Greetings To The Thunderhead Crowd


Spring training is underway at the trial lawyer's college founded by famed trial lawyer Gerry Spence. Sixty of so lawyers of varying degrees of talent and experience are now in DuBois, Wyoming, bonding and checking one another out in anticipation of this summer's programs. It's been more than a decade since I attended spring training. I still kind of miss it.

It's been a tumultuous year for the college. Spence, now 80, has resigned as president of the college, but his presence is felt everywhere. He's even stopped blogging. The college's board has been restocked, the college restaffed. Fresh blood is coursing through the college as if faces a Spenceless future.

The college never answered questions about the interlocking corporate directorate linking the college and the Spence Foundation. It is the age-old technique of ignoring critics. In ranch-speak, that means not empowering your critics. Ignore the tumor, they say, and it will go away. Well, ... maybe. There are new board members excited about the chance to take a leadership role in one of the law's prime networking opportunities: the continuing legal education market. In my brief fling at the ranch more than a decade ago, I scored speaking gigs in Idaho, cases in California and calls from virtually every state. I watched colleagues boast about the frequent flier miles they accumulated doing the ranch's bidding.

Last night, I was forwarded an email from David Clark, a close friend of Spence's and now a defender of the new regime. The email boiled things down to their essence: The college has changed course and has discarded those too closely aligned with the old regime. New wine needs new skins. And so forth ...

I applaud David's candor and wish the ranch hands well. I am nostalgic about my time there. I made new friends, some of whom are still close. I forced myself to try new things and consider different angles of vision. I grew while I was there, and when the growth was overtaken by weeds, I left.

There's a lot of pushing and shoving going in DuBois today. Folks are rubbed raw by the departure of old friends and favorites. Questions remain about the college and its finances. A new board tries to fill old shoes. It is perhaps impossible for mere talent to answer the call of genius. It is hard to understand why folks are out there trying so hard.

But life goes on. So to those midnight souls at Thunderhead looking for a secret WI-FI connection and a link to the exterior world, a simple message: If you don't like it, leave. I did. There's plenty of room to grow on your own. And the good news? You won't spend time pulling someone else's weeds.

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