June 2010


I just received the following photo from an editorial board member of Arizona Attorney Magazine. It was shot by Jennifer Mott from her family’s Flagstaff house.

The photo is a stunning visual. It shows the surreal combination of a beautiful southwestern day and a brutal, dangerous forest fire.

A master of understatement, Jennifer simply said, “Luckily, we were upwind of the fire.  We had an amazing view of the plume on the first day.”

We’re glad that Jennifer—and all Northern Arizona residents—have been fine so far. Let’s hope that people continue to stay safe through this fire season.

Gene Clark, former Interim Dean, Phoenix School of Law

As we reported last week, Interim Dean Gene Clark has left the Phoenix School of Law.

Clark came to the school as a legal innovator and lover of classical learning, and he spoke highly of the school’s attempt to foster student-centered education. As he told us in 2009:

“Most law schools are heading in the direction we are; we are just a little bit further from the beginning. U.S. legal education is at a great threshold moment, making significant changes. We have a 19th-century model and produced a great 19th-century lawyer. But if you think about the Socratic method, it was before Piaget, it was before Dewey, it was before any notion of developmental learning or the effective component in learning—no surprise that it needed some change. We’re excited because we can be at the forefront of bringing that change about.”

This is not the first sudden departure of leaders at Phoenix Law. In January 2009, Dean Dennis Shields left the school with no advance notice to the public or students. Just the week before Shields’ departure, his office had confirmed an interview with Arizona Attorney Magazine. Four days after the surprise announcement, Interim Dean Eugene Clark was present for the interview.

In that interview, Clark was asked about what appeared to be a sudden departure of the previous dean. He said, “In our organization, there was a feeling it would be a good idea to move people around to create interdependence, that if we’re going to do cross-consortium things and leverage, it’s good to have people know each other.”

Here is the story we’ll run in the July/August issue of Arizona Attorney.

Gene Clark To Leave Phoenix School of Law

The Phoenix School of Law announced on June 24 that its Interim Dean, Gene Clark, would step down, effective Monday, June 28. Professor Ann Woodley was slated to take over as Interim Dean until a permanent Dean is named later in the summer.

Clark planned to leave the school immediately and travel to Australia on June 28, where he will teach corporate law and advise doctoral students at Griffith University.

Phoenix Law is part of the InfilLaw system, a private umbrella company that is comprised of the Phoenix school and two other schools, Florida Coastal School of Law and the Charlotte (North Carolina) School of Law. InfiLaw is owned by Sterling Partners, a private equity firm.

Phoenix Law spokeswoman Juliet Falevitch said that Clark “will become the first InfiLaw provost, while trying to get international ties for InfiLaw and the law school system.”

In leaving Phoenix Law, Clark also withdrew himself from consideration as the school’s Dean. The search for a permanent administrator has lasted throughout Clark’s time there from January 2009. It is expected that a new Dean will be named within the month.

Clark’s biggest accomplishment at Phoenix Law will likely be remembered as his leadership in securing full ABA accreditation for the school, which was founded in 2005. The school landed the accolade on June 15, earning its new status at the earliest opportunity at which it could apply—less than six years from opening.

On his watch, the school also garnered a Law School Admissions Council “Diversity Matters Award” this year for its efforts to attract students from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the legal profession.

Two weeks ago, Clark spoke proudly about the school’s graduates, who had earned the highest pass rate of all three Arizona law schools on the most recent Arizona Bar Exam. He added that Phoenix Law had the highest number of test-takers, so it was not an anomaly of a small set of accomplished students.

Among his other duties, Dean Clark had been a member of the State Bar Board of Governors. Of the Bar, he said, “I have never seen a bar association so willing to partner with a school. They gave our growing school a great reception, and we all appreciated it.”

Bar President Alan Bayham Jr. spoke highly of the departing scholar, praising him as “a gifted communicator,” Bayham also noted Clark’s leadership in diversity and in helping to found a legal clinic for veterans.

