Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why I Left the Trial Lawyers' College

Why I Left TLC

   I envisioned starting this piece with a line from  Mark Antony's famous speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "I come to praise TLC, not to bury it."  In reality, Antony not only buried Brutus, but rallied the citizens to rebel against him.  My purpose is not to persuade, but just to explain why I left.   There probably are not that many people who know that I resigned from the Trial Lawyer College staff and fewer who know why I did so.

   Why am I writing this now?  I can think of two reasons.  The summer session of TLC just ended and I read about it on facebook. Quite frankly, I miss the beauty and inspiration of the ranch and I miss my friends.  The last few nights I have been having unpleasant dreams about my departure from TLC. I even dreamed that I was begging to return. That is something that in reality I have no desire to do.  However, my leaving TLC at times is very painful.

    I participated in TLC from the first class in 1994.  TLC blew me away.  Especially the psychodrama.  I came to the ranch in more pain than I could admit to myself. Through psychodrama, through the years, not only did I work through my pain, but I began to really understand who I am. The more I knew and loved myself, the better I knew and loved my clients. I became a better person and a better lawyer.  I credit John Nolte, one of the  psychodramatists at the ranch, for giving me the courage to explore me and who I was and how I got there.  Becoming a better lawyer was incidental to my personal growth. However, I grew as a lawyer exponentially through my struggles as a human.  I will be forever grateful to the Trial Lawyers College for starting me on this path.

   Through this self-realization and self-actualization, i increasingly found that my views on what was right for me and my clients differed sometimes from what I was teaching and witnessed being taught at TLC. Trial lawyers oftentimes have big egos.  Winning is important, but many times I wondered if we talked about winning for us as opposed to winning for our clients.  The more I grew, the more I knew that the true satisfaction in being a trial lawyer comes from serving our clients who desperately need our voices. Being a trial lawyer, for me, must be about my clients.  It feels hollow and empty to talk about win/loss records instead of how our clients are fulfilled or our quest to even the playing field.  I became clear about why I practice law and what I want to accomplish.  I trust myself in court. That does not mean I am invincible, just that I know who I am and what I want to accomplish. The most important evolution for me is not only understanding, I mean truly understanding my clients. I have come to love most of my clients.  Practicing law this way is not only effective, but also fulfilling.

  Now back to the Trial Lawyers College.  Through the years, as is common in institutions, discord and dissent start to erode the foundation on which the institute is built.  Obviously, TLC remains a very effective and innovative way to help trial lawyers and their clients. But, it appeared to me that the role of psychodrama was going to change.  When John Nolte was forced off the board and ultimately left TLC, that was probably the turning point for me.  When I heard that the concentration was going to be on what I thought looked like a "trick"- finding the "betrayal" in the story, I was dismayed. It sounded to me as much a device as first-person opening statements for every trial.  It began to sound phony.

   I won't lie and say that the decision to eliminate the board liaison was not a blow to me personally.  However, in the long run, that decision made sense. What did not make sense to me was excluding one of the most innovative teachers from staff, Fredilyn Sison, for reasons I don't understand. I just could not stomach such hurtful conduct to such a sweet, caring soul.

   Finally, I am going to verbalize one of the features of TLC that always bothered me.  It was not until Fredi's exclusion that I gathered the courage to leave. TLC is a very sexist place, or at least it was. I have high regard for Anne Valentine and Cyndy Short. I hope, with their oversight, women will fare better. I finally decided that at age 57, after 27 years as a lawyer, I did not have to smile and let the men take over. I have had my own firm for many years and i got tired of feeling like the testosterone was impenetrable.

    Don't get me wrong. TLC can be and often is a magical place.  I learned so much from my experiences there, and I love so many of the people still associated with TLC.  I would recommend TLC unhesitatingly to young lawyers.  But, I am proud of myself for recognizing when it was time for me to move on.
    

67 comments:

  1. Wonderful piece, Lynne. Among other things, it says that you have truly claimed yourself and your life, that you can stand up to formidable influences bearing on you, assess, claim and act upon your perceptions and your evaluation of the situation. “Good on yer, Mate” as they would say in Australia.
    Oma would be so proud of you (she probably is.)
    And I am so glad to have been a small part of what you have accomplished.

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  2. It is said that no one at TLC is indispensable. That is one way to look at it. But another way to look at it is that TLC needs you more than you need it. If all the good staff are gone, the alums will stop spending money to come back to TLC events.

    You don't need TLC anymore, but it still needs you. not saying that to make you feel bad for leaving, just an observation.

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  3. It is so refreshing to see someone write honestly and truthfully about TLC instead of just speaking the platitudes and rhetoric they fill our heads with. Something the administration can not and will not do, and will never do.

