Part II Rejection.

Ah, yes, the gift of rejection.  By the time I was nineteen I finally met a pretty girl who thought I was wonderful.  What she saw in me I have yet to discover. Perhaps it was that I thought she was quite wonderful too.  But there was something else there. There always is – the need to be respected, to be accepted — even loved.  Underneath all the noise and panting and craziness of first loves  there is often something that is trying to be born, that is struggling in the pain of birth.  I suspect that was true with me.  She must have understood that.  I have written about that phenomenon in a book called, “The Making of a Country Lawyer. I entered law school and graduated magnum cum laude which was only the result of being afraid I would fail and be kicked out.  I didn’t have enough money to rent a cap and gown so I never attended the graduation ceremonies.  I was married to that wonderful girl with our first child. Then I became the first honor graduate in the history of the law school to fail the bar.  A lawyer up north in Worland, Wyoming had offered me free office space and he would send me the leavings of his practice.  You know – the divorces in cases without much of a fee, and he would send me the fender-bender automobile accident cases.  I was excited, delighted, ecstatic.  But the offer was withdrawn when I failed the bar. When I passed the bar the second try I finally got a job for $200 a month in the small town of Riverton, Wyoming.  I have written about that on this blog recently.  I lost that job when my employer became the local judge.   I had to get another job.  I’ll admit: after a grueling door to door campaign for prosecutor that took me to the Indian reservation “teepee-tapping,” and after having knocked on every door in a county nearly as big as some of our smaller states, I was, at twenty-four, elected the youngest county attorney in the history of the state.  But my successes as a politician ended there. After two terms as prosecutors I wanted to go to Washington.   I ran as a Republican.  We have all sinned.  Democrats were suspected Commies in those days.  I ran against William Henry Harrison (the President’s grandson) in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s only seat in Congress, My campaign slogan was, “Let’s be heard in Washington.”  My opponent had been in Congress for years and wasn’t a ranking member of even the least important of the many committees of Congress.  I discovered that the people of Wyoming simply didn’t want to be heard.  They wanted to be left alone.  Even though I knocked on most of the doors in this sprawling state my defeat was massive and absolute.  I did carry one precinct, namely, Bill, Wyoming.  Three votes.  Somehow I managed to get two of them. I, an utterly provincial country boy, was desperately trying to escape the provincial town of Riverton.  I had four kids by this time, and by this time I had represented insurance companies, and also held the record for the largest personal injury verdicts for ordinary people in the state.  Moreover, I’d been a prosecutor. So I argued to the Wyoming law school dean that I could teach law students all about trial work.  I was rejected out of hand.  No way.  The dean wanted some young pointy head out of a big law school who had been in a big firm for a year or two.  That would add to the standing of U.W. Law School.  We do not want you. Then maybe I could become a judge.  I asked my Republican pal, Stan Hathaway, then the governor, to appoint me to a vacancy that had just arisen in my county.  He called me to his office in Cheyenne, there to show me a pile of letters he’d received from his Riverton constituents who were more than mildly opposing any such appointment.  He turned me down.  So, soundly rejected, I quit the law. Why is rejection such a glorious gift?  Hang on for Part III.


15 responses to “

  1. Can rejected people still wish you a Happy Thanksgiving?
    Hope so!!

  2. On this Thanksgiving day of 2010 I sit and ponder the future of our country with in illegal muslim communist usurper sitting in our White House.

    Obama has yet to provide his birth certificate, and I am sure we all know why.

    When you begin to think of those you admire and respect Gerry Spence came to mind for so many people he has helped and freed from travesties of justice.

    I like to give thanks and honor those in our country who have given back so much to America like Gerry Spence. You my fellow Patriot are a true American hero for whom will go down in history as one of the great lawyers for our freedoms and liberties. God Bless You For All Your Contributions

  3. Hi Mr. Spence,
    I love all the books which you have written, and I am enjoying reading your stories in your blog as well.
    Thank you for sharing our experiences.
    Mona Manoochehri

  4. Brilliant post, as always.

    If you want to stop your software from laughing, all you have to do is show it a large magnet. I guarantee it will stop laughing.

