing for each participant that will help him or her the most. At the end of the program, I want each person to have learned that one thing, take it back to the office, and be able to use it. 
NITA: Why do you think an attorney should attend a NITA program?
DBH: NITA programs work. The NITA philosophy of learning-by-doing will teach the basic theory to a new lawyer who has never practiced litigation, and it will teach the advanced details to an experienced lawyer who wants to become better. 
NITA: What else do you want the NITA community to know?
DBH: As NITA faculty, we should work together more often. The NITA community makes a great meeting place for good lawyers and legal educators. Every time I'm invited to teach a NITA program, I'm excited about the opportunity to work again with lawyers who have impressed me in the past and meet new lawyers I would never have met if not for NITA.

The Baker Botts 2009 NITA Trial Program

Reprinted with permission from the Baker Botts LLP internal newsletter; written by Courtney Armet.
Baker Botts held its annual NITA Trial Training Program outside of Denver, Colorado beginning Saturday, January 31, 2009 and concluding Saturday, February 7, 2009. The National Institute for Trial Advocacy's (NITA) trial training program is an intensive, practical trial skills course taught by experienced litigators from outside the Firm. It is taught over the course of a week and ends with the lawyers participating in a mock trial. The program is one of the Firm's flagship professional development opportunities and was a huge success this year.
Lawyers from the Austin office included Jen Cafferty, Brendan Day, Anthony Iannitelli, Jim Rizk, and Stacy Rogers Sharp. Lawyers from the Dallas office included Susan Cannon, Chris Davis, Aiesha Dennis, Matt Hayenga, Chris Johnston, John Lawrence, and Eric Söderlund. Lawyers from the Houston office included Stephanie Coon Bauman, Brad Bowling, Iona Kaiser, Jenny Kingaard, Jack Massey, Josh Nix, and Andino Reynal. Lawyers from the New York office included Sandra Lee, Steve Lendaris, and Rob Maier. The Palo Alto office was represented by Michele Gustafson. The Washington office was represented by Rich Sobiecki.
The NITA faculty includes some of the most premier litigators and legal experts in the field. The Director of the NITA Program is Maureen Howard, a civil litigator and professor at University of Washington School of Law. Joining Maureen's faculty is Mary Jo Barr, a Deputy Public Defender at San Diego County, Henry Brown, a professor at Stanford Law School, James Carey, a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Marsha Hunter, a specialist in courtroom communications, Michael Johnson, the Senior Legal Advisor for the United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas, and last but not least, the Honorable Ann Claire Williams who sits on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
NITA Participants and Faculty
From left to right, top row: Anthony Iannitelli (Austin), Eric Söderlund (Dallas), Jack Massey (Houston), Chris Davis (Dallas), John Lawrence (Dallas), Matt Hayenga (Dallas), Brad Bowling (Houston), Brendan Day (Austin), Rich Sobiecki (Washington), Andino Reynal (Houston).
Middle row: Susan Cannon (Dallas), Stephanie Coon Bauman (Houston), Jen Cafferty (Austin), Jenny Kingaard (Houston), Stacy Rogers Sharp (Austin), Michele Gustafson (Palo Alto).
Bottom row: Josh Nix (Houston), Michael Johnson (NITA Faculty), Maureen Howard (NITA Director), Hon. Ann Williams (NITA Faculty), Mary Jo Barr (NITA Faculty), Henry Brown (NITA Faculty).

A National Session Success Story

An attendee of the July 2008 National Session, Gregory Lauer, recently contacted NITA to fill us in on his courtroom successes since attending NITA's National Session. Lauer is an attorney with the New Mexico Department of Health in Santa Fe and specializes in labor and health law.
Lauer first learned of NITA at a law school workshop, but it wasn't until his boss returned from a NITA Trial Skills program that she "practically demanded" Lauer attend too. However, funding from his employer was not enough to cover the cost of tuition to attend the National Session. Therefore, Lauer sought and received a scholarship from the NITA Foundation to cover the rest of his tuition expenses. Lauer, a single parent, was so intent on attending this two-week program that he covered the cost of travel and lodging out of his own resources.
"I don't think there is anything to compare with the NITA staff and faculty or the National program that they put together for us," he said.
Lauer often recommends the National Session to other attorneys "especially if it is very unlikely that they will ever serve as opposing counsel in [my] cases," he said jokingly.
Although Lauer is not able to share details of cases, he did say that he recently had an extremely gratifying NITA moment during a cross-examination.
"I helped the opposing party's rebuttal witness become one of my star witnesses," said Lauer. "I think a subjective but compelling measure of what I learned at the NITA National program was in my observation of the opposing counsel as he progressed from a happy confident posture, to hunching forward, clutching his head in his hands and staring abjectly at his notes by the end of my very brief cross-exam."