“Gene Clark and his service on the Board of Governors will be missed,” said Bayham. “He was always willing to share his expertise in the education and training of lawyers, and willing to provide assistance to the bar and the community. Most of all, we will miss his good humor, wit and always positive attitude.”

Since Clark arrived on campus in 2009, he has been a candidate for the permanent dean position. It had been expected that gaining ABA accreditation would help ensure his selection.

After the announcement of his departure, Clark spoke with Arizona Attorney. He said that some people—such as himself—may have the skill set to get a school up and running, but different skills may be needed to get it to the next level.

“In some ways I am better suited to the start-up phase than I am to the adolescent years and maturity.”

Asked what he believed the school’s next steps will be, he gave a broad list, including locating the most effective site for the school, finding areas of specialization, and strengthening the partnership between faculty and academic success staff to improve career placement. He also said the school will ramp up its clinical offerings, in taxpayer assistance, veterans’ issues, family law and immigration.

Clark previously served as Dean of the Charlotte School of Law since its 2006 founding. He now returns to a continent he knows well, having been Dean and a Professor at Charles Darwin University in Australia and Head of School (Law) at the University of Canberra, where he also served as Vice-Chancellor. He also has taught at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

He heads to the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University, in Southport, Queensland. The campus opened in 1975. Its website describes Griffith as “one of the most influential universities in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Clark, 62, looks forward to joining family in Australia and “getting fit, walks on the beach, time to have quiet time to reflect.” His wife, who has been offered a professorship at Griffith, is already there, as is one of his daughters. Another adult daughter will remain in the United States.

He said he is excited about increasing his teaching. “Even as a dean, the driver, the frame at which I approached it was always at that engagement of teaching.”

“Teaching is probably one of the most worthwhile human activities. I’m just lucky that someone wants to pay me for it.”

Clark earned his B.A. at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, Kan. He later was awarded master’s degrees at Wichita State University and the University of Tasmania, a J.D. at Washburn University, and a Ph.D. at the University of Tasmania. His wife Pat is an accounting professor, and they have two grown daughters, Remy and Lisa.

Read our March 2009 Q&A with Dean Clark.

Here is more information on InfiLaw.

A constellation of immigration stories in the past few days suggests the depth of Arizona’s immigration debate. But it also points us to a possible solution.

First off, this Sunday morning saw a unique spatial approach to the immigration argument. It featured hundreds of people standing in the parking lot of the Heard Museum and forming a human postcard to send to Washington.

Their message? “S.O.S. Congress.” The words conveyed the notion that Arizona is more than just SB1070, and that Arizona—or any individual state—is not the best constitutional laboratory in which to cook up an immigration regime. No, the organizers insisted, the federal government is charged with immigration matters, so get to work.

 

(Gazing at the news photo, it took me a minute to realize that the organizers had placed three people as the periods in the acronym “S.O.S.” That is an attention to detail—and grammar—that has been woefully lacking in our immigration debate. Well played!)

It was organized by Kimber Lanning, downtown businesswoman and Local First Arizona founder and front person. Her position is that a good result will not flow from boycotts, but from comprehensive immigration reform.

Attorney General Terry Goddard at Sunday's event

Standing in the early-morning heat at the Heard were families with kids, the young, the old, some pets, and even some politicos, including Attorney General Terry Goddard, former City Councilman Greg Stanton, and legislative candidate Ken Clark.

Read a news story here.

And here are some photos from the Sunday event. (Thank you to Kathy Nakagawa, Frances McMahon Ward and Madison Ward for the great photos. The overhead shot is by Tom Tingle at the Arizona Republic.)

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(This past Friday evening was yet another panel discussion on SB1070. This one was held at the Phoenix law firm Fennemore Craig, and it was sponsored by the Arizona Latino Media Association. I got the notice about it Friday afternoon, so I’m very sorry I couldn’t attend. Panelists were legislator John Kavanagh, lawyers Antonio Bustamante and Nancy-Jo Merritt, and the terrific writer Terry Greene Sterling. Read her blog here.)

But I promised a possible solution, didn’t I?

