TLC: The Price Of Love Just Increased

It has yet to be announced, but the Trial Lawyers College is reportedly poised to increase the price of weekend regional seminars located throughout the United States from $1,475 to $1,699, an increase of 15 percent. Expect a price increase in the more popular summer programs in Wyoming too.
Why the increase?
The college is looking over its shoulder. Apparently the National Institute for Trial Advocacy charges more than TLC for its programs. So does the American Association for Justice. Hence, the logic goes, TLC should charge more because TLC is better.  At least this is the rationale reported for the increase in price attributed to new TLC president Jude Basile and to the new TLC treasurer, Jim Nugent. 
Of course, neither NITA nor the AAJ offer their programs under the umbrella of confusing corporate structures. And neither, so far as I know, excludes entire classes of lawyers from participation, such as prosecutors. 
As reported here, the TLC is a 501c(3) program with a twist: The college raises money, supports the infrastructure of a beautiful ranch in Wyoming, and operates in a manner redolent of the great tradition of the Land of Oz:
o The college does not own the physical plant on which it relies, although it pays for the entire costs of the facility's upkeep. The land and structures themselves are owned by the Spence Foundation, which leases the property to the college under terms of a revocable lease. The lease can be revoked at any time.
0 Although the TLC has a board, the board lacks independence and is little more that the public beard of an alter ego, Gerry Spence, the college's founder and one of the trustees, together with other family members and a few trusted lieutenants, of the Spence Foundation.
o The board, although nominally the governing body of the TLC, elects itself, and decisions about such things as hiring of staff, signing of leases and expenditures of TLC monies appears to take place without full board approval.
These lingering questions have not been addressed in any meaningful way by either the college or its new executive director. Instead, Spence wrote a hortatory piece to the TLC listserve asserting, among other whoppers, that the ranch somehow belonged to all alumni of the college. Like sheep, many listservice readers bleated in unison to show their approval. When Kurtz speaks, the natives shudder.
New questions have arisen in recent days. What, for example, is an entity known as Singing Trees? It is apparently a paper structure of some sort used to pay ranch employees. It is hard to understand the need for yet another skein in the spider's web. Are Singing Trees employees paid by TLC and directed by members of the Spence Foundation? If so, what is Singing Trees but another cut-out corporation designed to insulate against potential liability? Isn't this the very sort of behavior those greedy corporations engage in when they are trying to deprive little people of justice? (Note to non-cognoscenti That is a no-no at the Neverland Ranch.)
And is work done at the ranch put out to bid? One report contends that recent improvements to the ranch were done by a member of the family of one Spence Foundation trustee who was down on his luck.  From what I saw at a recent visit to the ranch, all the work was top-notch. But what was paid, and to whom?
And, just for giggles, what is this new intelligence about a new secret society created by some members of the board? It is loosely modeled on an old Lakota Sioux tradition of devotion to the warrior's ethos. Is devotion to black war bonnets TLC's equivalent to Yale's Skull and Bones,  a secret society among the elite? Oh, my.
Perhaps these are meaningless, niggling questions, unworthy of me, and not worth notice by the college. But almost every month of the year, college emissaries are somewhere holding a program for lawyers: promising love and asking for money.
No one seems very interested in questioning where the money is going. And who benefits by its receipt. And when questions get asked, Spence flashes his puppy dog eyes and asks with wounded words whether we can't all just love him. I wonder if Spence reads Joseph Conrad; I'll bet he does.

Comments: (7)

