The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) is the nation's leading provider of legal advocacy skills training. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado, NITA pioneered the legal skills learning-by-doing methodology over 40 years ago and has since remained the ultimate standard in continuing legal education.
With the encouragement of an American Bar Association (ABA) task force and other interested groups, three professional organizations funded the creation of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) in 1971: the Section of Judicial Administration of the ABA; the American College of Trial Lawyers; and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. The core of the concept for NITA was then and still is today â€“ learning by doing.
In its early activities, NITA received additional financial support from the ABA endowment, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration Section of the Justice Department, and the Committee on Legal Education for Professional Responsibility, Inc. During its later years, NITA enjoyed financial support from a number of professional organizations including the ABA Section of Litigation, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates.
The thirteen founding trustees from the three funding sources were: Philip H. Corboy, Jacob D. Fuchsberg, Peter H. Holme, Jr., Thomas S. Jackson, Hon. William J. Jameson, Hon. William B. Jones, Hon. Richard M. Markus, William L. Marbury, Hon. Frank J. Murray, Hon. John T. Reardon, Howard Silver, George A. Spiegelberg, and William B. West IV.
Board Chairs have served NITA well. Judge Jones served as NITA’s first Board Chairman for seven years, followed by Judge Markus for three years. Thereafter to date, Trustees who served two year terms as Chair were: Robert F. Hanley, Walter H. Beckman, Jr., Philip H. Corboy, John P. Arness, James E. Colemen, Jr., Kenneth S. Brown, Hon. Jim R. Carrigan, James E. Ferguson II, Deanne C. Siemer, Donald A. Ruston, Patricia C. Bobb, Joseph R. Bankoff, Louise A. LaMothe, Susan R. Steingass, Leo M. Romero, Michael Ginsberg, and current Chair, Angela Vigil.
The senior officer of the NITA staff has always been one of the highly experienced NITA members. Professor Leo A. Levin, then of the University of Pennsylvania, served as NITA’s first director in 1971. Judge Carrigan (Colorado federal and state jurist, and CU Law) served as the first Associate Director. Professor Levin was followed by Robert Keeton (Harvard), Kenneth S. Broun (University of North Carolina), James H. Seckinger (North Dame), Anthony J. Bocchino (Temple University), Laurence M. Rose (University of Miami), John T. Baker (Colorado trial lawyer, now CAMP) and Karen M. Lockwood (Washington DC trial lawyer, adjunct professor at AU’s Washington College of Law). Beginning in December, 2017, NITA’s Executive Director is Wendy McCormack.
The first NITA education program was held in July 1972 at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The faculty included Levin, Carrigan, Keeton, Arnold Miller, James W. Jeans, John Kaplan, Andrew Kaufman, Prentice Marshall and William Neighbors.