During most of the month of September of last year, I had the opportunity to witness the changing of the seasons—from summer to fall—in Estes Park, Colorado; deep in the Rocky Mountains at the “YMCA of the Rockies”. I was there, not just enjoying the scenery, although that certainly was a welcome benefit, but as a student of the esteemed Trial Lawyers College (“TLC”). The TLC has been training trial attorneys for over 25 years to better represent their clients and to better tell their clients' stories.
What a few weeks they were!
While the leaves changed from green to rich yellows and reds, and with the mating calls of hundreds of elk from every direction surrounding us, we learned and honed our trial skills. Some of the best trial attorneys in the nation passed on to us their experience, wisdom, and the “trial lawyer method” of trying cases. We learned and practiced the skills of discovering our clients' stories, selecting a jury, giving opening statements, questioning and cross-examining witnesses, and giving a closing argument.
During those three weeks, I learned more about myself as a person than I did as an attorney. Some of my classmates became some of my closest friends. People who I know I could call on for help with any problem—professional or personal. They would be there without question. Whatever. Whenever. The notion that TLC impacted me more personally than professionally does not take away from the tremendous impact that the TLC will have on my career or on the success I see in my professional future, but it stands as a testament to how powerful that time was.
Many of these sentiments cannot fully be understood by those who have not attended the course. I can't explain it better than that. But today, I am better able to express myself as a father than I was before TLC. I am better able to convey emotion and feeling to my friends and family than I was before TLC. I am better able to be vulnerable and open than I was before TLC. I am better able to admit that I am no more perfect or unbeatable than I was before TLC. I am better able to listen than I was before TLC.
My clients will benefit from these new skills as I am better able to understand and tell their stories. The juries I encounter will benefit from these new skills as I am better able to communicate those stories and articulate my clients' experiences. Indeed, the justice system as a whole will benefit from these new skills because the result of a better presentation is a more just verdict for my client and more accurate individual justice is justice for the entire community.
Indeed not only did I witness the changing of the seasons all around me, but I witnessed the changing of the seasons within me. As cliché as it may be, I witnessed myself grow from a cocky and prideful attorney to one who recognizes that I am but a servant of my community. My law practice is not about me. The stories I will tell are not my own. They are merely my clients' stories for me to tell.
How humbling it is to recognize the grandness of that responsibility.