    I get really sick of all the syrupy sweet crap some alums post on facebook about that place. Maybe if they repeat the lies often enough, and loud enough, they will convince themselves. Like you, I was in one of the early classes. I saw TLC change over the years, sometimes for the better, but often for the worse. When John Nolte left I was very sad and dismayed. After all he gave and how much he contributed, his loss was huge. I understand he was forced out by some of the big egos who are on the board because he spoke the truth about how they and others do not use, understand or believe in psychodrama. And he spoke the truth about other things as well. And the forced ouster of Charlie Aboresk because he too spoke the truth and angered Gerry Spence. God forbid anyone anger Gerry Spence. That is the like the kiss of death. I realized then that so much of what TLC says and teaches is really just a lie, a trick, a way to manipulate people. If these two men could be so easily be forced out, what kind of place is TLC? If the truth cannot be spoken there without fear of being ousted, how can they claim to care about people? Not a place I want to be a part of.

    I agree with the other anonymous poster, TLC needs all of us more than we need it. But most of the alums look at it the opposite, as if TLC is the end all and be all and that we NEED it. History has shown all of us that we are all DISPENSIBLE and EXPENDABLE to TLC and especially to those who run it. Minorities and women are the most dispensible as are public defenders and poor lawyers. I have seen too many good, talented, caring, honest people like yourself leave.

    You have outgrown TLC as have the others who have recently left by choice or by forced removal. I hope all of you take your creativity and ideas elsewhere and continue to share them. You have the true spirit and compassion that TLC has lost. TLC is a place that was and will never be again. It has lost its way. Power and money have replaced truth, love and family.

    Good for you for recognizing it was time to move on. That says alot about who you are as a person. Too bad more people don't share your strength of conviction.

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  5. Thanks for your post. I had heard you quit but had no idea why. Too many great people have left over the last few years but I suspect few of them would ever come back and most are probably glad they left.

    When John Nolte and Charlie Abourezk were forced by Gerry Spence to resign from the board, I quit all things TLC. I have never regretted it. If they were'nt good enough for TLC, then I wanted nothing to do with TLC. Good for you for knowing it was time to leave. Most are too weak or too much in denial to see what a sick place it is. There are other places to learn, minus the cultish culture and hero worship demanded by Spence and where you don't have to pay such a high price to participate, ethically, morally and financially.

    financially.

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  6. You're calling TLC sexist???? After fifteen years you suddenly decide that it is sexist??? Well, why the fuck didn't you do something about it when you were there???? I mean the last three Executive Directors of TLC have all been women. Weren't they??? I am sure they would have listened to you if you would have brought this up to them. And weren't half of the professional psychodrama staff women as well??? And over half the regular staff were women, weren't they??? And with all these high powered women - in positions of great power - you felt that no one would lend you a sympathetic ear???? So why did you bring this up now and not during your fifteen years with the school??? Couldn't see it because your eyes were clouded with your own greatness??? Or is it that you feel hurt and are lashing out Jude and Gerry -- so you reach for the one argument that you think will do them the most damage.

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  7. I'm sorry Lynne, your wrong. Dangerously wrong. And TLC is an infinitely better school today than it was when you were there. And that bothers you, doesn't it? You can't stand it can you?

    You were secretly hoping that Jude and Gerry would fail, but they didn't. This summers class was a screaming success - and students actually walk off the Ranch better lawyers - the kind who can actually win trials and, if they feel it, love their clients as well.

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  8. We're sick???? So, how long did you have your head up Gerry's ass??? Sixteen years wasn't it. We're sick and you're not??? Took you sixteen years to come to this conclusion??? Why did it take you so long????? And now you miss TLC, you even dream about it, but you applaud yourself on having the strength to stay away. But the rest of us are weak and pathetic. Thanks for the insult.

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  9. I know what kind of lawyer you are, the kind that says sorry you have to go to jail, but I love you. Sorry I lost your trial, but I love you. Sorry you had to suffer years of injustice and now have to suffer even more, but I love you. My clients don't need me to love them, they need me to win their trials!

    You think your love is what they need, well they don't come to me for love, they come to me for justice.

    But if they need some love I'll send them to you.

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  10. And about 75% of all psychodramas are stories of betrayal - daddy raped me, Bob cheated on me, I aborted my child, mommy loved my brother more, mommy killed my pets when she was mad at me, are all stories of a betrayal of trust - and all psychodramas we experienced on the ranch - many together. Take the stories of betrayal out of the psychodramas and the powerful experience pretty much falls flat. So finally the school is teaching the essence of psychodrama - which is the story of betrayal. But you don't like that. Is it because it wasn’t your idea????

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  11. Whoever wrote those last five comments overnight is certainly angry. I wish you had been able to sign them, so we could talk. What does it say about you that you only can attack anonymously? Does that feel safer? I would hope that someone who professes to have the courage to be a trial lawyer, to stand in court protecting someone else, would have the couage to sign your true name. I suspect you are not a trial lawyer. Perhaps you are the trial consultant who claims to make more money than any other trial consultant, but who has never picked a jury himself. I stand by what I wrote. And I signed it. I am also a trial lawyer, are you?

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  12. Thanks Lynn, you insult me even more by comparing me that idiot. You started this by calling us sexist and saying we are all sycophants. Maybe the magic mirror is at work here - you are the sexist and the sycophant.

