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May the Record Reflect

Author: National Institute for Trial Advocacy

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If you’re a litigator or trial lawyer, your life is full—in and out of the courtroom. May the Record Reflect is the podcast of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and we know that if something related to lawyering is interesting to us, chances are it’s interesting to you, too. Trial skills, office life, personal development, and more—it’s all fair game on May the Record Reflect.
20 Episodes
In Episode 20 of May the Record Reflect, trial lawyer and wardrobe consultation Judith Gaton joins us to explain why style matters in the courtroom and how to dress for post-pandemic office life at a time when the expected corporate culture—and maybe our bodies—have changed.Topics3:05 Why your clothes matter5:36 But isn’t style frivolous?13:18 Work clothes that no longer “fit”16:22 Evaluating your wardrobe after covid18:45 What pieces to invest in, and what to save on21:48 Pandemic’s impact on dressing for the law office25:15 Menswear options for a more casual office environment27:29 Stanley Tucci’s refined casual style and sprezzatura30:54 Sleek footwear options32:40 Style inspo and options for lawyers and other professionals38:07 Signature signoff questionQuote“We have to sort of make room to be amused by each other as we find our footing and find out what it’s going to look like for all of us as we re-enter society, as we sort of spend more time with each other, as we come back to the office. It doesn’t have to go back to the way it always was. There’s no requirement. This is a beautiful moment for all of us to rethink ‘Did we even like the way it always was? Did we enjoy wearing suits? Did we enjoy being dressed up all the time?’ or would we all collectively prefer to be a little more on the smart-casual side of things, or business casual of things, than to be so dressed up all the time. Each office culture’s going to have to figure that out for itself. I think every courtroom, almost, is going to decide that for itself.” (Judith Gaton)Recommended ResourcesJudith Gaton (bio)How COVID-19 has changed what we wear and how we feel about clothing (Seattle Times)Schedule an Appointment with Those Clothes You Haven’t Worn in a Year (New York Times)Sprezzatura Do’s and Don’tsIn Praise of Stanley Tucci’s TV Travel Uniform (GQ)Berluti wingtip sneakers Berluti double monkstrap sneakersNext Level Wardrobe (Instagram) Read NITA’s statement on the important of in-person advocacy in courts, here. 
In Episode 19 of May the Record Reflect, Judge Nancy Vaidik of the Indiana Court of Appeals and international communications consultant Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla, are in the hot seat to share insights from their new book, Point Well Made, Persuasive Oral Advocacy. They reveal why oral advocacy still matters in a time when most cases settle before going to trial, how to better know your judge to give yourself a leg up, and what are the highs and lows of ruling from the Zoom bench.   Topics3:56    A learning-by-doing book for oral advocacy6:45    Writing process as co-authors writing remotely9:05    Why trial lawyers should care about oral advocacy11:16  Oral versus written advocacy13:17  Oral advocacy in persuasion16:02  What judges are looking forward to in a proceeding21:24  What to know about your judge23:45  Relationships you need to know about27:45  Appearing before a multi-judge panel30:03  Why rebuttal matters31:31  Judge Vaidik’s experience with remote advocacy35:32  “Soft” things lost in remote hearings40:06  Communication needs that have changed during the pandemic42:25  Signature signoff question Quotes“Oral advocacy is a lot different from written advocacy and our law schools are focusing on written advocacy and not on oral advocacy, and there are differences. In oral advocacy, as an advocate, you can actually listen to the judge’s concerns—or whoever you’re talking to, the listener’s concerns – and adapt your argument. You can’t do that in a written setting. In an oral setting, however, you need to keep attention, the attention of the listener. And in a written advocacy situation, that’s not so much the case because when the reader loses focus, they can go back and re-read the material. You can’t do that in oral advocacy situation.” (Judge Nancy Vaidik)“Judges are people too, and so they’re not immune to the digital age and the lower attention span and the need for people to get to the point and say it clearly, concisely, thematically. All those things are super important, and so old-style argument is not going to be as effective. You have to take into account the digital age and the judges who are going to be listening, especially as younger and younger judges get appointed to the courts. It’s so important to adapt the way we approach oral argument in front of one or multiple judges.” (Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla) Recommended ResourcesPoint Well Made: Persuasive Oral Advocacy (book)Hon. Nancy Vaidik (bio)Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla (bio)Foolproof: The Art of Communication for Lawyers and Professionals, Second Edition (book) Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla’s “Foolproof” Tips for Professional Communication (podcast)Delivering a (Last-Minute) Point Well Made (webcast) Read NITA’s statement on the important of in-person advocacy in courts, 
