Shortly after I joined Ziff Law, Jim Reed, the firm’s managing partner (and frequent poster on this blog,) told me to sign myself up for the two-week National Session on Building Trial Skills offered by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). “And by the way,” he remarked, “the program is located just outside Boulder, Colorado.”
‘Nuff said. As a former resident of Denver and Missoula, Montana, I am a true lover of the mountains and was ecstatic about the chance to spend some time savoring mountain life. Oh, NITA looked pretty cool as well.
I had no idea at the time that I was about to embark upon a career changing — if not life changing — voyage. Seriously. Two weeks at NITA equaled, for me and I suspect most of my classmates, at least five years of real world trial experience. Unfortunately, as most practitioners recognize, cases are not tried nearly as often today as they were fifty years ago. Increased pressures to settle matters quickly or engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution — such as mediation or arbitration — has created a professional atmosphere in which young attorneys wait years or even decades before ever getting a chance to see a case through to verdict. (The one notable exception is in the area of criminal law, where cases are tried on a somewhat more frequent basis.) (Watch an interview with The Honorable Jim R. Carrigan, one if NITA’s founders.)
I was fortunate to have tried a number of cases as a prosecutor before participating in NITA’s National Session. However, the skills and confidence I gained from NITA are unparalleled. I had an opportunity to test myself against some of the best up-and-coming attorneys in the country — and even the world! The faculty was comprised of seasoned practioners with practical, focused advice on how to become the very best trial lawyer possible, and the lecturers offered insight into cutting edge legal trends and technology emerging from all ends of the globe. (Read NITA’s Blog.) Continue reading