Open Forum

March 15, 2010

Instead of posting my thoughts, ideas and opinions this month, I open my blog to your ideas, comments and opinions on any topic of your choosing. I would like to hear from you about what is on your mind. I look forward to reading your posts!



    I have chosen not to post on the TLC listserve because it’s not a safe place to post. I am posting on your blog because I can be anonymous. Being anonymous seems cowardly to me and I don’t like doing it, but I don’t want to get hate mail from people and I don’t want to get the treatment that Carl did. I want to be perfectly honest and I can do that if you and others don’t know me. TLC doesn’t have an open forum and your blog does. I don’t know how many people will read this but I just needed to unburden myself.

    Who I am is an old TLC grad, who loves TLC with all my heart. I’ve gone to the college, to regionals, to grad programs and to psychodrama workshops. It’s bettered my life and my practice and I have made some lifelong friends. But over the years, things have happened that bothered me.

    The recent posts on the list serve are bothersome. There seems to be two camps: those that want TLC to account and those that are willing to let them slide.

    What bothered me enough to post is the FWarriors president’s statement that the silence of the majority of alumni show that they aren’t concerned with this new administration’s actions. I can’t believe that she would offer only one reading of people’s silence. Off the top of my head, I can think of other reasons—they are in shock, they are afraid to speak out, they have already left. To assume that what’s happened is OK with so many makes a big ASS out of U and ME.

    I for one have seen a number of good people either leave voluntarily or forced out. GOOD PEOPLE. Charlie, Strain, Norm, Nolte, Garvin, Hoyt, Joane, Carl, Mary, Fredi, Susan, Cricket, Toki. There may be more that I’m not aware of, but these are high quality folks that I miss. These people have integrity, talent, skills. Some of the posts on the list serve say it’s time for new blood. What’s wrong with old and new blood? I can learn from both.

    Sadly, I don’t think they’re the last. I bet there are future purges.

    The lies from Jude bother me. We’re told certain people will remain on staff, including Joane. Then, all of a sudden they are removed. Not for their teaching deficiencies, because they are the most skilled people on staff. They are also the most relatable. Jude doesn’t want them around.

    I am not OK with the TLC Board and F Warriors putting up walls of silence and not telling us anything. They are not accountable. I looked at Mark’s seven questions and it seemed reasonable to me that they should be answered. We’re told at every TLC program that we’re the college. Yet, the leaders act like we don’t mean anything. We give money to TLC, tuition and donations. TLC is accountable to us.

    It bothers me that so many people are willing to say, move on. Are we lawyers or sheep? I can’t imagine working a case and not getting the full story from my client and from the other side. If someone stonewalls me, I’d fight to get the truth. What’s the difference between opposing counsel hiding discovery and this administration hiding the facts? We stand up for our clients, but we’re not willing to stand up for ourselves, for our friends? That’s bullcrap.

    Go ahead, criticize me and say I”m part of that group. I am scared of losing friends and connections. Your right. I think I’d be less scared if I knew others would back me up. I have a lot of respect for Adrienne, Anna, Mark, David Heller, Norha, Amme for speaking up and demanding the truth. I wish I had the courage and strength to speak up. I think I do, but frankly, I’m just tired. I’m reminded I lack the courage and I don’t like that.

    The last few posts have said, let’s move on. I think I will move on. But from TLC. I guess silence is one way to make a point. I’ll make mine with my absence and donations.

    Old Grad

    • Well, the fact that not all alumni are on the list serve could be another reason more people haven’t spoken up. It sickens me that the FWB president speaks for all alumni when she doesn’t even know how all of us feel or what we all think. And no one yet has answered the questions posed by Mark Bennett.

      • I haven’t spoken up about anything on the list serve because I am on the staff and have seen, first hand, how anyone who disagrees with Spence (and now Jude) gets thrown out. Look at what happened to Carl Bettinger. And if you acknowledge your friendship with Joanne, you too could be thrown out. Look at Freddy Sison and Mary Pekham. I love the teaching, but I hate the politics of TLC. It is too bad the board and the leaders of the college don’t practice what they preach. And yes, I am a coward because I don’t speak up. Who would when it means excommunication or banishment? A very sad truth about TLC.

    • please get the movie “prometheus” before its publishing. anyone. it may be important for the blue ball.

  2. I have enjoyed your blog. I would like to hear what people think about the Health Care issue being discussed in this country. Why don’t the congress and senate want to help us by making sure all of us can get health care we can afford and health insurance that actually provides benefits. It is going to cost me and my wife over $900 a month for health insurance after I retire in a few months. This is outrageous!! I would be money that if the congress and senate had the same type of insurance and coverage that most american’s have, they would have passed health care reform a long time ago! We all need to write our senators and congressmen and demand they do something to help everyone. What do other people think?

    • Great topic for discussion Mark. I agree with you. If our congress people and senators had the same insurance issues most of us face, paid the type of premiums most American’s pay, they would demand Health Insurance Reform. I know plenty of folks who can’t get coverage due to pre-existing conditions and others who pay incredible monthly sums for coverage. Something is wrong with this picture. I hope others will post their thoughts on this topic.

  3. Does anyone know why TLC fired Josh Riffle (the chef in the cookhouse)? And why they waited until shortly before staff training to let him know?

  4. The names of the brand new staff are slipping out and it doesn’t sound good. after last year’s tlc class staged a revolt by refusing to go to any small groups except j.r. and joey’s, is it really a good idea to bring in so many new people who don’t know what they are doing. the reason for the 2009 revolt was that too many staffers were basically incompetent, so now we’re going to have more people who don’t know what they’re doing instead of the good staff who were fired.

  5. Dear Silenced by Fear,

    I’d like to know the strange pull that staff has that you would be willing to stay silent and not speak up for yourself or the people you care about? I doubt that any of us would ever let our clients be treated like that by opposing counsel or the courts. What you are teaching us is to be guided by fear.

    Why are so many of you–staff and nonstaff— willing to stay silent just to remain in good graces with the people that force you to be silent?

    • I don’t speak up because I have seen what happens to people that do. So have you but you are also remaining anonymous. Hmmmm, guess we are both willing to remain silent to stay in good graces with those in power.

      Carl Bettinger spoke up at staff training and he was axed, after having to endure hours of verbal abuse by Gerry Spence and after Spence publically humiliated him. The message is clear, speak up and be punished.

      And now the big board is using the president and president elect of the FWB to call or email some of the people who have posted on the list serve with comments that are not positive about TLC or the new regime and are intimidating them.

      But the worst is that flat out lies are being told about the people who have been thrown off the staff.

      I should probably just quit, but I don’t trust the other staff to stand up for me when I am lied about and I sure don’t trust the leaders of the college. I am chicken and lack courage because I would rather remain a part of this group than do what I know in my heart is right. I know this doesn’t make sense but I love the students and given some of the new staff who have been invited and some of the old incompetent staff who remain, we need some good staff to stick it out. So I will remain silent and pretend TLC is a good place just so I can be there to help the new students who don’t know the truth about TLC.

      • And now the big board is using the president and president elect of the FWB to call or email some of the people who have posted on the list serve with comments that are not positive about TLC or the new regime and are intimidating them.

        Please email me about this. MB@IVI3.com. I will keep your identity—like those of all the TLC alumni who have emailed me privately about my views—private.

  6. Great post on his blog by Mark Bennett:

    Why is the Trial Lawyers College Afraid of these Three Women? by Mark Bennett

    Three really smart creative empathetic lawyers—Joane Garcia-Colson, Mary Peckham, and Fredilyn Sison—are directing a four-day Trial Boot Camp in Palm Springs, California from May 13 to May 16, 2010. Tuition is $750. I know these women well from the Trial Lawyers College and psychodrama workshops, and I recommend their boot camp highly to women trial lawyers. (I would attend, but I am short on X chromosomes.)