In Episode 18 of “May the Record Reflect,” we’re talking about something that’s all too often an afterthought when a case goes to trial: the electronic courtroom presentation. When expertly executed by a trial technologist, a trial presentation will provide you and your fact-finders one shortcut after another that ease courtroom procedures and benefit your client. Trial technologists Shannon Bales and Alicia Aquino share their insights, recommendations, and best practices that will have you convinced that a trial tech is an integral part of a winning team. Topics4:37     Electronic trial presentation today6:55     Why a trial tech is crucial to your outcomes8:45     EDRM, the litigation lifecycle11:43  Bring them in early in the litigation13:14  Why trial presentations matter16:23  How “cat lawyer” memes happen18:17  What trial techs know that you don’t20:10  E-discovery and trial23:57  Fact analysis tools26:20  Best practices for virtual proceedings30:37  Timeline for your tech rehearsal33:15  Exhibit “tutorials” for fact-finders34:25  Becoming a trial tech38:11  Trial Presentation Companion tips39:41  UN War Crimes Tribunal experience41:12  Types of software48:03  A mistake firms make49:39  Outfitting your war room57:17  A note for small firms and solo practitioners59:34  Renting versus owning equipment1:01:17  Helping the opposing team1:07:08   Signature signoff questionQuotes“Trial presentation is an efficiency aid for the court. That’s the number-one thing we’re there to do. We’re hired there, of course, to help our team, but the way that we get through the door is that we’re there to make things efficient for the court so that the proceedings will move along at a quick pace and not waste the court’s time.” (Shannon Bales) “Bring [trial techs] in early on. Let us take a look at the evidence, at the exhibits. I can’t tell you how many times that the attorney is presenting their case and then at the end the judge says, ‘You know, this could have easily been done in a timeline. Do you think you can just put together a timeline? That would’ve saved us four days of testimony,’ and I, probably in the background, was saying, ‘Hey, you know, let’s put together a chart, a timeline. Let’s put graphics. Let’s tell the story a little bit better.’ And when you have somebody on your team that’s able to incorporate the graphics and storytelling, it just makes you look that much more organized.” (Alicia Aquino) Recommended ResourcesShannon Bales (LinkedIn)Alicia Aquino (Aquino Trial Services)The Trial Presentation Companion (book)What Juries Really Think: Practical Guidance for Trial Lawyers (article)Online Courtroom Project(website)COVID, the Court, and the Future of the Jury Trial (webcast)
In Episode 17 of “May the Record Reflect,” we’re talking about cybersecurity for law firms: why it’s important, how to prevent hackers from accessing your clients’ electronic data, what to do if it happens, and what ethics canons have to say about it. Patent attorney and e-discovery expert Helen Geib and technologist BJ Moore share their tips to help you manage this important and often overlooked aspect of law firm management.  Topics4:00     Why law firms are a rich target for cyberhackers7:45     How our computers are hacked10:15  Security issues raised by working remotely11:12  VPN security via cell phone12:23  Whether hackers can gain access via phone apps13:20  Cell phone security14:30  What to do if your system has been hacked16:00  Lawyer’s obligations around client data security18:30  Range of consequences of a data breach19:40  Technical know-how and legal malpractice20:20  Court decisions in data breaches27:33  ABA Formal Op. 483 highlights32:12  Ethics rules touching on data security34:27  General liability insurance versus cyber insurance coverage36:26  Basic preventative measures against hacking40:50  Steps to take after a data breach42:45  Top-of-the-line “wish list” practices45:27  Signature signoff questionQuotes“There’s a general recognition that there are two pieces to tech competence for lawyers: one is education and lawyers raising the level of their own understanding of security and using basic security practices. The other is to recognize the limits of our own knowledge and to associate with experts and people who really understand this area so that they can help us in the areas we didn’t go to law school for.” (Helen Geib)“Cybercriminals are considered terrorists, so [if you pay a ransom] you’re technically financing a terrorist organization, which is against federal law. You also don’t want it to be profitable for them because as long as it’s profitable, they’re going to keep doing it. The more people pay, the more they’re going to want to do it.” (BJ Moore) Recommended ResourcesHelen Geib, Hoover Hull TurnerBJ Moore, Right Hand IT SolutionsFBI Internet Crime Compliance Center IC3A Guide to Law Firm Cybersecurity Risks & Ethical ComplianceABA Formal Op. 483Cyberattacks Have Become Commonplace – Know the Ethics of Prevention and ResponseWhat Is Cyber Insurance? Do You Need It? Millard v. Doran, No. 153262/2016 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty.)Wengui v. Clark Hill, PLC, (D.D.C. Feb. 20, 2020)Hiscox Ins. Co., Inc. v. Warden Grier, LLP, 474 F. Supp.3d 1004 (W.D. Mo. 2020) 
