Happy Birthday for a Fee?

Gerry Spence turned eighty this year. There will be a birthday bash for him at Thunderhead Ranch this summer. Invitations have been sent out. I got one. And I thought about going, even going so far as to ask a friend for the names of hotels in the area. I've not been to the ranch, home of the Trial Lawyers' College, in a decade. The lay of the land is now foreign to me.

But then I read the invitation a little more carefully. There is a fee of $250 to attend the celebration? That's chutzpah.

I harbor an ambivalent admiration for Spence. He is a great lawyer and a charismatic man. I respect his ability in a courtroom even as I harbor misgivings about the need that compels him to surround himself with admirers. Truth be told, the thought of returning to the ranch to break bread with some of the apostles is chilling to me. Better a long distance Judas than a reluctant Prodigal Son. There are too many skeletons buried in the foothills.

A decade ago I kicked loose from the crowd surrounding Spence. I wasn't content to carry another's mantle. I said some harsh words in public about the man, words I have since retracted in a forum as public as the one in which I published them. Spence and I have made a fragile sort of peace by way of a wary email correspondence. But the wariness wearies me. Perhaps it is best to let things be.

So here's a long distance Happy Birthday to a good man. But please, Gerry, get someone to rethink the fee for attending the bash. Were I in a ridiculing frame of mind, I'd have a field day with that.

About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis


Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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