We know that Lauer is one of many National Session alumni with a success story, and we invite all of you to share your experiences too. Send National Session Program Director, Lonny Rose, an email at to share.

What Other National Session Program Participants Are Saying...

For the first time, in the NITA National Session, I felt like a lawyer.
-Manuel Caloca, Master in Trial Advocacy and in International Trade Law and Law Professor of University (Tec) of Monterrey and The University of Guadalajara Schools of Law
I participated as faculty many years ago at the National program. I continue to think that NITA is the best trial advocacy program available.
-Beth McCann, Deputy Attorney General, Colorado Attorney General's Office, Denver, Colorado
The two week workshop (National Session) and the Hanley workshop on trial advocacy were just phenomenal.
-Michael D. Kaminski, Foley & Lardner, LLP, Washington, DC
Click either of the links below to view videos from participants of last year's National Session. 


In This Issue
Judge Earl Strayhorn, Well Wishes to a NITA Friend
Best Practice
Faculty Q&A: Douglas B. Harper
Baker Botts 2009 NITA Trial Program
A National Session Success Story
What Participants Are Saying
The Docket
Featured Program: Persuasvie Voir Dire for the Modern Lawyer - California
Featured Publication: Federal Rules of Evidence with Objections
National Session All-Time Facts
The National Session - An Experiment in Excellence
The Legacy Goes On - NITA Law School Catalog
Join Our Mailing List

The Docket

Trial Advocacy

Deposition Skills
Featured Program: Persuasive Voir Dire for the Modern Lawyer - California
Jury Selection
From April 23 to April 25 attorneys interested in learning to perfect jury selection techniques will attend the Persuasive Voir Dire for the Modern Lawyer program at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.
For three days participants will learn techniques for building rapport with potential jurors and identifying jurors who may hurt your case the most. Faculty will introduce methods that encourage jurors to talk about issues important to the case, and in true NITA learning-by-doing exercises, participants will practice listening skills and practice excusing and rehabilitating jurors.
To learn more about the program and to learn more about the psychology behind persuasive voir dire, read the program description online.
Featured Publication: Federal Rules of Evidence With Objections
Fed Rule w/ Obj
A NITA bestseller, Federal Rules of Evidence with Objections, eighth edition, is a necessary, quick reference for any litigator. The 4- by 6-inch, pocket-sized book contains the complete text of the Federal Rules of Evidence as amended in 2008 and a comprehensive section of major objections from Anthony J. Bocchino and David A. Sonenshein. Federal Rules of Evidence with Objections also includes practical tips and legal interpretations for each rule, key phrases for objections with thumb tabs for quick reference, and a mini-CD with the entire book in PDF format.
Purchase the Federal Rules of Evidence with Objections, eighth edition, and one of our many other rules books (including state specific rules books) directly from  
National Session All-Time Facts
1.) In all years but one, Colorado hosted the National Session. In 1973, the program was held in Reno, Nevada.
2.) Four different program directors have led the National Session, including Robert  Oliphant, Peter Hoffman, Terre Rushton, and Lonny Rose.

3.) There are 4,124 alumni of the National Session.

4.) 1981 saw the largest attendance with 204 program participants.

5.) The curriculum of the National Session most commonly incorporates the case files BMI v. Minicom and Flinders v. Mismo

6.) Some participants of the National Session traveled from as far as Chile, Uganda, Quebec, South Africa, Uganda, Guam, Namibia, and many other countries.

The National Session: An Experiment in Excellence
Read our in-depth examination of NITA's flagship program, the National Session, in a previous issue of NITA Notes. As one of our most read articles, this profile speaks of history and accomplishments over the last 38 years.
The Legacy Goes On: NITA Law School Catalog is Here
ls cover
The latest Law School Catalog is available for all law school professors and law school librarians. In it you'll find descriptions of NITA's textbooks, our new and revised case files, and information about all of NITA's law school services.
To download a copy of the catalog, visit the NITA Law School Services Web page. Or, to request that a catalog be mailed to you, e-mail us at
Save 10%
Sign up for any NITA public program 60 days before its start date and receive 10% off the tuition of the program.