In this episode of May the Record Reflect, we continue our 50th anniversary celebration by picking up where we left off in Episode 15. Part II of this “50 Tips for 50 Years” mini-series gives you best practices for dealing with nerves at trial, how to improve your public speaking skills, and delivering a sound winning argument, as shared by NITA program directors, faculty members, authors, and members of the Board of Trustees.1:25    Dealing with nerves at trial—or anywhere15:11  Getting good at public speaking23:45  Delivering a sound closing argument29:53  Signature sign-off questionRecommended ResourcesLagos, the Rule of Law, and Gratitude (Hon. Ann Claire Williams, Hon. Marian Gaston)Namibia Teacher Training and Trial Advocacy – NITA Public Service Course (Hon. Claire Ann Williams)Ghana Advocacy Training Programs – NITA Public Service (Hon. Ann Claire Williams)Building Rapport with a Jury: Lessons in Picking the Jury that’s Right for your Case (Richard Schoenberger)Persuade, Respond, and Prevail: Essentials of Motions Argument (Terre Rushton)Ethically Speaking: Meeting the Challenges of Professionalism in Remote Proceedings (Whitney Untiedt)Serenity Now: Carol Sowers on Being Poised in the Courtroom One on One on One, with Judge Mark Drummond and Carol Sowers15 Tips for Presenting Yourself Online (Carol Sowers)Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla’s “Foolproof” Tips for Professional Communication Foolproof: The Art of Communication for Lawyers and Professionals (Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla)Maximize the Magic of Online Mediations (Sidney Kanazawa)Tips for Online Mediation in the Age of Social Distancing (Sidney Kanazawa)The Articulate Attorney: Public Speaking for Lawyers (Brian Johnson, Marsha Hunter)NITA webcasts (free)NITA podcasts (free)NITA whitepapers (free)Remote Advocacy Resources
2021 marks fifty years of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy as the nation’s go-to gold standard in All Things Advocacy. Here on the podcast, we wanted to celebrate this year-long occasion with our gift to you: 50 trial tips for each of NITA’s 50 years. In this first episode of a special two-part series, a cross-section of NITA program directors, faculty members, authors, and members of the Board of Trustees share their best tips and tricks for improving trial skills. 1:35    Choosing the story of your client’s case6:35    Overcoming writer’s block12:02  Breaking up with your notes24:12  Crafting an opening statement|32:39  Taking care of yourself during long, arduous trials36:41  Signature sign-off question Recommended Resources“Your Witness, Counsel”: The Ethical, Effective Way to Witness Preparation (Mary Jo Barr)Virtual Jury Trials: A Concept with No Clear Answer (Dan Kotin and Brian Baloun)The Opening Statement Song (Jules Epstein)Collective Wisdom: Whether to Object to the Not-So-Qualified Expert (Jules Epstein)Win Your Next Motion with These Key Steps (Hon. Carl Chamberlin, Andrew Schepard)COVID, The Court, and the Future of the Jury Trial (Hon. Mark Drummond, Reuben Guttman)Whitney Untied Puts the “Pro” in Pro BonoEthically Speaking: Meeting the Challenges of Professionalism in Remote Proceedings (Whitney Untiedt)One on One on One, with Judge Mark Drummond and Carol SowersOne-on-One Coaching, Remote Hearing or Trial TrainingOne-on-One Coaching, Remote Deposition TrainingRemote Advocacy: Representing Your Client During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Hon. Mark Drummond)Remote Advocacy 2.0: A Follow-up Q&A on Representing Your Client During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Hon. Mark Drummond)Best Practices for Remote Hearings (Reuben Guttman)The Opening Gambit: Learn Opening Statements Through Actual Courtroom Video (Reuben Guttman)The Art of Memory (book)Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (book)“Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view.” (clip)
In Episode 14 of “May the Record Reflect,” we gather insight on how to start your legal career against a daunting backdrop of covid, layoffs, and societal change. Listen as Dean Marc Miller of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and Allison Regan, professional development director at Houston’s Bracewell law firm, offer their perspectives on being a successful law student and young lawyer during this unique moment in our nation’s history.   Topics3:33    Is this a terrible time to go to law school and become a lawyer? 6:32    Law school, firm response to pandemic9:25    2020 bar exams12:29  Difficulties in transitioning to online18:02  Standing out in Zoom 19:34  Enrollment deferrals22:10  On-ramping and training new hires25:11  Student loan debt26:33  Two-year J.D.s28:44  ROI on educational debt31:38  Practice areas with a bright future36:25  Silver linings of the pandemic for young lawyers41:20  Positive workplace changes44:10  Top three tips for success49:10  Signature signoff question Quotes“I just filled out reports for U.S. News [& World Report Top Law Schools] and we [Arizona Law] report to the ABA every year and so follow those numbers closely, and we have not only kept tuition down and lowered it – we lowered it after the last economic downturn – and this is my eighth year as dean, and we have not raised tuition either for in-state or out-of-state J.D.s. We have diversified how we fund our enterprise, making both the J.D. accessible and the bright career paths accessible is fundamental to who we are. I know [the average student loan debt of $160,000] is real, but I also know I don’t have to look at my students and wrestle with that.” (Marc Miller)  “The practice of law can be hard. It can be grueling, and I think being resilient is really the key and really bouncing back, learning from those situations and being able to not just push harder but kind of pivot – pivot and move to the situation, and I think that we’re all being forced to learn that and I think that will hopefully pay dividends for our young associates over the course of their very long careers.” (Allison Regan) Recommended ResourcesDean Marc Miller (bio)Allison Regan (LinkedIn)U.S. News & World Report Top Law SchoolsA Guide to Transitioning from Law Student to Lawyer 
