Goosing Their Religion

I've noticed that trial lawyers, when their beliefs about how to try cases are questioned, sometimes react as though the questions are personal attacks. This came to my attention in discussions among Trial Lawyers College alumni about the management of that institution. Most alumni remained silent, but the truth—that the avowedly anti-institutional College is run by a corporation that (like any good corporation) might make its decisions based on interests other than sunshine and light and justice and love—seemed to drive several of the alumni absolutely batshit insane. To them, the emperor's robes were resplendent; those who questioned TLC, Inc.: just didn't get it; weren't dedicated enough to the College; were otherwise deficient; and should just shut up.

Now, I'm talking about fairly intelligent, well-educated people who make a living standing up for their clients' truths. You might expect them to ignore the questions or join issue rationally, explain how TLC, Inc. is different from other corporations, prove it. Instead, these several TLC alumni acted as though the doubters were questioning their religion. That, I suspect, is the heart of the problem: to some trial lawyers, TLC is a religion, a part of who they are. "The TLC Way" is the ultimate way to try a lawsuit. Questioning TLC is questioning who they are. If TLC Inc. is a corporation, they are followers of a corporation (which they have been conditioned to despise); likewise, if TLC methods are not the be-all and end-all, these lawyers are diminished, somehow. Feeling personally attacked when their beliefs are rationally questioned, they respond with personal attacks. It's no wonder TLC gets saddled with the epithet, "cult."

I'm sure there are followers of David Ball or Terry MacCarthy or Larry Pozner who react the same way. Why? Why can't the TLC way or Reptile or the Look-Good Cross or the Killer Cross be weapons in the trial lawyer's arsenal, to be applied when the situation demands? Why define yourself by someone else's way of trying a case?

The answer, put in a way that may offend religious believers of all stripes: it's much easier to let someone else do your thinking for you than to find your own way. Once you have chosen your religion, philosophical and scientific inquiry are optional, because the answers have been handed to you. Gerry Spence (and John Ackerman) brought psychodrama to the trial of cases, and to many whom he trained psychodrama is the only technologies to know. David Ball brought a little slice of brain science to the trial of cases, and to many who have studied Reptile there is no more brain science to study.

Aside from sometimes being annoyingly sanctimonious, those whose adherence to a particular trial-lawyering strategy verges on dogma risk losing requisite variety. There are other trial-lawyering technologies than psychodrama, and there is more to the human brain than the R-complex.

8 responses to “Goosing Their Religion”

  1. Bruce Lee use to have a saying "Way is no Way". If you believe there is only one way to do something you are restricting yourself.  Using what is needed rather than having strict adherence to a philosophy is a much better option. 

    • I disagree with your analysis here. Bruce Lee would say that one should modify one's philosophy to reflect new knowledge, not adhere to the strict tenents of the old knowledge for the sake of maintaining a philosophy. Still, even though the philosophy allows modification, one must adhere to those tenents unless and untill a better way becomes evident. (Thus the blending of the martial arts that Mr. Lee is famous for – the blending still led to a "system" which is, itself, a "living" philosophy.)
      In that way, we continue growing but are not subject to the situational philosophy that seems to dominate our culture.

  2. Ah, that wonderful new legal term "batshit insane." I am certain that I will use that in the next few weeks!

  3. One thing I’ve learned in my brief time is that trial lawyering is an art–not a science. It’s like gardening or sculpting or boxing–each season is different, each piece of metal responds its own way when torched and wrought, each movement in a boxing ring is a response to or an anticipation of the other’s move. There is no “way.”

    Did Picasso, Pollock, Brancusi do it wrong because they didn’t do it like everyone else? No, but they were part of a school of thought, a cultural phenomenon that had identifiable traits and constructs. Preservation of those constructs for the sake of a style is fine, but arguing that Picasso is somehow better than Pollock would be a waste of time.

    What is the R-complex?

  4. I looked at attending the TLC a few years back. I’m sure I could learn things from the program, but after reading the brochures there was just something about the program as presented that creeped me out–primarily the new-age spiritual, quasi-religious scent that I got from it. From what I see here, my reservations then seem to be fairly valid (at least for me.)

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