Defrauding our nation’s lawyers

Most trial lawyers have been defrauded of their education.

On the average it costs more than $100,000 to get through law school. And after four years in undergrad and three more years in law school, the law school graduate doesn’t know enough to pass the Multi-state Bar and has to spend another $5000 or more to prepare for that. Even then many will fail the bar, some more than once.

The bar exam itself is a fraud. The exam does not help the law profession to determine those who will fight for people, who are honest and who have courage—the most fundamental requirements of a lawyer for the people. The bar exam only tests the applicants ability to play their mostly silly word games.

So we have law schools claiming they are educating lawyers when most lawyers, as they drag themselves out of the misery and boredom of those three empty years, are tragically unprepared to do anything useful. I have often said that for an assistant to help me in a trial I would rather have a nurse than most lawyers fresh out of law school.

The nurse has been trained to listen to the patient. Lawyers know little about listening. The nurse chose her profession because she cares about people. Lawyers are not taught to care. They are engorged with the rare niceties of legal gymnastics often taught by ponderous-headed professors who have never looked into the painful eyes of a client and who have never tried a single jury trial for a human being. If a student complains that a case he or she is studying does not render justice, the professor is quick to retort, “We do not teach justice here, Mr. Jones. We teach the law.”

I could teach an eighth-grader in twenty minutes how to brief a case. Yet for all three years in most law schools the casebook method of learning the law is still in. The matriculating young lawyer is as qualified to represent a client with the education he has suffered through as a doctor who has never seen a patient, who has never held a scalpel in his hand and who learns surgery by having read text books about it and becomes skilled in surgery, if ever, after having stacked up piles of corpses who represent his pathetic learning process.

“The trial of a case, in its simplest form, is telling a story jurors can understand. Yet most lawyers are taught little, if anything, about communicating with others.”

The trial of a case, in its simplest form, is telling a story jurors can understand.  Yet most lawyers are taught little, if anything, about communicating with others.  They are taught to deny their feelings and, at last, have so long shielded themselves against their feelings for that many find it nearly impossible to get in touch with them. Yet justice is a feeling and jurors (as do we all) make their decisions based on their feelings.

Most lawyers know little about classical literature and history, have never written a poem, have never painted a picture, have never stood before an audience and sung a song, have never been permitted to confess their pain or their love, and, in short, have been denied the stuff of personhood.  One need not write poetry or paint pictures to be a successful human being.  But some intimacy with the arts and the language and its use and with right brain functions of feeling and creativity are essential to the development of the whole person.  Little wonder that lawyers, disabled by all of the stifling, mostly useless mental exercises they have suffered, have trouble relating to jurors much less to the rest of mankind.

Is it not a miracle that after having been defrauded of their education at the hands of the entrenched in our law schools that American lawyers haven taken on the fraudulent mindset of their educators who have defrauded them?
 

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65 responses to “Defrauding our nation’s lawyers

  1. Mr. Spence:

    Thank you for the reminder of what law school education should be all about. I am starting my first year at DePaul in chicago this fall. Mr. Spence please know from the bottom of my heart how appreciative I am for the honesty and openness with which you have poured the hard fought results of your own battles out into the public. My mother took her life several years ago, and until I picked up the making of a country lawyer I felt terribly alone in my feelings. I’m a little too quick to attack, and at times I feel like a wild colt bucking and kicking in all directions. Thank you for being a “kindred spirit” to me through your books. It’s been nice to meet a fellow traveler for whom the analogy of a wild colt might not be completely foreign!

  2. Dear Friends:

    I’ve been practicing law for almost thirteen years now, doing the best I can for the people who come through my door, trying to treat them like people who are going through one of the most difficult times of their lives. There’s a rule I try to practice by: I may not remember this client ten years from now, but he will remember me, and how he was treated.

    I haven’t made a great deal of money doing it this way. You can make a lot of money treating people like so many numbers, grinding out their cases to a set pattern. And if it doesn’t work, there’s always the next sucker….

    That mentality is the hallmark of the economic efficency cult that makes up the faculty of most lawschools and ALL of the leadership of most defense and corporate firms. It is the way you are taught to think and act in Law School. If you’re doing it differently, expect to be criticised by your professors, and the profession. Expect to be misunderstood.

    All that said, I think I could learn a lot about how to treat clients, and how to get their story out against the resistance of the Legalist Economic Efficiency Cult. But there’s nowhere to learn that that I know of, and I’ve made a lot of painful mistakes trying to figure it out. But its worth doing. After thirteen years, I can recommend it.

    Kit

  3. That must be a mighty precocious eight year old you have. Justice as a feeling?

  4. Mr. Spence, thank you for raising an issue many of my peers discuss on a regular basis. And while these young men and women will graduate law school $100,000 in debt and little prepared to practice law, they will be paid in excess of $135,000 – $160,000 per year as a starting salary.

  5. Excellent point about the importance of communication in law school and legal practice. A key factor in my going on to earn a PhD in communication after law school was to learn more about the history of the spoken and persuasive part of legal practice. (I currently do training and consulting in communication skills).
    A law student (and lawyer) has always been able to learn history, to sing a song or paint a picture and learn how to connect with others as fellow humans. While it can be daunting to fit such activities into a law school class schedule or legal practice, I believe it is up to the student or attorney to develop the initiative to seek such broadening and practice-enhancing talents and skills.

  6. Famed attorney Gerry Spence has his own blog, called Gerry Spence’s Blog, what else? He wrote a July 28, 2008 article entitled Defrauding our nation’s lawyers which accuses our nations law schools of fraud. Why? Because law schools do not teach lawyers to be trial lawyers. As Gerry states:

    I could teach an eighth-grader in twenty minutes how to brief a case. Yet for all three years in most law schools the casebook method of learning the law is still in. The matriculating young lawyer is as qualified to represent a client with the education he has suffered through as a doctor who has never seen a patient, who has never held a scalpel in his hand and who learns surgery by having read text books about it and becomes skilled in surgery, if ever, after having stacked up piles of corpses who represent his pathetic learning process.

    Gerry you miss the point of law school. First, not everyone wants to be a trial lawyer. The skills of an appellate lawyer, a corporate lawyer and a labor lawyer are often different than that of a trial lawyer. To borrow your doctor analogy, heart surgeons are different than family doctors.

    Second, law school is not a trade school. It is not intended to magically transform students into lawyers in three years. Pardon the pun, by law school is about learning how to think, learning how to research and learning how to write in a legal manner.

    And, by the way, I would like to see you teach an 8th grader brief a case!

    Mitchell H. Rubinstein
    (Cross Posted on my blog)

  7. I have been teaching and preaching this, railing against law schools lack of real education for as long as I can remember, especially when I was an adjunct professor at a law school.

