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“You Can’t Get Nowhere with a Thousand-Dollar Saddle on a Ten-Dollar Horse.”

“You can’t get nowhere with a thousand-dollar saddle on a ten-dollar horse.”

That line comes from a story that Gerry Spence is known to share:

Uncle Slim points to a dude in the corral trying to saddle a beaten-up horse with a fancy saddle, made of black leather lined with silver. Slim turns to Spence and says, “Ya can’t get nowhere with a thousand-dollar saddle on a ten-dollar horse.”

For Spence, the thousand-dollar saddle is the expensive, but not particularly helpful, legal education. And the horse is the lawyer.

We consistently neglect the horse.

Trials are human events. To succeed at trial, you must connect with the humans deciding your case. And, for that to happen, you must be authentic and allow yourself to be seen for who you are.

And that takes real work.

For me, the work has been consistent counseling for the last decade. Those sessions have forced me to really question what I value and how I want to live my life.

I have learned that there is no such thing as “failure” provided you learn from the experience, that discomfort = growth, and that there is nothing more powerful than the person with a dream who will never give up.

Working on the horse has helped me become a better trial lawyer and a better version of myself.

It’s easy to say: “just be you.” It’s hard to actually do it.

But it is a journey that’s well worth it.


Based On 98 Reviews

  • $10,000,000

    Defendant, while racing on a residential road, crashed into an oncoming driver causing catastrophic injuries.

  • $9,000,000

    Defendant failed to properly secure a display at its store which led to it falling on a child causing life altering injuries.

  • $1,500,000

    Defendant failed to keep the entrance of its store safe for the public causing significant injuries. 

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