    Joane, Mary, and Fredi are great teachers. They are, as Trial Lawyers College (“TLC Inc.”) President Jude Basile admits, “splendid people and magnificent warriors.”

    Most importantly, until the beginning of February, Mary and Fredi were part of the Trial Lawyers College staff (Norm Pattis, former staff himself, describes the way things work). Then Mary was simply not invited back to staff training. Fredi was explicitly told by Jude that she was being removed from staff because of her association with Joane and the Trial Boot Camp, which TLC Inc. saw as “competition” for TLC.

    What greater praise for a lawyer training program than that Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College is trying to suppress it?

    It is mildly ironic that, when she was the Executive Director of the Trial Lawyers College, Joane herself was the enforcer of brand purity for Gerry Spence (himself the past president of TLC Inc.); greater ironies, however, abound. For example, TLC talks a good anti-institution (antigovernment, anticorporate) game, but it is run by a corporation. Norm again:

    “In spite of the college’s railing against corporate America, its behavior is typical of corporate culture. A new CEO has been appointed by a closely-held board — no elections in this populist heaven. Those perceived as unwilling to kiss the new emperor’s ring will be shown the door. Nothing suprising here. It might just as well be Chrysler as TLC.”

    If you ask an alumna of the Trial Lawyers College whether TLC staff should be free to associate with each other without being ostracized by organizations to which they belong, she will undoubtedly vociferously approve the proposition. Ask her if she would belong to an organization that only permitted members who associated with the “right” people, and you’ll get an indignant “no.” Treating human beings well and allowing them to associate with whom they want are core values of the TLC community. Teaching others how to be better lawyers is also a core value, as is fighting institutional power. (Before I went to TLC in ‘99 I hadn’t given much thought to how corporations are so like governments.)

    But point out to TLC alumni that TLC Inc. is violating TLC’s core values—that TLC Inc. is exercising its institutional power punishing people for their association with other TLC alumni and for teaching others to be better lawyers—and most of them remain curiously silent.

    Suggest, where TLC alumni gather, that this not only is true but also should be wholly unsurprising—that TLC Inc. is an institution, and institutional goals override all else—and you might as well be the insolent child suggesting that the emperor is buck naked when everybody knows he dresses splendidly.

    There is a TLC alumni organization: the F Warriors (another corporation). There are some 800+ graduates of the Trial Lawyers College’s three-to-five week program at Thunderhead Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming and the new “Seven-Step” program. These are represented, nominally, by the F Warriors Board. (I say “nominally” because, historically, the F Warriors Board’s overriding institutional goal has been promotion of TLC Inc.)

    In this instance, the F Warriors Board took the drastic step (for it) of asking TLC Inc. seven simple questions:

    1. Were Mary, Fredi, or Carl Bettinger removed from staff because of their association with Joane?
    2. Were any of them removed from staff because of non-TLC training programs they are organizing?
    3. In October the President of TLC told the alumni in Dallas that “off the board” did not mean “out as staff.” What changed between October and January with regard to those three teachers?
    4. Does the TLC Board have a policy with regard to the freedom of TLC staff to associate?
    5. What is that policy?
    6. Does the TLC Board have a policy with regard to TLC staff organizing and teaching other programs for trial lawyers?
    7. What is that policy?

    The alumni (through the F Warriors Board) got no response from TLC Inc.

    That silence may be the clearest answer we could get: “you people aren’t worthy of a response.” Did this answer affect the F Warriors Board? Not at all. The leaders of the alumni organization (hand-picked by the College for years, but now elected by the alumni) are okay with the way TLC Inc. treats TLC alumni. They wish we could all just get along, and the burden is on the alumni to make that happen.

    The F Warriors Board rationalizes its meek acceptance of TLC Inc.’s treatment of our fellow alumni with a little bit of Brutus—”All of the people involved here are honorable”—and a whole lot of battered wife—”TLC has given us many wonderful gifts.” (Yes, and I’m sure TLC Inc. didn’t mean to mistreat Mary, Fredi, and Carl, is sorry, loves you very much, and won’t do it again.)

    It’s striking how many TLC alumni—”warriors” who earn their keep speaking publicly for unpopular causes—are discontent but unwilling to say anything against TLC Inc. publicly or even among other TLC alumni. Fortunately for the future of TLC (for it can’t exist without dissent) TLC alumni are prominent in the blawgosphere: Joane, Norm, Jon Katz, David Tarrell, Paul Smith (writing here about TLC without naming it), Chuck Peterson, Remy Orozco, Bobby Frederick, F Warriors Board member J.R. Clary, Jr.; most haven’t commented adversely on TLC Inc., but some have, and the commenters who agree (as here and here) are conspicuous in their anonymity. One suspects that, despite their disenchantment with what they once believed to be Camelot, they are unwilling to risk losing whatever love they get from their association with TLC.

    Others might suggest—indeed, others have said—that TLC graduates’ unwillingness to criticize the College is symptomatic of the institution’s status as a cult. I don’t think that TLC is a cult. Naturally, having dedicated some time and energy to TLC, I don’t want to think of TLC as a cult—but as I often tell my clients, what we want to believe doesn’t affect what’s true.

    I would say that only 10 of the 15 “cult characteristics” here even arguably apply to TLC’s relationship with a select few TLC graduates. Maybe 10 out of 15 would be enough to make TLC a cult, with regard to those few graduates. Really, though, it doesn’t matter: an organization of trial lawyers who are afraid to speak the truth, even if it is not a cult, is too sick to survive.

    TLC is at a crossroads, trying to find a way to survive after Gerry Spence dies. It could choose the path of institutionalization, or it could choose the open-source path. The firing of the Fredi, Mary, and Carl, and the attempted suppression of the Trial Boot Camp, is emblematic of the direction TLC has chosen: institutional control over individual creativity.

    I have tried in private—on the TLC listserv, among a few who vocally agree with me, many who silently agree with me, and many more for whom TLC Inc. can do no wrong—to try to make a difference to the direction the College takes. But I am just one guy, and my vision is not broadly shared.

    I learned a great deal at TLC, and I use daily what I learned there and what I built upon what I learned there. But I have no confidence in the institution. Either TLC was always hypocritical about its principles, or TLC has changed since I attended. Either way, what is being sold is not what was once advertised.

  7. From Norm Pattis blog:

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    TLC: Squashing The Competition
    By Norm Pattis

    Mark Bennett has an interesting piece about the latest doings at the Trial Lawyer’s College. It turns out that three female expatriates have started a program for women. The college is not happy about it. Question: If the college’s program revolves around love, and that is the college’s claim, who has a monopoly on love?

    Women lawyers should check out the program offered by three gems called The Three Sisters. The members of the group are three YLC alum, Joane Garcia-Colson, Fredilyn Sison and Mary Pecham. I’ve met and worked with Joane and Mary, and have heard nothing but good things about Sison.

    One undercurrent at TLC that rarely surfaces for public display is mysogny. Critics of Spence say he has three hot button issues: money, woman and race. Apparently, The Three Sistters intend to offer advanced training in trial advocacy to women only. That seems regrettable to me. I could use a tune up and might well have attended this program, but my plumbing makes me ineligible. The debut program is May 13 to 16 in Palm Springs, and the price is a fraction of the TLC price: $750.


    Check out Bennett: http://bennettandbennett.com/blog/2010/03/why-is-the-trial-lawyers-college-afraid-of-these-three-women.html

  8. Tuesday, March 16, 2010
    From Norm Pattis’ blog:

    TLC: Sison To Board, “I Am Not Joane”

    Word has it that no one was asked to leave the Trial Lawyers College. All left voluntarilty. I have been provided a copy of the following letter sent to all TLC board members by Fredilyn Sison. It suggests otherwise.