In Episode 13 of “May the Record Reflect,” communications specialist Carol Sowers returns, bringing Judge Mark Drummond with her, to talk about meeting needs of the trial community in the strange new world of Zoom. Video hearings, depositions, jury trials, and even conference calls are now the new normal, but when your client has everything on the line, you must elevate your on-camera presentation. Judge Drummond and Carol talk about NITA’s 1:1 coaching that helps you do exactly that, and they dispense advice that you can instantly apply to your next engagement on Zoom.Topics4:29     Individualized, one-on-one coaching7:24     Session structure8:38     Instantaneous review and re-do10:30  Communication skills through Zoom 11:26  Office setups and backgrounds13:33  Overcoming the challenges of remote advocacy15:16  Court-ordered virtual backgrounds, using exhibits in Zoom 17:45  Role-playing expert witness examination and using exhibits19:44  Tips on talking to the camera, lighting, eyeglass reflection22:30  Blue light from monitors that wash out complexions24:40  Makeup suggestions26:05  Best clothing colors for the camera26:52  What contributes to Zoom fatigue28:32  Tiles for trials and “Hide Self View”30:07  Jury trials, body language, and constitutional muster34:15  Gravitas in the remote courtroom38:01  What Judge Drummond and Carol have learned40:42  Signature signoff questionQuote“You want to be concentrating, if it’s a [Zoom] hearing, you want to have the fewest tiles [onscreen] possible. So, you want to have the exhibit perhaps on one tile [by using] Share Screen, and you want that witness’s face as large as possible so you can see the witness reaction. So, you don’t need your face on the screen.” (Judge Mark Drummond) “My little mantra is ‘Minimizing the distractions in order to maximize the message.’ It’s not necessarily that you have to have the perfect Zoom setup. You don’t have to have the perfect background or the perfect lighting. What you want to consider is doing everything you can to minimize anything that’s going to be distracting when people are watching you on Zoom, because if they’re distracted by the visual, they’re going to miss your very important verbal message.” (Carol Sowers)   Recommended ResourcesFree Virtual Summit: COVID, the Court, and the Future of the Jury Trial1:1 Coaching for Remote Deposition1:1 Coaching for Remote Hearing or TrialNITA Resources for Representing Your Client OnlineBoy de ChanelWhen Court Moves Online, Do Dress Codes Still Matter?
In Episode 12 of “May the Record Reflect,” we get tools, tips, and resources that will help you keep up momentum in your legal career development. Professional development officers Amy Hancock and Tim Henderson talk about making the most of the challenges—and opportunities—that the pandemic has brought.Topics3:49 Effects of pandemic on legal career development5:36 Work-life balance for the home office10:50 Leadership support during individual struggles16:17 Fostering collegiality19:28 Cooking classes and holiday celebrations22:50 Frequency of social touch points24:18 “We are one firm”27:45 Business development and client outreach34:10 Where pro bono fits in38:31 Silver linings of these strange times42:19 Advice after job loss47:58 The future of the virtual law office51:30 Job interview tips54:52 Signature sign-off questionQuotes“I think that just as in-house lawyers are overtaxed and overworked and stressed right now, so are all of the agencies that support those in our communities that are in need. They are overtaxed and they need backup relief and assistance now more than ever, and many of the things they do provide great training and development opportunities, especially for young litigators. I think that you can couple the needs of these organizations for more manpower with the abundance of the social justice causes out there that they are serving and plug yourself right into them.” (Amy Hancock)“I think one of the more important and significant things we’ve seen as a silver lining is the opportunity to learn, shadow, and kind of view real-time proceedings, real-time client meetings, real-time patent examiner interviews, real-time pitches because it’s much easier to do that virtually than it is if they were traveling to a different court or jurisdiction or traveling to a client site for their pitch.” (Tim Henderson)Recommended ResourcesAmy Hancock (bio)Tim Henderson (firm)Professional Development Consortium (PDC)  PDC COVID-19 ResourcesHow to Navigate Working from Home During Time of COVID-19 (ABA)Job-Search Tips for Attorneys During COVID-19 (ABA)
