THE SPENCE TRIAL COLLEGE
In 1994 Gerry Spence asked me to participate in teaching at a new trial college he was creating for lawyers to teach them the right way to be plaintiff trial lawyers. It was to be a non profit college and we would volunteer our time and transportation. I had known him for some time and quickly agreed even thought I had no real idea of what he had in mind.
The other people, in addition to Gerry and I, invited for this first college were: Judge Joseph Cardine, Judy Clark, Bobby Lee Cook, Phil Corboy, Morris Dees, Alan Dershowitz, Vince Fuller, Nancy Hollander, Garvin Isaacs, Joe Jamail, Rikki Klieman, Al Krieger, William Kuntsler, Judge Miles Lord, Terry McCarthy, Charles Ogletree, Steve Rench, Judge Robert Rose, Jim Shellow, Kim Taylor-Thompson, John Teirney, Bill Trine and Howard Weitzman.
His ad for the college said: “These great lawyers will be at Gerry Spence’s ranch in Wyoming in August to help you become a winning trial lawyer for people.”
He said in this advertisement: ” We believe every trial lawyer has the potential to become an effective and winning advocate for justice. We are committed to help people’s lawyers become winning lawyers who will ethically and nobly champion the cause of the injured, the forgotten and the damned.”
From that original group Bill Trine has continued to participate to date. Since that invitation 19 years ago I’ve been privileged to have been invited back each year to teach, although I had to miss two years, as well and it has benefited me far more than it ever benefited the lawyers who attended.
Originally there was only a July college session lasting thirty days, but in recent years there are two sessions a year in July and September, plus many other shorter sessions. I wasn’t able to go in July this year as planned due to a trial so, instead, I leave tomorrow for the September session. I’ll fly from Seattle to Salt Lake and take a commuter to Jackson Hole. From there I’ll drive my rental car two and half to three hours to Dubois, WY, population 971. After something to eat there I’ll continue driving another ten miles until I turn on an unpaved gravel road another ten miles to the Thunderhead Ranch where the main structure used for teaching and living quarters for the attendees is the huge two story barn moved from miles away to this location by Gerry’s son Kent. Other outbuildings are also used as classrooms.
We’ll start early and work late including sessions after dinner. The group is broken into units with graduates of the College acting as teaching leaders.
There is no TV, no WiFi and cell phone use requires driving some distance away up a mountain so I’ll not be posting something this week while at the ranch. I’ll give you a report when I get back.