    “To the TLC Board of Directors:

    “Your president, Jude Basile, called me last Tuesday to tell me that the Board has decided that Mary Peckham and I will no longer be on staff. Jude was specific that it was the Board that made this decision, so I am writing this letter to each individual member to let you know how I feel about your decision. I believe that dealing with people directly shows appropriate respect. While you may not like what I have to say to you in this letter, I write it as someone who loves, and continues to love, the Trial Lawyers College. I hope you are able to read it with that in mind.

    “I don’t speak for Mary Peckham and I mention her only because Jude spoke of her in our conversation regarding your decision.

    “As you know, both Mary and I have been on the staff since 2001, and this past year after Joane Garcia-Colson resigned, Mary was the coordinator for Grad 1 and I was the coordinator for Grad 2 and the Advanced Regional. I volunteered to act as executive director for these two programs for the same reasons I accepted the invitation for staff all these years: I care about this College and its mission. No doubt that many of us feel the same.

    “Jude called me because when he removed me from the Board of Directors in October, 2009,1 asked him if I were also being removed from staff, and he informed me he would tell me at a later date. I detail our conversation below because I do not want there to be any question as to what was said. I trust that he will tell each of you about this conversation but I exercise the privilege to tell you myself.

    “I asked him why the board decided I should no longer teach at TLC. He gave me the following two reasons:

    “First, he said that the CLE program I’m co-creating with Mary and Joane competes, with TLC. He was referring to the Women’s Trial Boot Camp.

    “Secondly, he said that I’m being removed because of my friendship with Joane and my support of her.

    “In response, I said the following: .

    “A. I told him that the Women’s Trial Boot Camp, which is a small workshop, does not compete with TLC because (1) TLC does not sponsor any women-only program;
    (2) the invitations went out to women who are friends or friends of friends, not just TLC women, so we are not “stealing” anyone; (3) more programs that help lawyers become better advocates elevate the practice and are good for the people we represent; and (4) many other TLC alums and staff have sponsored, participated and staffed non-TLC sponsored CLE’s, so why is the Board discriminating against us? I named programs involving Bill Trine, Joey Low, Sonia Chaisson, Deb Taussig, Bill Barton, Bob Dawson and Ken Behrens as recent examples. Jude conceded this issue as he has done CLE’s as well. He said the real problem was Joane.

    “B. I told Jude that his-and I suppose the Board’s, since he spoke on your behalf—beef is with Joane, not me or Mary. I said that I am not Joane and that if he or you, the Board, have a problem with her, then you should address her directly.

    “Jude said that she’s been blogging about him and TLC. Notwithstanding my own opinion about the right to free speech, I said, “Again, your problem is with Joane, not me.” I don’t blog, and I don’t post things on the list serve. If people ask me what happened, I respond to them directly but I don’t broadcast. Jude said I supported her when she left, and I said “So did the entire Board as it existed then. If you didn’t like what happened when she left, then that’s not an issue with me. You all should have taken it up with her. You all had individual votes to deal with her. I voted the way I believed was best for the College, but my vote was only one out of 16. If you feel badly about your vote, that is not my problem.” As I recall, [NAME DELETED] went to speak to her and he did not come back to the Board to tell us we should not give her the severance package she requested. While I sensed unhappiness about the package from a number of the Board members, not one person voted against giving it to her. If I had been the only person who “supported” Joane and voted for the severance package, then she would not have received it.

    “I told Jude and I’m telling all of you I am not Joane. We are two different people, and I take offense mat any of you would think otherwise. That I supported her is no different from the times I supported Kay and other paid staff when they left. Because being supportive is what I do. I’m just being consistent with who I am.

    “I know that I’m not the only friend Joane has on the board. In fact, over the years I’ve been at TLC, all of you have professed to be her friend. I don’t know what happened with some of you and Joane and frankly, I don’t care, but I didn’t support Joane because she was my friend. I voted for the package because I believed it was in the best interest of the College to do so. That it helped her was secondary to my thinking and vote. (Since I speak of other former board members, I provide, as a courtesy to them, a copy of this letter. If they have a different recollection of the events surrounding Joane’s resignation and severance package, I’m sure they let you and me know.).

    “If you could point to lapses in my teaching or if I were a disruptive, irresponsible or . non-collaborative staff member, then you have a valid reason for my removal. But I have never been anything but supportive of TLG (SIC). In fact, you can confirm with Jude and Laurie Goodman that despite getting axed from the Board two hours before the start of the Advanced Regional, a program I was coordinating and staffing, I did not let my hurt or anger affect the curriculum, the teaching, the staff or the students. I dare all of you to read the evaluations of that program to find one word that belies that. In fact, I told the staff in my role as coordinator that we were not to mention that three of us who were staffing the Advanced— Carl, Katlin and I—had just been removed from the Board unceremoniously.

    “I am deeply offended that you would “de-staff someone because of association. Less than a month ago, I, as a federal public defender, stood with a police officer convicted of child sexual abuse and even the mother of that child did not maltreat me despite her palpable pain. Every day I proudly “associate” with accused people and convicted criminals, not only because it’s my job, but because they are human beings. I’ll be damned if I let anyone dictate to me who my friends are and judge me for my “support” of anyone without my saying something about it.

    “And for the record, Joane and Mary are good people. I am proud to call them my friends.

    “I am disappointed by your decision. But please don’t be confused by what I mean by that. I am not disappointed to not be on staff. I’m disappointed in the reason why you took Mary and me off staff.

    “I will continue to support TLC, the programs and the good people that are involved in it, be it staffer students. I do so because I think this organization has done a lot of good and changed people’s lives for the better. Hopefully it will continue to do so. But given the recent actions of this board and/or its individual members, I have my doubts. This is not the TLC of the mission statement, this is not the TLC of Bob Rose and John Johnson, and this is not the TLC that once courageously was. “

    • This makes me sick! What has happened to TLC?

  9. […] In Joane’s open forum, more anonymous TLC dissenters are heard from. (Shhhh! Before he gets […]

  10. It is too bad so many of us feel the need to post anonymously but the truth is, at TLC, either at programs or on the list serve, it is NOT safe to speak the truth and it is NOT safe to disagree or criticize the new regime or Spence himself. Actions speak louder than words and we have seen the actions of the college against those who speak up and out or who associate with people the powers that be are angry with or dislike. TLC has always claimed to be an open, honest place where people were free to be themselves, free to express what was in their hearts, free to disagree and have open debate and exhange of ideas. Sadly, this is all a lie.

    TLC is a corporation, controlled by power and money. Fundraisers are the primary concern. Spence wants the focus to be on big donations and not small ones. He wants our money so he doesn’t have to pay for his ranch. There is a board hand selected by Spence and now Jude with little concern for the wishes of alumni, who they claim own the college. We don’t own shit. We don’t vote for the members of the board and we don’t even get to elect our own alumni liason to the board. The TLC board picked someone they can control, who will not stand up to them, who will rubber stamp everything they decide and who will spread their lies to the alumni. Our voices, unless they are voices of outright praise, worship and admiration, will be silenced. Our questions are not answered because they don’t care about us, except for our pocketbooks in the form of tuition and donations. The product is becoming inferior because the new regime seeks staff who will be loyal vs. those who are talented, creative and can teach. People are afraid to be treated as we have all seen others treated.

    Nolte was forced out because he spoke the truth about the lack of psychodramatic skills on the part of a couple of powerful board members who ran crying to Spence and because he questioned the finances and the relationships of TLC, the Spence Foundation and Singing Trees. Nolte also spoke up against the lease between TLC and the Spence Foundation. Charlie also spoke up and disagreed with Spence over the lease, diversity issues, finances and related issues. GONE. And the recent board removals were due to association, questions over finances, the relationship between TLC, the Spence Foundation and Singing Trees.