That came to me yesterday while I read yet another story about Governor Jan Brewer’s recent statement about the topic. She continues to allege that the majority of immigrants coming across the southern border are not coming for work. No, she says; they are ferrying drugs and fueling that criminal economy.

“And they’re doing drop houses, and they’re extorting people and they’re terrorizing the families. … The majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming (into) the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels.”

The majority, eh? Even John McCain had to demurely dissent on that one. But it got me to thinking, especially when I read this morning’s story about the state’s crumbling health care infrastructure.

That story led with the tale of a woman who faced a terrible dilemma as state benefits end.

“[Deborah] Ferry is one of more than 12,000 adults with mental illnesses who do not qualify for Medicaid and will lose access to brand-name drugs, case managers, therapists, hospital care and transportation to their appointments when the cuts take effect Thursday.”

“When this all falls down, it’s going to be total chaos,” said Donna Hayes, who has received mental-health services in Arizona since 1979. “There are going to be more suicides, more hospital stays, more people living on the streets.”

I bet you’ve already figured out my brainstorm. Here are the steps to the modest proposal:

  1. Arizona has many immigrants coming across our borders every year.
  2. Whether they come from Mexico or Canada, they all have access to more inexpensive drugs than we do in the United States.
  3. If you were to believe the governor, many of those migrants are already accomplished at transporting drugs.
  4. Masses of Arizona residents are about to encounter a bleak future as our Legislature opts to end many medical benefits.

What does this add up to? Well, it’s a veritable Marshall Plan that can deliver inexpensive medication to Arizona residents.

Win–win, as they say in politics. And you heard it here first.

It’s Change of Venue Day, so I thought I would share some of my odder ramblings. These are just a few of the notes I jotted down as I prepared for a panel presentation on social media. If they don’t make sense, all I can say in my defense is, I think I said it better than I wrote it.

Have a great weekend. 

  • My skill level is low, but my willingness to risk failure is high.
  • Social media is the land of the unpolished but often genuine experience. And if that’s true, it’s perfect for us association types.
  • Too much time is spent developing a social media policy, rather than thinking of ways to use these channels. Who can imagine a company in 1980 insisting that a committee be convened to draft new voluminous “Fax policies” before they buy their first fax machine?
  • It’s fun. It’s challenging. And it gives me the monthly opportunity to scoop others.
  • Roam widely, but with a local angle/target.
  • Stop thinking of social media as anything except a new channel.
  • Twitter is not just about what people had for lunch.
  • Each channel is nothing more than an alternative story form. You wouldn’t refuse to ever have photo essays, or to include sidebars, or charts. Social media is just a new channel that might fit particular content well.
  • Perhaps the problem is the title: Many of us are not super-social, so the phrase “social media” seems jarring. Maybe there should be cocktails.
  • Speaking of cocktails: Another editor told me that if he attended a 2-hour party and got 1-2 connections/leads out of it, he chalked it up as a success. But if gets the same result out of 2 hours in social media, he feels it’s a waste of time. What does that mean?
  • Be fearless. Learn by trying. A mistake scrolls away very quickly.
  • It’s rapidly becoming not acceptable to have two-way conversations in real life but one-way communication in e-news. Social media may empower your membership.
  • Here’s what’s not true: “If I wait this out, this stupid trend will go away.” But this is not about the particular channel—which probably will go away or morph into something else—it is about learning a new habit, new ways to provide value as a multiple-lane street.
  • Social media should be valuable not just for your publication and association. It should be valuable to you too. Join groups, get ideas.
  • When I decided to have fun, the readers began to have fun too.

Gene Clark

The Phoenix School of Law announced on the evening of Thursday, June 24, that Gene Clark, Interim Dean at the law school, would step down, effective Monday, June 28. Professor Ann Woodley will take over as Interim Dean until a permanent Dean is named later in the summer.

According to school spokeswoman Juliet Falevitch, Clark will leave the school immediately and travel to Australia on Monday, where he is expected to teach at a university.

Phoenix Law is part of the InfilLaw system, a private umbrella company that is comprised of the Phoenix school and three law schools: Florida Coastal School of Law and the Charlotte (North Carolina) School of Law. InfiLaw is owned by Sterling Partners, a private equity firm.

