As a personal injury attorney meeting top legendary trial attorney Gerry Spence was a highlight of my professional career. Spence was the keynote speaker at the American Association for Justice Education's Weekend with the Stars Seminar. Not only did I get to meet him, he also signed his book "Winning Your Case" and was kind enough to let me have a picture with him.
This weekend had many of the best personal injury attorneys such as Howard Nations, Lise Blue Baron, Peter Pearlman and many others, but I came there to meet and hear Gerry Spence and I was not disappointed. He is a wonderfully captivating and motivating speaker. He commands the room with a giant and genuine presence. Even when he paused the air was filled with anticipation. My goal was to meet him personally one on one.
I got to the seminar early and surveyed the room . A young women was at a table with Gerry's books and videos. She told me at 12:15, the first break Gerry would do a book signing. But that would not work for me as I had my son with me and we were commited to look at St John's University at 1pm. I purchased his book in the hope that sometime before that I could catch Mr Spence in the anteroom to the convention seminar room. I learned that Gerry was going to speak at 9:30. So I knew he would have to come in from the anteroom to get to the podium.
As the first speaker just about concluded I snuck out and sure enough the legend was sitting on a stool with several people talking to him. I found the young lady and asked her if she would have Gerry sign my book. She walked me over to him and there I was face to face with a man I had heard about and admired all my professional career. He signed his book and graciously consented to have his picture taken with me.
What I Learned About and From Gerry Spence
Attorney Spence was quietly listening to other people talking to him. He was smiling and sitting on a stool slighlty slouched, leaning into the folks and smiling. I saw he had a gentleness and a humility about him.This was not an arrogant man. But a wise and humble old warrior. He had a cold. You could tell this from him dabbing at his nose with a tissue. I imagine he was a bit tired. He had traveled a long way, it was early and he had a cold. Yet he patiently listened with a smile.
When he took the podium he spoke with strength in a deep baritone voice. He commanded the room with a presence born of years of genuinenss and tenacity. He was concerned about America becoming a police state. He asked the trial lawyers to stay the course. Keep up the battle for justice and freedom. His topic was Vulnerability and he spoke with the passion of a man fearful that our great country was becoming less than what it stood for. He was concerned that we are becoming, if we have not already, a police state. He alluded to his age and some failing health and his concern that he "would not make it back next year." To lead amd motivate the fight for freedom and justice.
Then he sat on a stool and asked the audience to write the rest of his speech for him. He took their questions and masterfully answered them one by one. He was on stage for an hour and fifteen minutes. The audience of some of the best lawyers in the country was spellbound. At one point they asked what he would change. Half jokingly he said he would have been a painter as being a trial lawyer is too damned hard. Hard for Gerry Spence. Wow. I know it is hard for me. The countless hours of preparation with the uncertainty of the result and the certainty that you are just not good enough. There is no courage with out fear. Gerry Spence the legend afraid just like me.
Anthony Castelli is a Cincinnati Ohio personal injury attorney with over thirty years experince. He focuses his practice on justice for the people. Ever reminding big corporations and big insurance that if they put profits before people he will be there to stand up for the man, woman or child harmed by those who neglect the safety of others.