Attorneys in ADR Need Advocacy Skills Too

As seen in the July 2 issue of Lawyers USA, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy offers alternative dispute resolution courses to attorneys.

Boulder, CO, August 24, 2007 --( “With fewer trials and more mediations, attorneys everywhere are searching for a way to translate their advocacy skills into the mediation setting,” said Laurence Rose, president and CEO of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA).

NITA is filling that need with an innovative, new group of advocacy training programs that focus on alternative dispute resolution. The programs are held throughout the year and in various places around the country. Each program focuses on mediation in general terms and some more specifically on divorce.

“Representing your client in mediation doesn’t only mean talking to your client about what he or she needs,” Rose said. “You have to find a way to meet the needs and wants of the opposing party. If you can’t do this, the client’s needs will never be met.”

This is where NITA’s programs are most beneficial and different from competitors (few competitors, at that). There are courses that teach attorneys and retired judges to act as the mediator in charge of the case, but few that teach lawyers how to represent their clients in mediation.

As most attorneys experienced in mediation will tell you, the real need for advocacy becomes apparent as the mediator “shuttles” back and forth between each party. It is at this point that the advocate must be the most prepared, the most limber, and quick on his or her feet in order to advocate for the client properly.

What happens when the opposing party shows a surprising lean in a direction you didn’t anticipate and you realize after the fact that you could have asked for more?

With only 35 law schools currently teaching mediation courses, it’s fair to say that very few attorneys have been trained in this arena. Legal advocacy training is one thing, but advocacy in mediation is yet another. According to attorneys, both experienced and inexperienced, who have taken a NITA alternative dispute resolution (ADR) course, there are surprising similarities and differences in case preparation for mediation and for trial.

NITA’s three-day ADR programs involve mock mediation and mock client sessions that are each followed by intense critique. NITA’s learning-by-doing methodology allows participants to interact with instructors one-on-one. Using publications like Mediation Representation by Harold I. Abramson and The Mediator’s Handbook by John W. Cooley, and learning from well-known lawyers, judges, and law professors in the field, each participant walks away having a one-of-a-kind experience that only those who have taken a NITA course can claim.

There are two upcoming ADR programs. Modern Divorce Advocacy will be held on October 25-27 in Boston and Advocacy in Mediation will be held on November 15-17 in San Diego.

Attorneys interested in registering for a NITA program should visit or call 800.225.6482. There are early enrollment discounts available 60 days prior to a program’s start date as well as a limited number of need and mission-based scholarships.

National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Sara Musfeldt