  • Secret society? Huh? Not something that's been a...
    Secret society? Huh? Not something that's been announced on the listserve ...
    Posted on September 12, 2009 at 8:56 am by Anonymous
  • An increase in tuition in this economy? What are B...
    An increase in tuition in this economy? What are Basile and Nugent thinking? And now yet a third entity involved in TLC? Something smells. Where is the promised transperancy? What is wrong with the board that they allow all of this? Why have a board at all if they just go along with everything Mr. Spence wants? The corporate structure is highly suspect and the alumni and Sonora deserve some answers. The lack of a response leads me to believe something is not above board here. Come on board members, grow a spin and speak up.
    Posted on September 12, 2009 at 4:07 pm by Anonymous
  • Another secret society? TLC already has 2, the boa...
    Another secret society? TLC already has 2, the board, which is chosen and selected by Gerry, and the staff, who are selected by the board. There are a lot of people on both who don't just don't get it, who are nothing but fringe suckers and just want to promote themselves. Now there is another one?
    Posted on September 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm by Anonymous
  • Isn't it enough that you ask us for money at every...
    Isn't it enough that you ask us for money at every event? Now you want to raise the tuition? I guess the rich board members forget what it is like for the little struggling solo practitioner. Remember, just like our clients, we are the little people too! Not all of us have millions in the bank like the Spences - Gerry and Kent, Parris, Zelbst, Basile, Bettinger, Foreman and Short. I could barely afford $1,475 and now you want $1,699 plus the airfare I pay to get there? Give me a break!
    Posted on September 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm by Anonymous
  • Money, money, money is the new TLC mantra.
    Money, money, money is the new TLC mantra.
    Posted on September 20, 2009 at 5:57 am by Anonymous
  • So, what is the big beef about having an Executive...
    So, what is the big beef about having an Executive Director, ED, at TLC who is a lobbyist, P R guru, marketing expert ? And, so what, if the ED works out of Spence's office in Jackson Hole. The ambiance of the Tetons, the logo for marketing, the brand.
    Spence owns all major %(as the big dog ) linked to the law frim that bears his name, Spence L.L.C.
    When the price got too high his old Pards broke away from the Firm, Spence, X(M), And X(S), the Firm dissolved in the 1990's, before the new Gerry Spence Firm sprung forth with the newbies.(converts)
    If Norm truly knew anything about the new Spence Firm, he would know it has a big financial trouble brewing.
    Spence has always been a super marketer of Gerry Spence, why would he not want a marketing pro, rather than some shrill lawyer, who may have lost some cases, and does not fit with the Winningest Logo.
    Gerry is not one of the little "people", why even if Spence loses a case he writes it up as a win in his book(s).
    Don't you know that, Norm, you seem to be miffed by Von Gerry's vast marketing thing.
    It costs money to put on legal programs, why are some of you harping, if you went to some corporte legal stuff, it would cost just as much if not more. How much does it cost to fly into Houston and attend some of those Mineral Foundation legal programs of big oil vintage, it an't peanuts.
    Gerry was never about poverty for Gerry, and Marcos was never a Priest.
    Gerry dishes Catholics, now he is surrouned by the intercicle of Catholic lawyers(the Cardnials), and he is the Pope.
    You just don't get it Norm, law marketing is a separate biz, and Gerry is milking it for ever cent he can.
    If winning is so like a bar of soap, what is the winning % of those who take his programs, is it 80 % more, after being annointed by Spence, blessed in the Teton sacramental rites, the methods.
    Can't you see the ads, some guy saying he was a totally loser, until he went to a Spence Seminar, now he is a clone of Spence, a Super Knight Warrior.
    Gerry's firm must have hooked up with a 4th Degree knight, and that was some roll out.
    That lawyer claims he got a $ 500,000 loan from the Spence Firm, then declared bankrupty, and the Spence Firm had little to show for the case.(all in filings in court, Norm is clueless to follow the real deal._
    Guess all that is not reported by Norm, as he
    is still under the spell of Master marketer Von Gerry.
    Seems that some of Von Gerry's side kickes have stepped up the bashing of Norm on their onw WWW sites, if any see the latest from the swamps lands of La Clary.
    Just think, if one is annoited by Spence he can go around saying he is better than other lawyers, all those lawyers who have degees from just Law school factories(not connected with groovy Teton-logo-ville), the Davos of America
    Why Norm has even been key in marketing Gerry after the Detroit matter that the DOJ blew.
    And, then their is John Edwards, and his magic with his Video marketer, cool knocked up chic, Love child spin offs.
    Yes, Norm you need to hire some Madison Avenue Marketing pros, you are falling behind in this area.
    Posted on October 13, 2009 at 9:15 am by Anonymous
  • If you don't like it, go instead to those
    If you don't like it, go instead to those
    corporate programs put on by Foundations,
    that charge much more, usually held in
    some big hotel in some large city.
    Norm, seems to be bugged about a Wyo
    Don't most ranchers leave the ranch to
    the kids, if they can figure out a way to,
    and navigate around the estate tax pits.
    Spence obviously has a special place
    in his heart for the ranch, that really is
    driving Norm, over the edge.
    Why, is it such a big deal for city slicker, Norm ?
    It is ironic, Norm up on his high horse,
    with his beefs, sniping from afar in Cyber space,
    all fury, and static on a beam of
    WWW light waves, now so in a tizzy
    he is frothing at the mouth.
    Ranchers give the ranch to the kids, mostly,
    except one rancher gave his 26,000 acre spread
    in Wyoming to Colorado State Univesity, to
    be used by several university departments, animal science,
    Vet science, etc. Courtney Davis was
    a real rancher.
    But, Spence is not exactly a real rancher,
    just ask the feed lot fellows, on their
    beefs on this, too.
    But, Norm is cluless on real ranchers
    out West
    Posted on October 15, 2009 at 6:45 am by Anonymous

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