TLC: A Call To Expatriates

The comments I've received on the TLC pieces appearing here come in all shapes and sizes. I leave the vitriolic defense of the college to others. But there is a groundswell of longing in some of the notes and calls, a longing for days past, when the college was a laboratory for ideas. These were the days before Baron von Spence decided to create little monsters in his own image and set them singing loose on the world.

In "TLC: A More Nuanced View," one alum pretty well nailed what went wrong. The college went from an apparent commitment to hybrid vigor to mulitgenerational inbreeding. Method triumphed over creativity, and something was lost. Several comments by anonymous writers noted much the same thing. So have several callers. It turns out there is an expatriate community of sorts of there.

I recall the excitement I felt when I headed to the ranch in 1997. I read the brochure again and again. It was a who's who of lawyers I admired. I listened to each, hoping that some of their magic would rub off. By the time I walked off the ranch for keeps one fine morning in the summer of 2000, things had changed: Endless staff meetings; a drumbeat of conformity; the mad press of successive waves of students striving to become staff. And what was only inchoate at the time, but still ever so real: the press to raise more and more money. It wasn't good any more. I've played alone for the past nine years.

Apparently, there are still folks out there with a hunger to learn about trial. These folks, like me, appreciate Spence's genius and success at trial, but also realize that genius can't be taught. We each have flames of various sorts burning within. A retreat were all can gather and warm one another by a common fire created by these flames is what we sought. My sense is that more than a few of us left the ranch when creativity got stifled as the ranch became less a place of light than one of the darkness bred of Gerry's quest for immortality.

One old ranch hand to whom I spoke in recent weeks commented on how much he/she missed the ranch. Frankly, I miss it, too, even if my recent trip back had the feel of the set of the Night of the Living Dead.

What would happen if a dozen old souls gathered somewhere to reminisce and to talk about trial? We'd have no leader. Indeed, we'd have to find someone to organize a weekend away somewhere. There'd be no star present, no marquis presence demanding his due and tribute for coming. Sure, we'd need to bury the past, perhaps a psychodramatic funeral is in order. But on the other side of this death might be a rebirth of the creative energy and spirit we each sought and cherished before TLC became a product to be sold and mass produced.

I toss the idea out there for what it is worth. There are half a dozen folks I could imagine spending time with. I'd like to hear what they have been reading, what cases they have tried in the past decade, where they think the law is heading. We might learn something from one another and might also share a sense of camaraderie well away from the cult-like pressing of each year's need for new students to be validated by the principalities and powers of a place that is no longer home to any of us.

Any ideas out there?

Write to me privately if you care to: [hidden email]

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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