    Alumni don’t want to know the truth. They want to pretend that TLC is a loving, caring place. They want to live in denial and hold on to the belief that TLC cares about them. But the actions of the board over the last few months is to the contrary. They have silenced everyone they can. All links to alumni blogs were removed from the TLC web site. People who have spoken up have been excommunicated or banished or removed from the staff. And now people who dare post honest feelings that are in any way viewed as negative to TLC might get a call or email from the president or president elect of the FWB and will be intimidated for not “getting on board”, “rowing the boat in the same direction,” or blindly “trusting the new leaders.”

    John Johnson and Bob Rose are likely turning over in their graves in shame over what TLC has become and how far off the path it has strayed. TLC is not about love, unless it is love for TLC no matter what they do, say or how they treat people. TLC may not be a cult, but it is pretty damn close.

  11. Here are some questions for the TLC Board:

    1. Why not publish TLC’s financial statements on the list serve, the web site or in the Warrior so all alumnae can review them?
    2. Why not publish the lease between TLC and the Spence Foundation?
    4. Why not make all the minutes of the TLC Board of Director’s meetings avail to alumnae via the web site or in the Warrior?
    3. Why not change the by laws so that the TLC Board members are elected by popular vote of the alumnus?

  12. I have been told that some of the critics of TLC, including members of the alumni board, have been told by the leaders of that board to “stop asking questions!” Guess that means TLC won’t be answering any of the alumni questions in the near future, or ever. But be sure to keep your donations coming and to renew your warrior subscriptions and register for upcoming programs.

  13. So in the end,, will the ego destroy the very idea it creates,, or will it turn into a mindless,, non-living fucking corporation?

    I too am a graduate of TLC,,, I too am saddened by the events,, yet I am only a voice for those who can’t or won’t speak.

    Sometimes the truth is ugly,, sometimes the truth beautiful,, I wonder why the truth is not spoken here?

    It seems to me that the end is near,, the idea of freedom is becoming a fucking corporation and sadly,, will never live on forever.

    I take my experiences,, my love and pass on what I am taught,, but when the idea is personal and it is against the “corporation concept”,, how will it ever survive as original?

    There is a new regime,, there is a new way to do things and there is a certain death that will occur,, all that exists today will be gone tomorrow,, for the idea sprang from the love of the creation of something so original and unique that it is sadly forever gone when the founder passes on to the great beyond.

    I am certain that the antithesis of the ideas is the enbracement of the very thing preached against,, the mindless non-living corporation,, a fate worse than death with the idealogy of the founder suddenly realizing that the only way to survive is to become the very thing shouted against,, a mindless, thoughtless,, coporation,

    It will die when the founder passes on,, or it will evolve into the non-living non-personal corporation.

    May peace be with you and the blessing be passed on to those that can feel the love,, and not the ass kissing necessary to pretend to let the dream of an original man live on in corporate form who so desperately fought his life against the very idea of the corporation.

    • You are so right on Paul!! Great comment. I wholeheartedly agree. TLC has become a corporation, a cold, heartless, people are expendable corporation. At least they could be honest about it instead of misleading so many of us who truly care about people and not just money and power.

  14. Today I am sad. The TLC that many of us came to love and felt a part of, included, welcomed and loved, no matter our warts or flaws, is dead. It cannot be revived. And a man we had come to respect has shown us he is not who we thought he was. This is sad, but was to be expected. Some of you still cling to the hope it will go on and may get back to its ideals. I for one don’t believe that is possible. Given the lies propogated by the new regime and the mean spirited, hateful, disrespectful and dishonest way the leaders have treated good people, means we can no longer trust TLC or those who run it. Where is the love, forgiveness and compassion TLC preaches. Guess the leaders don’t really believe the words they speak. Have we all been duped? I feel like I have been lied to by the people in power. I would have never thought this was possible but it is true. Sad but so true.

    I agree with what Fredi wrote in her letter to the board, this is not the TLC of John Johnson and Bob Rose. They never would have allowed good people to be treated the way some have been treated in the last several months. I now understand the influence they had on Spence. Too bad they died and left those with much less integrity, love or caring take their places at Spence’s side. I miss John Johnson and Bob Rose now more than ever.

  15. This all reminds me of a story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forty-seven_Ronin

  16. Jake mentions John Johnson and Bob Rose. I was fortunate to have attended TLC while they were still alive. These were two wonderful men.

  17. Jules: don’t stop there! What about Garvin Isaacs? Learned more from him than I can express.

  18. Yes Beth. And Steve Rench. And Jim Jeans. And others.

    For a couple of years the TLC planets were in alignment.

  19. Jules and Beth, you are so right about John Johnson, Bob Rose, Steve Rench, Jim Jeans and Garvin Isaacs. The later two were chased away by Spence. He really treated Rench and Jeans poorly to put it mildly. And then there are Nancy Hollander and Joe Guastaferro. Spence treated them horribly as well and they quit TLC never to return either. The list goes on and on. I was at WTAI a few years ago and all the big names walked out on Spence’s presentation, including Garvin and Rench.

    As a side note, anyone know who the old timer is that is supposedly writing a tell all book about TLC? Can’t wait to read it (it might actually tell the truth about TLC’s creation and Spence) so if anyone knows about this please post something. I don’t want to miss this book!

  20. I doubt that anybody is writing a book about TLC, positive, neutral or negative. The market of potential readers is too small.

  21. I think a tell all book about Gerry Spence, America’s Greatest Trial Lawyer, would have a huge market!! Especially one that tells the truth about him and his rhetoric. And the truth about the Trial Lawyers Cult er, I mean “College.”

  22. If somebody wrote an unauthorized biography about Gerry Spence, I would probably read it out of curiosity. But I do not think there would be a big market for such a book. Curiously, when I speak with younger lawyers, they often do not know who Gerry Spence is. Instead they are impressed by our local, self-promoting prima donnas who have but a fraction of Gerry’s skills.

    As to the Trial Lawyers College, I don’t think a book about that would interest anybody except the people who have gone there. Again, if somebody wrote such a book about TLC I would probably read it.

    I don’t know what I think about tell all books. But I do like books and films about complex, multidimensional personalities. Funny how greatness and flaws always seem to go together.

  23. Can’t the people who read this blog talk about anything else other than this stupid lawyers college? Who cares! Most lawyers are liars and snakes anyway.

    What about health care reform and how the politicians are ruining this country? What about the economy?

  24. I just went to my first TLC program in WA last week. I had heard so much about the program and was very excited about going but must say I was incredibly disappointed. I don’t know where they get their teachers but many of them were just plain awful and didn’t seem to know what they were doing. I had one guy in particular, a young guy from I think Iowa, who was horrible, arrogant, condescending and plain rude. I also noticed that there was a lot of tension between the teachers. One female instructor left early (and it didn’t appear happily), and there weren’t many of them (female instructors) to begin with. I don’t think I will be going back to any other programs. I feel that it was a waste of my money. Sorry, but that is how I feel.

    • Over the years, I have been to many TLC events. But I have to agree with you about last weeks program. TLC has changed, and not for the better. People who were really good teachers, kind and caring are no longer involved. And I am really tired of hearing mean and unkind, and sometimes pretty ugly things said about some of the instructors who I really got close to and learned so much from but who aren’t around for whatever reason. The current instructors don’t need to share this stuff with us and it only makes them and TLC look bad.

    • The Iowa guy would be Nick Rowley. Good description.

  25. I was a staff member in WA and I feel bad about the comments from the students who used the names Disappointed and Disappointed Too. But they are accurate and honest comments. I am not only disappointed, I am angry and sad.

