New Notes Header

    Letter from the President
Free legal services training programs
Free child advocacy programs
Free tribal courts programs
One of the greatest efforts in support of NITA's mission is the presentation of programs for public service attorneys, either for no cost or at a substantially reduced tuition. These programs bring together lawyers who represent the underrepresented in our system of justice with NITA's faculty who support that work through training in advocacy and related skills.
Each year NITA presents over 35 public service programs for attorneys working at public agencies and organizations on the front lines of the justice system in either civil or criminal matters. In addition to these programs, the NITA Foundation provides over $250,000 in scholarship assistance to public service lawyers to attend NITA's regularly-scheduled trial, deposition, and other advocacy programs.
In July, 75 public service lawyers will convene in Louisville, Colorado at the NITA Education Center for a free week-long advocacy training program, specifically designed to meet the issues and challenges faced by those lawyers in their daily practice. This program follows very successful programs for dependency lawyers, disability advocates, women victim advocates, and child advocates. Later programs this year will serve advocates for the elderly, Native Americans, and juvenile defendants, as well as lawyers for the Legal Service Corporation grantees.
All these programs not only reflect NITA's public service mission, but also the dedication of its own resources, staff, and faculty time and funds in providing to these lawyers the same quality educational opportunities that are available to lawyers for firms, corporations, agencies, and organizations who can afford the training.
Join us in supporting this part of our mission. Volunteer to be a faculty member at a public service program, ask your firm to sponsor a program, or donate to the scholarship fund and public service program fund at the NITA Foundation. The feedback we hear from participants is proof that we all can make a difference in the lives of those who need a voice in our justice system.



Laurence M. Rose
President & CEO 

Best Practices

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, faculty member Shahrad Milanfar an attorney and mediator based in the San Francisco Bay Area, shares his ideas about Bruce Lee and his legal practice. Shahrad is also an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco.
What Bruce Lee Can Teach Us About Trial Practice
"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."  ~ Bruce Lee
Mastery of a single kick is much more powerful than glossing over 10,000 different kicks. The same is true of your approach to litigation.

Lee treated the martial arts like a sculptor treats a mound of clay. He encouraged his students to gather as much information as they could and then strip away the unwanted and unnecessary pieces from their training. This allowed their beautiful core techniques to shine through.
In trial practice, this approach allows us to streamline and simplify our cases so that we tell a compelling story that resonates with our audience. We can achieve this by limiting the amount of information presented to a jury. Unfortunately, many attorneys assume, to their detriment, that the more information they pile on, the better chance they have to win. Much like the mound of clay, the arguments won't resonate and take shape until we chip away the unnecessary facts, allowing the story to emerge in a powerful and profound shape.

Covering every fact can become very tedious and boring for a jury. People have a limited capacity to remember information. So the more "clay" you add to the "sculpture," the more likely it is that the core story will be lost.

Look in the forest and find the healthiest trees

Keep the big picture in mind, but hone in on the best points of your case. Think of your theme as the forest, and each point you make as a tree within that forest. Write down all the points you think should be made, then rank them from strongest to weakest. Eliminate the weakest points, scrap the list, and repeat the process until you are left with the three strongest points-they will work well together in establishing and growing your theme.
To eliminate weak points examine the "tree" and make sure that the "roots" are as strong as the rest of the "tree." If the argument won't resonate with the jury or stand up to counter arguments, your tree may topple over in a storm.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

"The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity."
~ Bruce Lee

As attorneys, we tend to use a lot of legal jargon and complicated reasoning. The more we simplify, sharpen, and refine our presentation, the more our case will resonate with our audience.
Take your three strongest points and ask yourself the following questions:

How would I react to these points, if they were presented to me before my law school years?
Would I be interested?
Would I trust the logic behind them?
Would I be persuaded or moved by them?
Would I be confused by the legal jargon?

Then substitute any family member's name for the word "I" and do it again. You may even want to run your ideas by a friend or family member. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Watch to learn
When you have refined the presentation, record and review it in the privacy of your home. This will allow you to look at your presentation objectively and make additional changes to the theme, language, and style.
Remember, the simplicity of one effective kick is much more powerful than 10,000 ineffective ones. Now go out there and let your inner sculptor shine through! Bruce Lee would be proud. 

