Nelson, how did you first get involved with Trial Lawyers College?
I went through the school in 2000 and have been on staff since 2001. It has been continuous, it has been unbroken. I have been going back and teaching ever since. It is incredibly rewarding. I believe in the method. I benefit that from being around it, I am more willing and interested in helping to communicate it to others because I know how much it works in the court room and frankly, in my personal life. I always get to reconnect with myself when get out to the ranch and do the work TLC requires. And that’s what it is — daily work to stay present and focused and listening all the time. And I have some of my best friends from TLC whom I only see at seminars and staff trainings. Folks who I really love.
Has your practice changed since you started with TLC?
I was leading with my heart before, which TLC teaches also. This is not new for me because that is just the way I am wired. But TLC gave me a process on how to do that effectively and in a way that resonates with my juries. It is incredibly satisfying.
What makes TLC’s approach to a Closing Argument, as will be taught in GA, different than a standard, more typical Closing Argument?
Closing Argument is really the first opportunity to do that. Closing is really the fork in the road, now that we are reminding you the importance of your decision – which road are you going to travel? Are you going to travel the path of doing something remarkable, or are you still in the same place as when you walked in this courtroom a week ago? Closing is our opportunity to activate their desire, remind them of what they can accomplish, and hopefully point them down that path where their verdict is going to make a difference.
Is the GA Regional a good seminar for people whom have never attended a TLC seminar before?
For people who don’t have experience with our method, Closing Argument is really the perfect place to start. It doesn’t matter the theme of the trial — what matters is knowing where you want to end up, and how you have to conduct the trial in every phase to get there. Closing is the most obvious jumping-off spot, and it goes to the heart of our method. It is where our method can focus on story, which is a big part of what we do; can focus on action, which is a big part of what we do; and where we can focus on universal human truth, which is what we have discovered through doing some psychodramatic work on the case and with our clients, and hopefully what we can convey to our juries. We can focus on getting to the emotional core of why we are all here and what we have to do. At this Seminar, students — new and veterans to the methods — will get to practice all the stuff that at other Regionals we have to pick and choose from. During the Closing Argument, and at this GA Regional, you get to pull it all together — and students will get to learn how, or get to practice, how to do that in really small and helpful groups. As trial lawyers, we get to do a little piece of our case in Direct Exam, a little bit less during Cross Exam, a little bit of laying it all out as an introduction during our Opening Statement, and a bit during Voir Dire (depending on how much time you get!), but during the Closing Argument — you get to do it all and it’s great.
That is fascinating. In all my interviews, I have not heard it described that way.
I never thought of it that way.
The law gives us fewer restrictions for Closing Argument. We can give facts, we can sort of share personally from our own lives, we can advocate and argue, we can instill emotion, we can trigger emotion — all that is allowed in Closing. We can let it all out. The law recognizes it’s our most creative opportunity. In closing, every judge knows that if they are ever going to let us be creative, the closing is the place that they are going to let us be creative. Now some judges will let us be very creative and some judges will restrict us — but 10 out of 10 judges recognize that creativity has a landing place in Closing Argument. We just have fewer rules and fewer walls that we’ve got to knock down to really be able to do our stuff.
Have you ever had a Judge stop you?
Sure. I have had judges stop me from doing all kinds of things. But since my TLC training, I don’t think I have had anybody effectively stop me. I mean, they can stop you temporarily and you can return to it; or they can stop you and it is already too late because you have already connected with the jury. There are lots of ways to still get your point made, especially if you have already triggered their emotions during Voir Dire or Opening. I mean sure, judges have a lot of power. They have a lot of discretion on what they allow and what they don’t allow. The boundaries of what you can do in closing argument are not totally, clearly defined. So yet, Judges will try to limit you. But I have learned that you are one human being talking to a group of other human beings about something that we all know to be true. And a judge cannot really stop that from happening.
What would you say to an attorney that is considering going to TLC but has not gone yet?
I would say: It will change your life. That is what the person who got me interested in going told me. I really did not know what they meant. Maybe you are open to that and maybe you are not. Even if it just changes you a little, and then it changes your practice a lot, or the other way around — the methods can change your whole viewpoint in what you do. And for me, that was incredibly helpful and valuable — as a person, a husband, a dad, and a trial lawyer.
About Nelson Tyrone:
Nelson graduated from the Trial Lawyers College in 2000 and now devotes his practice to the area of plaintiff’s personal injury trial work in Atlanta, Georgia. Nelson practiced for a number of years with the pre-eminent criminal defense firm of Garland, Samuel & Loeb, P.C., in Atlanta, and defended clients in a wide variety of major felony and white collar cases in both state and federal court. He has also worked for Butler, Wooten P.C., in Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia where he worked primarily in the areas of auto products liability and medical malpractice. He is now a sole practitioner in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife and daughter.