California education rights attorney Jennifer Chang completed an intensive professional training program in the art of Trial Skills from the National Institute for Trial Advocacy® (NITA).
NITA is a nonprofit service organization made up of a network of volunteer lawyers, judges, and advocates from around the world. It aims to provide lawyers with an opportunity to grow and refine their trial skills in an environment that is intense but doesn’t come with the high stakes of an actual courtroom setting.
For the last decade, NITA has also been a pioneer in running online training courses, which are more popular than ever now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jennifer received a full scholarship to participate in NITA’s online Trial Skills Course, where expert instructors led intensive learning sessions on a range of topics, including how to make compelling opening statements, direct examinations, cross-examinations, and closing arguments. The course also included training on how to select juries, impeach and rehabilitate witnesses, and align non-verbal communication skills to the overall message of an argument.
The learning environment was interactive for the most part. This proved extremely useful for certain activities, like learning how to present a client’s story for the fact finder in a clear, concise way. “I wasn’t just listening to a lecture, I was performing about 90 percent of the time,” says Jennifer.
She also cites the instantaneous feedback as another favorite feature of the course. “It wasn’t just positive feedback,” she says. “But what I need to work on and refine my skills.”
Programs like NITA’s aren’t just about success in the courtroom. Attorneys with superior trial skills are overall more confident and influential across all of their work, whether it’s litigation, mediation, settlements, or simple consultations.