    They have an agenda which has nothing to do with turning out fully-functioning lawyers. They bow to the false god’s at U.S. New and World Reports and the law students are seriously short-changed, but crippled by mind-numbing debt.

    Combine this with false employment statistics and a lack of any practical education and…well don’t get me started.

    Maybe coming from you it will have much more impact.

  8. Amen.

    A few months ago I finished my first year of law school. I am now a few weeks away from finishing a summer job at a legal services office. I loved every minute of my first year of school, but it certainly didn’t make me any more well-prepared for working with actual clients.

    I recall interviewing a client who was appealing a denial of unemployment compensation. We had a good rapport not because of anything I learned in school, but because of what I learned working in factories and warehouses every summer during college.

    Before this summer, I worried about my grades. I don’t anymore; I’m still just a B student but I’ve gotten to be an A+ client counselor. I’m willing to trust that I can build a career on that foundation.

  9. Pingback: In response to Kit (aka Peregrinus) « Gerry Spence’s Blog

  10. Law School is an absolute waste of time. I’ve learned more in my 2 months of felony work in a Public Defenders’ office than I have in the past 2 years of law school. I’m dreading going back to law school to pay another $15,000 to be taught a bunch of nonsense that I’ll have to learn for a three hour exam before I forget it. In fact, the vast majority of law that one needs to know can be learned “on the job” as it were.

    Where law school actively does a disservice is in essentially teaching students that the law is a given. The law is, in fact, not a given, and much of the service a good lawyer can render to a client is in figuring out where the play is in the joints that allows the client to achieve the result he wants – whether that’s an acquittal or favorable plea, or whether that’s some sort of civil remedy or business planning that helps him achieve the desired result.

    Law students emerge from law school unable to write coherently, unable to communicate effectively, and unable to actually advise clients. What’s more, a large number of law students graduate into factory-style law firms where they are little more than highly paid, overworked clerks. Some day, after a divorce or two and many many 70 hour weeks, a few lucky ones become partners.

  11. How does a defense lawyer deal with a prosecutor who has a story that sounds good on the surface (although it is full of holes) when the defense lawyer can thoroughly defeat all of the prosecution evidence but has no alternative story to offer?

  12. Nicely done, sir. Keep writing. I keep looking in our ranks for the classically-educated leaders, doers and Renaissance men and women I had heard and read about in my youth. I’ve met only a few in the last 25 years.

  13. Looking for alternative stories

    Sanity, the scenario you posit offers plenty for an alternative story. You say that the prosecutor’s story is “full of holes.” One alternative story is the recounting that leads up to–and thereby emphasizes–those holes. You say the defense can “thoroughly defeat” the prosecution’s evidence. How? Unless you are just defeating it via technical rules of evidence or the like, I expect you have a different theory of what it means. That is the basis of yet another alternative story.

  14. Interesting factoid. I knew a guy who as one of many disabilities, had literally his entire right brain cut off from the functioning part. It was there, but it wasn’t doing anything for him. Brilliant guy, btw, and a wonderful person. When he went to law school it was a serious struggle. Why? Because it turns out that law is much more right brained than most people realize.

    I can say with absolute certainly, Gerry, that what you describe as typical in law students and law school is just not true. There are alot of problems in the legal profession, but rather than addressing those real-world problems, this post descends into cheap stereotyping. If I dare say this, I think your emotions got in the way of analysis. Which is not to say emotions have nothing to do with things, but like most things in life there has to be a balance. This post was not balanced.

  15. What a great post – I’m glad I found your blog! Years of experience in law firms (as support staff admittedly, not a lawyer) taught me to be glad I hadn’t spent a fortune on law school, even though I had considered it. So many of the associates in their early years of practice struggled – struggled with not having learned everything they really needed and struggled under mountains of law school debt. It is definitely not the best system.

  16. “And while these young men and women will graduate law school $100,000 in debt and little prepared to practice law, they will be paid in excess of $135,000 – $160,000 per year as a starting salary.”

    Misleading. According to the NALP, which is admittedly a highly biased source, only 16% of graduates earn over $160k as a starting salary. Around 38% of graduates earn less than $55k to start out. Many can’t even find employment after graduating from law school.

    The legal profession is highly elitest, stratified, and the lack of justice as Mr. Spence describes is only perpetuated by the law school industry. Remember, most law schools only serve as cash cows for their universities. Further, now there is a proliferation of for-profit law schools.

  17. What would you recommend for educating lawyers in literature, art, and music? Would reading Harold Bloom’s “Western Canon” and following up on every book he mentions be something along the lines of what you are thinking?

  18. Mr. Spence,

    Thank you for helping to shed further light on the sad state of legal education.

  19. AMEN! I wrote a post a few months ago called What is wrong with legal education?. I think you hit a lot of the same points, and filled in some of the holes that I left. Bravo!

  20. Gerry,

    I understand what you are saying. I hear you.

    I find so many parallels in the trial lawyer profession to my own: teaching. I also feel that my college education didn’t prepare me to be a good teacher. It took me a few years to realize that communication is the most crucial skill of an effective teacher. That realization took me places that I never thought I could go. I was able to see the eyes of my high school students come alive. I had the thrill of seeing them get excited to learn. For some of them, it was their first experience with those feelings. I think it scared them, but we undertook the journey through American history together. We were safe together. In addition to more traditional classroom fare, we sat in circles. We listened to music. We drew pictures. We wrote songs. We learned. I learned right along with them. We grew. I grew right along with them. Is that not the point of education?

    Of course, what I taught them couldn’t be as easily quantified by a bubble sheet. So I had difficulty with The Establishment. I felt like the school system wanted to me to commit malpractice at my job. And I wouldn’t do it.

    Sadly, I think that the nation’s teachers are being defrauded by their educational institutions, and ultimately, so are America’s students.

    I know my post took this in a different direction than law. But Gerry, I think it is important for you to know that your messages are applicable to so many people out there and in so many different walks of life. I have read your books, and I have learned from you. I have learned how to be a better teacher from you. I simply want to say thank you for that, and let you know that we are listening out here.

    I applaud you for your vision of the Trial Lawyers College. I wish there was an equivalent for teachers. It is desperately needed.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on your blog.

  21. In response to Mitchell Rubinstein:

    Mitchell, I am not the one who misses the point on the pathetic legal education we provide the American lawyer.

    Ask any judge what he thinks about the lawyers’ education whose miserable briefs he must read every day. Can you imagine the pain of walking in to one’s office morning after morning to face those stacks of cruel bundles of paper, those so-called “briefs” which present in the most stilted form that which proves to be little more connected to justice than the ramblings of dead minds?

    Lawyers who are confined in their arguments to judges, oral or written, forget that before the judge retreated to the bench he actually thought himself to be a human being. Every investigator of human decision-making has learned that the decision is first made at the feeling level. In the law it is then translated into an intellectual rationalization called an “opinion.” The lawyer who succeeds is one who has learned how to communicate with the judge as a human being– not an unfeeling, anesthetized compendium of legalisms that have replaced the person, but one who puts his pants on one leg at a time and who has a spat with his wife over their credit card bill before he drags himself out the front door headed for his chambers.

