TLC method

“To discover the story of your case is the foundation of everything we do and without this skill, we are not going to be as successful as we need to be for our clients. We are going to miss an opportunity to bring justice to them if we don’t know how to discover the story. You can’t really tell the story unless you know it, and facts are not the story. The stories are how people lived those experiences, how they experience those facts and how they lived them that really make the story.” – Paco Duarte, TLC Faculty Leader

Starting in less than a month is TLC’s 2019 Discover the Story of Your Case regional seminar offered in Leavenworth, Washington this year. We are happy to announce our faculty leaders for this seminar; Eric Fong, Steve Fury, and Paco Duarte. These three incredible lawyers have spent a lot of time bringing the TLC method into their lives and their practices and TLC is fortunate to have them leading this seminar.

At this 4-day Seminar, students will learn the TLC method necessary to discover the winning story. TLC faculty will teach the lawyers how to tap into their own unique power to bring stories to life in the courtroom to win the justice our clients deserve. As Gerry Spence, TLC Co-Founder & Famed Trial Lawyer says, “If we are to be successful in presenting our case, we must not only discover its story; we must become good storytellers. Every trial, every argument for justice, is a story.”

“Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth is a powerful place. It’s nestled in a mountain valley where rivers rage and glacial mountains are but a short jaunt. The connection to nature is palpable and inspires the mind. The people there are committed to one thing: helping each other, and in so doing, helping themselves. The power of giving, listening and helping forges a legal community that is unheard of in an otherwise cutthroat profession. The friendships formed, the support network you are plugged into and the resources suddenly available to you make the Washington TLC Regional an important influence in the Pacific Northwest.” – Eric Fong, TLC Faculty Leader

Eric Fong, as one of the Faculty Leaders, shares the impact of TLC in addition to the importance of “Discovering the Story of your Case”.

What makes a Trial Lawyers College event so special for those for me? It is accessing feelings, emotions, and thoughts that I otherwise shut off.  When I arrive at a TLC event, I am usually rushed from the days work, exhausted from the week’s work, and worried about next week’s work. Throw in the usual worry about money, dear relationships and not just my health, but that of those I love, I am anything but available. I am unavailable to not just those I care about, but to myself in the form of self-compassion, my health, and learning. Yet every mystic, every sage, and all enlightened people agree; the highest calling this world can offer is to be present in the here and now so you can help others. It is through helping others you help yourself; when you give away that which you seek, the energetic dance is complete. So, how lucky are we that it is our job to help others? Lucky or cursed, for in a world where these fundamental, philosophical and spiritual laws are lost, the pain of our failure is intense. This self-inflicted deprivation of self-care is mysterious. We all know that unless we take care of ourselves, we are unable to care for others. So why then do we neglect, abuse and inflict such self-suffering? Why, when we know the impact of our choices is real, if not tragic? Which brings me full circle, and why TLC is transformative; it is a nudge in the right direction, starting with our own self-compassion, self-care, and health, with a view towards helping others. Throw in the most sophisticated trial skills, communication skills, and philosophies of the greatest trial lawyer ever, Gerry Spence, you truly have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Which brings me to Leavenworth, and Discovering the Story. Like every TLC event, it all begins with you, and the first story we must discover is yours. Through reflection and expression, we provide an opportunity to explore what makes you tick. After that, we dive into your client’s story. Two things make this process unique. First is the method itself, as we walk through the intricate process of reenactment, role reversal, and role-playing so that we literally walk in the shoes of others. Through this process we don’t just talk about what it is like to be our clients, we become our clients, internalizing the trauma, the web of relationships and the consequences of what changed in their lives.

The second thing that makes the process unique is the lack of judgment, all the while being introduced to new concepts. The environment at a TLC event is unusual in that it is supportive, nonjudgmental and everyone is encouraged to push the limits of what makes them comfortable.  I cannot stress the importance of this. In a world where we constantly judge others and ourselves, to be introduced to a way of thinking that removes these harmful thoughts is refreshing, if not life-changing. Put another way, the energy we exert in trying to be someone else or judging others is expansive. To be freed of these thoughts frees us to be in the moment, creative and at ease. To be encouraged to take risks that make us uncomfortable pushes us to the edges of our knowledge, necessarily expanding our mental horizons so that we learn a new way of seeing the world.

So what does a TLC program on discovering the story mean? It literally opens up your mind to new dimensions of understanding, points of view and empathy. Your client’s suffering isn’t understood, it is felt, and it is profound. The inciting event and the actions of the wrongdoer are explored with a deep capacity to not just understand the betrayal but to convey it with heartfelt intuition and passion. The avenues of understanding open up creative avenues of discovery, otherwise left unrealized. Perhaps most important of all, the passion of being a lawyer, in helping others is ignited; the love for what you do and whom you do it for is rediscovered, or even discovered.

2019 Leavenworth, Washington Seminar Faculty Leaders at TLC’s Discover the Story of Your Case

Eric Fong is a 2011 graduate of the Trial Lawyers College and is a partner at the Metier Law Firm. Eric started his career doing mostly public defense work but today, most of Eric’s work is civil in addition to taking on pro bono cases when he can. He feels lucky that he has been able to work with a number of tremendous lawyers in significant cases. Through all of these experiences, Eric has learned a significant amount about how to try cases and he enjoys the opportunity on TLC’s faculty to pass these lessons along to other trial lawyers. 

Paco Duarte is a committed civil and criminal defense lawyer, practicing with his partner and fellow co-leader, Steve Fury in Seattle. Paco was just recently awarded the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), 2019 Professionalism Award which is granted to a lawyer who, by conduct or leadership, promotes professionalism and brings dignity and pride to the legal profession doing such things as promoting civility, courtesy, and honoring other lawyers and the work that they do. He has served on TLC’s faculty since 2006. He is also a director and former chair of Lawyers Helping Hungry Children, a non-profit corporation, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Shakespeare Company. He is the past chair of the WSBA Criminal Committee of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Paco has also taught trial practice at the Northwest College for DUI Defense, the WYLD Trial Advocacy Program and at the regional National Institute of Trial Advocacy. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education programs on criminal law topics and has appeared on Northwest Cable News and radio programs as a legal analyst. He has published articles on criminal law in Defense, Trial News, and The Warrior magazines.

Since 1991, Steve Fury has remained faithful to his vision to build a small, intimate law firm in Seattle, WA that is devoted to helping those who have been personally injured. Many clients have reaped great rewards from this vision – clients from wrongful death cases to construction accidents, car accidents, products liability, and admiralty cases. As a result, the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an invitation-only national honorary organization for the trial bar, elected Steve to ABOTA in 2000. Steve is also the founding president of Justice Advocacy Africa, a non-profit organization that provides trial advocacy training to African lawyers. Steve is a graduate of Harvard University, JD, cum laude, 1979 and Stanford University, BA, with distinction, 1974.

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