Q&A With Program Participant, 
Courtenay Morris

Periodically, NITA Notes will sit down and talk with faculty and program participants about their time in Nita City and their outstanding contributions to the legal community. In recent issues we've spoken with program directors like Martin Sabelli as well as program participants like Gregory Lauer. In this issue, we talk with Courtenay Morris-a lawyer, a journalist, alumni of NITA's Teacher Training program, NITA faculty, and a women's rights activist in East Africa.
Morris (pictured below with her husband Jeffrey Gettleman in Somalia), a New York native, has lived in Nairobi, Kenya for the last three years, where she works as a freelance video journalist for the New York Times and assists in various attorney training programs.
NITA: How did you come to know NITA?
Courtenay Morris (CM): NITA has always been a part of my legal training and professional career. In law school, I was involved in the University of Michigan Law School's child advocacy clinic, where I acted as a guardian ad litem for about 10 clients, as well as a juvenile defender for one client. We practiced in the family courts in Flint, Michigan, and some of our courtroom preparation materials were from NITA.
Also, when I was clerking for Judge Katharine S. Hayden, U.S.D.J., District of New Jersey she taught a trial advocacy class at her alma mater, Seton Hall Law School in Newark, New Jersey. I helped her prepare her lessons and acted as a witness in the classroom, etc. I think we even used the NITA Liquor Commission problem, which was also used for the Teacher Training course this March!
I enjoyed attending the Teacher Training course very much. First, it's always great to meet other attorneys, and our batch was particularly fun and diverse. Second, I believe that NITA's Teacher Training course is an excellent opportunity to advance my own trial advocacy skills and share them with others in a part of the world where I can really help improve the practice of law. Ultimately, I would like to become a clinical law professor. Teaching students, and being taught how to teach them, is great preparation for that career goal of mine.

NITA: Will you tell us about your involvement with Lawyers Without Borders?

CM: Last August, Judge Ann Williams (7th Cir.) asked me to be a faculty member at a week-long training for about 50 Kenyan lawyers, some prosecutors and some private attorneys. We trained them on the full panoply of trial advocacy skills. The domestic abuse fact pattern we used worked nicely within the context of the new Sexual Offenses Act that was passed here in Kenya in 2006. Many of the Kenyan attorneys were advocates for women and children, so not only did we teach courtroom skills, but we also had many interesting discussions comparing American and Kenyan law combating sex crimes.

LWOB is planning to have another training in Kenya this summer, and I hope to be a faculty member again, this time with proper NITA Teacher Training under my belt. 
NITA: What other attorney training are you doing in Kenya?
CM: Along with LWOB, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) co-sponsored the attorney training that I was a part of last summer. FIDA is the premiere legal advocacy organization for women here, widely known among Kenyan women as a refuge for those suffering from abuse. It also represents women on inheritance and property disputes, as well as engaging in public interest litigation.
NITA: What is your goal in working with the attorneys in Africa?
CM: Kenya has a very robust legal community, complete with law schools, bustling courthouses, hundreds of practicing attorneys, and a country-wide system of magistrate and appellate judges. But the justice system here still faces enormous challenges when it comes to law enforcement, litigants' rights, fair prosecutions, and overall legal education.
Some examples of these challenges are: many criminal trials here are bench trials where the only record of the proceedings is handwritten by the judge; many serious sexual offenses are prosecuted not by trained lawyers, but by police officers who often don't get the case files until the morning they are scheduled in court.
Despite recent damage to the American criminal justice system, i.e., indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, I still think our United States legal system is one of the strongest in the world. My goal in training Kenyan attorneys is to improve their own
advocacy skills and to share my expertise on family court matters and defending juveniles on criminal charges. My larger goal is to raise the standard of legal practice in this country by raising the level of the lawyers' skill levels so they will demand more from their judges and the Kenyan court system.
NITA: Tell us about your work and your husband's work as journalists? I understand an article was recently published in Slate about his work.
CM: My husband, Jeffrey Gettleman, is the New York Times bureau chief for East Africa, covering Kenya and more than a dozen other East African countries, including the Darfur region of Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I also work for the New York Times as a freelance video journalist. This has been an absolutely amazing experience for me, even though it is not related to the practice of law (and I miss being in the courtroom every day). I had no background in film or video production at all before starting this kind of journalism. But the New York Times gave me a small camera and a computer on which to edit my footage. Jeffrey and I traveled to his entire region, within Kenya, and to Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Congo (DRC), as well as Libya, South Africa and Oman, and we produced about 30 video stories accompanying Jeffrey's news stories.
To view Morris' work for yourself, visit  In particular, watch the January 2009 story about an African man who travels to Washington, D.C., to witness President Obama's inauguration.

