The Gerry Spence 2014 World Tour: Be There

A curious email came in from Dubois, Wyoming the other day. Scott Trimble, chargé d’affaires for the Trial Lawyers College, which is either one of the top three programs for criminal defense lawyers or a dangerous cult bent on getting grown-up lawyers to wear cowboy jackets with fringes, had a question.

 I’m wondering if there’s any way you can help us get the word out?

Me?  Because I’m one of those “get the word out” kinda guys?  Being that sort of fellow, I replied to Scott with my usual, thoughtful aplomb:

So I’ve notice that lawyers of a certain age look quite good in those fringed cowboy coats they have up there in Dubois, Wyoming. While I normally charge for advertising conferences, one of those cool coats might just do the trick. And maybe a hat. Hats are good too.

I’ll be damned. They took me up on it.  See what happens when you think you’re just being snarky?  I should have asked for boots, too. So my offer having been accepted, I am a man of my word, and here goes:

Gerry Spence founded the Trial Lawyers College 20 years ago, and since then, a number of exceptional lawyers with whom I’m very well acquainted attended and think it added enormously to their skill and will.  TLC “Warriors” get a secret handshake, decoder ring and free beers at lunch on Tuesdays.

Want to hang with Gerry?  Want to be a Warrior?  Here is your chance:

“Discovering the Story” – 4 day seminar in which we teach how to discover the powerful core of the real story of your client’s case and effectively communicate it to your jury.
February 27 – March 2; Braselton,

“Gerry Spence on Voir Dire” – 3 intensive days spent learning the TLC methods to identify the danger points in your case, re-frame them as power points, and approach the jury selection in an “inclusive” rather than “exclusive” way.  Taught personally by Gerry Spence, John Sloan, Jude Basile, John Zelbst and 40 other TLC faculty.
April 4-6; Dallas-Fort Worth,

“Death Penalty Seminar” – 8 day conference in which we bring together teams to discover the story of the client; we work on direct examination of the family of the accused and the experts presented in the mitigation stage; we look at jury selection and how to seat a jury that can hear  the evidence that justifies life.
June 6-13; Dubois, Wyoming

I observe in passing that each of the locations happens to be a place where a grown lawyer can wear a cowboy coat with fringes without people thinking, “What the?”  In New York, you just look like Jon Voight. Creepy.  And if you can’t make any of the seminars above, there are more to choose from, so check out what’s close to you.

Love or hate Gerry Spence, there is no denying that he’s one of the foremost criminal defense lawyers of our age.  Feeling outgunned in the courtroom?  Can’t bear the thought of going in, again, to battle the crushing weight of the government with everything against you?  This is an opportunity to hone your skills, bolster your confidence and get recharged in the camaraderie of fellow criminal defense lawyers.

Note: There is no seminar on how to use an iPad at trial or how to craft a website that will be on the first page of Google.  This is about how to be the most effective lawyer you can be, how to better defend your clients.  You know, be a better lawyer, if that’s the sort of thing that interests you.

Now that I’ve kept my end of my deal with the devil, I’ll be waiting by the mail box for my coat and hat.  Scott Trimble tells me Laurie, the marketing director, is out at the Dubois haberdashery picking one up for me as I type.  It hasn’t arrived yet,  “[b]ut, she said to assure you she’s good for it.”  She better be or you’ll be hearing from me, because I kept my promise and you can bet that if Gerry Spence doesn’t keep his, there will be hell to pay.

When it arrives, I promise pics. Without pics, it didn’t happen. Well, you know that already.

Go to one of these seminars. Gerry Spence won’t be around forever, and think how you would feel when you tell your grandchildren that you could have learned from him and passed up the chance.  Not to mention, you owe it to your clients to be the best lawyer you can be. It’s your duty.


19 thoughts on “The Gerry Spence 2014 World Tour: Be There

    1. SHG Post author

      For most people, it’s generally considered wise to read first, comment later. Since this post has nothing to offer you, and you have nothing to offer the post, that precept is suspended in your case.

      1. william doriss

        i already know about Gerry Spence and his TLC up there in the wild, wild West. Any lawyer who has to go to one of these things to get pumped up, … well, I dunno? Seems like there’s gotta be a better way.
        it was nice of you to give him a plug. No harm done. Can’t wait to see the picture.
        Hey, at least I woke up this morning. That is a good thing,… maybe not for you. Ha.

        1. SHG Post author

          Given what criminal defense lawyers face in court, we could all use some pumping up from time to time. This isn’t an easy or fun job. That said, I made a deal and I keep my deals. That’s how it works.

        2. bmaz

          Mr. Doriss – That is an incredibly short sided and narrow minded thing to say. Any lawyer, I don’t care how experienced, can benefit from being around Spence. The guy just has a way about him. I am old and cranky, and I would still kill to go to one of Gerry’s retreats.