    TLC is in chaos. Staff are fighting amongst themselves and attacking each other. It is mean and ugly. It is hateful. Good people who are no longer on the staff or involved in the college are being needlessly trashed. For what purpose? To what end? It makes me sick.

    There is no leadership. If you speak up, you are punished. If you complain you are criticized. If you speak your honest feelings you are attacked. I no longer feel safe.

  26. I understand (don’t agree, but understand) why TLC alumni and staff might be reluctant to speak critically of TLC in public (that is, using their real names).

    But why someone whose only exposure to TLC is a single Regional would be afraid to attach his or her name to an opinion critical of that Regional is beyond me.

    Can someone please explain?

    I sought support for the notion, stated here, that “the big board is using the president and president elect of the FWB to call or email some of the people who have posted on the list serve with comments that are not positive about TLC or the new regime and are intimidating them” and found none.

    It’s easy to shoot your mouth off when nobody knows who you are. But anonymous opinions, like blank checks, are generally worthless.

    People who launch personal attacks (like that on Mr. Rowley) from the cover of anonymity are the nocturnal car-keyers of the internet.

    • Mark
      You make some great points. I have considered not posting anonymous comments on this blog. I understand the reluctance of staff and alumni to speak out using their names. It is sad that people are afraid to own their opinions and criticisms. I suspect that won’t change, but I find it very sad.

  27. I think the reason that some people prefer to post anonymously is because TLC has become a political football and many folks, including myself, have friends on both sides of the skirmish.

    Like many, I have not been happy with the recent goings on at the Trial Lawyers College. But the last time I was there, in 2004, it still struck me as a premier training ground for trial lawyers.

    I cannot speak for how it is now. I have not been there in six years. All I know is that some kind of purge seems to be taking place, which is not only inconsistent with concepts of transparency but seems to be the antithesis of what I always believed the college stood for. That being said, whenever I need to refer a case outside of Illinois, the first place I look is the TLC alumni directory.

    I still look at Gerry Spence as the greatest living American trial lawyer. And I hope that he has many, many years left. So much good has come from his creation of the college. But giving the political climate, I question whether TLC can survive without him.

    Fortunately, as groups splinter off and provide their own trial training, I think that the best parts of TLC will survive even if not under the formal TLC banner.

  28. I have been looking around ljgc.wordpress.com and really am impressed by the amazing content here. I work the nightshift at my job and it is so boring. I have been coming here for the past couple nights and reading. I simply wanted to let you know that I’ve been enjoying what I’ve seen and I look forward to reading more.

    • Thanks so much for reading my blog! I hope you enjoy future posts.

  29. What they heck is “Mystic Stew” – the newest marketing term for TLC? Is this a joke? Guess they got tired of serving Kool aid so now they are serving “Mystic Stew.”

  30. Anyone wonder why Gerry Spence takes all the credit for cases others do most of the work on – especially when those others are WOMEN? Not sayin he isn’t a great trial lawyer. But come on, give credit where credit is due! The recent settlement that he and his son obtained in OR was on a case that a WOMAN did most of the work on. Same thing in the Mayfield case. A WOMAN did a significant amount of the work. Not a single word from Spence about their contributions. But then again, Spence NEVER gives credit where credit is due. And Spence has never had a female partner! Can anyone spell Mysoginist? Chauvinist? Or how about Narcissist?

  31. Can anyone spell Mysoginist?

    I can: m-i-s-o-g-y-n-i-s-t.

    Happy to help.


  32. Norm has said it repeatedly, Spence has 3 hot buttons, women, money and race. You know what makes me sick, Spence has a $50+ Million Estate in Montecito, an estate outside Jackson for $35 Million, a multi-million ranch, other various real estate and yet he asks us poor lawyers to reach into our pockets and give him money to pay for his college and his ranch. I find it beyond disgusting! Reminds me of the big banks who asked for bailouts and the bonuses paid to wallstreet execs. More, more, more. When is Spence going to write a check to fund his own legacy instead of robbing us? Never! He is all about GREED! And why pay for it himself when he can sucker us into doing it.

  33. TLC needs to wake up on the law as it relates to non-profits.

    What tax documents must an exempt organization make available for public inspection and copying?

    An exempt organization must make available for public inspection its exemption application. An exemption application includes the Form 1023 (for organizations recognized as exempt under § 501(c)(3)), Form 1024 (for organizations recognized as exempt under most other paragraphs of § 501(c)), or the letter submitted under the paragraphs for which no form is prescribed, together with supporting documents and any letter or document issued by the IRS concerning the application. A political organization exempt from taxation under § 527(a) must make available for public inspection and copying its notice of status, Form 8871.

    In addition, an exempt organization must make available for public inspection and copying its annual return. Such returns include Form 990 , Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, Form 990-EZ , Short Form Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, Form 990-PF, Return of Private Foundation, Form 990-BL , Information and Initial Excise Tax Return for Black Lung Benefit Trusts and Certain Related Persons, and the Form 1065 , U.S. Partnership Return of Income.

    An organization exempt under § 501(c)(3) must make available for public inspection and copying any Form 990-T, Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return, filed after August 17, 2006. Returns must be available for a three-year period beginning with the due date of the return (including any extension of time for filing). For this purpose, the return includes any schedules, attachments, or supporting documents that relate to the imposition of tax on the unrelated business income of the charity. See Public Inspection and Disclosure of Form 990-T for more information.

    When Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, following the scandalous behavior of corporate America, it included two provisions that also apply to nonprofits. Federal law prohibits all corporations, including nonprofits, from retaliating against employees who “blow the whistle” on their employer’s accounting practices. Additionally, over 45 different states have enacted laws to protect whistleblowers from retaliation at the workplace. Consequently, having a good internal process for addressing complaints including a whistleblower protection/anti-retaliation policy can help your organization protect itself from the risk of violating state and federal laws that afford protections to whistleblowers, and can help ensure that if there is a problem it will be investigated and fixed.

    Even organizations that do not have paid staff should also put a whistleblower protection policy in place to encourage people to bring their concerns forward without fear of retaliation. Organizations that encourage complaints by having an “open door” policy and have a standard of “no retaliation” for raising concerns are considered more transparent. These organizations will be in a better position to address all concerns, whether they are about fraudulent accounting practices, unsafe conditions, or alleged discrimination.

    Do we need a whistleblower or anti-retaliation policy?

    Yes. Your nonprofit is practicing sound governance and exercising prudent risk management if you have a written policy. Your organization will only be in a position to correct a situation if it becomes aware of the problem. That is why having a policy that encourages people to report their concerns without fear of retaliation is so critical to good governance. Plus, federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who file complaints. Claims for retaliation are one of the most prevalent causes of actions against employers (including nonprofits) today.

    • More: What is a Code of Ethics?

      A code of ethics is a set of principles to guide a nonprofit organization’s decision making and activities, as well as the behavior of its employees, volunteers, and board members. The purpose of adopting a formal code is to provide employees, volunteers and board members with guidelines for making ethical choices in the conduct of their work on behalf of the organization. Honesty, integrity, and fair practices create a solid foundation that earns the public’s trust. A code of ethics is the expression of that solid foundation. When board members of a nonprofit adopt a code of ethics, they are expressing their commitment to ethical behavior.

      Why is ethical leadership so significant in the nonprofit sector?

      Nonprofit organizations are “public benefit” corporations; the purpose of their existence is to benefit the public as opposed to the private interests of their board members, staff or even of individual clients. The mission of a charitable nonprofit expresses the particular way that the organization will fulfill its public benefit purpose. Fittingly, board members are often referred to as “trustees,” which reinforces the concept that the assets of a nonprofit are entrusted to the oversight of its board members who have a legal duty to ensure that the nonprofit uses those assets to fulfill its mission.

