The Lawyers Speech: HCRI Stuttering Therapy Opened Doors for Attorney William R. Denny

Appearing in court to litigate cases related to internet and technology law is part of a day’s work for William R. Denny, partner in the Delaware-based law firm of Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP. Denny’s litigation skill and expertise in electronic commerce and information licensing have earned him national recognition among peers and an impressive client roster.

Observing Denny’s convincing arguments and powerful examinations in cases before federal and state trial and appellate courts, no one would know the Elkton, MD resident has suffered from a severe stuttering condition. As a young child, he was ridiculed by schoolmates and called names because of the way he talked. Denny recalls the angst of dealing with the relentless teasing; and he remembers pounding his chest and stomping the floor out of frustration when he couldn’t get his words out.

Stuttering afflicts three million people in the U.S. and 66 million worldwide, according to the National Institutes of Health. The condition occurs when speech muscles inappropriately contract and jump out of control during attempts to speak. Stuttering ranges in severity and often hampers educational and career aspirations, inhibits social growth, and serves as a barrier to people reaching their full potential in life.

The young Denny was determined to overcome his speech disorder. During his early school years, he participated in different forms of therapy to address his stuttering. Yet, none of the treatment approaches helped him speak fluently. Then, when Denny was nine years old, his mother heard about a new behavioral or physically-based stuttering therapy program, which was developed by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., president of the non-profit Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – ).

Webster’s extensive stuttering research demonstrated that speech distortions associated with stuttering are physically derived and driven by faulty contractions within the muscles of the tongue, lips, jaw, and vocal folds.

Further study led to the definition of specific muscle-behavior patterns that can replace the distorted contractions and movements that give rise to stuttering. These new muscle behaviors actively generate fluent speech in individuals who stutter. With this discovery, Webster pioneered the first scientifically grounded behavioral therapy to treat stuttering.

Denny was one of Webster’s earliest and youngest clients. Denny recalls HCRI therapy being hard work. “Therapy was a long and tedious process. Yet, I was committed to doing everything I could to speak fluently,” he said.

By the end of his three-week stuttering treatment program, Denny spoke fluently for the first time in his life. However, to maintain his fluency, he had to practice his fluency training skills each day for months following therapy. Like an athlete persistently trains to excel in a sport, Denny persistently trained his speech muscles until talking fluently became second nature to him.

Since Denny’s stuttering therapy more than 30 years ago, Webster and his team of research scientists have continually enhanced HCRI’s stuttering therapy program, based on the institute’s ongoing research, new findings, and treatment innovations that make fluency learning easier and more precise.

“HCRI’s approach to treatment is objective, comprehensive, and results driven. Our work represents an ongoing process of building on our understanding of the critically important details that create a successful stuttering treatment program,” Webster said.

The fluency skills Denny acquired during HCRI therapy helped him excel at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Va., Princeton University, and the University of Virginia School of Law. Yet, he was surprised to discover that he still had a stuttering problem when learning and speaking a foreign language. So Denny used the same speech-muscle training skills he acquired during HCRI therapy to successfully control his stuttering when speaking French, Russian, and Finnish.

“Stuttering is a handicap that can put limits on your career, relationships, and life. Without HCRI stuttering treatment, I would have had a different trajectory in life. I am thankful for the doors that fluency has opened for me.” Denny said.

Today, at Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, Denny practices in the areas of electronic commerce, information licensing, and commercial litigation. He has represented both public and privately held companies in a wide range of technology and intellectual property-related transactions, including outsourcing of IT services, mergers and acquisitions, technology licensing, software development, sales of Internet domain names, and e-commerce website services.

Denny writes and speaks extensively on technology and business issues and was recognized in Delaware Today magazine, as one of the state’s top attorneys in the area of computer law. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2010 in the areas of Information Technology Law and Technology Law and has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest peer-review ranking for professional excellence.

About HCRI

Hollins Communications Research Institute was founded by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Under Dr. Webster’s direction, Roanoke, Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of innovative, scientifically based therapy approaches.

The Institute offers 17 stuttering therapy programs annually, each of which lasts 12 days. HCRI clinicians have treated nearly 6,000 people, aged 9 to 73, from across the U.S. and 47 other countries. Clients include broadcaster John Stossel of Fox News; Annie Glenn, wife of Senator and Astronaut John Glenn; as well as athletes, teachers, engineers, students, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, and others from all walks of life. For more information, visit or contact HCRI at 540-265-5650 or .

About Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP

The law firm of Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP is based in Wilmington, Delaware and provides legal advice to some of the largest national and multinational corporations, as well as to local and state businesses, governmental and non-profit entities, and individuals.

Attorneys at Potter Anderson, Delaware’s oldest law firm, have extensive experience in Delaware corporation and alternative entities law and practice regularly before the Delaware courts. Labor and employment, health care, and insurance recovery are among the other areas of law in which legal services are provided by the firm. For more information, visit or contact Potter Anderson at 302-984-6000 or .