In Episode 11 of the podcast, we discuss issues that women face as legal practitioners. Guests Judge Alia Moses and civil litigator Nicole Westbrook talk about how their shared passion for the law forged their respective career paths and offer guidance for navigating the personal and professional perils common to the practice of law. Judge Moses is the first woman federal judge in history to be seated on the federal bench for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Westbrook’s litigation practice at Jones and Keller is focused on complex commercial law; she got her start as a law clerk for Judge Moses.Topics3:03     Career beginnings4:46     Experiences as “baby lawyers”6:56     Practice areas where men outnumber women8:46     Judge Moses’s interest in the bench9:43     Major issues facing women in law14:40  Work-life balance15:51  COVID’s effect on flexible workspaces and schedules19:10  Is remote law work good for women? 20:00  Year Eight “partner track” or “mommy track”23:30  Women judges at the federal versus state level25:23  Working with men28:50  Generational differences36:20  The “jealous mistress” of law37:42  #metoo42:36  Mentorship46:00  Advice for young women entering law49:18  Signature signoff questionQuote“My advice is to pursue a culture, not a paycheck, especially out of some of the larger law firms like the type that the judge and I went to. You’re very much pressured to go into the biggest law firm that you can find and make that big check—and, of course, we all are swimming in debt and so it seems like a good idea at the time. I would strongly encourage you to be more exacting than that and to really focus on the culture, and what role do you see yourself doing, and what do you want to do.” (Nicole Westbrook) Recommended ResourcesNicole Westbrook (bio)U.S. District Court Judge Alia Moses (profile)Building a Pipeline to a More Diverse Appellate Bar (article)
In Episode 10, Boulder, Colorado-based coach Will Murray shares how trial lawyers can take the techniques of triathlon performance and endurance training that Murray specializes in and apply them to the endurance tests of litigation and trial practice. Much of it is mental, he notes, and tells us how to develop discipline, recode memories and motivations in our brains, calm our nerves in the moment, deal with traumatic stress (our clients’ and our own), and even get a better night’s sleep in the midst of a busy trial.  Topics2:39     The four pillars of endurance4:16     How trial lawyers are like triathletes6:22     Discipline7:11     Flexing your discipline muscle9:40     “Recoding” your motivations as pleasure10:34  Pleasure principle11:29  Tips and tricks for recoding15:00  Visualization and muscle memory16:00   Taking cues from negative memories18:37  Easy fixes for nerves21:28  Mapping trial times when you’ll need a boost24:00   Knowing our own weaknesses24:57  Overcoming apprehension26:57  Visualization27:34  “Learning by doing” 30:04  PTSD on the witness stand32:50  Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) protocol34:42  Traumatic compassion36:45  Tips for sleeping and rest24:35  Signature signoff questionQuote“Our brains are good golden retrievers. They aim to fetch what you throw at them, so throw the thing you want to have happen.” (Will Murray) Recommended ResourcesWill Murray (website)The Four Pillars of Triathlon (Will Murray and Craig Howie, book) Writing a Plan in 7 Steps (Will Murray, article)Reconciliation of Traumatic Memories: A New Treatment for PTSD (NLP Research & Recognition Project, article)
A joint ABA/Hazelden study in 2016 found significant rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, alcoholism, and addiction among licensed, employed lawyers in America. In Episode 9, we hear from DeAnna Crosby, addictions specialist and clinical director of a dual-diagnosis treatment clinic in Southern California, about the unique caretaking responsibilities that make lawyers susceptible to anxiety, depression, and self-medication and what resources are available to create a life beyond the bottle. Topics3:45     Statistics on addiction and mental illness among lawyers5:55     Lawyers and vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout9:26     Drinking “trends” 10:52  Self-medication15:02  Dual diagnoses of substance abuse and mental illness16:22  Knowing if you have a drinking problem18:52  Lawyers and other gold-collar professionals20:54  Drinking at law school22:13  Generational issues25:40  Managing sobriety28:23  Genograms32:08  Prevalence of alcohol35:01  Distress tolerance39:00  Favorite resources45:38  Signature signoff question Quote“One of the things that’s interesting is so many people when they get sober, they say, ‘Everyone’s gonna know. Everyone’s gonna know that I’m not drinking, and what am I gonna say?’ Most people don’t care. Most people are so obsessed with themselves that they don’t even notice that you’re not drinking.” DeAnna Crosby Recommended ResourcesABA, Hazelden National Study on Attorney Substance Abuse, Mental HealthJournal of Addiction Medicine articleABA Directory of Lawyer Assistance ProgramsAA QuestionsGenogramsUnderstanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic (book)In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts (book)Codependent No More (book)Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong (TED Talk)Brian Cuban’s The Addicted Lawyer blogI’m in recovery and my office just moved above a bar (great comments section)
