Robert Fulghum and I do not have much in common.
All I really need to know, I did not learn in kindergarten.
Not in law school, either.
Continuing To Learn New Criminal Defense Strategies That Work
My formal legal education ended in 1985, when I graduated from UNC School of Law, and passed the Florida Bar Exam.
When I found myself defending a client in a real courtroom just 4 days out of law school, my legal education was just beginning.
I have just returned from the 10th continuing education seminar I’ve attended this year. In July, I traveled to Boston to attend the summer session of the National College for DUI Defense. I have spent a week in Chicago in September, studying gas chromatography at Axion Labs under the guidance of Professors Harold McNair and Lee Polite.
I spent a long weekend in February in St. Petersburg, working on mastering the science of cross-examination as taught by the legendary Terry McCarthy. The following week found me in class in Key West, learning jury selection techniques from my Panhandle friend Hoot Crawford, and teaching a class on ethics. Springtime found me in New Orleans, at the Mastering Scientific Evidence seminar presented by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
In March, I served on the guest faculty for the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ annual DUI program.
The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has presented a program on eyewitness identification, featuring Barry Scheck, and its nationally recognized Blood, Breath & Tears seminar, and I have attended both.
Our own local criminal defense lawyers group puts on a monthly continuing education program, and I attend every one, sometimes as the featured instructor.
This latest seminar was held in Tunica, Mississippi, and presented by the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. It was this group’s annual DUI Defense seminar, and I was there to learn.
Marcos Garza of Nashville did a great job demystifying the junk science that is the Drug Recognition Evaluator program used by some police departments.
Deandra Grant of Dallas showed us a clever new way to teach blood alcohol analysis to the non-science majors we encounter on juries every day.
San Francisco’s Bruce Kapsack taught a session on trial techniques that I hope I never forget.
Josh Lee of Oklahoma and Pennsylvania’s Justin McShane did one of the best jobs of teaching the courtroom aspects of a gas chromatography case that I have yet seen.
There are plenty of lawyers whose education really did end when law school did. That’s just not the kind of lawyer I can ever be. To be a lawyer-to-be-reckoned-with, one must constantly be learning, and acquiring new skills and tools.
When my youngest son was in elementary school, my wife and I joked that he would stay in school until somebody gave him an office and a paycheck. Now, he has an office and a paycheck, and he is still in school.
I have a suite of offices, and I get a nice paycheck, too. Just like my son, and apparently unlike Robert Fulghum, I have not yet learned everything I really need to know.