Emeritus Professor Leo M. Romero became chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) in January 2011 for a two-year term. NITA pioneered the "learning-by-doing" methodology for teaching trial skills and is recognized as providing the best programs and materials for training lawyers and law students in how to become effective and ethical litigators.
Romero has been with NITA from the start, beginning as a NITA student in 1972. "I was on my feet several times every day performing a cross examination or an opening statement and getting constructive feedback from experienced trial lawyers," he said. "I learned so much, and it was one of the best educational experiences I ever had.".
Hooked on NITA since then, he has been involved in every aspect of the institute, as a faculty member, team leader, program director, trustee and now chair of the Board of Trustees. He brought the NITA method of teaching trial practice to the University of New Mexico in 1972 when he started the Evidence/Trial Practice course that he taught for more than 20 years. Later, he and Professor Barbara Bergman started NITA Trial Advocacy and Deposition programs at the UNM law school. They assembled a first-rate teaching faculty that included many of the finest trial lawyers and judges in New Mexico, as well as lawyers from out of state.
In addition to trial programs, NITA has developed programs for training lawyers in the skills of taking depositions, arbitration and mediation. Since its beginning in 1972, NITA has developed teaching materials that have been adopted in many law schools for their trial advocacy courses. These materials have been translated for use in Mexico and Japan. NITA programs using NITA materials also have been offered in other countries, including England, Ireland, Australia and South Africa.
During his term as chair, Romero would like to see NITA expand its programs to more lawyers. In particular, he would like to see more solo and small firm practitioners, lawyers working in public service programs and lawyers in the public sector attending NITA programs. In order to make NITA training available to all lawyers, Romero hopes to increase the resources to provide scholarships to those who may not be able to afford the tuition or the time away from their practices.
"Leo Romero has been a local and national leader in legal education for many years. Indeed, he chaired the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council in the 1990s," said Dean Kevin Washburn. "The School of Law is grateful that he has generously offered his leadership skills to advance legal education in so many different ways."
January 24, 2011