The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) and the DC Bar Courts, Lawyers and Administration of Justice Section and Litigation Section co-sponsored a four-day National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) basic litigation skills training, from October 22 to October 25, 2014. Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan LLP generously donated its state-of-the-art conference space to host the training and lent its events and facilities staff to assist with logistics. Twenty-four public interest lawyers from 15 legal service providers attended the training, which was graciously discounted by NITA.
This is the second time that DCBF has hosted a NITA training, which provides public interest attorneys with direct, hands-on training to improve their litigation and advocacy skills. Kelly White, Staff Attorney at Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, said, “The NITA program pushes you to think on your feet in a wonderful way. The instructors are captivating and offer clear ways to enhance trial practice. I am now a stronger advocate for the immigrant families and asylum seekers that CAIR Coalition serves.”
Six experienced volunteer instructors led lectures and workshops over the first three days, with mock trials taking place on the fourth day. Additionally, 12 volunteers from five local law schools assisted with the training’s day-of logistics. Three DC judges joined the volunteer instructors to preside over the mock trials, while the volunteer instructors gave critiques to the participants.
The NITA training is one of many that the Foundation organizes and sponsors for attorneys working at legal services providers as part of DCBF’s training and technical assistance program. “We are thrilled with this opportunity for two of our very talented, new attorneys,” said Daniel Bruner, Director of Legal Services at Whitman-Walker Health. “NITA trainings are renowned but ordinarily beyond our limited financial means. Thanks to the generosity of the Bar Foundation, DC Bar, Sutherland and NITA, our clients will benefit from our attorneys’ enhanced advocacy skills.”
The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Bar Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants and training and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to D.C. poverty lawyers to help with their educational debt.