    You say the lawyer goes to law school in order to learn how to think like a lawyer. What a pity! I want him or her to learn how to think like a human being.

    The sad truth is that we are training lawyers to join some kind of weird society in which a foreign language is spoken that has little to do with the human condition and that can be understood only by those who are members of this elitist club, one that has so isolated itself from society as to become essentially useless.

    Justice, my friend, is a feeling.
    Ask any human who has been deprived of it– if you can ask that simple question in words he can understand.

  22. George Harrington

    Yes Gerry,
    engraved in the stone,in large letters, in the new Federal Courthouse in Boston are the words of ustice Holmes, ( dead, but not yet irrelevant ), ” The life of the Law is not Logic. It is
    experience.”.

  23. I was about to respond to Mitchell, but noticed it had been done. When thoughts of being a Judge enter my mind, I throw them out after realizing how boring it would be to have to listen to all the “stuff”. Jurors get bored too, but the “lawyers” are too pompous to realize it or care.

  24. I disagree with Mr. Rubinstein. While you are right that not all law school attendees are going to be “trial laywers”, they will most likely be lawyers of some sort, ergo the name law school. Yet we graduate law school without an inkling of an idea how to practice law – any kind of law. To say otherwise is just incorrect. Once again I agree that all law school does is teach, or try to teach, someone how to “think”. At least that’s what I was told but I still don’t know what the hell that means. The sad point is law schools turn out people who know nothing about the practice of law, and part of the problem lies in the fact that the schools recruit professors that, for the most part, haven’t practiced law or at least not for very long. They just went to some fancy named school. Not much of a way to teach how to practice if you don’t know how to do it.
    Reggie

  25. I am currenlty a 2L and love every second of this law school experience. This is proving to be a very enlightening discussion for me.

    I understand the concerns with the “product” todays law schools produce, but feel that all students can’t be lumped into one category–neither can all law schools.

    I also feel that a good student, cognizant of the limitations of a legal education, can (must) prepare to educate themselves when they realize these deficiencies.

    Mr. Spence, I’m curious about the emphasis you place on the arts and the need for lawyers to possess the “stuff of personhood.” First, I think that some of the most creative writings appear in the evolution of the common law…writings from histories great lawyers and political leaders. I think to create from a clean canvas is one thing, to create from muddled circumstances among a motley crew of adversaries is also deserving of some respect. I’m not advocating dumping Shakespeare for Cardozo, but I think credit should be given where credit is due.

    Second, I am wondering if emphasizing the classics is still as valuable as it once was. Generation X and Generation Next know more about American Idol than they do about F. Scott Fitzgerald. They learn to communicate with abbreviations via text-messages but struggle to learn a foreign language. Do you think an analogy to Denny Crane would carry more weight with a modern jury than a refrence to Atticus Finch?

    Thanks for creating the blog and sharing your thoughts.

    jag

  26. Guillermo Rivera

    Hello Gerry,

    Congratulations for your blog! In fact, you hit on the middle of the nail head!

    I understand your point of view. Literally, fraud as social consciousness means failing to reach the highest spiritual purpose, not the conventional legal significance. Courageously, you are acting like Aristotle who was the most concerned and enterprise-oriented of all philosophers about ethical considerations.

    Concomitantly, the capitalism core is competition where collaboration, empathy and fairness seldom meet. Like any corporation, universities are in the market to make money including the state ones, and explicit or implicitly they teach how to make a livelihood.

    Perhaps, it is there a university that teaches how to live a full and interesting life while helping others to succeed. In such dimension, do you know why business schools and universities stopped teaching the history of economic thought as pinpointed by Hudson (2008) at http://www.mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=599010

    It is about ethics! Concurrently, Pfarrer (2008) declares “Business ethics matter. Corporate behavior has been labeled amoral at best, illegal and immoral at worst. Indeed, the wave of corruption cases in the news has reklinded calls for ethical training in the boardroom and workroom, as well in the classroom.” (www.rhsmith.umd.edu/dingman/pdfs_docs/Do_ethics_matter_081505.doc)

    Stay fine and keep your outstanding job,

    Guillermo Rivera

  27. Guillermo Rivera

    Dear Gerry,

    In regarding to my previous post, I forgot to unclude the following and below amazing outcome.

    Guillermo
    **********
    According to Gallup (2007), a survey rated by the public on Honesty and Ethical Standards of people in diverse professions where was used a five-point scale ranging from “Very High” to “Very Low” (http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/Honesty-Ethics-Professions.aspx) resulted that lobbysts are at the bottom of the list jointly with car salesmen with 5% accounting their ethics as “Very High/High”, advertising professionals at 6%, congressmen (9%), state officeholders (12%), business executives (14%), local officeholders (20%) and bankers (35%) are among the lowest-rated professions.

    Peculiarly, the CEOs were just ahead of state officeholders and scored worse in the poll than lawyers and local officeholders. At the top of the list were nurses (83%) and school-grade teachers (74%) and pharmacists (71%) above of judges (46%) and policemen (53%). Remarkably, USA TODAY (2008) http://blogs.usatoday.com/onpolitics/polls/index.html reports that congressmen ratings have slumped to their poorest degree in 30 years since the poll on Honesty and Ethics began in 1976.

  28. I just graduated from law school and took the bar. I think you may have forgotten just how much law school molds your thinking, and yes, how much substance it pours into your brain. A sense of justice and compassion are needed, but so is a good foundation in the law.

    I interned at a public defender’s office and saw firsthand the contrast between competent lawyers and a passionate, motivated, and even intelligent pro se defendants – and I’d take the former every day of the week.