Report on South Africa 2008
Trial Advocacy Program

By NITA Board Member Geraldine Sumter
The Trial Advocacy Program sponsored by the Black Lawyers Association-Legal Education Center provided a teacher training refresher course September 27, 2008, in Johannesburg.
A program for trial advocacy was held in Centurion, just north of Johannesburg September 28 through October 4. The participants included private practitioners, newly-licensed, and government attorneys, and four individuals who were not licensed attorneys but who were recently employed by the government as consumer advocates in a newly-established office of consumer advocacy. The number of participants exceeded the expected 54.
The American faculty were Ken Broun, Rudy Pierce, and Geraldine Sumter. The program faculty were seven South Africans who had been trained over the years in trial advocacy and trial advocacy instruction, as well as several members from the judiciary from both the Johannesburg High Court and the Pretoria High Court. The participants were from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Lesotho. The week-long program consisted of a combination of lectures, demonstrations, and simulated learning. The week ended on Saturday when members of the Johannesburg High Court heard trials at the Court's facility in Pretoria.
Members of the Board of the Black Lawyers Association-Legal Education Center were present for the certificate giving ceremony on Friday, October 3. A very impressive number of High Court Judges and leaders of the bar attended.
From October 5 through October 11, the BLA-LEC conducted a trial advocacy program in Durben, South Africa, where nearly 50 participants from various governmental agencies, including the military, as well as private sector and legal services' attorneys participated in the program. Even a member of the bar from Johannesburg was available to participate in Durben. As in the Johannesburg program, the participants concluded the program with simulated trials in the High Court of Durben, which were presided over by members of the High Court.
There were also non-lawyer advocate participants in the Durben program. The government wanted to have these individuals trained in trial advocacy to learn the basic skills for questioning witnesses since in their positions as consumer advocates, they would maintain a caseload, albeit an administrative caseload. These participants were engaged in the training process with the same enthusiasm and attention as their colleagues who were trained in the law.
The BLA-LEC continues to strengthen its ties with members of the judiciary, many of whom are former participants in the program and who are advocates of the program.

Steinhauser Featured on the Today Show

Watch an excerpt from NBC's Today Show where NITA faculty member, Karen Steinhauser of Isaacson Rosenbaum in Denver speaks on behalf of her client, identify theft victim Margot Somerville.

Stacy Receives NALP Award of Distinction for Professional Development and Training

On April 3, Caren Ulrich Stacy, the Director of Professional Development for Arnold & Porter LLP, was honored with a 2009 Award of Distinction for Professional Development and Training by NALP - the Association for Legal Career Professionals - during NALP's 2009 annual meeting.
The NALP Award of Distinction for Professional Development and Training is awarded to an individual, legal employer, or academic institution for the creation and/or development of a comprehensive orientation, continuing legal education, mentoring, or other professional development and training program.
Stacy has more than 15 years of experience in lawyer recruiting, professional development, legal personnel, and diversity for regional and international law firms. Serving as Arnold & Porter's first Director of Professional Development, she has built the firm's professional development program from the ground up. She has worked closely with NITA to develop several In-House programs for the firm.


Dunham Named Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Elon University School of Law 

catherine dunhamProfessor Catherine Ross Dunham has been named Elon University School of Law's associate dean of academic affairs. Since arriving at Elon Law in 2006, Dunham has taught courses in civil procedure, appellate advocacy, pretrial litigation and other courses in the law school's trial practice program. Dunham also serves on the NITA faculty and teaches in regional and national advocacy programs.
As associate dean, Dunham will support the teaching and professional development of Elon Law's faculty, develop the academic schedule, serve as steward of the school's academic policies, and supervise additional departments and programs in the law school.

Hildum Receives COP Medal of Merit

Robert Hildum, NITA faculty and deputy attorney general in Washington, DC, recently received the COP Medal of Merit from the DC Metropolitan Police (MPDC). He was honored at the 9th Annual Awards Ceremony.
All awards are given to District of Columbia agency employees whose work has significantly contributed to MPDC's crime prevention and public service efforts. In the awards program it stated:
"Rob has assisted the District's efforts to affect juvenile crime issues and prosecutions through new legislation such as the Omnibus crime bill, the Heller Decision, and through civil litigation. Mr. Hildum has worked tirelessly on ensuring justice is carried out on all matters under the purview of the Attorney General, assisted MPD in developing its general order on pretrial eyewitness identification, and was instrumental in establishing subpoena guidelines for MPD detectives to use at late hours when its use will facilitate an urgent criminal investigation."
Congratulations to Rob and all the extended members of the NITA community for their dedication.

