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Praised be Steve Rench and his organization approach

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A friend told me he once saw Sting on a London street in the mid-1980’s. Word traveled rapidly that he was there, and Sting slipped deftly away before he got mobbed. I, on the other hand, saw Roger Daltrey in a Vancouver hotel lobby in 2001, and left him to his peace and quiet. If James Finney Boylan could leave his hero Frank Zappa scarf up sesame noodles in peace post-concert, then at the very least I could have done the same with Mr. Daltry, whose music I enjoyed with the Who, but whom I have never idolized.

Steve Rench is one of the very few people in whose presence I must exercise tremendous self control so as not to knock the wind out of him in a big bear hug. I have written repeatedly about the great trial master and trial teacher Steve Rench, including my references to him in the blogposts here. The last time I saw Steve — praised here along with others by trial teacher Terry McCarthy — was in mid-2002 on a visit to him and his wife at their home in Denver, after departing a lawyers’ conference and on the way to starting a vacation in the great open spaces of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Steve urges lawyers to dare to be great, and he knows that a critical ingredient of greatness is hard work and preparation. He believes there is a methodology(ies) that can be followed as a vehicle towards greatness, rather than being relegated merely to having been born or not born with the necessary ability to be a powerfully persuasive litigator. In fact, at first glance, Steve comes across as an unassuming and ordinary person … until  he opens his mouth, which then transforms his entire presence into a captivating one.

During our last visit, Steve talked about his interest in doing writing for publication on trial work, and also told me about his competing time interests to further prepare for his trials. That harks back to the words of a talented amateur jazz pianist: "What kind of question is it to ask a music great how many hours the musician practices daily? You practice til you’re f’in great… Then you have a cup of coffee… Then you practice some more."  And some more.

For each trial, Steve assembles an idea book in which he organizes his thoughts. Before the days of PDA’s and Blackberries, he would assemble a small three-ring binder for his idea book. I tend to jot out my idea book thoughts and information right into my Blackberry and desktop computer, making it easy to cut and paste ideas along the way. Steve recommends dividing the idea notebook into the following tabbed sections: To Do/Planning; Law/Legal Theories; Facts/Factual Issues; Ideas; Discovery Planning; Attack Opposing Case; Strategy; Jurors’ Perspective; Analysis; Theory of Case; Story; Arguments; Voir Dire; Opening Statements; Prosecution Witnesses; Defense Witnesses; and Closing Argument.

Adding to Steve’s idea book for trial preparation, I always go to trial with a trial outline, as I discuss here.

As to practicing until your f’in great, having a cup of coffee and practicing some more, Steve reached greatness decades ago.


  1. john iorio on February 12, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    What a fantastic, creative idea….that is like a sketchbook for attorney’s, if artists can keep one, and musicians have reams of musical notation, I can see how keeping a blackberry full of legal ideas can pay off in court…right on!

    • Jon Katz on March 20, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Steve Rench is par excellence.