Trial Lawyers College-My Take

This post gives my take on Trial Lawyers College  (TLC) where I attended and graduated in the class of July 2012:

Wyoming. TLC is on Gerry Spence’s Ranch in Western Wyoming. Most students fly into Jackson Hole, and take a TLC charter from Jackson to the Ranch. This means seeing the beauty of Western Wyoming on the way to the Ranch. The Tetons are the highlight of the ride, but all of the country from Jackson to the Ranch is beautiful.

The Ranch. The Ranch is located two and a half hours east of Jackson. The closest town is Debois which is a cool cowboy town 40 minutes west of the Ranch. The accommodations at the Ranch are spartan, clean and fine. The Ranch facilities are well maintained ranch buildings. The food (buffet style) is great given the chefs cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for about 75 people. There are abundant morning opportunities for working out-climbing Spence Mountain a four mile hike from 7000 to 7900 feet,  jogging/walking a country road,  fly fishing (I caught 10 fish-catch and release), and working out in the Ranch weight room. The Wind River, which runs through the Ranch, gives a pastoral setting and  good vibes that make the Ranch a magical place.

Classmates. Although The Ranch is a cool place what makes TLC a great experience is the people. In my class we had 54  male and female lawyers of all ages and ethnic groups, from all over the United States with half being criminal defense lawyers and half being plaintiff injury lawyers. We promptly formed a close bound with 25% of the class as we were divided into four equal groups for the first three days. These are the psychodrama days where we learn who we are and who are peers are. We learn to take off our mask and be our real self. We then integrate back into the collective group. For work sessions we are divided into smaller groups. In this way we get to know all of our classmates in our three weeks together.

Instructors. The instructors are TLC graduates. They are quality trial lawyers from around the United States who take a week off to come to TLC to teach the TLC Method. Work sessions are not lecture like a typical law school or continuing  legal education class. Rather, work sessions are about doing. We learn from doing and showing. Typically an instructor asks our fellow classmates who act as jurors during a work session: “Is he like a lawyer or a real person.” If the answer is lawyer we are not in the TLC Method.

TLC Method. We learn to try cases using the TLC Method. First, we must be ourself. We must take off our mask and face the jury with honesty and without any pretense or legalese. We become one with the jury. Second, we show the jury our client’s story rather than tell the jury about our case. Third, we role reverse with the opposition witness allowing us to see the world as he sees the world. This allows for a sensitive humanistic cross examination instead of an aggressive lawyer like cross. It is the exception to the rule to destroy the witness. Finally, we close the case as we have started the case-we highlight the theme and the story, show the jury what justice means and give the case to our jury.

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