psychodrama for lawyers

TLC’s Psychodrama for Lawyers 1-Week Program is less than one month away, June 5-11, 2018. Faculty members Chris Trundy and Leigh Johnson are Co-Leading this course and they provided some insight into their preparation, organization, and importance of the program.

The Trial Lawyers College believes psychodrama is a foundational element of the TLC Methods taught in synchronous with Trial Skills at each Regional Seminar and Course provided by TLC. The greater an attorney’s understanding of the self, the deeper the attorney can understand clients, opposing counsel, judges, and ultimately, jurors.

Co-Leader, Chris Trundy

Chris Trundy is a 2002 graduate of the Trial Lawyers College and has been on the faculty since 2009. After his TLC graduation, Chris regularly participated in annual graduate and regional programs to understand and use the TLC methods and psychodramatic techniques in every aspect of representing people in court accused of serious crimes, victims of negligence, and workplace discrimination. He uses methods from the outset of every case by ‘Discovering the Story’ with his client from the first interview, re-discovering the story continuously throughout his preparation, and inviting his opponent and the judge to reverse roles with his client during trial. He consistently encourages his jury to exercise their great power to right a betrayal. “Those of us who have done any amount of psychodramatic work realize it very quickly permeates through everything we do from the time we meet a client to the time we try a case. It all begins with us, and if we don’t deal with our own stuff, it will all end with us. Part of what we do, the more I’ve been involved in this program, is helping lawyers get out of their own way.”

Co-Leader, Leigh Johnson

Leigh Johnson is a practicing trial lawyer in the Bay area and graduated from TLC’s 3-Week Program in 2009. Her passion and primary focus is in collaborating with other lawyers in their cases that involve complicated scenarios; preparing for trial in both civil and criminal arenas with her psychodrama work. Leigh’s philosophy is that in order to obtain the best results regardless of forum, you should always spend the time to prepare for your cases in the right way; employing psychodramatic techniques in the entire process. “Psychodrama is really the foundation of everything I do. I use it from the moment a case comes into the office, to discover the story, to continue to work up cases and prepare for depositions and for witnesses to testify all the way to closing argument. I really use it in every aspect of my case and when I work with other lawyers it’s the same thing. It’s the basis for the TLC method.”

Psychodrama to Empower Students

When you participate in a psychodrama you’re either in the role of being the protagonist, the person who the story is being explored, or a member of the group. Where that is really interesting is that you’re simultaneously able to receive the protagonist’s story while also creating a deep connection with your own experience. During that process, you’re looking to share and you’ll be able to excavate yourself through the other person’s story.

“Those skills of being able to experience someone else’s story, and feel it in our own experience, happens a lot in trial, particularly in cross-examination. Understanding what’s going on with the judge and opposing counsel, in the most elemental sense, allows us to empathize. When someone gets up to tell their story in the courtroom, we can identify with that story because we’ve trained ourselves to experience the other persons’ feelings and access what those feelings bring out in our own experience.” Explains Chris.

During this course, there will be three days of psychodrama in addition to two days of directing skills. Leigh wants students to feel empowered when they leave the program. “I would say that if there is an end goal and what we want as Co-Leaders, is to empower the participants to do it for themselves. We show the students how to do it by allowing them to do it. We show them what it feels like to be a protagonist, to be an auxiliary, an audience member, and to be a director. Anybody that wants the opportunity gets the opportunity to fulfill a piece and in turn, they evolve. This allows them to take the skills back with them to their offices and creates a deeper understanding of their case when their client walks in the door.”

The Psychodrama for Lawyer’s Program is as different as CLE programs can be. Lawyer’s that are not TLC Grads constantly think about how to loop things together in a cross-exam, what the structure is of a voir dire, or how far they can push the rules of evidence to allow them a victory. But that isn’t what this course exemplifies. The TLC Faculty and Psychodramatists deal with two sides of the equation; how the person and their professional skills are inexplicitly intertwined. 

Work with TLC Psychodramatists, Chris Trundy and Leigh Johnson, and other TLC Faculty at one of the best regional seminars TLC provides, the Psychodrama for Lawyers program. This course is also open to paralegals from qualifying law offices. Learn the methods to work through your tough cases and win justice for your clients.

TLC just released a podcast episode with two of TLC’s Psychodramatists, Mike Traynor and Louise Lipman, on Psychodrama in the Courtroom. Listen here!

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