  29. Gerry:
    You still miss my point. Law schools do not exist to only train trial lawyers. There is a necessary academic part of law. Law students have to learn how to read cases and to distinguish between majority and dissents. The law is not only about telling a story or arguing facts. Much of advocacy is arguing the law; what it is and what it should be.
    With respect to the “story,” law is about telling your client’s story in an organized manner.
    While I agree with you about the quality of many lawyers’ briefs, just imagine the alternative. Have you read many pro se briefs lately?? It is very difficult to make head or tails out of their claim.
    That is one reason why we need individuals to be trained in law school. Law is also a reflection of society and politics. As you know, the law is not a plain piece of paper. It changes. We need to train lawyers to be able to adopt to these changes and to think on their own. That is what it means to think like a lawyer.
    Cross Posted on Adjunct Prof Blog
    Mitch Rubinstein

  30. Bonnie Reiter

    Dear Gerry
    You may not remember but I met you on a cruise to New Zealand several years ago. I often think about our brief conversation and relate it to many friends. I know you told me you were working on a new book to be called “The fourth Reich” Have you finished it yet? I admire you and when I found your website I knew you had to hear what the lawyers ,who you must detest, are doing to the elderly. Therer is a “new” sub culture called elder lawyers who are so dispicable they are not only destroying the very fiber of us as humans but they are destroying the family unit , perpetuating the use of the courts to gain ENORMOUS fees ,
    steal the civil rights from the elderly and strip them of their entire estates. Let me tell you a short version of my dear mother’s story. Shortly after that cruise my mother was forced into an ETG (ememergency temp. guardianship) This was done exparte , no hearing , no notice , no due process at all. Though she had all her pre docs prepared naming a guardian if necessary the court never got around to hearing it. That my mother even got a professional guardian instead of me was the handiwork of MY lawyer who just happened to be the lawyer for the guardianship corporation that he was representing at the same time he was suppose to be representing me. Of course I was not told this by them. He sold me out when I pressured him to go after the guardianship corporation and declared the firm had to “drop” me. Of course that was after paying them over $65,000.00 over a 5 month period, accomlishing absoluely nothing. I think that law schools have forgotten to require classes in ETHICS. To cut to the chase, my mom was put into a hospice by the guardian claiming she had end term colon cancer, she died in 11 days after being plied with morphine and roxanol. I was later to discover in her doctor’s file that her lab reports declared their diagnosis as ulcerate colitis. This corparate guadian not only lied but withheld the diagosis paperwork from Hospice. Hospice did not follow the Florida statute that requires 2 known doctors of record sign the paperwork with a diagnosis and lab work . They did not require any paperwork from the guardian and my mom was placed into the program simply on the lies given by the guardian. I am now in the process of having this horrible events investigated by the DCF. It is shocking. If I did what this “guardian ” did I would be in jail, and yet I am having to jump through hoops just to get the authorities to investigate the “killing” of my mom. The legal system is just plain broken and what some very bad lawyers are doing is causing all Americans to realize the country we believed in and trusted is non functional and corrupt lawyers are slowly but surely destroying our country, our civil rights and the Constitution. . To add to this story, the guardian chaged over $40,000.00 in fees for a 12 week ETG. The lawyer for the guardian charged over $125,000.00 in legal fees. I spent over $125,000.00of my own retirement money to try and save my mother. In total the legal fees came to almost $250,000.00 , all paid from her savings, for her 12 weeks of torture. Now I have one question for you, are there any lawyers who are like you and want to help us stop this national disgrace of stealing the civil rights and entire estates from the elderly? If so I can be reached at guardianabuse@inbox .com. I hope that any readers who know of or have been a victim of guadianship abuse please contact me. If these bad legal poachers are not reined in then God help this country and all their citizens, elderly or not. Respectfully Bonnie

  31. Ludwig: “Justice as a feeling?” Absolutely. When you have been treated unfairly, you feel it in the core of your being as an emotion. When you have been treated fairly, ditto.

    Mitchell: I went to lawschool when my daughter was in middle school. Sometimes if we were on a drive back to see my mother (her grandmother) or if I was working around the house, I would ask her to read cases from my case book to me while I was driving or working. When she finished reading the case, I would ask her to brief it. In most instances she was dead on right.

    It’s not so much what they teach about the law that is incorrect with the law school — they have teaching the law down pat. It is what the law schools do not teach and what they do to the right brain that is the problem.

    Gerry: In regard to the bar exam being a waste of time — I think otherwise because I live in a State full of lawyers who diplomaed into the bar if they went to a particular law school. Thankfully the “diploma privilege” was outlawed about 25 years ago. There is a palpable difference in the lawyers who diplomaed in and those that did not diploma in. Especially in the area of professional responsibility and ethics. The lawyers who diplomaed in are virtual ignoramuses in that area. The press is full of stories evidencing the lack of ethics and moral depravities in the “diplomaed” lawyers. As a rule, they are referred to as “good ole boys” here.

  32. I disagree with you. The legal profession is one of the oldest. It is one of the very few that allows its practitioners to be exposed to all fields. In this regard, the legal profession is a chameleon – while we may not write poetry and paint portraits, our art is in our pleadings, in our negotiations, in our solutions that we bring to society. The law student is trained, not so much on the substantive, but rather, on the more subtle skill of form, i.e., writing skills and analytical skills. We do not need to know the substantive out the box; indeed, which profession does? I doubt seriously that a baby doctor is performing heart surgery. By this, the substantive is the skill of the practice that, in any context, comes with time and real-world training. The title of your article is somewhat misleading largely because you speak not from the perspective of the lawyer. The lawyer is given a license to engage in a practice that no other member of society can engage in without 4+3+bar. This license brings responsibility and power, the responsibility in helping society and the power to actually help. While I might be $100k in loan debt, my earning capacity is limitless. Indeed, lawyers consistently rank among the highest paid professional, largely because society’s prosper would collapse if not for us. Further, while my undergraduate buddies are content with $50, 60, and 70,000 jobs, I’ll take nothing less than $160,000. I made out like a bandit, and every other ignorant, snot-nosed baby lawyer has that opportunity too.

  33. I enjoy reading your blog and I have admired you from a distance for a long time. Please keep blogging. My ideas may be a little off subject but I wanted some way to communicate. Most supreme court decisions are split decisions. Father and son, mother and daughter, husband and wife — they do not agree on every single thing. Diversity can make us strong. The law is not always a yes or a no — or a clear cut — easy answer. Things are sometimes complicated. Smart people can disagree about some things and still agree on other things. Most court decisions are not 100% agreed upon decisions. There is the majority point of view and there is the minority point of view and lower courts sometimes disagree with the higher courts and people do disagree about different issues.

    I love the idea of being a “warrior” and not just a business man out to make a fast buck. For too many years, I practiced law like a businessman and I find more satisfaction trying to practice law like a “warrior.” Too many people are not told up front the total picture and do not understand the significance and importance of going to trial on the case. The lawyer either does not believe the person will or can pay for a jury trial or the lawyer may secretly plan to withdraw later on if the client wants a trial and cannot pay for it. The client should be told up front the costs a jury trial and the lawyers that are competing for business should not hide the importance of going to trial on the case and not be afraid to try the case and to tell the client up front the costs of the same. Competition between lawyer’s causes some client’s to be misled into believing they should plead guilty because the lawyer fails to tell them up front that they will have to get the money for a trial. Competition hurts people.
    Lastly, please post a blog subject on “psycho-drama” which is a very important technique and the importance of visiting the scene and pictures and the like.
    Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,
    Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  34. I think the US should stop licensing lawyers. It doesn’t work as they are doing it, and the process is hellacious and expensive for the lawyers-to-be. Let people make their own judgment of who to hire. Could they do much worse? It’s not like the medical system where you may have seconds to make a decision – and even THEY don’t do all that well.
    Perhaps after a while a pattern would emerge and some sort of system could be put in place. Maybe a “lawyer blue book” would work better. Or an apprenticeship system. Thoughts?