    How many years was Gerry on your couldn't do anything wrong list? And when Joanne, Fredi, and Carl needed you to write something you sure took your sweet time

    Glad you found some courage. Would rather you found the courage to stay around and fight for what you believe in.

    JB

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  13. And yea, you pissed me off.

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  14. Dear J. B.:
    I am not sure who you are. If you are who I think you are, you and I have known each other for a long time. I have always held you in high esteem. Although I may have hurt Gerry and Jude, that was not my intent. These issues have taken me a long time to process. My family says I was part of a cult, although I don't think that is true. I learned amazing things about myself and became a much better lawyer because of TLC. I am happy that TLC is flourishing.

    One thing I want to make clear, though, is that I have always thought TLC was sexist. Men have more power and male views are dominant. I was there when the leader of TLC questioned whether worn could be good trial lawyers because women are not as aggressive as men. In the past, I lacked the courage to step up and combat or even address the sexism. That is not to say that things cannot change. However, I was also present at a staff meeting where John Nolte called out TLC for being sexist years ago, and he was met with resistance. There is not only one way to be a good trial lawyer. You have accused me of being sexist, and you are right. I feel more comfortable practicing my present with women lawyers because we don't have many issues with egos and competition between us. I will work on my issues.

    If you are who I think you are, you refused to even respond to my protest when Fredi was kicked off of staff. You had someone else contact me. That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I did not return to staff after I discovered that decision was made. We profess love, but don't always act in loving ways.

    If you are whom I suspect, I still hold you in high esteem, even if you do not feel that way about me. I think you have had to deal with very challenging issues, including John and Charlie's exodus from TLC. This has been a very difficult decision for me. I hope TLC flourishes and students in the future are as impacted as I was.

    JB, I wish the best for you. I hope TLC is and becomes everything you want and hope it to be. I still have great affection for TLC and, if you are who I think, for you, personally. I believe loyalty is a two-way street. Fredi, and I, gave my all to TLC, both in time and with more money than I could afford. I believed in TLC wholeheartedly and gave it my all. So did Fredi. When she was cast aside, that became something I just could not stomach. Maybe I should have spoke up sooner, but I didn't. I hope there are no sex and race issues in the future and people are not valued on the size of their verdicts or the amount of money they give to the college.

    If someone can make a difference, JB, I hope it is you.

    Love,
    Lynne

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  15. And I wish the best for you and apologize for jumping off the gun at you.

    As for the sexism - we should drama it. And maybe we should drama it every year. Maybe it is real, may it is not. But that doesn't matter because it is how people feel that matters and you feel it. So it should be dealt with.

    Much love back,

    JB

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  16. TLC is sexist, always has been and always will be. Women on staff complained about it for years. Gerry and male staff members (not all but many) use derogatory terms for women. Men are touted as the great trial lawyers and put front and center. Women have always been objectified and sexualized by many of the male leaders at TLC and especially by those at the top. Every year Gerry insults women in publuc and demeans them. Everyone this is the truth. And what about the blatant racisim? Gerry treats minorities disrespectfully and has insulted them over and ovet again. Last year he called some black female students nigger. He held a slave auction another year and is very vocal about how women and minorities are let in to TLC over more qualified white men. Sorry JB or David Clark or whomever attacked Lynne for speaking the truth. TLC is both sexist and racist. Gerry Spence us a mysoginist and a chauvinist. Talk to some of the minority alumni and you will hear the truth about the racism. And Lynne, your family is right, you were part of a cult. What cults do when former members speak the truth about the cult, they attack the former members. It's leaders are now attacking you. More is sure to follow.

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  17. Don't you people have better things to do with your time? TLC, Inc., doesn't care about people, just money. It exists solely to feed the ego of one Man. A man who has 3 major hot buttons, women, race and money. Doesn't think much of the first, is threatened by the second and can't get enough of the third. He'll always choose money over people. Just like the corporations of the world.
    Mark

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  18. Wonder what Spence's mother would think about who he has become. We know she was disappointed in him years ago. She abandoned him out of shame and disappointment. And you wonder why he hates women?

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  19. I know there are many emotions people have about TLC and I do not intend to censor, but I would hope that people will try not to be cruel in comments on this blog. We are all flawed. It was not my intention or desire to cause pain or to bring up painful past life experiences. Please think of the effect of your comments and use some discretion.

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  20. So if the place a pit of sexism why would you hang out in it for so many years? I don't get it? And why would someone as smart and clever as Joanne - a true leader - put up with it???? Same with Fredi. These are very bright and extremely talented women - none of which are afraid to speak their mind. The same with Cyndy and Marg and Maren - all wildly talented, smart, and super strong women. Surely if they saw sexist or racial injustice they would speak up??? Why would they put up with it??? So what am I missing??? Please fill me in. Inquiring minds would like to know.

    I'm trying to understand your position. But my mind keep creating this counter argument - so many absolutely super talented and brilliant women putting up with sexist or racist shit??????? It doesn't make sense. So please explain it to me.