In Episode 8 of the podcast, we are joined by Kansas District Court Judge Amy Hanley and D.C. civil litigator Reuben Guttman to talk about how to get it right in video and telephonic hearings. The disruptions caused by the covid pandemic have suddenly moved the courtroom into your dining room, and our guests are sharing their best do’s and don’ts from their respective positions on and before the bench. The Honorable Amy Hanley is based in Lawrence, Kansas, and presides over a civil, domestic, and criminal docket for the Seventh Judicial District of Douglas County. In his class action and complex civil litigation practice, Reuben Guttman has become one of the most prominent whistleblower lawyers in the world. Topics6:04    Constitutional and statutory constraints9:12    Preparing your client 11:20  Judges’ expectations13:40  Putting clients at ease15:08  Courtroom transition to online 16:51  Views from the bench18:33  Creating formality23:17  Equal time 29:25  Exhibits and judge preferences31:43  Presenting exhibits33:45  Making a court record35:25  Recording the hearing36:44  Communicating with client40:25  Witness sequestration41:42  Confidentiality issues43:26  Public Zoom hearings46:00  Closing advice48:20  Technology’s impact on the law49:07  Signature “softball”Quotes“If your judge doesn’t have the protocol [for remote hearings], don’t be afraid to ask for it. A little secret that I’ll let you in on is that judges love it when counsel does that work for us. You might be better suited to draft and propose a protocol due to your familiarity with the technology or because you know the witnesses and exhibits that need to be used. And we love it when you do that work for us ahead of time and send in a draft that we can use as a starting point.” Judge Amy Hanley“It’s important to get [clients] to appreciate what it’s going to look like, what they’re going to look like, in the courtroom and to have them to appreciate that maybe the judge might actually pose a question to them directly, to rehearse some of that so they’re not surprised. If you’re sitting next to somebody, it’s a lot easier to tap them and say, ‘It’s ok, don’t worry about it. Answer the question,’ but remotely, I mean, there’s an intuitive sense of fear: ‘Oh, my God, I’m not prepared for this.’ So, the idea is that you want to make sure whether you’re putting your client on from prison or jail, or whether you’re putting your client on from a hospital room, you want to make sure that at least they understand what the possibilities are, in preparing them. I call it inoculation, inoculation against the possibilities that may give them anxiety.” Reuben GuttmanRecommended ResourcesDouglas County District Court Guidelines for Court Hearings on ZoomUsing Zoom for Court HearingsVideoconferencing in the CourtroomFirst Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster, Supreme Court of TexasRemote Testimony and Fed. R. Crim. P. 26Center for Legal & Court Technology Best Practices
In Episode 7 of May the Record Reflect, we’re joined by Brooklyn Law School Assistant Professor of Legal Writing Catharine DuBois. Catharine serves as Program Director for NITA’s courses in persuasive writing, including an online version that starts next week. Among the topics she discusses with host Marsi Buckmelter are the importance of prewriting activities, organizing your document on the macro and micro levels, getting past writer’s block, creativity and the editorial process, and how to proofread your own work.  Topics3:09     What lawyers typically want to improve in their writing3:53     A good timeline for your writing project5:55     A crucial step that lawyers often omit6:45     Outlining and writer’s block8:28     Considerations about a writer’s audience9:11     “What is the point?”10:10   The importance of prewriting document organization 11:50  “The test” 13:36    Developing your writing muscle15:55   Overcoming writer’s block18:40   Shutting down your inner critic and perfectionism22:56  Why it’s ok that your first draft stinks24:40  Two tips to come back to when you’re stuck28:26  Words for listening versus words for reading29:20  Reading your drafts aloud as an editing tool31:12   The challenge of proofreading34:45  Whether to draft by hand or by keyboard36:43  Catharine’s current writing project40:44  “Signature softball” question Quote“Nobody is writing a good first draft, and so what happens with my students and with my practitioners is, they get caught up in this idea that ‘I need to put into my reader’s ear the first draft, and if I can’t do that, I’m not a good writer.’ And what I encourage all of them to do is embrace what I was saying before: you’re going to write a writer’s-based first draft. It is for you, you are figuring it out, you are getting ideas on the page, and every single minute you spend doing that is useful to what you need to create in what we call the ‘shadow preparation’ for what you’re writing. Use it, make use of it, but reorganize it so it works for your final draft, which is for your reader, and be willing to edit it down to nothing if you need.” (Catharine DuBois)Recommended ResourcesCatharine DuBois—Brooklyn Law SchoolWriting Persuasive Briefs online courseThe Artist’s Way, by Julia CameronJulia Cameron Wants You to Do Your Morning Pages (New York Times)Bird by Bird, by Anne LamottAnne Lamott’s Sh!tty First Drafts essay