  35. Gerry:
    Frankly, I doubt any 8 year old can accomplish what your daughter did. I am an law school prof and a practicing lawyer for over 20 years. I use to believe like you; that law schools should teach lawyers to be, well, practicing lawyers.
    I know longer think that. Law school is too short. It cannot teach everything in 3 years. My belief is that a law school’s first mission is to teach students how to think and analyze cases, like ” a lawyer.” I am frankly not even sure that you can “teach” some of the important trial skills. One just has to do it, hopefully as a junior lawyer under a more experienced attorney.
    Cross posted on Adjunct Law Prof Blog
    BTW,
    Welcome to the blogosphere and keep up the good work.
    Mitch Rubinstein

  36. “America’s criminal defense lawyers truly serve as liberty’s last champions. They stand with the accused, whether meek or mighty, when the full force of the government bears down on them. In a greater sense, the defense lawyer is the conscience of society, defending the dignity of the individual and raising a shield against the tyranny of the state. They are the last hope for the unjustly accused and the only hope for those facing the consequences of human imperfection.” From the NACDL – http://www.nacdl.org

    I like this quote and want to pass it on. Austin, Texas’s own, the late great Stuart Kinard, once said:

    “Protecting the Lord’s children who have fallen short of perfection from the wrath of those who believe they have attained it.”

    Stuart worked at times for both the prosecution and the defense. As cited by Jamie Spence’s blog in Austin, Texas.
    Sincerely,
    Glen R. Graham, Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma

  37. COOL!!!!!

  38. Dear Attorney Spence:

    Your remarks are well-aimed and -timed. They are long overdue (no fault of yours) and I hope that other lawyers nationwide will take up your cry. As a trial consultant and national expert witness (my expertise is on Gangs, Gang Culture, Gang Crimes) who is frequently in Criminal Court, I think a core of the problem is a basic disrespect and unappreciation of jurors. Your theme that lawyers need training in relating and listening to people is, I think, secondary to that. If the jury system were regarded as a chartered bus full of caring, attentive, sacrificing (some have jobs that are in jeopardy if a trial goes its full life cycle), and smart people, then lawyers would regard and listen to them as they regard and listen to their clients. Lawyers are trained to place their clients in high esteem and to confer utmost attention on them. It is people who populate the best stories won and spun by our court’s winning lawyers. When lawyers wake up and see and feel the jury box as being populated by some wonderful people, they will think of ways to loom, weave, spin and shape their stories with attention-getting beginnings, logical middles, and perfect endings every time. Lawyers, then, need to speak in court as though the jurors, whose ears everybody is betting on, are paying them, and the client is merely the messenger delivering the check.

  39. Mr. Rubinstein,

    I was intrigued with your posts and particularly agreed with your argument about the “purpose” of law school and how it teaches you to think like a lawyer. Contrarily, I also agree with Mr. Spence that his argument is more concerned with what law schools have left out, as opposed to what they currently include. However, in my opinion, your argument is no longer viable simply because you have lost your credibility. Your grammar in your last post (regardless of it being a blog or not) was atrocious and the fact that you claim to be a law professor leads to one of two conclusions. Either you are lying about being a law professor, or your maladroit writing reflects the ineptitude of law schools. While this may be an exaggeration and a generalization, my point stands, nevertheless.

  40. Hello,

    I agree with everything that Gerry Spence has said in his blog thus far.

    However, I feel defrauded by him because more than three years ago I read the following statement on his website:

    Coming soon, additional DVD’s on trial skills:
    Opening Statement
    Direct Examination
    Cross Examination
    Closing Argument

    After waiting more than three years for these DVD’s to be done I feel defrauded. We all know that reading a transcript is nothing like seeing something live. I have waited patiently and checked back at the web site dozens of times. Their is no point saying “Coming soon” if it is going to take more than three years to come if it ever comes.

  41. James: You should be disappointed but not defrauded. Fraud usually involves taking something from someone. I took only from your store of patience.

    I have planned to do these presentations for a long time. Every year something interferes. Glad you cared. Someday, maybe I will get it all together and get this done. In the meantime, I hope you will find more patience. If you can’t, I understand.

    Gerry

  42. Pingback: Ruling Imagination: Law and Creativity » Blog Archive » Gerry Spence on being a lawyer and a human being.

  43. Your points strike a chord in my heart. For two and a half years law school murdered my soul. I doubted myself and my choice to practice law. A ray of light shined in when I got a practice internship my final semester. From the first day of that semester to that day, the courtroom has become my home. After a decade of practice I am only now realizing how much damage law school did to my ability to tell a story, and to relate to human beings.

    The unfortunate thing is that every day of practice, in court and on the phones, I speak with lawyers who are dead inside and don’t realize it. Was law school the catalyst for the demise of their human souls? I suspect it was.

    So they go on, marching without feeling towards the black robe that means they have comfortably arrived in the land of the undead.

    Thanks for being an inspiration. Thanks for always pointing out what matters most. It is easy to get lost in the jurisprudence and slowly become just one more case study in bloated misery. Your words serve as a guide in the right direction.

  44. Dan, On Halloween:

    You say it well.

    For an entire career of over fifty-six years, yours has been my experience as well. What a cruel irony that young, caring persons who chose to speak for the injured and damned, for people against powerful government and corporations, are sent from our law schools as the new among the dead and dying, as unable to communicate effectively for their clients, and who are mostly done-in by their law school experience!

    A trial is argument in the form of story. In court, one human being speaks for another seeking something in the mythological mist called justice. Where would we be if surgeons were only taught by professors who never had a scalpel in their hands? What if surgeons were turned out to cut on their patients having never even seen a real operation?

    This is the fraud committed by the law schools on young people who come to them hoping to fight for people. I would rather have a nurse assist me at trial than a kid fresh out of law school. The nurse is one who cares about people. Our law student was only taught to care about dead law and nice intellectual pursuits that rarely lead to justice. The nurse is alive and can make accurate observations of the patient and keep helpful notes. The law grad is lost in his books and in his head. His functions as a human being are mostly shriveled after three years of absorbing the stuff out of the tombs.

    The dead are in control. Perhaps Halloween is a celebration of the legal training we give our young.

    Thanks, Dan,

    Gerry

  45. Running debate on corporate law firms, by a supporter of Eric Holder as Obama’s AG, is here. Lots of comments. I would love to see you comment if you have time, Mr. Spence. Thank you for your books and work, which have been educational and inspirational for me.

  46. Dwight:

    I wrote something in response to your inquiry. You wanted to know how I feel concerning corporate lawyers and the appointment of Holden as Attorney General. I lost what I wrote somewhere. It is floating around in all of its immaculate wisdom in cyberspace and will one day descend and save us all.