    JB

    JB

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  21. My goal in posting this blog was to honestly post how I feel to finally get it off my chest. I am no longer in any type of faculty or staff position. It seems to me that whether or not there has been racism or sexism is a hot issue. If I were in charge, I would survey past students and faculty and use some of the money raised to pay for sensitivity training and have a policy, not just for harassment, but also for race, sex, age, religious, and disability discrimination. I would also institute a complaint procedure and then actively enforce the policy. There are many outfits geared to ensuring discrimination or the appearance of tolerance of discrimination does not exist. It must be abided by and heeded by the very top people in the organization. That means no calling women " bitches" or using the "n" word. I think those in charge of TLC might benefit from sensitivity training and the "strong" women would not have the responsibility of policing the others.

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  22. To the person who wants to know why no one (women) spoke up or objected to how women and minorities were treated? Have you ever tried to challenge Gerry Spence? He is a bully and attacks anyone who criticizes him. And the other men on the board are afraid of him and don't speak up. Staff members are afraid of him too, especially the women. Talk to staff members who were in staff meetings where he attacked other staff members (women and minorities) or was derogatory and demeaning of students. Ask Carl how it felt to be attacked by Spence publically at staff training and how NO ONE, NOT a single staff member, NOT a single psychodramatist, NO ONE at all came to his defense. People are afraid to be rejected or abandoned or thrown out of TLC. Anyone who criticizes god Spence gets thrown out. Call Charlie Aborezk and John Nolte. Ask them what happened to them when they criticized Spence? People have spoken up and they are gone. TLC will not change. It is and will always be a sexist, racist organization. It comes up nearly every year and nothing changes.

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  23. When women complain about how they are treated at TLC, by Spence and the other male leaders and staff members, they are labeled "bitches," "feminazis," "trouble makers," and "cunts." All of these words have been used repeatedly by Spence and other males at TLC to describe women. Sexually demeaning and offensive jokes about women are frequently told. Foul language is the standard. If a woman dares complain, she is labeled. The expectation is that women at TLC should just put up with it. To get tough. That they need to get used to it if they want to be trial lawyers. To quit being so damn sensitive. To get the chip off their shoulder. And you wonder why women at TLC don't speak up. Wake up. Get your head out of the sand.

    Speaking up is not encouraged, welcome or accepted. Not by Spence and not by the current leadership. A male staff member referred to a female staff member at the WA seminar as a "cunt." NOTHING happened to that male staff member. NOTHING. No reprimand. He was patted on the back by Spence and Jude who said they agreed with him. He is still on staff and continues to talk derogatorily about women. The men are protected by Spence and can get away with anything.

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  24. Agreed. If it is as bad as you say it is it needs to end.

    But I am still stuck on one thing.

    I admired the hell out of Joanne. She had all the makings of a great leader - smart, kind, willing to do battle for her tribe. Why would she stay in such a place???? Why would any woman with any integrity want to work in such an environment? And for so long? What is the psychology on that??? Have any of you talked to her about it? Why do Cyndy and Maren stay? This is what I don't understand.

    JB

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  25. Dear Lynne

    Your post has done more to expose the blatant sexism and racism at the ranch than any psychodrama.

    To the obvious angry male who is carping, "why would they stay?' what was their choice.

    If we wanted to learn anything, we had to buck up, something female trial lawyers are more than used to.....

    But I digress, thanks, Lynne, for shedding light on these painful subjects....love, a friend

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  26. J.B.
    This is why I stayed for so long. There are parts of TLC that are so wonderful. Through TLC, I started a course of self-exploration that has made me be a better person and lawyer. I learned so much from so many people. I made true friends and learned to love people. The Ranch is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It was so exciting to be creative and enthused about what I love, being a lawyer.

    But, as with most things in life, there were things that were not as wonderful and were not healthy. I don't want to belabor the negatives. For me, I had to assess when the negatives outweighed the positives. When that happened for me, I decided to leave. Everyone must make those personal decisions. The decision was not easy. I miss many things about TLC. TLC is not all good or all evil.

    One thing that Don Clarkson says that has stuck with me is, "If you can't talk about something, it's out of control." That sentiment helped me be able to articulate and work on the things about me I don't like instead of hiding from them. I think it would be a good thing for TLC to talk about these things. That is how you get control of them.

    Love,
    Lynne

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  27. When the leaders are blind, and the followers are blind, truth is ignored and nothing ever changes. You took off the blinders and weren't willing to ignore your feelings or your ethics. Very few people at TLC are willing to do the same. That is the power of a cult with a charismatic leader. Rational people ignore and overlook the truth because they get something out of it. Good for you for recognizing it was time to leave and sever your ties. When I realized the school was a cult, I left the ranch early, before the program was even completed. I think it is dangerous that there is such blind allegiance. I shared my feelings with Gerry and several others but got no response. I cannot in good faith recommend the college. Too many similarities to a cult.
    Peter
    Bl

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  28. Dear Lynn:

    This is good. Thank you very much for sharing - it explains a lot and it has given me much to think about going forward. And I will talk to those women named - a couple I knew quite well years ago. Normal people do abnormal things in exceptional circumstances. TLC is an exceptional circumstance. Everything comes to an end and you found your end. And maybe that is what you really needed.