In Episode 6 of the podcast, former tv news anchor Carol Sowers shares her tips for becoming more at ease in the physical side of your courtroom performance: how to speak with confidence, project a pleasing vocal quality, connect with jurors, tame your nerves, and rebound from your mistakes. Carol spent more than thirty years as a broadcast professional for CBA/ABC Affiliate station KHQA in Quincy, Illinois, where she worked as a reporter and main anchor all the way up to vice president for public affairs—and everything in between. When she retired from the news, she began training broadcasters and law enforcement and governmental officials in public speaking. She now offers that same training to trial lawyers at NITA programs across the U.S. and abroad. Topics2:58 Breaking up with your notes4:27 Muscle memory and the mind-body connection6:30 Preparation and practice9:00 Writing “for the eye” versus “for the ear”10:18 Cultivating a pleasing vocal quality13:10 “Shrill” 14:33 Warming up for a presentation17:55 Learning about public speaking from trial lawyers19:40 Communicating while sitting versus standing22:00 Hand gestures24:35 Question about Broadcast News25:25 Looking sharp27:40 “The Three C’s”32:08 Effective eye contact35:15 Using emotion while speaking38:57 Managing mistakes and anxiety 40:32 How to regroup discreetly45:20 Communicating in high- and low-context cultures49:32 Changes in culture51:46 Signature “softball”Quote“I try to use . . . eye contact, especially at the beginning of a presentation, as a way to give myself some confidence. I automatically seek out people who look friendly or look engaged. Maybe they’re smiling at me, maybe they’re nodding their head. Because at the beginning when I’m a little bit nervous, that adrenaline rush is making me feel a little uncomfortable, I like to get that little boost of confidence from those people. So, those are the people I’m going to seek out first, and once I get that little smile or little nod of acknowledgment, then I’m going to move on to other people around the room.” Carol SowersRecommended Resources10 Tips for Presenting Yourself Online—Carol SowersWebcast—Remote Advocacy: Representing Your Client during the COVID-19 PandemicCarol Sowers LinkedInCelebrating Carol Sowers’s Nearly 30 Years with KHQANITA Whitepaper: Communication Tips from NITA’s expertsBroadcast News (1987 Movie)Broadcast News Movie Clip—Aaron Struggles on AirHigh-context and low-context culturesNITA International Programs
In Episode 5 of the podcast, we are joined by international communications expert Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla. Rebecca got her start as a theatre major in college, but it was as a law student that she first became aware of how nerves and unpolished communication skills tripped up even the most brilliant intellectual arguments of her fellow classmates—an observation that continued well into her law practice. This gap led Rebecca to blend her background in theater and the law, to teach professionals about overriding their nerves so they could excel at public speaking. Rebecca’s consulting work takes her around the world as she coaches lawyers, executives, and politicians how to communicate with power and effect. Rebecca is a longtime faculty member and author for NITA. Topics 3:04 From theater to law 5:30 “Acting” and emotional self-control 7:17 What makes a trial lawyer unlikeable 8:35 “Other-centeredness” and self-awareness 11:50 Confidence, credibility, clarity, likeability 15:00 Phone and video conferencing basics 21.08 Importance of motion practice 22:30 Types of courtroom communications 25:17 Developing extemporaneous speaking skills 28:38 Gender differences in communication styles 32:12 Diagnosing your adrenaline surge 38:03 Improv training for lawyers 40:10 New media and oral communication skills 42:17 Communicating across the generation gap 45:58 Elocution to admire 48:01 Signature “softball” Quote “Becoming self-aware for a trial lawyer is so important so that you’re able to stay attuned to what are each and every one of those jurors thinking, what’s the judge thinking, how are they feeling, how is that witness dealing with being up on that stand and being asked questions? And the second you act pompous and disrespectful you lose the case for your client.” Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla Recommended Resources Rebecca Diaz-BonillaFoolproof: The Art of Communication for Lawyers and ProfessionalPoint Well Made: Oral Advocacy in Motion PracticeChildren Interrupt BBC News interview – BBC NewsFix Your Totally Miserable Conference CallsA Video Conference Call in Real LifeSeven Business Lessons for Lawyers from Improv ComedyKobe Bryant’s Last Great InterviewKobe Bryant on Shaq Drama & Raising Four DaughtersKobe Bryant – The Interview with Ahmad Rashad
In Episode 4, we wrap up this week’s National Celebration of Pro Bono by talking to Stephanie Ledesma. Stephanie is the Associate Dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law Experiential Education program in Houston and one of NITA’s national faculty members. In addition to developing curricula for law schools, agencies, and other legal professionals, she serves the bar on the local, state, national, and international level and volunteers within her Houston community. Stephanie’s recent travel to Namibia to teach for NITA is a case in point for the nearness and dearness in her heart for public service. Topics2:38 General volunteer work 3:09 Pro bono cases3:30 Volunteer work in Namibia5:15 Why does public service matter6:52 Why I volunteer for NITA 8:52 Signature “softball” Quote“Until I crossed the border [into Nabimia] with Judge Ann Williams, I didn’t realize that globally we are the same people. We are working for the same cause. We are doing the same work. I was energized to a different level with that work.” Stephanie LedesmaRecommended ResourcesStephanie Ledesma on LinkedInThurgood Marshall School of Law Experiential EducationNamibia Teacher Training and Trial Advocacy – NITA Public Service Program Stephanie Ledesma Receives Appointment at Thurgood MarshallCatholic Charities of NYC – NITA Public Service ProgramUpcoming Teaching EngagementsDeposition Skills: AtlantaBuilding Trial Skills: New Orleans Building Trial Skills: Chicago Building Trial Skills: Dallas
