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  • Ibrahim J. Awad, Esq.

Trial Lawyers College

For most of July, we were in the middle of nowhere.

Green mountains as far as the eye can see are on one side and the Grand Tetons on the other. We see cattle, horses, deer, bison, and even a grizzly. With a fellow lawyer, who I had met and picked up at the airport, Scott and I drive past Dubois until we reach a sign: "Trial Lawyers College" (we actually miss it by about 15 miles not realizing that the GPS had lost signal strength). But when we finally reach it, it takes another ten minutes bouncing down a dirt path to get to the Big Barn.

I didn't think I would ever fall in love with such a place.

About sixty trial lawyers from all over the country sacrificed precious time from their families and practice to work on themselves. Indeed, everything starts with the self. Trying to resuscitate others without oxygen is not very helpful. Little nuisances I had drowned and tried to hide bubbled to the surface. Relationship issues with family members and colleagues I tried to compartmentalize seeped into each other.

The distress of shouldering other people's burdens molded into personal problems, and it was time to address myself. If my eyes are closed to my own issues, how can I see those of my clients?

I soon realized that this was more than a recharge. This was rehab.

With the help of Don Clarkson, an incredible psychodramatist, we faced those demons. We went back into the dusty recesses of the mind, where I boxed and tucked away my feelings. He was a mind surgeon, gently unstacking and blowing away the fine particles of gray matter.

Ibrahim Awad and Don Clarkson

Like a successful operation, there is pain and the relief is not immediate, but it gets better. After our group sessions, he asks, "How are you feeling?" Despite the answer, he follows up, "How are you really feeling?"

In those moments, I couldn't remember the last time I was asked that question by someone who really wanted to know, and worse, I really couldn't remember when I asked that same question with sincerity.

I realized that I had been absent for much of my life, living in a state of absenteeism. I was finally present at the Trial Lawyers College.

I tried to memorialize my experience as best as possible, but of course a video doesn't do it justice. The meditation, warm embraces, and tears were lived in the moment and cannot be replicated. I'm forever thankful for that experience and cannot wait for the return.

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