    I would like to request that you blog your opinion and what should be done about the current rape of American rights and basic dignity by the TSA via the naked body scans and groping going on all over the country, as it is set to increase and spread to our trains, buses and other mass transit if it is not stopped now.

    Thank you, and all the best.

  5. Because rejection is part of what allowed you to pursue your dreams and capture your freedom. I enjoy how a lot of this blog addresses territory covered in Seven Steps to Personal Freedom.

    Speaking of SStPF, the seventh step of rejecting security downright terrifies me. I’ll hope for a extended blog on this in the future.

  6. I think Mr. Spence is trying to teach us: “Never let people rent space in your head!”

  7. Gerry,

    As an actor I have more than a little experience on the subject of rejection, so I eagerly await Part III.


  8. Mr. Spence,

    I would like to extend to you my gratitude for your dedication to sharing your experiences and raising awareness about the tragedy that has become this great nation. I wish I had stumbled upon your teachings sooner, but better late than never, right?

    I myself aspired for many years to become a trial lawyer, to stand up for all the little people who can’t stand up for themselves. After a somewhat successful college baseball career I finally took a blind leap of faith (into a mountain of debt) and was accepted to Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University. No longer on scholarship, I busted my butt to earn a merit scholarship (which only covered half of the ghastly $30k a year). I was one of the small percentage of people who checked “litigation track” on the course track selection form, and after participating in an mock trial competition as a witness my first semester, there was no turning back. By my third year I was President of the Nova Trial Association, and led our trial teams to its most successful year in national trial competition ever. I could spend hours, if not days, describing for you the trials and tribulations I faced running an honors student organization within a university-corporation that puts profits over students, but I’ll save that for another day (I’m considering writing a book about it if I can ever find the time).

    More importantly, I learned during law school the harsh reality that is our legal system. Instead of doing what I was told, which was to take my mind to Law Review and the big firms, I made probably the best decision I’ve ever made and dropped out of the law review candidacy program. It wasn’t that I wasn’t up for the work, it was that I have never liked being told what was best for me. Frankly, wasting all my time grading papers and researching, and coming up with ways to support non-issues seemed not worth my time or mind. I instead spent my summer interning at the local courthouse, for a criminal circuit court judge, and then for the state attorney’s office. I spent my last year as a CLI and actually tried a handful of cases. In a real court I learned first-hand how the system really works (or doesn’t).

    Recently, I became a member of the Florida Bar, and again did what my professors said was crazy, I started my own practice. Day in and day out I am now battling with the nearly unmanageable flaws of a legal system tainted by money and power, and trying to help my first clients navigate through its unnavigable waters. On top of that, our corporate-government loan sharks are chomping at the bit for the mountain of debt that I have been forced to incur for a “better life.”

    I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable it is to discover that all the concepts and principles that we are taught growing up are really just meaningless words and propaganda used to keep people lulled into a false sense of security…driven by blind faith and patriotism (and profits!). During my first years of law school I was still trapped in the Matrix. My main source of news was FOX, and I checked Republican on a voter’s ballot because that’s what my family was, so that’s what I was. But slowly I began to realize something was wrong…or perhaps I knew all along, just didn’t have a clue what it could be. By the end of law school I started my own blog. I started to become truly independent, which we should all be and are taught not to (in every aspect of life, not just on a ballot).

    I stumbled upon your book, “How to Argue and Win Every Time” by chance. My fiance and I had just moved in together and began sharing a bookshelf. Your book was required reading in her legal writing class at University of Miami undergrad, and was now sitting next to a couple books I had recently ordered from Amazon. With a title like that, how could I not be curious? After reading it, I wanted to learn more about you and your work. Then I ordered a couple more books. I just finished reading “Bloodthirsty Bitches and Pious Pimps of Power” and next on my list is “Give Me Liberty! and “Seven Simple Steps to Personal Freedom” (which I got in iBook form — I would have gotten them all in iBook form if they were available because it makes it much easier to navigate back and find excerpts for people when discussing it).