    Likewise, Joanne and Fredi found their end and have started their own program. And I hear it is excellent. As Joey once said, out of the bad can come the good.

    Endings are almost never sweet - especially if we didn't want it to end.

    I'll leave you now. And I thank you for allowing me to be open and honest as to my feelings. It was an interesting journey.

    Much Love,

    JB

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  29. Just read through this....and I have to say this....have known Gerry for a long, long, time and I have never found him to be racist or sexist. He even jumped on my ass once for calling african americans blacks. Yea, he has on occasion used the word nigger - but only in teaching exercises. Like when he was teaching Milton Grimes how to deal with an all white jury - he told Milton to just stand up and say what I am afraid of is that you are here to hang the nigger. Which is a very powerful way to start VD.

    Yea, he has issues with women, So do I. So do most men over forty. But that hasn't stopped him from letting women come to the college or appointing three women as directors (one of them was an open lesbian). And honestly most of the women who come to TLC have issues with men. Shit, Lynn you won't even hire them. And Joanne and company won't let them come to their 3sisters events. Its for women only. How sexist is that?????

    You teach us to be spontaneous, but when we are you freak out. Most people have sexist or racist feelings on some level. Even Obama. Its only human. And Gerry is the king of being spontaneous - so expect some wild shit to come out of him.

    I've had countless arguments with Gerry over the years. Had many arguments over the college. And he has always listen to me. He is a great listener. But I have never pissed in his lap in public and if I did I am sure he would shit in mine. Challenge any great leader in public and see what he or she does.

    As for the people that are humiliated by him - and still want to stick around - I'd say you probably like being humiliated. Maybe because you were humiliated as a child - so you find it nurturing. Either that or it fulfills some weird sexual fantasy on your part.

    Why do people stay - even the ones too scared to confront him? Which is pathetic. Because he is the doorway to a becoming a fantastic trial lawyer. And we wold sell our soul for that one wouldn't we.

    I love the guy, I think he is great. And I don't give a shit if he occasionally blurts out a sexist remark. Just like it doesn't bother me that you discriminate against men in your law practice.

    Dan

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  30. Dan you are full of shit. Pandering to stay in good with Spence. Spence is a mysogonist! He is sexist! He demeans and objectifies women. Being a man you wouldn't recognize how poorly women are treated at the college because you don't know how it feels to be a woman. I don't eaither but I have seen it and heard the women complain. And of course you don't care if he says sexist remarks because they don't hurt you. But they hurt our sisters. Who wants to be referred to as "bitches" and "cunts" all the time. No woman I know.

    And you are wrong about the 3sisters events. Only one of there events is for women only. The have an event coming up soon where men are more than welcome to attend.I am a man and I am going to it.

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. The comments posted by "JB" were not posted by Jude Basile. Jude contacted me to let me know he is not the JB here. I don't know who JB is, but I do know he or she is not Jude Basile.

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  33. It doesn'twhoever JB is, Jude or someone else. TLC is not what it used to be. Programs are going down hill. I just attended Grad I which was advertised as being a new program and we were told by Laurie Goodman that Rex Parris would be attending with members of his staff to share with us his methods and new ideas. Well, as is typical with TLC, they lied to us just get our money. Rex didn't show. No surprise there.

    There was nothing new at this program. In fact, I have attended Grad I many times in the past and this was the worst one ever! I always liked Grad I which focused on psychodrama. It was all psychodrama. But this year we only got about a day and a half of psychodrama. We barely got any trial skills worth talking about. One of the board members who was there kept talking about how you have to be honest with the jurors. What a crock! That guy wouldn't know honesty or how to be honest if it hit him in the face. We were duped! All TLC wants is our money. They lie to get us to register and then don't deliver. I will not go to another TLC program. This one was sure a waste of my time and money.
    Disappointed Alumni!

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  34. I was going to go to grad one - just to see Rex speak - and was bummed that I had to miss it. He's one of my legal heroes. Now I am glad I missed it. The old bait and switch.

    Fun blog Lynn. Lots of nut cases ranting and raving. Liked the bit on why you stayed - very honest and very real. I feel the same way.

    The Kool Aid just doesn't taste as good as in did in the late 90s.

    Jimmy Jones

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  35. I see the crazies and freaks are now the most vocal supporters of TLC. When nuts like and promote something, you have to wonder about the organization. Think Sarah Palin!

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  36. I recognize that everyone has different opinions. From this, we grow.

    This is why it is counter-productive and wrong to be name-calling those who disagree. Those who like and will continue to participate in TLC are not "cultists," and those who don't, and will no longer, are not "Judases."

    As for those of you who post anonymously and do things like criticize the kind of lawyer Lynne Bratcher is, I am almost at a loss for what to say to you. Except that what you have done is hurtful, mean-spirited and cowardly.

