TLC: Campfires Aglow In Other Locales

Thanks to all the callers and writers who have expressed interest in meeting to discuss trials and lawyering in locales other than Wyoming or under TLC's embroidered thunderbolt. In the past few days, I've learned of interest throughout the country, and of incipient planning for group meetings in several states. Those of you who have written need to let me know whether I can pass your name along to those in regions near you. I would encourage you simply to be open about what you are doing. Secrecy breeds a sort of sinister power that serves no healthy purpose.

From the outset, I would like to make the nature of my interest in these doings clear.

What I learned at the Ranch is that there is power in groups. A great deal can be learned by shedding personal defenses in an atmosphere of trust. Other lawyers can enrich my ability to tell stories effectively and to spot issues of all sorts. This experience needn't be costly. This power is the possession of no group or man.

Whatever value TLC has for others, there are those, and I count myself among them, who find little value in group adoration of a common figure. The expense and intrigue necessary to make an institution out of charisma is self-defeating. Love it or leave it, I say of TLC. I left it years ago; a brief look back recently confirms it was the right choice. Plenty of others have had the same experience of the place. Those who love it are free to put their money and mouths to the service of their ideals and idol.

The pedagogic magic we experienced in Wyoming is not a gift given by one man and is not confined to a place: It is the function of joint willingness to explore new techniques and tactics in the highly structured practice of trial lawyering. Quite frankly, that magic is alive wherever lawyers are willing to press boundaries to the breaking point. Exploration of that boundary excites me; learning to play within lines drawn by others repels me. It really is that simple.

I am thrilled to learn that others are laying the ground work for meetings elsewhere among lawyers committed to both personal and professional growth, and I look forward to attending several of these meetings in the years to come. Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses, I intend no role in organizing these meetings. I am simply grateful for the invitations.

There is nothing heretical about walking off the Ranch. And remaining is a choice others may make if they find what they need there. As for me, I am shaking the dust from my sandals as I walk away from Thunderhead Ranch: I perceive an abandonment of critical reason there among folks who really ought to know better. But, as Handel majestically wrote, "all we like sheep have gone astray." I simply prefer to graze elsewhere.

Comments: (6)

  • Good news. Perhaps the sheep are beginning to wake...
    Good news. Perhaps the sheep are beginning to wake. You are so right that the pedagogic magic need not only take place at the ranch. We can all learn from each other and continue to grow as people without having to limit such learning to the ranch or only at TLC programs. Sadly, you are also right that there is an abandonment of critical reason among many folks involved in the leadership of TLC. They can only see one way, and that is to worship at the feet of Gerry Spence.
    Posted on September 18, 2009 at 5:34 am by Anonymous
  • Word is filtering down from on high that Norm will...
    Word is filtering down from on high that Norm will go away if we ignore him. Once things die down, it will be business as usual. Secrecy will remain, the accolytes on the board will continue to do Spence's bidding and efforts to raise more money will increase under the direction of the. We lobbyist Executive Director. I heard recently that the new director walks around with pet rabbit on her shoulder and can't go anywhere without it. Strange behavior for a professional. Word is also that Spence and Basile want to reduce the size of the board so they have more control. I seriously doubt you will see the departure from the TLC board of any Spence Foundation members. A reduction in the size of the TLC board will give even greater power to the Spence Foundation. Wonder who they will force out next? I suspect we will see more secrecy, more control and more corporate like behavior. This is directly opposite of what TLC allegedly stands for. We would. E wise to remember "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Spence has maintained his absolute power if TLC for so long, it is unlikely to change. All the sychophants out there need to ask themselves a question - if TLC and Spen e are so great, why have they met all the questions I. This blog and in the comments with silence?
    Posted on September 19, 2009 at 9:29 am by Anonymous
  • Of course I will lose interest. Spence is in his d...
    Of course I will lose interest. Spence is in his dotage
    and the acolytes are mere caricatures. The ranch interests as does farce; light entertainment, but hardly a main course
    Posted on September 19, 2009 at 10:15 am by Norm Pattis
  • Norm, Keep the pressure on them. Perhaps you can f...
    Norm, Keep the pressure on them. Perhaps you can force them to be transparent and open. The alumni and donors deserve far better than what they have been given. It disgusts me that your blog posts have been met with complete silence on the part of the board. What are they hiding?
    Posted on September 20, 2009 at 5:11 am by Anonymous
  • Norm, how much do you think Spence should
    lease th...
    Norm, how much do you think Spence should
    lease the ranch for as to TLC functions,
    and as to the costs of a person to attend ?
    Why don't you answer that ?
    Are all CLE funtions that are worth attending
    free to you.
    Most people pay top money for good ones.
    Has the green eye of envy, so besoken
    by Othello, befallen you Norm,
    you seem to be striking out in a fashion
    that is without focus, you say you have
    no interest in organizing anything,
    why is that Norm, too much effort, and
    work for your liking ?
    Most telling.
    Posted on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 am by Anonymous
  • What is the word on that Schmoke case with Clary, ...
    What is the word on that Schmoke case with Clary, you getting any in-put form your spies, Norm ?
    How come you never bought some seedy hotel in Conn, and hold revival meetings on drama-rama methods, for all the wantabes ?
    Yes, Spence is getting old, but guess what, Norm, so are you, time does not stop(wait) for you, either, Norm. If you don't dig the TLC thing, don't go, don't attend.
    But, are you too lazy to start your own Norm-arama.
    You are a follower Norm, no leader,
    You snipe from afar on some Cyber beam.
    You and Clary are birds of the same feather.
    Posted on October 14, 2009 at 6:46 am by Anonymous

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