      It is one thing to exist for the benefit of the public; it is another to earn the public’s trust through ethical leadership and responsible practices. The good will earned by accountable and transparent nonprofits is one of, if not the most important, of its assets. Donors will give to organizations they trust to use their charitable gifts wisely. Volunteers will invest their time in causes when they trust that the nonprofit is acting ethically. And clients and consumers will return to a nonprofit for services, and recommend that nonprofit to others, when the nonprofit has shown to be accountable for its actions. Increasingly, regulators, charity watchdogs, and the media have raised their voices and thus the pressure on nonprofits to act ethically by forcing nonprofits to be transparent in their financial dealings and also to be responsive and accountable when complaints surface about their conduct.

  34. What about fundraising?

    State law generally prohibits untruthful and fraudulent fundraising, and classifies such fraud as criminal activity.

  35. Another request for fundraising from TLC, this time from Gerry. I’ve always hated the fundraisers when I went to regionals. I don’t like them anymore in email form, but at least I don’t have to sit there. I just hit delete.

    The majority of TLC and regional alumni are getting by. Some are comfortable, but most are strictly in the middle class, like myself. The majority of us hope for a good case or no budget cuts.

    Why do they keep asking money from us?

    When I look at the list of board members, they are all, except for a handful, millionaires. A scholarship to them would be no more than $20 from the rest of us. Hell, several of them can fund the entire Death Penalty seminar and not miss the money.

    So ask them, not us. Or have they already said, in which case, why should any of use struggling in these economic times say yes?

  36. How does TLC spell money? A-L-U-M-N-I!

  37. Here we go again. When are people going to wake up and see that TLC is not the organization it claims to be. TLC, Inc. is a hard, heartless, power hungry, greedy corporation run by people who don’t care about anyone but themselves and for whom money is more important than people. In my opinion, and from what I have seen over the last several months, Spence thinks he is a god and expects all to bow down and worship him…. or else! TLC says it is all about love, but they sure don’t treat people who have given so much to them with love. If they don’t like what you have to say or what you do, you are out and they will do everything they can to destroy you. And worse, most of the alumni are like lemmings, they just follow blindly.

  38. How much is the new website that Laurie Goodman referred to this morning costing TLC? Instead of re-doing the TLC website, which looked good and gave me all the information I needed, why didn’t TLC apply that money towards the Death Penalty scholarships? Then they wouldn’t need to fundraise on the list serve.

    • But then they wouldn’t have a reason to ask us alumni for more money.

  39. What I find most disturbing about all the debate on the list serve, is that a large number of alumni do not want to know or won’t believe the truth. How many months has the leadership been silent? 6, 8 10? How many months have alumni asked for answeres? 6, 8, 10? We are never going to get them. Spence and the board do not care one wit about us. To Spence, we are one giant checkbook that he draws upon at will. Good people are gone. Worse than that, they are being maligned and their characters assasinated. Just ask the staff at the WA Seminar. One member dared to say how much he missed those who are gone. He was attacked by one of the new hench men brought onto staff by the new president, and the people who have left or were thrown out were skewered with his vile, hateful words and accusations. The lone staff member who later challenged this hench man was then attacked and shortly thereafter was told she wasn’t even supposed to be there as a staff member because she wasn’t really supposed to have been invited. One of the psychodramatists was later attacked and raked over the coals by Spence himself, to the point where she was skaking and near tears.

    So, you see, the leadership of our cult will not tolerate questions or support of those who are gone. And they continue to punish anyone who speaks out or challenges them. Your questions fall on deaf ears.

    But hey, don’t close your checkbook!

  40. Don’t be surprised by people turning a blind eye.

    People don’t like unpleasantness and confrontation. It’s easier to hit the delete button or get off the list serve than to start asking questions or participate in discussion.

    People are afraid. If they say anything, they will be removed, maligned, bullied.

    People are passive and often indifferent. It’s easier for someone else to do the heavy lifting.

    People are celebrity whores. They will do anything that Gerry wants them to do. They will deny they are suck-ups, but like pornography, we know it when we see it.

    People are tired. They spoke out and nothing happened. They didn’t speak out and nothing happened. Better to leave now.

    The list is endless. There will always be a category or two that an alumni will fall in.

    So TLC will go on, with more appalling changes that will quietly be made. Among them will be:

    Good, caring, creative staff have been removed. Additional good, caring, creative staff will leave or be asked to leave.

    More big names on staff, but with no TLC experience.

    Psychodrama will be de-emphazied (look at the board. Most of them don’t believe in psychodrama. How many of them have actually participated as a protagonist?)

    More lecturing, less action. (This is already happening. Ask a friend who has attended a recent TLC seminar. TLC is not what it used to be).

    More requests for money. (See Gerry’s recent email to the list serve: “I will engrave your gift in my heart.”)

    More intolerance.

    I don’t fault people for staying on. TLC has meant much for the majority of us. Most of you are willing to give Jude and his crew the benefit of the doubt. But given what’s happened—removal of board members in violation of the by-laws, removal of good staff, bold faced lies told to the alumni, ongoing requests for money without accounting—how much more do you want to take? Unless you fight for the college, it will become another ATLA, another NITA, another country club.

    So the only reason to go is the view at the ranch, lunch with Gerry and the fundraising.

  41. I wonder if Gerry engraved the gifts of Fredi, Carl, Joanne and Mary on his heart? It is obvious that he only values gifts when it is convenient to him but forgets them just as easily.

  42. According to Gerry, this is what they look for staff. It seems to me that Carl, Mary, and Fredi meet these requirements.

    On Choosing the Staff at TLC By: Gerry Spence (Sept, 2009)
    A curious issue haunts us: How do we choose our staff at TLC. Many ask. The answers given are inconsistent and uninformative and unsatisfactory. That is because no person or group of persons knows the answer, including the board of directors.
    There are no tests. There are no secrets. There is no magic. The choice is rarely the result of who the candidate knows. The standards are minimal – the person must be a trial lawyer to begin with. One expects that person to have absorbed the teachings of the college and be an avid supporter of our vision. The person usually stands out from the group, but not always. The individual will likely show a certain development as a person. But sometimes we are surprised. Personhood often, but now always, makes itself known.
    A person chosen has most often taken advanced courses at TLC, has sought psychodrama training, has attended staff training if nominated, is active in the trial work and takes part in the many activities of the college.
    Who chooses the staff? The board ultimately makes the choice. No individual has that power. Who nominates the person to the board? The name of the candidate gets to the board from various sources – from other board members, staff members, psycho dramatists, the officers of the college, even students.
    How does one become a nominee for the staff? People who dedicate themselves to the work of the college without expectation of reward are more likely to be chosen than those who actively seek to be chosen. Our choices are not always correct. Sometimes potentially great staff persons are overlooked. Sometimes the board makes wrong choices. We are in constant search for potential staff persons and we continually review those who are on staff.
    But please: Being accepted or not for the staff has nothing to do with our view of your worth as a person and as a lawyer. I was rejected by my own law school as a teacher. We do look for those who fully understand our methods and who we believe can teach, and some of our staff is better teachers than lawyers and some better lawyers than teachers.
    Our college needs the help of every member of our tribe. Each of us has talents that are special. The college can use all the help we can muster. The staff is just one area. We need help in recruiting, in fund raising, in considering new ideas for the curriculum, in working at the ranch, in spreading the word of TLC. There is no end to our needs and your ability to fulfill them. Staff is only one area of need. It would be a mistake to focus on staff as proof of how we value you. One area of help is as important as any other. It takes many skills to run a ship. We sincerely ask each of you to find your place in the work of TLC. We need all of you.

