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Monday, March 25, 2013

Universal Nature of Advocacy Teaching

Dear Friends:

I am blogging to you from the desk of an apartment in Montmarte, Paris, where my wife and I are spending a few days recovering from a visit to Glasgow and Oxford where I was teaching advocacy in a new LLM program for Strathclyde University. The lights from the Moulin Rouge windmill can just be seen from the window of the sitting room of our apartment (we got it through housetrip.com which I heartily recommend). Since my feet are tired from seeing the Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame today (along with a LONG walk along the Seine) I am resting my feet and thinking about my recent visit to Glasgow. I am grateful to be in Paris with my wife, the last time was with friends from the service, Tyler Harder and Mike Stahlman, and while their company was great, this time has been much, much better!

Like most of you I have taught in many different countries, but I am always moved when I realize that the skills we teach are truly universal. When you get a chance to teach persuasion in a different country, with a different culture, it is a blessing. Suddenly you are divorced from the cultural shorthand that you normally use to transfer an idea to a student. You are forced to rely upon your ability to clearly define a moment in the performance, and then translate that moment into a teaching opportunity. In a way you are vulnerable when that happens, in much the same way as the student is vulnerable every time they perform in front of you. That vulnerability is a gift. It opens doors to communication and gives you a fresh perspective on things.

I got to experience that vulnerability last week, and am grateful for it. It is amazing that so many of the things that challenge us in advocacy remain the same, regardless of the language, court system, or the like. I saw finger rubbing, ring twirling, add on words, lack of eye contact, all of the things that you see when you teach. I also saw a fierce desire to learn coupled with a belief that practical education in the art of advocacy is a higher level of education and one that is to be sought out at each and every opportunity. I also was reminded of how a deep connection to our cultural roots can infuse our advocacy with humor and passion. These lawyers, from all over Europe and even Cambodia, see advocacy training as something that is crucial to the quality of their practice, and necessary to their individual growth. Seeing seasoned professionals so focused on skills education was a moving experience and I am grateful to Dame Elish Angiolini, Principal of St. Hugh's College at Oxford, for the opportunity. I cannot wait to return next year.

It made me think about the joy we get from teaching, from coaching, and from writing. We are blessed to do this for a living, and from the glow of the windmill I just wanted to share that thought with you. It has been a rough year or two in legal education, with a few more rough years to follow. We are fortunate to have the compass of skills to guide us through these troubled times. Isn't it nice that everyone else wants to use it too?

See you at EATS in May!

All the best,



  1. Thank you for this entry Charlie. It is so gratifying to hear an advocacy coach speak so reverently about their 'calling'. I have not seen this in many advocacy coaches but I have a strong feeling that all of the very best teachers would have this quality in abundance: I speak, of course, of 'humility'.

  2. I have not seen this in many advocacy coaches but I have a strong feeling that all of the very best teachers would have this quality in abundance: I speak, of course, of 'humility'.
    Pls check some Advocacy Teaching Tutorial : http://www.you-youtube.com/Advocacy-Teaching-Blog/