    I wrote that corporations are dead. Therefore they require the dead to represent them.

    I wrote that one cannot work for the dead for very long without beginning to die, that is, the human psyche begins to dry up and one day will fall out on the carpet of the boardroom floor. It will look something like a dried up old prune.

    Holden has worked for one of America’s mammoth corporate law firms. The government itself is the largest corporation known to man. Perhaps this will serve him well in managing the thousands of bureaucrats who congregate in the Department of Justice, most of whom are also dead or dying.

    All I ask of Mr. Holden is that he be honest most of the time and that all of the time he will refuse to use his great power for political purposes. His predecessor ran a whore house.

    Gerry

  47. Spence States:
    “The bar exam itself is a fraud. The exam does not help the law profession to determine those who will fight for people, who are honest and who have courage—the most fundamental requirements of a lawyer for the people. The bar exam only tests the applicants ability to play their mostly silly word games”.

    Yes, caring counts, and is it not more than that it is a scared duty, namely diligent representation, under CODES, not some willy nilly scuff if off thing.
    Yet, the Bar don’t care, it only wants to facilitate billable hours. But, it is a client who is the one who is put in a position of finding a lawyer who cares—to be Mr standup in court. Often, he/ she finds out—too late–the lawyer did not truly care. But, a client/ person don’t take the Bar.
    He depends on a lawyer–to be Mr Standup.
    Do other lawyers truly care if some other lawyer did not care about his client ? How many sue other lawyers for malpractice, or is that a neglected area ? Some of the greatest wastelands of the uncaring is in this area. Is it the Pink code of silence, the turning away to address lawyers who just don’t care about clients.
    So much caring only about billable hours, or some equivalent in the other Esq sectors.
    Spence notes the great professors–in Ivy Halls–who, however, have no clients, but who just mouth sweet nothing words, in halls of academia.
    No wonder it is so easy for Congress to produce Acts to:
    1) limit access to courts
    2) take away rights under some scheme of legislation, preemption, or other ruses.
    3) grant favors to tilt the deck to the one with the most PAC money–large corporations, who pays off Congress to be its allies

    Thus, we now see something like 2 % of civil cases that are filed that actually go to trial , or some other very low percentage, way down from what it was even 10 years, ago.
    Is that some notion of people having a day in Court.
    Hardly, more like one getting a dose of endless motions, some paper wars.
    No wonder, big corporate law firms now resort to motion paper wars, and get Acts from Congress, so most cases never ever go to a trial–before a jury.
    Yes, some say trial attorneys rule, yet, so few cases go to a full blown trial in some areas, or take so many years to advance a case to trial.
    But, lets pretend there is a justice system to keep duping most of America. How else could there be a marketing program to keep overhead in tact.
    Yes, marketing is key, justice slogans on slick graphic web sites, slick graphics of eagles, or maybe a bull dog or two, and of course just the right tone to get people flying in the doors. Marketing.
    To sign on the bottom line.

  48. Mr. Spence,

    Please visit stopguardianabuse.org. Victims of guardianship/conservatorship abuse need to get the word out. The only way that this abuse has been allowed to continue is because the public is not aware of what may be in their own futures.

  49. Dear Gerry,
    I hope you and other readers will forgive me for re-visiting what are probably old topics by now. Not being a lawyer or even a law student or paralegal, maybe I shouldn’t be on this discussion anyway. I’ll just say that I have read quite a few of your books, including OJ-The Last Word, Give Me Liberty, and With Justice For None, and for the most part agree with the opinions you expressed in each.

    I have never believed that one’s education begins and ends with the school and classroom, and some of us, due to high tuition costs, can’t afford either one. Thank goodness for our books, and of course the excellent and caring authors who write them, yourself included naturally. As long as you and they will write, I can and will continue to read. Thank you for caring enough to write both your books and this blog. It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to “talk” with you and to exchange ideas and opinions with your other readers, even when I might disagree.

  50. Well, said Susan.
    Actually, a person with a law degree, with no practical experience in private practice in the trenches, is awaiting a period of even more intense learning, namely real life(beyond the 4 corners of some class room).
    Also, most lawyers(to be) who get a law degree(no bar card yet) do not become trial lawyers for ordinary citizens, in a major way.
    You look at all the big law firms, they are corporate law firms, serving large corporations, following the money nexis—for a corporation’s agenda. I find Spence’s thoughts on life, most interesting, even beyond his views on the law. I too read his books, and hope he writes more.
    Didn’t one of Spence’s books detail the law professor(in general of course—composite). A person with an Ivy League degree, who has never represented a real person in a real nitty gritty situation, but can pontificate,(most abstractly), because he sat in a class room, and was very good at parroting back what some other professor wanted to hear ?
    Ab Lincoln—- how many years was he in law school.
    Not a year(he never finished grade school), he learned the law by working with other lawyers, and the ropes in the real world.
    My favorite Spence book is The Making of….”.
    I love Spences candor.
    The section where he encounters the Denver doctor, it was really great, it took courage to write some of the things Mr Spence wrote–he goes to the heart and essence of life.
    Just a digression, don’t sweat, concerns on being negative, or postive, or this or that.
    All you got to be is you, and that is fine with all(just my humble opinion).
    By the way, there is no sign on this blog, that says Law degree required, or Bar card a must. I take it this is a blog for people with different perspective on life, etc, be what ever their age, station in life, or profession, or no profession, or heretical encounters, etc.
    People enjoy reading your perspective. None of us here are sitting up on some high Bench, as some Almighty Supreme Poo-paw of the holy grail, who can issue the ultimate ruling on it all.

  51. I don’t think I was defrauded in any degree’s, but then I can see why some might feel that way, but I have to say I have taken a lot of classes, and the classes rarely reflects what happens later in life in people’s practice, and experiences.
    I stopped paying the ABA.
    Some guy called me up, and begged me to stay with my ABA membership.
    He lowered the rate to some small amount.
    So, to get him off the phone, I extended for another year.
    As to law school, “murdering the soul”, how so, again, many tune out things if they find it boring, or can’t get into it. Face, it law school for many is just another delay from getting a real job, in the nitty gritty fights, and commerce of life, etc.
    Now with a bad job market(deep recession–getting worst-09) with some B. A degree in some undergrad degree that means nothing, law school applications will zoom up(again).
    What I find curious is the number of law firms that have gone bellyup in the bad times(those that did not have bankruptcy as a speciality).
    I had this friend, who broke up his partnership with some other partners, and i asked him: why the split.
    He said: he just got tired of fighting over money.
    You would be shocked on the number of legal firm partnerhsips that breakup over money, how the pie is cut.
    But, then maybe some of you are not shocked on that aspect of law/ money/ partnerships/ practice/ commerce etc.
    A person, seriously looking for a job is not going to go to a prospective employer, and tell the firm, my law degree was a giant fraud, and etc.
    Most likley, he(she) will say, I had Prof so and so, he is the world’s biggest expert on_____. It might all be a crock of……
    But, people put it in the best light–isn’t that the lesson on law school, looking for a pay check. 101
    “Murdering the soul”, I thought that usual happened to most lawyers, after they had been out in the hard cruel world for over 10 years.
    What in the world happened to poor old Argus, it looks like some “soul” snatchers have been on his heels.
    Did he go over the edge of
    limbo ?