  1. Mary Alice

    Nice piece. I have been to the Ranch and I loved it. No Kool-Aid drinking involved. The experience helped me in my trial work and in my personal life. I haven’t done criminal defense for about 20 years, but I appreciate those of you who defend our constitution and the right to a trial by jury. I have worked to preserve that right most of my career. Thanks
    Mary Alice

  2. Bobby Frederick

    Thank you Scott. I’ve been to the Ranch and it changed the way I practice law from the ground up. Although Gerry founded Trial Lawyers College and he has been the biggest draw to it, it is really about trial lawyers pushing the envelope, developing new skills that work in the courtroom, and coming back to teach, share, and develop those skills. Forget about the personalities involved, and the College is simply about lawyers realizing our full potential to help others.

    1. SHG Post author

      …the College is simply about lawyers realizing our full potential to help others.

      That’s the kind of rhetorical flourish that tends to scare the crap out of intelligent lawyers, the same meaningless drivel that marketeers try to sell us. Some of the other warriors use much the same rhetoric, and this is why outsiders find it deeply disturbing, vapid and cult-like. You might want to put that in a more substantive way or your comment may well scare away more people than my post might draw.

      1. Bobby Frederick

        It’s a mystery to me how that quote would be seen as rhetoric, disturbing, or cult-like. Or marketeering – I have no financial interest in TLC and I don’t go out of my way to promote their events. ** Maybe I would if I got a free jacket out of it, Mr. Trimble. ** I would say the same about NCDC in Macon, Georgia – a different program that is about lawyers reaching their full potential to help others, that I recommend to anyone who is looking to improve their skills.

        If TLC once was about the cult of personality surrounding Gerry Spence, I don’t think it is any more. There is a long list of successful attorneys who go to the College to share what they know with other attorneys – set aside the personalities, and it is an incredible program. Fwiw, the most important things that I took from the program were communication skills taught by Josh Karton, who also teaches at NCDC and NACDL conferences.

        1. SHG Post author

          I’m not disagreeing about the virtues of the program, but about the means of describing why one should attend. What’s unfortunate is that you can’t see empty rhetoric for what it is, or why it feeds into the difficulty some see in TLC. But the fact that it’s a mystery to you doesn’t make it a mystery to others, particularly when it’s painfully obvious that words like “realizing our full potential to help others” is the sort of insipid tripe used by people (like marketeers) who have nothing real to say.

          There may be a seminar in cross or closing, but is there a class in “realizing”? Is it broken up into “some potential” and “the rest of potential”? That’s why it’s empty, and feeds into preconceptions about TLC. There’s no sense arguing the point. You don’t see it. Others do. I would prefer people focus on what is being taught in the seminars rather than rhetoric more associated with less savory endeavors.

        2. Andrew

          I don’t think Scott’s saying you are getting anything out of this (hence, a marketeer in your own right), but that you’re using the same sort of language that marketeers use when they are trying to give that warm fuzzy feeling without actually saying anything.

          You’re coming off way too defensive now, just as you came off too emphatic but empty before. So TLC is a great program to learn trial skills? Terrific. It doesn’t have to make you taller, more handsome or hung like a race horse.

          And no reason to be defensive. Be the student or be the lesson, as Mark Bennett says.

  3. Timothy P. Flynn

    There is a small group of above-average defense lawyers in my region, the northern suburbs of Detroit, that swear by this annual training session. I’ve noted their near cult-like devotion to Spence’s annual college to the point where I’ve started to wonder if I could shake the time loose in my schedule to attend and see for myself what all the fuss is about.

    1. SHG Post author

      The “cult-like” thing has been the subject of much discussion. My take is that it’s a bit of excessive camaraderie, but if you don’t want to be cult-ish, you won’t. I know lots of lawyers who have gone who loved the training, and that’s all it was to them. For those in need of a cult, it can fit the bill, and that’s a problem.

  4. Laurie Goodman

    A message here from Laurie Goodman, the Executive Director, not just the marketing director! But I’m the one who thought sending you a hat and jacket would be kind of a cool thing, so you can bank on it. Give me time just to get the darn things — not like I have them sitting around.
    The Trial Lawyers College is an incredible learning experience on professional and personal levels. I still am astounded that we have over 100 faculty members who VOLUNTEER their time, course after course, to come teach the methods to other lawyers. And it’s not just criminal law, we also teach plaintiff’s lawyers who are still out there in the trenches, fighting for the little guys against a system that is increasingly bent toward the monied, corporate defense. But fight we do, and defending our clients is not only our lawyers’ jobs, it is their privilege. Thanks for the plug. I hope we get some new students from it!

    1. SHG Post author

      Sorry about the marketing director thing. It’s that Scott Trimble’s fault. Bad Scott. Hope you get some new students from it too. And if you get enough, well, boots to go with the coat wouldn’t be unpleasant.

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