Falevitch said that Clark “will become the first InfiLaw provost, while trying to get international ties for InfiLaw and the law school system.”

Clark’s biggest accomplishment at Phoenix Law will likely be remembered as his leadership in securing full ABA accreditation for the school, which was founded in 2005. The school landed the accolade just last week, earning the moniker at the earliest opportunity at which it could apply.

Two weeks ago, Clark spoke proudly about the school’s graduates, who had earned the highest pass rate of all three Arizona law schools on the most recent Arizona Bar Exam. He added that Phoenix Law had the highest number of test-takers, so it was not an anomaly of a small set of accomplished students.

Read our March 2009 Q&A with Dean Clark here.

More information on InfiLaw is here.

More information on this story will be provided as it becomes available.

I wrote a few days ago about an upcoming event at Snell & Wilmer honoring some hard-working people. The event was to honor those lawyers (and their staff) who had prevailed in the Top 10 verdicts of 2009, and the top defense verdicts in the same year.

Our master of ceremonies was Kelly Wilkins MacHenry, an attorney at Snell and the author of our annual cover story on the topic.

Here is a photo of the group.

Besides being able to toast their accomplishments, the evening provides another great aspect: We get to hear from the lawyers themselves, who provide some insight into what they think made their case special, and why they think they may have prevailed. To those of us who find law practice fascinating, it is a great way to spend your time.

I have to add that Snell catered with Tammie Coe – an inspired decision! I am used to thinking of Tammie Coe in terms of delicious baked goods and sandwiches on the phenomenal MJ Bread (baked by her husband, Michael John).

Tammie Coe

This evening, though, Tammie rolled out her shop’s newest delicious catering choices, including spring rolls, spicy cheese puffs and meatless meatballs. None of these paltry words can reveal how wonderful the food was. And to make it even better, Tammie herself was there, schlepping her delicious offerings. Like her food, she’s a pleasure at a party!

Here’s to great lawyering and catering, that time-honored combo!

Yes, this is a Tammie Coe cake.

A news story today detailed the newest flash point in the debate over whether Native American images should ever be used as sports team logos. As NPR reports:

“School team nicknames like the Chieftains and Braves may soon be a thing of the past in Wisconsin, where a new law allows the state to ban race-based mascots and logos. If a complaint is upheld, school districts face fines of up to $1,000 a day.”

Aside from “We’ve always done it,” I’m not sure there’s any good argument for resisting the drift toward the more respectful stance of not using these mascots anymore. (Well, there is the revenue that sports teams make, but there are plenty of non-racist tasteless approaches they could use to rake in the moolah.)

This all takes me back to my own college’s team logos.

Siena College is a small Franciscan school who does pretty well at sports, despite their relatively meager resources (sort of — I majored in English, whose department would have been happy to have the sports budget, I’m sure).

Their logo has shifted over the years. All I recall from my time there was an illustration of Snoopy, as “Joe Cool,” dribbling a Siena basketball.

Not that I knew he was Joe Cool – I thought he had a disability. So enamored was I of the school’s willingness to be self-deprecating about its own team – they showed him as a blind fella! – that I purchased a shirt with the image. Imagine my angst-ridden disappointment when I realized I was helping to tout Siena’s coolness factor. So as you can see, it’s not only school districts that are clueless when it comes to mascots and logos.

Currently, the logo of the Siena Saints (shown at the top left) appears to be a Saint Bernard. That’s nice, though I would have advocated for a series of, you know, actual saints playing a variety of sports. Francis dunking at the rim, Jerome on the links, Elizabeth in the crease, Sebastian on the mound. Another good idea left on the ash-heap of history.

The UC Irvine Anteater: That Doesn't Suck

But if the St. Bernard doesn’t stand the test of time (and if the school can work out the licensing), Siena could always go back to that coolest of beagles.

And for those other teams that use an Indian mascot, why not pick an animal (sorry: the anteater’s already been taken by UC–Irvine), or even a saint. Thousands are still available, so call now.

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