  52. Wait a second, how do we know for sure, that Gerry is not of the view that all those getting into snake oil, and snakes in the Bible, are even more deranged than Argus ? An intercircle of the screw loose Section of the ATLA, or what ever other faction of Clubs so grace the domain of Barristery. He leaves it for Argus to cavort with the suffering from a degree which is riddled with the taint of fraud, and a black hole that robbed people of their soul from the time they sat in torts, and tax law.
    Just kidding, for all we know Argus is the Dean of
    Pepperdine.

  53. If the Dean, is robbing souls, he would be hard pressed to deny it.
    Just look at Argus, the guy has been in a state of limbo, since he got his sheep skin, J D.
    Now, he has gone into
    whole-sale cyber saviory of
    souls, just like when St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.

  54. I took the time to read the over 5o posts noted above, many many words well over 1,000, and here is what strikes me:
    1) Professor Rubinstein is a real professor, at a real law school, and he disputes the Spence attack on law degrees.
    2) Scott Freeman can use cyber space to make Rubinstein look like he never graduated from grade school,(some process of negation), yet we have no clue if Freeman is even a lawyer, who was even admitted to any real,
    worth-its-salt law school.
    When he had no substance to post he resorts to nit picking on grammar, like he is the king of grammar, which is in itself quite laughable.
    3) Then, there is the sad siutation of Bonnie Reiter, a lady who was attacking by a shark invested waters of what she described as unethical lawyers, and she was looking for help–here, SPENCE ESQ BLOG-KINGDOM
    Ironic, did she find support here among, the wantabees, Susan, Vicki, the Paw Paw Inca tripper, Jess, the different, or was she left to stew in her story of grief, about the encounter with Esq sharks.
    I take it Ms Bonnie R found no help, here, not even from Argus the great cyber Soul-brother of the Bar, and pretender on the road to pompacity.
    The Dean of Pepperdine don’t have the balls to come on this board, most obviously, but the Professor, can be stripped of all he worked for over many years, by some cyber games, and especially so by Freeman, as he becomes the biggest Spence parrot.
    I suppose the come-back is, don’t you have better things to do with your time, than spend it reading posts on some blog.
    I had to ration my time in law school, now I have so much time, at a value per, & i can bill it at 1/4 per hour, but Spence is not getting a cent to do any blog(apparently), so do as you want wantabees according to some time value to cyber space. As a corporate–biz- attorney who can run the meters, i enjoyed every second of law school, and i did not have to be some dupe, like Argus, to make up some stooges artifice on sucking in the mentally disabled (here) who were labeled instantly as hopelessly deranged.
    Professor Rubinstein was not my professor, I did not post here to defend him.
    I came on here to point out this site was of no help at all to the poor Bonnie Reiter, who was desperate after shark attacks in real life from real sharky lawyers, or if not that, then some who were too stupid to be admitted to law school, so acquired a J D, presto via cyberspace, a la the likes of Freeman.
    By, the way I did not charge some client $ 300/ for the time it took me to post this up, if it ever sees the light of day–here.

  55. It is always hard to tell in cyber things(real/ unreal/ quasi in between).
    However, Professor Rubinstein has his own web site, where he has his own views on matters, separate from here.
    As to Freeman, well, that is a very common name, and one where attorneys are located around.
    However, I have to tell you, so some attorney has an 1/2 hour open in his calender, and he says he can charge $ 1,200 per hour.
    And, he did not bill any like it was free, Free-man, says, the posters.(free lunch, free time, free free at last.)
    That is something that is most curious: many lawyers look at you like you have some super-imposed dollar sign, spread sheets, super-imposed over your very being, and they do not pay the expensive overhead, by large long wads of free time, as if they are the Salvation Army.(or see pay day at the end of the tunnel)
    But, a law professor, who never had to meet an payroll for staff, or investigators, or costs, or running a law office to keep the lights on, they are rather clueless, and they simply were never in that nitty gritty real world experience.
    Screening clients is a fact, and a reality, every attorney(pvt practice) does some screen, of some sort, before he/she agrees to take on the task of agreeing to represent one—as his/her attorney.(appearance for, of record)
    It is called investigating the facts, before filing, and making an appearance, unless of course, they have GM on retainer at several million per year, for the last 10 years, or Exxon Oil Corporation.(outhouse corporate counsel–law firm at the high end Exb-Towers.).
    I take no side in the Spence-Rubinstein debate, but simple observe, the practice of law is where the hard cruel world , and the rubber meets the road, and it is nothing like some cloistered class room, if any have gone through both experiences in any depth.

  56. Is Rubenstein a full professor or one of those Adjuncts ? Maybe that Freeeman knows a lot more than some give him credit for(see above).

    I went to some site, & Rubinstein was blabbering on, and it appears one of his pals, posted the following crock of BULL:
    “Spence is a crook in my eyes and I hope in the eyes of his family and every other on looker. He needs to pay for what he’s done. Plain and simple.”

    Posted by: Rueben J. | Feb 23, 2009 12:43:58
    PM
    This was on the “adjunct law blog”, preceded by Mitchell Rubinstein’s latest diatribe.

    All the cases one reads in law school, are disputes in court between: 1) a plaintiff, and 2) a defendant.
    Rubenstein goes on about politics, as if he is plugged into that aspect of matters.
    Needless to say, I take exception to Rube’s pal Ruben, who is a cyber hit and run sort. I merely point out, when provocative views are set forth, there are those who will employ dirt tactics, to
    muddy things.
    Gerry, is winning the debate, and it worries, his critics, in assorted caves, halls, and temples. It appears Rube is with some NY Union, and is merely an “adjunct”.
    Pension rip offs by unions is indeed a serious matter, but what side is Rube on ?

  57. Dear Gerry,

    I was just wondering; if the law schools are turning out graduates who care more about legal principles than people, what is the alternative? There doesn’t seem to be any other option. These days, in order to become a lawyer, one MUST go to law school, correct? That has been the case for quite a few decades.

    In either a civil or criminal case, a client could afford to have the “best” (by reputation only) lawyer in his/her state, but if that lawyer doesn’t care about the case, then it’s probably a foregone conclusion that the case will be lost. I often wish it were possible for any citizen who wants to learn how to become their own best legal advocate, although I am well aware of the caveat that “one who represents himself has a fool for a client.” I just feel that doesn’t always have to be the case. Just a view from an average non-lawyer.

