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In Praise of Lawyer and Psychodramatist Simina Vourlis

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My close friend and teacher Trudy Morse — a great grandmother who learned many key life lessons before I ever was born — once wrote in thanks to those who supported her along the path of life. Local taijiquan teacher David Walls Kaufman, who very generously leads free taijiquan practice sessions on Saturday mornings in Lincoln Park has put it more succinctly: “You can’t let your teacher forget that you love them. For you to let that happen is obscene.” Of course, as the Dalai Lama says “Everyone is my teacher, starting with my enemy.” Many people have particularly blessed me with their caring, friendship and teaching, and I try to acknowledge some of them on this blog, as I did, for instance, last Thursday in thanking the many NACDL members who have welcomed me with open arms over the years.

Of course, part of thanking others is to give them the space they want, which I have done with my teacher Steve Rench, for instance, by refraining from knocking the wind out of him with a big bear hug when I have seen him. When I spoke with Steve last week after awhile of not being in touch, I did tell him that I am inspired by David Walls Kauffman to remind my most valued teachers, like Steve, from time to time how much I appreciate them and how positively they have inspired me.

As we see in so many acknowledgment sections of books and on awards shows, any omissions of my public thanks is never intended to ignore the countless people who have supported me along the path. By the same token, from time to time, I want to give public thanks to some of my supporters and teachers who particularly stand out.

Today, I thank Ohio-based (and Virginia-licensed, too) trial lawyer Simina Vourlis. I met Simina through our mutual attendance in separate years at the Trial Lawyers College. Simina went on to become a voluntary staff member there, which is a high honor. Simina and I have sat down together a few times to talk about life and the law practice. One day, she blessed me and my client by joining us at my office for one of the several trial preparation workshops that area Trial Lawyers College alumni arrange to help increase their persuasive trial preparedness by quantum leaps.

Simina is big on psychodrama, which for trial lawyers is a way to enhance the persuasiveness of them, their clients, and their witnesses; to persuade through storytelling; and to better understand themselves and the other players in the litigation. Simina accepted my request for her to lead this workshop, which was well attended by around a total of five lawyers plus me and my client (I prefer adding more non-lawyers to the mix when possible). Simina was superb at deftly and quickly sensing what my client and I (in this aggravated assault case) needed to accomplish as a team and in our respective roles on the road to victory in his case. Although my client and I already got along well from the get-go and even though I knew many vital things about my client and his case, by the time we all left this trial workshop a few hours later, I felt tremendously closer to victory, and my client felt much more comfortable. This was a function not only of my client and I taking a weekend morning away from all distractions to be better prepared, but also because of the deep insight and skill not only of Simina but also of all other participating lawyers, who all are excellent trial lawyers, and also because of the deep trust that everyone in the room had for each other, therefore laying bare ourselves, our strengths, our fears, and our dreams that related to helping reach a victory in my client’s case. Strict confidentiality is a key to such workshops, and we all were able to trust each other to maintain that confidentiality.

I understand that Simina by now is a certified psychodramatist through the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy. I highly recommend Simina to any lawyer seeking a trial consultant, including assisting with trial preparation and psychodrama workshops.

Deeply thanking and bowing to Simina Vourlis.