    • Spence’s essay really doesn’t say anything about how staff are chosen except to repeat the management mantra “we do what we want and choose who we want and don’t even ask questions or inquire because we know what is best and won’t ever answer your questions.” Such arrogance and utter BS! Todd Schlossberg’s recent post on the list serve is evidence of the stupidity of TLC. Carl did “groundbreaking work” at Grad II and that is where Fredi taught us her new excercise but TLC not only threw them off the staff but off the board too. Whoever said TLC has become a corporation is right. It is not only sad, it is disgusting.

  43. Just heard from a source very close to Gerry Spence, from someone who is influencing his new teaching on betrayal and who is writing a book about his rhetoric, that TLC is bringing in new psychodramatists to staff training for one reason – to force out the old psychodramatists and replace them with new folks who cost less and who won’t use TLC to market themselves to make money. TLC wants to control the psychodramatists and feels like they have been given way too much power over the years. That is the real reason why Katelyn was removed from the board. The truth that isn’t being talked about openly is that the board is majorly angry at how much it pays the psychodramatists and about how much money they have made off the backs of Spence and TLC from their active solicitation of work from students. Spence wants Katelyn gone, or so it is being whispered. So, he and his cronies are actively trying to force Katelyn to quit and are not shy about telling people that this is the goal.If she quits, they won’t have any responsibility, their hands will be clean and Spence can act all betrayed. What a crock! TLC has become a non-person, a cold, heartless corporation. TLC, Inc.

    • In my humble opinion, Kaitlin is a fool if she is staying at TLC under these circumstances. I am not surprised by anything the leadership does these days, but I am also loosing respect for Kaitlin for putting up with such bullshit.

      • Oh, get off her case. She has enough stress without anonymous people saying they don’t respect her for how she’s handling stress that is personal to her.

    • If TLC, Inc. gets rid of Kaitlin, they will be in a world of hurt.

      • No loss if you ask me. Louise is 100% better and a lot more personable and caring! And in my opinion she isn’t all about $$$$, getting us to hire her or give her a % of our fees.

  44. We have choices.

    If we don’t like what TLC has done to certain people or how management is running the show, we can vote with our pocketbooks and feet.

    If we like the changes, we can continue to fund TLC.

  45. WTF is going on at TLC? Just heard Lynne Bratcher quit the staff! Or was she forced out too. Who’s next?

  46. ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST! Lynn Bratcher quit the staff? Or so they say. Given what has happened over the last many months, I suspect she was forced out but the board doesn’t want to admit the truth. Who will be next? I am sure there are some of us alumni who can make recommendations of which staff members should go. There are plenty who can’t teach and others who just don’t know what they are doing. And how about the abusive ones? TLC has become a joke.

  47. If TLC has become a joke, the TLC alumni who snipe at it from the cover of anonymity are certainly the punchline.

  48. TLC and its founder, Gerry Spence, continue to hound and badger alumni for money. In May, Spence sent out an email threatening to cancel the college’s Death Penalty program unless alumni stepped up to the plate and donated to the college. Further proof of the hypocrisy of TLC, of Spence, and his hand-selected board of wealthy trial lawyers who run it. Anyone find this behavior disgusting?

    Dear Gerry,

    You are rich. Not just well off. You’re rich with a capital “R.”

    Your children are rich. Your wife has a large enough trust to live forever on. No one in your family will ever want for anything financial.

    You’re old and going to die sooner than any of us would like. Divest yourself of your money while living, so that you may watch the money grow from a seed to an oak tree.

    Use your money to start changing lives. Do it today.

    All of the robber barons pledged their fortunes to charities. Rockefeller built libraries. Ford built hospitals. Modern corporate barons like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have pledged their fortunes to the less fortunate: They are saving lives in Africa.

    How can you rail against corporate greed when you yourself keep the money clinched tightly to your own vest?

    Your hypocrisy has grown tired – especially among those who read your books, and believed that your words reflected the values of your heart.


  49. If you had any doubts that TLC is all about money – You haven’t seen the latest ad sent out by the new Executive Director and Joey Low. Learn more by reading the following Posted by Norm Pattis on his blog:

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Dr. Stangelove Tries A Case

    I have a confession to make: I’ve had several verdicts in excess of one million dollars. In each case, I had no idea that the jury would make the awards. I still don’t why the juries did. I’ve lost cases I thought I should have won, and won cases I thought I would lose. Juries seem unpredictable to me. They scare me; you plead your case and then hold on for dear life.

    It turns out I am just ignorant. It’s all a science, you see. The secret springs of juror conduct can be deciphered. Winning is mere technique. It can be taught. It’s all in the neuroscience, you see.

    Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want floor seats at Lakers’ games? Your own driver? More money than you know what to do with? Hell, you could even take these persuasive powers and run for office. Become mayor of your town. Perhaps run for Congress. Hey, think big. Start your own religion.

    I’m not kidding. I was just sent a copy of a new advertisement for a program to take place in DuBois, Wyoming this summer. The gig will take place at Gerry Spence’s ranch. Move over Gerry. There’s a new kid in town. Rex Parris is going to teach the hidden science of big dollar verdicts.

    I like Rex. For a time, we talked almost every week. Then he got rich. Now he’s shooting for fame. I’m still wondering how I ever persuaded a jury to make a million dollars out of someone else’s sorrow. I thought it was magic I stumbled upon without knowing how. It turns out I was wrong. I had apparently stumbled across a secret recipe without recognizing the ingredients.

    I confess I still don’t know either the recipe or the ingredients. But somehow, this advertisement does not entice me back to the Trial Lawyer’s College. Perhaps it will entice you. If you attend, tell Rex I send my regards. I remember when he used to put his shoes on the same way I did.
    I still like the taste of the Colonel’s chicken. I just don’t know how to mwhip uo a batch.

    I admit to jealousy. Rex wins one big verdict after another. He is big enough to share his secrets. Somehow I don’t think it is as simple as this ad makes it sound. At least I hope it’s not. Imagine turning up to jury selection in your next cases wearing a lab coat. What would the jurors think? Dr. Stangelove earns a J.D.?

    To: Trial Lawyers College
    Subject: [TLC] Rex Parris to present at Grad I — message from Joey Low

    Fellow Warriors: For Grad I, Rex Parris has agreed to come for several days to work with people using his methods that he has perfected to get his monster verdicts. He and his staff will be here for approximately two days presenting a variety of new techniques designed to enhance the art of persuasion. Please join us. We have about 10 more spaces and then Grad I, like Grad II already is, will be full!


    Cognitive scientists have discovered more about how we love, how we are motivated, and how we think, in the last 10 years, than in the last 3000. Bringing this knowledge into the courtroom is what this presentation is about.

    What really motivates juries to act decisively? Why will they “not deny” an injured plaintiff millions of dollars in future care, but will refuse to “give” it to them? How can computer algorithms guide us in jury selection, and help us predict how they will decide our case? How do we keep potential jurors and witnesses talking, without us saying a word?

    These are just some of the questions that will be addressed in this presentation. Cognitive scientists are unlocking the mysteries of persuasion. The trial attorneys who master these skills will be the ones we read about in the coming years.

    We look forward to working with you at the Thunderhead Ranch this summer!

  50. I’d have to concur with you one this subject. Which is not something I typically do! I love reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!

  51. English tongue isn’t my main language, yet I could comprehend this utilizing the google translator. Amazing post, you can keep them coming! Many thanks!

  52. I wonder what it says about TLC when several former tribe members have written successful books. First Freddy, Joanne and Mary with their excellent book on psychodrama, then Norm on the court system and now Carl on story. But hey, these obviously very talented people aren’t good enough for TLC. People who clearly know this stuff, have something important to say and can teach aren’t welcome at the college. Instead, there are a bunch of loosers and incompetents on the faculty, not all, but a large percentage. Just take a look at the staff list and you will see what I mean.

  53. To whoever gives a shit,

    I am not on the Trial Lawyers College listserve anymore and don’t ever plan to be. I have written a piece on a few issues ending with straightening out what happened on the recent case I was involved with and which is spreading out on the listserve and the trial I have a jury deliberating on right now.