    - Lyle Gregory

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  37. Lyle:

    Thank you for your very kind comments. You know that I hold you in high esteem.

    Lynne

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  38. Anyone who would critize Lynn can just F themselves. She is right on! TLC is very sexist. The leadership really treats women poorly, objectifying them and demeaning them. The male staff and board members foment Spence's sexism. And many of them are sexist themselves.

    I read an article today about James Earl Ray, the self help guru who led several people to their death in the sweat lodge in the AZ desert. The similarties between him and Spence, and Ray's followers and TLC lovers is striking. Ray even refers to his followers as "Warriors" as so many cult organizations do. They have secret ceremonies and wear amulets. They believe their group has discovered the one true way. Expert sociologists and researchers have concluded that when people spend a week isolated from the real world, they form a group mentality and will do whatever the leader tells them to do and wont even question the leader. The follow the group. They loose their rationality. Anyone who questions the leader and doesn't go along with him, is labeled a traitor and ostracized from the "tribe." The common traits of a cult and TLC are striking!! The organization leads the followers to believe they need the organization and that they must give money to the organization. They pray upon the weakness and lonliness of group members. They break them down emotionally and suck them in. They advertise the need for continued education in the way of the groups if you want to succeed.

    With the way women are treated at TLC, it is amazing TLC hasn't been sued for gender discrimination or harassment. They don't believe they have a problem. Ask the new president and he will deny it. But ask women who have been to TLC and they will tell you the truth. Women are second class citizens at TLC. Spence really doesn't like women. He berates, belittles and demeans them at every opportunity he gets. He loves to stir the shit up! And unfortunately too many of the women at TLC take it. Look at Katelyn who sucks up to Spence and the other males members of the board. She kisses their ass because she is afraid to be abandoned. She believes she needs the men to provide for her. It is pathetic.

    The leaders and the lemming alumni are blind to the truth of sexism, gender discrimination and plain old sexual harrasment which is alive and well at TLC. They can't bare to look at their god without rose colored glasses. Sad and pathetic that such educated people are willing to sacrifice their integrity and morals.

    Lynn has balls to stand up and walk away. Very few people can do so because they get so much out of belonging to this sick college. Good on ya Lynn! Too bad so many of the women who claim to be strong are just submissive weak willed whiners. Too weak to stand up and walk away. I don't feel sorry for you.

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  39. Wow! Lynne you are missed. I hope those who are reading this blog understand the tremendous contribution you made in every way to TLC. You loved and nutured the program from 1994 forward. I watched you grow and admired your honesty and self reflection at every event I had the privledge to attend with you. I was very sad when you chose to resign and hoped time would heal any wounds opened by the changes over the last years and we would teach together again. I remain on the board and would be happy to talk with JB (816-931-2229). I have never been on the list serve. I have never written or read a blog before today - I cannot say this makes me a fan but I was glad I read each and every comment. I hear you. Cyndy

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  40. Cyndy:
    Thank you so much for your comments here and about my daughter. I have always respected and admired you. Your words mean a lot to me.
    Lynne

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  41. This is interesting. I just got out of bed to eat a bowl of cereal and thought I would read your blog because I had heard about it. I didn't know that there was so much love out there. Makes me think of what Mick Jagger said at Altamont. "Chill out. Can't we love each other." I guess not. Lynn, I have a great amount of respect for your courage and honesty. Peace, Jake Watson

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  42. By the way, I didn't mean you should chill out and spread the love, but that folks should not so ferociously attack without revealing their identity. I think your blog and stand takes great courage and that should be recognized and honored whether folks agree or disagree with you. Jake Watson

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  43. I was a little distressed by Cyndy's post. A board member who is not on the list serve? No wonder the board is so out of touch with the alumni. Maybe if they took the time to be on the list serves, or read the alums blogs, they would understand how we feel and what our complaints are. Cyndy acts shocked to learn of the sexism. I find that very hard to belive. Looks like she, like most board members, just bury their heads in the sand.
    Peter

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  44. Peter: I am a 1994 graduate who has attended every conceivable kind of program and was involved in the birth of every new program. I see many graduates every year. I was part of F. Warriors twice and in different roles. I am involved in our regional group in KC and have visited regional groups in other cities. I have attended the alumni meeting recently held in the dallas area. I have communication with someone for TLC every day. I am very involved in identifying staff and in curriculum. I run the DP program -- I do not feel I am less able to serve the interests of TLC because I do not read the list serve. My head is not buried in the sand and if you would ever like to call me or visit me in KC I would be happy to talk to you about any issue you believe I need information on.
    Cyndy

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  45. What's with all the anonymous comments. uncommon cowardice? Nut up and sign your name.

