Do lawyers know to practice legal procedure?

Here is the opinion of Gerry Spence, a most renowned trial lawyer, who put on trial skills seminars for lawyers based his best selling book “WITH JUSTICE FOR NONE.” Buyer Beware!

Maybe the tumor won’t be malignant. After all there can be all kinds of benign lesions in the brain. As the nurses wheel you to the operating room, your family walks beside you tearfully and you say something silly like, “When I get out of this, you’ll like me a lot more. They’re only gonna cut out the parts that made me cranky.” Then you think, oh God! That may be the last thing I’ll ever say to them. Then you’re in a room that seems very bright, cold, and smells antiseptic. You don’t recognize any of the people since they all wear masks and have become the only things on this earth. Then a man, dressed like the others, comes into the room carrying an armload of books.

“Who is that?” you ask.

“That is your surgeon.” You feel a small wave of fear. Someone is sticking a needle into your arm, and you are being hooked up to a machine.

“What do you have those books for?”

“Just a handy reference,” you hear the friendly voice of your doctor reply.

“Well, you have done one of these operations before haven’t you?” You can’t remember what he answers, but it was something that seemed unspecified. Things are getting hazy now and as you start to drift, you see your doctor looking at a full-page drawing of a human brain in color. Now, you feel true panic. You jerk upright.

“What the hell are you reading, Doctor?” One of the nurses rushes over and tries to force you down, but you fight back. “What the hell are you reading?”

“Oh, I’m just checking out a detail or two. Don’t worry.”

The doctor nods to the anesthesiologist, and suddenly things become very distant. You begin to drown in your own waves, wave after dark wave, until the bright room is dark, and the sound of your doctor’s voice has drifted away.

The doctor had gathered up six books, all the latest anatomy of the brain and on the surgical technique demanded. He began his procedure by reading aloud to the others in the operating room. As he read they handed him the necessary instruments and helped him identify the special places he must cut. He was very conscientious. Nobody accused him of not trying his best. The operation took several hours, including the Code Blue at the end, when other doctors came running into the operating room and administered their desperate lifesaving procedures that of course failed.

They say the doctor performed eight of these operations before one of his patients survived. Some critics who did not understand the problem of medical training claimed the doctor stacked up the dead and maimed like cordwood, but perhaps that is the small price we pay for good medicine. The doctor was quick to learn from his mistakes, and had a certain cavalier courage that served him well. He was able to take his early defeats in stride and to dismiss them as part of his education.

While the foregoing is merely a frightful fantasy, its parallel is a reality so far as the education and training of trial lawyers is concerned. Every year, the law schools disgorge their latest graduates. Thousands of eager, wide-eyed young men and women who finally pass the bar exam for their state are loosed upon the unsuspecting American public possessing no more experience than a surgeon who has been dissecting frogs in biology class.

Although every law school offers a course in trial practice, and while some permit their students to take part in certain clinical programs, the truth is that no law student in America receives competent training in the art of advocacy, and left to their own devices, many never acquire it let alone perfect it, in an entire career at the bar.

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Author: freedomlawschool

President and Founder of Freedom Law School

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