    I am writing to have this posted for a few different reasons. #1 selfishly, I want my team and me to look good and not bad and there are people out there that no matter what we do which is good and successful will grimmace and curse in silence and who sit silently salivating at the opportunity to point out anything they can which is bad.

    S. C., a Trial Lawyers College Alumni is one of them and she is certainly not my friend.

    I am not sure whether it is because she is one of the few women in the world who I was so turned off by and actually refused to have sex with, or if it is because of the case that the client fired her on which her J.L. and I were working together. I hear all too often that S. C. bad mouths me. She says some things that are true but speaks a ton of untruths, far more than any truths she says. She saysI ask for a lot of money from juries and over reach. Maybe that is true sometimes. But maybe the pig headed woman should come in and watch me try a case and actually see what I am talking about and why I am asking for what I am asking. She used to come to my trials 7 years ago and tell me how much she admired me, maybe I have become a worse trial lawyer since then, ???

    If I lack credibility regarding S.C., because of my spite for the woman, anybody who wants to know the story about S. C. can ask several other TLC Alumni. She stole from at least one TLC Alumni and lied and lied about filing oppositions to motions which were never filed resulting in terminating sanctions which we got set aside and which another lawyer settled for $500K before commencement of trial. We offered S.C. $25K for essentially doing nothing but F’ing up the case. She sued us and in the end we gave her $25K because her case was frivolous. Ask J.L. about it, he is much more credible than I.

    The next thing with S.C. is that she touts herself all over the place as being a trial lawyer, yet I cannot think of a single case that she has tried as lead trial counsel. Just give me three. There are those who call themselves trial lawyers and those who actually are. Whatever I am I’ll leave that for all of you to decide.

    I think if you talk to the people on the board at TLC and many other of the leaders they will tell you their opinion of S.C. and it is not positive, not in the least.

    And there is another TLC Alumni who talks bad about me too. I guess he is an enemy of mine also. Don’t know why or what I did to him. He smiles to my face and embraces me when he sees me. It was not too long ago that we were drinking together in my staff room at the ranch with some students and I got in trouble for it and he didn’t. I Thought he was a friend. The worst enemies are the ones who smile at you and act like they are your friend and then try to tear you down behind your back. So like TLC. So like many, many of the phony, fake alumni of that place.

    Folks, all I do is try cases, it is the one thing I am decent at.
    I tried 14 cases in one year at one point, back to back. I got fat that year. Not with money. Belly fat. Back fat. Ass fat. I don’t do that many cases now, but did 8-10 a year for many years and now I am averaging 6-7 per year. Most injury cases, some pro bono criminal cases. Shit, I’ll still try any case anywhere. I am 34 years old and this is what I do.

    I have been in back to back jury trials for the past year, hardly any time off, I am burned out. I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. last night and I was sad. I laid in my hotel bed alone. In the past I would have it filled with some other woman, maybe a girl from the bar, maybe an intern, some tight hotty. But no, not tonight, trying to be different. I’ve had my troubles and am trying to be a better person, for myself, my children. So, laying here alone I was left with the emails on the listserve about me that were going through my head and I thought to myself why the fuck do I care. I went to bed. I fucking dreamed about it. I don’t know why, but I did. So, I took the time to write to all of you.

    Since being thrown off the staff for doing the same thing many other guys have done, and what many of the board members have done is just BS. It pisses me off. What BS. Guess I didn’t kiss the right asses. Sometimes I miss TLC, then shit like this comes to me, and I don’t miss it. No, not at all. What an F upped place. I miss teaching the students most and giving to them. Other parts I don’t miss. So much posturing, drama, favoritism, egos, and people protecting their positions on the totem pole. If it continues this way the college will die with Gerry and that would be sad. Sad, but destined to happen. All the suck ups who can’t try a case to save their life, who don’t know their heads from their asses, who are fakes and phonys.

    When that happens, and it will happen, the Jerry Springer TLC listserve will probably live longer though, maybe by then S.C. will be it’s leader.


  54. Nick
    I share your opinions and view of TLC. What a F upped crazy cult, full of narcissistic leaders and there lemming followers. Spence is a phony and a fraud. He puts on a good show, acts like he loves everyone and pretends to be a good, generous human being. But the truth he desperately tries to hide is that he doesn’t give two shits about anyone but himself and MONEY. He is a self centered blow hard who thinks he is the second coming and that his shit doesn’t stink. He nickles and dimes everyone, gets the asshole he wishes were his son (Johnny Z) instead of his real son, to high pressure the saps who buy his bullshit to donate money to his college, money which is used to pay for his ranch so he doesn’t have to dig in his own pocket to pay for it himself. Nice gimmick and scam if you ask me. The IRS and the Attorney General of WY ought to investigate him and discover his fraud.

    If you suck up and kiss his ass, or those of his annointed lackies, you will move up and be invited on staff. And once you are in, if you keep kissing ass and sucking up, you can break all the rules, sleep with students, get drunk, suck as a teacher and you will get slapped on the back and given atta boys from the other male board members, especially the guy at the top of the totem pole. Oh, an be a racist or denigrade women and you get extra points.

    TLC is nothing but a slick, over hyped, crappy product making corporation run by a bunch of insecure, phony people who shit on others just to make themselves feel better about themselves. I can’t even name more than about 5 good teachers at TLC. Most of the staff members are a bunch of idiots who don’t know their heads from their asses and can’t try a case to save their lives let alone teach others how to try cases. I mean really, read the staff list. Filled with people who don’t even, and haven’t even tried a case or who don’t know the first thing about what they are supposed to be teaching. Be glad you don’t need them and have moved on. You are a real trial lawyer and don’t need to belong to a cult to be a success.

  55. You know what makes me sad, and disgusted really, is all the hype and bullshit the TLC preaches about love and caring for each other and how all alumni are brothers and sisters. What a bunch of hooey!! Maybe that is true if you are white and male.

    That place sure takes care of the white, male members of their so called tribe. Case in point —- A short while ago a black faculty member asked a white faculty member to come and help on a case up in Alaska. After all was said and done, the white faculty member refused to be fair and equitable in splitting the fees which necessitated the black faculty member to have to sue the white faculty member. Both faculty members were male. When the leadership of TLC discovered, rather, were “informed” of this situation, what did they do? They threw the black faculty member off the faculty because he had the audacity to sue the white faculty member. How dare he, the black man, want his fair share of the fee generated on the case!

    Mind you, the white faculty member is “buddies” or “pals” with many, many of the white male board members and often travels with, works with, vacations with them, refers them cases and generally kisses their asses. He sucks up and plays the mole and spy for them. Pretty pathetic and disgusting.

    So, all you colored lawyers out there, women, gays, wake up and smell the coffee. TLC is another bastion and haven for white men with money!!

  56. The Trial Lawyers College and Gerry Spence’s theme song is “Money, Money, Money.” And all the better that it is yours and not theres. They take, take, take. And if you dare challenge them, go against them, disagree with them, criticize them or support any other program, idea or method, they brand you as disloyal and force you out and banish you from the “tribe.” The fact that they use the term tribe is just stupid. And trial fires? Really? what, is this a secret club with a secret handshake? And this is a professional organization?
    The arrogance of that place and its leaders is so antithetical and opposite of what they preach. But there are plenty of rabid, vapid, spineless saps and accolytes who are deathly afraid of banishment or disapproval by daddy spence that they accept and go along with whatever he and his puppets say. Sick place. Getting rid of that african american staff member was the last straw for me. I tried to focus on the good and ignore the bad. But the bad has become the driving force and has killed any of the good, what little of it that was left. I don’t want to be a part of that f’d up place.

  57. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

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