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  46. Yes Cyndy, you are one of the high priestesses of the cult. But you are blind to the truth. Why do you permit sexism and racism to run rampant at TLC? Why did you stand by when good people were thrown out of the college?
    Peter

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  47. In reading this blog, it seems to me that TLC is a very hateful organization with very hateful people, on both sides. Looks like the ideology of the organization is just a pipe dream, that it isn't reality. Most things that sound too good to be true, generally are. The principles of TLC sound good on paper, but they are not the same ones as those that the organization and its followers put into practice. TLC and its followers hate all those who criticize it and it's leaders. Those who leave TLC seem to hate TLC and those who remain. Pretty pathetic.

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  48. Honestly, Lynn, some of the best lawyers I know are women trial lawyers I have met at TLC. You seem to be a nice person, but quite frankly, your insecurity limits you, and seems to keep you from being the lawyer - and person-you could be. I am unsure why you blame men for your struggle, but hope you can honestly look within, perhaps with some TLC psychodrama and discover what is making you so insecure. Just an observation, and not meant in a mean way, just hoping you can find some peace over an issue that seems to have be holding you back.

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  49. Dear Lynne: I thought you were just taking a sabbatical and did not realize you had left "for good." You will be happy to know that actually there is more psychodrama and use of those methods than ever at TLC now so - I have to disagree with that part of your comments. But the rest of it, I hear you and I respect your decisions. You rock and you are a great trial lawyer. Hopefully, the remainder of your journey will be long and happy. Peace.

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  50. Well, I guess I can cross TLC off my list of things I wanted to do in my career. Being a busy attorney with kids, it was a long shot anyway that I'd have the time to go. But now I haven't the time or the desire.

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  51. Why does everything have to be black or white? TLC has many wonderful things to offer but it is far from a perfect place - just as we are far from perfect people. It is in fact sexist. That is just a true fact. Quite frankly, for any man to comment on it has little credibility. Why put up with it, you ask? Because there are good things too, and change is an evolution not a revolution. And as women trial lawyers we are adept at "putting up with it". I have not been around long in TLC but I am glad TLC exists. I am glad other groups exist. None of it is mutually exclusive. The level of vitriol is astonishing. Expressing how you feel has to be safe for it not to be a toxic environment. You may not agree with the facts but the feeling you cannot argue with. The anger is likely hurt really and the pain is clearly deep. Probably stems from unrealisitic expectations of what TLC can offer, what loyality is expected, and what Gerry Spence can be as a human. But does not mean all is bad. It has many wonderful things to offer and good people to teach and learn. But does that mean people cannot decide it is toxic environment for them and need to leave? Absolutely not! I like the passion actually. Glad people care about something deeply.

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  52. Im with the guy (oops, or gal) crossing TLC off his list. I had considered TLC until I ran across this blog. It seems "Psycho"- "Drama" is an appropriate term for what goes on at the Ranch. Thanks for the heads up.

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  53. My purpose was neither to persuade nor to dissuade. I simply wrote how I felt. Please make your own decision.

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  54. Ah, the TLC cult! Remember that 'no one' joins a cult. Instead, they join a group of idealistic, intelligent people who are going to change the world. At least that's what they see from the outside, and then again, for at least some time, they become part of that enlightened group of wonderful super humans. It's not until something ugly this way comes that (some) cult members take a look around them with more realistic eyes. Plenty close their eyes at this point, but some few don't. These few take a step, then a few more steps away. The horrible things that they feared would happen to them don't happen. Their eyes open more. They look at the sunlight. TLC has many earmarks of a real life cult. Lynne, you're an apostate, a disbeliever who once believed. You are dangerous to their reality. You threaten what they have come to see as their World. They measure themselves, their worth, by the standards they've learned there. You're toppeling their shaky house of cards. God Bless You.

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  55. My name is Vance Countryman, and i have no hesitation to speak up for and advance what i learned at the Ranch in 2009 and since. I am disappointed to hear criticisms of the College from those that have chosen to leave. Change is hard to accomplish from the outside and credibility seems to wane when it sounds like sour grapes. Its rings of the betrayal which was discussed above. None the less, the College is stronger and more effective each year. The affects of the College are seen in the verdicts received by graduates and there continues to be great support from numerous staff who have Supported the Colleges for years. None the less, your thoughts would be more affective if they were shared as a part of where the College is going rather than from some point in the past.

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  56. Vance:
    I remember you from 2009. I am glad to hear the college is doing well and I hope the students learn and grow from their experiences. I cannot speak from the present because I am no longer there. I spoke the truth as it appears to me with my experiences. I only hope for the best for you and everyone else associated with TLC. I learned much from TLC and, fortunately for me, I continue to learn. Good luck with your endeavors and thank you so much for not posting anonymously. We all have to follow the paths which feel right for us.

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  57. TLC is a cult created by Mr. Spence to build and feed his own ego. He is a sick man who hides behind his success. He is the farthest thing from real anyone could be. He is not honest, kind or caring. He is a phony and only cares about the money he can take from poor lawyers. He is a member of the 1%, along with many if not most of the board members he hand selected. Good for you for leaving that toxic cesspool filled with blind accolytes and spineless lemmings. I attended this year and the good teachers were few and far between. I kept waiting and looking for good teachers. They couldn't be found. Amazing who is on their faculty. People who have never tried a case to a jury. People who have friends in high places. Big donors. What a bunch of crap.

