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.