    Thanks so much for this blog, and for the opportunity to “talk” with you, even if it’s only through a box. :)

  58. Dear Mr. Spence. We had a fire in our house, Allstate refused to settle our claim, they brought out a contractor who after one year walked off the job, not even half completed. We took Allstate to court and they told the jury that they paid us addtional living expenses, but we frauded them because we were not living in our house before the fire. They brought in Luis Vargas, who had worked for us in remodeling our house, my husband had later reported him to the state constractors lic board for his frudulent work. The lic board did nothing. I made a complaint against Allstate with the State Insurance Commissioner. They did nothing because I had a lawyer, but their statement says they would appreciate additional information after the trial. I made another complaint with the State showing how Allstate had told them we were holding up the work on our house, while thier own diary showed it was them not approving the work on the fireplace. The Insurance Commissioner did nothing, sent my package back saying I already made a complaint. They are all corrupt.
    Allstate suborned the perjury of their witness and we lost our case. Allstate knew we were living in our house, we had photos, record of 500 boxes of items packed out of our house, including the bathroom that Allstate told the jury was gutted, etc., the judge had approved punitive damages but Allstate was able to convince the jury that we were the liars. The jury just wanted to get the hell out of there. They got a judgment against us for $69,000 for their costs, things like $8,000 for the psychiatrist they sent us to. I am appealing the case and trying to get the DA to press charges against Luis Vargas, but he said it is so hard to prove etc., We have witnesses who were in our house before the fire and photos and lots of evidence. I really need a lawyer, but Allstate bankrupted us and I am almost 70. We are close to losing everything.
    B. Gibbs
    Porterville, CA
    (559)783-8513

    • B:

      This is a horror story. It tells the truth about that industry. When you buy a policy of insurance you do not buy protection. You buy the right to sue the company when it refuses to pay. This is its business — to collect premiums and to pay as few losses as the company can get away with. If you are poor, they will win. Lawyers cost money. If you are middle class, they will make you poor. The rich don’t need insurance.

      Hate what you are experiencing.

      Gerry

  59. G S:
    To the professor Rubinstein you note something about the “pain” of the judge(s) who have to read briefs, dad after day, “cruel” bundles of papers in stifled form, so you say.
    Don’t human beings called lawyers, who care for their clients write those papers, called appeal briefs ?
    How would you like a judge, who you ascribe the above to(see your comments to Prof R in his Ivy Towers) be the fellow reading your briefs, with the sentiment you project in your post ?
    You note something in that regard about the “ramblings of dead minds”.
    You make it sound like some quasi murder happen to some in law school—some place, some institution. Like some deadly ray, evaporated large parts of their frontal lobes, before they got a Bar card, or a robe.
    I once asked a lawyer who specializes in federal appellate practice(he did not do the trials), the following:
    ” what is the most important thing he could tell me about appellate practice”. His remark:
    If you don’t get the judges going your way on the facts(in the briefs filed), they most likley won’t go your way on the law.
    That is all he did, was appellate practice, did it for many many years, he seemed to have a bright active mind, not dead, but very agile.
    Some are of the view that it is not good to have the trial attorneys driving the matters in the appeal, they are still fighting the last battle(in the trial court), and can’t be objective enough to clearly focus on the appeal.
    But, I suppose if a FIRM never loses, it don’t need much of an appellate section. Then, there are solo’s and very small firms.
    I would hope that one sitting on the bench, does not look down, glancing off the line of sight of his nose, and regard those appearing before him as “dead minds”, rambling boobs.
    Is there not some where in the mix people, called clients, who are going to get hurt in the judical handling of matters, and wisdom, and fairness, are critical to deal with humans who go before courts(the party), so he/ she is not dehumanized in the process, so as to be rendered as a corps, merely in some shell before the grandeur of the court.
    I don’t think a really excellent appellate attorney is working with a dead mind, rather a skilled appellate attorney, makes his client come alive(on paper), and tells in a cogent form how he will be badly hurt, if the court does not rule in his client’s favor.
    But, if a lawyer, just makes it so the client is hardly a living being(barely going through the motions), makes it so the court does not care about his client, there is where the wheels of justice go off their tracks.
    Unfortunately, that happens too often.
    We shutter to bring up instances where that happens.
    I know this may miff off the important, but there are judges who sit on benches until they are so old they are sick, and senile, and it is deeply entrenched in senior status, and they pick and choose, what cases they hobble up to the bench on.
    And, they make decisions impacting ever fabric of life in the nation.(but they have clerks–groomed)
    Most people out of law school, don’t know the nuts and bolts of a law practice, and won’t know that until they have been in the nitty gritty pits of problems for at least 5 years, after they get their bar card.
    Appellate practice is a very different skill set than trial practice.
    Some people may have both skills, but some very good tral attorneys let an appellate attoney take the lead in appeal matters.
    I am not going to issue any blanket indictments on law schools.
    Why foul ones own nest.
    We all learn, things after degrees, after bar cards, after defeats, after losses.
    Hopefully, we learn as time goes on, year after year.
    But, God pray for the litigant, who has a client in a case, who has a judge who was wheeled to the bench, and looks like his head was swelled up in size, as he was pumped with drugs just to be sitting on the bench.
    Does it happen ?
    Yes, it does.
    Is it tragic, in more ways than one can count.

  60. Regardless of good intentions, every profession has people who are not really suited for that particular profession in it, such as those who have absolutely no “People Person” skills whatsoever in a people serving occupation.

    (Patients with brain tumors do not care one bit if their surgeon has no “people person” skills and throws scalpels on the OR floor, as long as he removes their tumor correctly. Not so in a courtroom.)

    What percentage would you estimate this applies to for trial lawyers?

    2. Why don’t public defenders go on strike to get the problem of too many cases for too few people under control? MDs have figured out a way to do it through Concierge medicine and opening all of these “Urgent Care” Centers around the country. The Senate can pass bills until the cows come home that everyone will have free lobsters but lobsters are almost extinct! Thank you

  61. Trial Lawyers have no respect for jurors?

    No wonder all the bickering. “THE” Roy Black MARRIED JUROR #1!! No wonder he’s Roy Black……..

  62. The above is in reference to James Shaw, Ph. D. (trial consultant) above. Everything he writes is simply common sense.

  63. I can vouch for Shamus’ claims of the extremely old and incapacitated still on the bench as an eyewitness. For over a decade lived directly across the street from the senior judge of the district court who, every morning, would be picked up at his home by the local police car, helped into the car, and then returned to his home the same way in a police car at the end of the day. He was deaf, couldn’t walk without help, and had vision problems. It bothered my mother , an R.N. terribly, knowing he was on the bench. He did this until he retired at 99. He died one year later.

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