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  58. David Ronin (Houston lawyer)(ronin.firm@gmail.com)December 1, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    I've never attended TLC, so can't say anything about what it used to be, is now, or might become. But as a total outsider, I am amazed by many of the comments.

    It seems several people want to play at being psychiatrists, giving quickie analyses of others' motivations, alleged true feelings, neuroses, you name it. Maybe it's an unintended consequence of all the psychodrama? :-) It would all be quite funny, were not so much of it so vindictive. And I must say, it's especially troubling to see those who claim to be TLS alums so quick to play that game. Is THIS being "honest" and showing "integrity" and "speaking from the heart"? Even many of the comments couched in the language of generous feelings seemed to be striking a pose of saintliness rather than trying to deal with the matter. Many comments seem to say far more about the commentator than about the subject of his or her comments---though now I'm playing the amateur shrink game too, so I'll stop that.

    So much of the discussion seems to involve trying to kill the other side's messengers rather than dealing directly with the message. Such postings strike me as quite immature, not the stuff of mature, wise lawyers.

    Whether or not TLC really has the flaws listed, any organization that cares about not slipping into complacency (and thus, decline) would take VERY seriously such complaints as have been raised in the various postings. There needs to be some SINCERE soul-searching, in-house.

    I know Spence is old, though I don't know how old. But it sure looks to me as though TLC is going to die with him, or quite soon thereafter. And assuming TLC is as good as its admirers say, it will be a shame to see it go down the tubes because those in charge (maybe including Spence himself) perhaps can't see it objectively and make the necessary reforms. (It reminds me of the saying about Spain when the Spain was slipping into obscurity: "Those who would change things, can't; those who can change things, won't." Or maybe it'll perpetuate itself, but only as a shadow of its former self, living off past prestige.

    Pride goeth before a fall, or something like that.

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  59. Lynn,

    I miss seeing you and teaching with you.

    Love

    Johnny Z

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  60. Gee, I thought TLC was too politically correct when I was there in 2001. I guess I need some work.
    Mark Underwood

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  61. Rampant sexism and racism at TLC? Sounds refreshing! Where do I sign up?

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  62. Had a nice time reading this. Quite informative too.
    Macon Lawyers

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  63. I am passionate about protecting the rights of the little guy– all the people, especially the injured, the forgotten and those the insurance companies love to push around, intimidate and bully.
    I’ve always despised bullying and I particularly can’t stand it when big, monied business/ insurance interests try to take advantage of regular people.more information

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  64. When I was at TLC I heard the word "bitch" used rampantly and heard Gerry use the N word. He did not use it to attack a specific African American, but used it somehow. It was shocking, offensive and unnecessary. Some people spoke out about it and he apologized publicly and asked those threatening to go home not to do so. There is definitely a cowboy culture, and while I did not see this dealt with when I was there, I imagine that it is not an environment that would embrace a gay men. That is a problem for me. That being said, I learned an awful lot there about lawyering. the cowboy culture really takes away from the wonderful learning that happens. If you can block all of it out, there is much to be gained. But you shouldn't have to do that.

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  65. Join AAJ's grassroots campaign to Take Justice Back. Stay informed by subscribing to TJB updates here.compmanwc.com

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  66. This past week I found myself reminiscing through old notes and drawings from TLC. What an amazing experience! Thirty one days (from July 31 through Sept. 1.) Weekends were great-- as Gerry was often there and would give an impromptu talk, cross, closing and share stories. It was like the meeting after the meeting--where you get the real inside information. Sexist? Rascist? No--not my experience. I vividly recall a moment--sitting at a picnic table with Gerry--outside after lunch--he was fretting-- disturbed by the lack of minorities at the ranch and was wondering how to improve that as he wanted a more diverse group of participants. I'm so glad it was year two of the college--before it became "organized"-- as that format, or lack thereof, suited me. Spontaneous overflow of powerful teachings! I made a conscious choice to go to the TLC with an open mind--with no expectations so each day was a gift, an adventure and a challenge. Gerry's teachings are so amazing and powerful and energizing and will stay with you long after you leave the ranch. Psychodrama was a magical journey into the deepest chambers of your heart. Not to mention the sheer beauty of the Wind River Valley--the Shoshone Indian Reservation, the shooting stars, hot days, cool dark nights, shimmering mountains, roar of the river, warmth of the campfire, real conversations, early sunrise, and most delicious food cooked with love . . . . Wowowow! Two thumbs up. I say Go! Experience it. Just go with an open mind; no expectations! Absorb. Learn. Grow. Challenge yourself. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Peace~

    Lisa Swanson (TLC Graduate,1995)

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  67. Tim Blake TLC 2002April 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Lynne- Thanks for sharing with us or me. You taught me a lot long ago. TLC has grown and has had some growing pains. There is no other place like the Ranch for the years that we are there. Thank you for all the years of helping and sharing. I know you are continuing to be a better you.. I love you

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