In This Issue
What Bruce Lee Can Teach Us About Trial Practice
Q&A With Program Participant Courtenay Morris
Report on South Africa 2008 Trial Advocacy Program
Steinhauser Featured on the Today Show
Stacy Receives NALP Award of Distinction
Dunham Named Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Elon University School of Law
Hildum Receives COP Medal of Merit
The Docket
Train Now and Pay Later Option for Unemployed Attorneys
Featured Program: California Coast Deposition Skills
Spring Sale: 15% Off
NITA and the Amazon Kindle
Meet us at the Equal Justice Conference
Join our Facebook and LinkedIn Communities
NITA on YouTube
The Latest in Programs and Publications
Join Our Mailing List

The Docket

Trial Advocacy

Deposition Skills
Teacher Training
Train Now and Pay Later Option for Unemployed Attorneys
NITA launched a deferred tuition program for attorneys who are unemployed due to firm layoffs and firm closure. Eligible attendees are required to pay the $200 program registration fee, but may defer tuition costs until three months after he or she finds employment.
All of NITA's programs, including the National Session, provide many benefits for career development. In addition to refining advocacy skills, NITA programs are an excellent networking opportunity and a valuable addition to any resume.
For more details on the deferred tuition plan, contact NITA at 800-225-NITA. A link to the full press release is located here

Featured Program: Deposition Skills - California Coast
Attorneys interested in fine-tuning their pretrial and deposition skills are invited to our Deposition Skills: California Coast program. From July 30 through August 1, Program Director Lawrence Silver and several NITA faculty will lead program participants through exercises in realistic deposition settings.
You will discover the questioning style that works best for you and build on those skills through NITA's unique learning-by-doing environment. For more details or to sign-up, visit the Deposition Skills - California Coast page online.  

Spring Sale: 15% Off
NITA Publications is delighted to announce our Spring Sale: Receive 15% off on all textbooks and rule books now through June 30! Seize your opportunity to expand your law library with NITA's valuable texts. From classics, such as Effective Deposition and David Ball on Damages, to newer resources including Technology in Litigation and Criminal Procedure in Practice, NITA provides a wealth of information to both new and seasoned attorneys. And don't forget about our handy pocket books--the Federal Rules of Evidence and state-specific evidence books are essential courtroom guides.
To take advantage of our Spring Sale, visit and enter promotional code SPRING15 at checkout.
*Note: This limited-time offer expires June 30, 2009. Discount cannot be applied to case files or CD/DVD products. 

NITA and the
Amazon Kindle
Over 15 of NITA's best-selling publications are now available for download to your Kindle (and the recently released Kindle 2). To purchase a NITA publication for your iPhone, iTouch, or Kindle, visit the Kindle Store and search for "National Institute for Trial Advocacy."

Meet Us at the Equal Justice Conference
If you will be attending the ABA Equal Justice Conference in Orlando, stop by our exhibitor booth to say hello. From May 14-16 NITA representatives will be available to answer questions, discuss upcoming programs, and display our latest publications.
NITA will also be attending the ALA 38th Annual Educational Conference and Exposition in New Orleans May 18 - 21. 

Join Our Facebook and Linkedin Communities
  • Stay in touch with other NITA alumni!
  • Reach out to NITA faculty.
  • Read news from Nita City and fellow NITA community members.
  • Network with like-minded attorneys.
  • Discuss relevant legal issues.
  • Learn what happened in "This Week in Legal History"
NITA now has a presence on the popular social media Web sites, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not only will we list upcoming events, NITA community announcements, legal advocacy tips and resources, but it's also an opportunity for everyone in the NITA community to interact with one another.
While there are postings of upcoming programs and other events, all publication purchases and program sign-ups are completed by calling 800-225-NITA or by visiting  

NITA on YouTube
See excerpts of one of NITA's bestselling books, Winning at Trial by D. Shane Reed, on YouTube! Either click on the image below or visit and search using the words "National Institute for Trial Advocacy." While you are online, watch the special message from NITA President Lonny Rose and hear comments from participants of the 2008 National Session.



The Latest in Programs and Publications
Download NITA's latest programs and publications catalog from Or, if you prefer a hard copy, contact us at to request the spring 2009 NITA programs and publications catalog.

NITA People in
the News
If you or one of your peers would like to be included in the Hearsay section of NITA Notes, please e-mail us at to let us know about your awards, settlements, verdicts, position change, or other accomplishments. 

Save 10%
Sign up for any NITA public program 60 days before its start date and receive 10% off the tuition of the program.