In Episode 3, Judge Robert McGahey chats with us about the importance of public service during this week’s National Celebration of Pro Bono. Judge McGahey presides over a civil docket in the Denver District Court. In his almost 20 years on the bench, he has also served in the criminal and domestic relations divisions. In his 25-year civil trial practice before becoming a judge, he tried over one hundred jury trials. Judge McGahey is a familiar face at NITA trial skills programs and is the four-time recipient of NITA’s Volunteer of the Year award. Outside the courtroom, he loves to travel and is a film buff, to which his many law-setting movie reviews for our Legal Advocate blog will attest. Topics1:49 Why public service matters2:42 Choosing a career in public service 4:48 Why I volunteer for NITA6:18 How I found NITA 7:20 Signature “softball” Quote“If the rule of law means anything, it means that everyone who’s touched by the legal system should be treated fairly and with dignity—and that means everyone, not just the people that can afford lawyers. That’s why my favorite programs are public service programs—public service lawyers, immigration programs, tribal programs—and by teaching at those programs, I hopefully do my part to level the legal playing field by making sure there are well-trained advocates available to everyone who needs one.” Robert McGaheyRecommended ResourcesRobert McGahey court bioAsked and Answered: Judge Robert McGaheyBill deMoulin obituaryPerry MasonErin Brokovich movie reviewChicago movie reviewUpcoming Teaching EngagementsDeposition Skills: Rocky Mountain
In Episode 2 of NITA’s recognition of the National Celebration of Pro Bono here on the podcast, we are joined by Whitney Untiedt. Whitney is an attorney with Freidin|Brown in Miami, where she handles whistleblower and false claims actions, medical malpractice, and catastrophic injury cases. Previously, Whitney managed the national, firmwide pro bono practice at an AmLaw 100 firm and mobilized large-scale legal efforts in response to natural disasters, the unconstitutional incarceration of juveniles, and the immigration enforcement crisis. Whitney is also NITA program director and will join our Board of Trustees in January 2020.Topics2:38 Why I volunteer for NITA 5:03 Why public service matters6:59 A volunteer experience that meant a lot to me9:45 Signature “softball” Quote“My work as a volunteer faculty member is given back to the organization in honor of all those who came before me, every NITA faculty member, and participant who’s mentored me professionally, and everyone in the NITA family who’s offered to spent their time and their expertise to bring up the next generation of lawyer leaders.” Whitney UntiedtRecommended ResourcesWhitney Untiedt on LinkedInFreidin|BrownCatholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)Catholic Charities of NYC – NITA Public Service ProgramNITA Announces Co-Program Directors: Jayme Cassidy and Whitney Untiedt, Building Trial Skills Florida in March 2020Attorney of the Year: Whitney UntiedtUpcoming Teaching EngagementsBuilding Trial Skills: Florida
In today’s inaugural episode of May the Record Reflect, we introduce you to NITA’s new podcast by talking to Annie Deets, one of NITA’s 100+ hour volunteers for 2018. Volunteerism is the theme for this season of the podcast because this week is the National Celebration of Pro Bono, an annual event that brings attention to the valuable pro bono work by lawyers, paralegals, and law students in the U.S., whether it’s to recognize individual volunteers or to draw awareness to opportunities for service in our profession.Annie Deets works for the Law Office of the Public Defender in DeKalb County, Georgia, where she handles some of Atlanta’s highest-profile criminal cases as part of the Behavioral Health Division. During her career, she has also represented victims of domestic violence as a Henry County prosecutor, as well as handled civil matters for indigent populations in rural Georgia. Annie donated over a hundred hours in teaching time to NITA over the past year and was selected as one of NITA’s NextGen faculty in 2018.  Topics1:34 Why I volunteer for NITA 4:23 The difference I think public service makes5:21 My public service experiences 7:56 Signature “softball” Quote“I think our country right now is really in this kind of struggle, this time of turmoil and kind of searching for our soul, and what do we stand for and what do we want to represent. . . . Public service, I think, in times like this, it matters now more than ever, because if we’re not equipping people with the skills they need to fight these really hard battles on the front line, then nobody’s going to be there to fight them.” Annie DeetsRecommended ResourcesAnnie Deets on LinkedInAtlanta Legal Aid – NITA Public Service ProgramLegal Aid Association of California – NITA Public Service Program Introducing NITA’s 2018 Next Generation Faculty MembersAnnie Deets on women and confidenceUpcoming Teaching EngagementsDeposition Skills: AtlantaDeposition Skills: Nashville
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