    I ordered about a half dozen copies of Bloodthirsty Bitches and Pious Pimps of Power for some friends and family, and I’ve found myself sharing various excerpts with others on Facebook and other social networking sites. I couldn’t help but feel that your insight in this book about what’s plaguing our American culture and society is dead on with what I’ve felt for quite a long time but haven’t been able to understand fully, or put perfectly into words, until now. You deliver these extremely important concepts, philosophies, and experiences in an understandable (although I’ll admit some words you use I’m still trying to figure out how to pronounce) and logical flow. This book should undoubtedly be required reading for every single American.

    On a side note: What’s really scary is that you wrote this book in 2006, and most of the time when you talk about the “administration,” although you’re talking about the Bush Administration, I can’t even tell the difference…

    This brings me to the reason I’m writing you. I was wondering if you have considered making the full text of your book(s) available online? I tried finding them online but only found limited Google previews. I once told a friend, “I love anti-capitalists who make you buy their books.” I’m not saying you’re anti-capitalist, or shouldn’t profit from your book sales, but by making these important concepts more available for people who are unable to acquire the resources to purchase them, you would be making it easier for these ideas to spread. Ultimately, you (and your publisher, if that’s an issue) would likely profit from book sales going up considering the more available you make the text, the more people will be interested in buying the books in its more convenient paperback or electronic versions. (Then again, what do I know? I’ve never been published…)

    I’ve been doing some research on an innovative concept called open source which pertains mostly to software, but I think conceptually could be applied to other things in life like books, film, and even ideas. With technology, the world is ever-changing, and in order for ideas to spread, and to develop, we must be able to unleash them so that others can freely share and develop them.

    I was curious about what your thoughts were on this. If you would like to discuss the matter, or about helping young trial lawyers like myself raise awareness about these important issues in general, feel free to contact me via email.

    Thanks for your time, and thanks again for your hard work and dedication.

    • Thanks Louis for your good letter. I like your style.

      I only write books. I do not know much about their distribution. That gets mixed up in book contracts with publishers etc.

      Congratulations on your life.


  9. Don’t we wonder how many people today realize that on the generic blogging sites – people are actually hired and PAID to REJECT blogger’s opinions – ANY opinion!!!

    Keeps things “stirred-up” and the money coming in for the sites!!
    PAID TO REJECT! Who would have thunk it?

  10. Pingback: A Sum of Zero « Military Underdog

  11. Dear Mr. Spence,
    This past summer I attended the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan Trial Workshop. What a great experience! As a “reject” that didn’t pass the bar the first time, or get a great job with a big firm, I hung my shingle and jumped in. My grandmother called me a horse’s ass, partly because I was a smart ass, and probably too stubborn to change. Most of my cases are court appointed, and the best compliment to date was a client who told me that I was a better court appointed attorney than retained attorneys on other cases…
    Keep up the great work, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to shoot the breeze at a trial college.

    • As you know, Michelle, we have a lot in common. I failed the bar the first time too. Happily, I was a reject. Good luck. Keep up the fight.


      • Mr. Spence,
        Great News!!! I was appointed to a murder case…not too bad for a “reject” I guess…. I figure this will give me a chance to practice some of the things Josh Karton taught us.

        Take care,

  12. Gerry, took 2 NIPS at 100 lbs but I have checked ALL the rejection sites and you DID NOT throw me under the bus!!

    I knew from reading the COVER of your book – your autobiogaphy – we went through HELL , atleast you had one role model, your dad…I remember the deathbed scene from your book; (Paraphrased but on the mark: He kept pullilng the plugs out of his nose….he didn’t want me to see him in this conditiion……..”

    And you told me to read your autobiography, RECENTLY (within the past year….)

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