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In Defense of the Damned Not My Idea of a Summer Break
This month, I’m headed to Wyoming for an eight-day conference at The Trial Lawyers College called In Defense of the Damned. The
hands is a terrible burden. Only when you start to truly appreciate that burden does the anxiety start to emerge. When I agree to represent a client, it’s a long, personal, and intimate relationship. They become far more than a defendant. They become part of the extended family of the firm. With as many hours and as much energy as I’ve poured into each case, I start to feel and empathize with what the person is experiencing. Even though I’m not the one on trial, nor is there any risk I will go to prison, my client’s fears become more vivid and real than any other time in my career. I dedicate so much time and money to my continuing education because there’s so much on the line for these clients. I spend substantial time and money each year to further train myself in this subject matter. The Trial Lawyer’s College has two of the best programs in the country for my practice area, and In Defense of the Damned is certainly one of them. This course is perfectly designed for my specific area of the law. In Defense of the Damned acknowledges those lawyers out there fighting for their clients with everything they’ve got. While the course is amazing, it’s going to be a long and challenging eight days. The program will take place at Thunderhead Ranch, run and owned by Gerry Spence. The location gives little comfort — no internet, no cell service, and two attorneys to a room, spartan bunkhouse
Berlin Law Firm • DefendingTulsa.com Last month, I asked you to find that amazing vacation that you have put off and go do it this summer. Please do as I say and not as I do. I will need to live through your vacations this summer, so please do not forget to send those photos to DefendingTulsa@gmail.com. - Lee Berlin The course is all about “doing.” The participants won’t simply listen to lectures; each attorney will put on every aspect of the case in front of their small group. Constructive criticism all day, every day is the norm. I know it will make me better. I’ve been through it before at the National Criminal Defense College, but this is a step beyond even that. Not my idea of a good time. This course also has a significant amount of psychodrama and touchy-feely get-to- know-yourself mumbo jumbo. If you think for a second that a 45-year-old sex crimes defense attorney wants to get to know themselves, I mean really know themselves, you are seriously mistaken. I prefer to keep all of my tucked-away, hidden, repressed, and pharmaceutically boxed-up issues from my childhood right where they are, thank you very much. Putting them on display in front of 50-plus strangers isn’t at the top of my want-to-do list. living. Creature comforts have been eliminated and replaced by an exclusive focus on personal and professional development.
course is dedicated to criminal defense attorneys who deal with the most serious cases — death-penalty cases and sex crimes. The entire program is going to be mentally and emotionally arduous. Attending this course is expensive, inconvenient, difficult, and stressful, but I believe this is a program I must complete to become the best trial lawyer possible. I must seek out and complete the most challenging and advanced trial practice course I can find. In every one of the cases I see in my practice, each of my clients faces a massive prison sentence — if I lose, the consequences are catastrophic. I’ve been in this business for around 18 years, and these years have mainly been spent either in trial or preparing for trial — these activities dominate every part of my practice. There are times when I get nervous or anxious going to trial, and this happens more often today than any other time in my career. It comes from the belief that I’m the only one standing in the way of my client going to prison. The weight of a person’s freedom — sometimes for the rest of their life — in my
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