Friday, June 22nd, 2012
June 22, 2012
Here is a photo, which reveals a lot about the choices made in the planning for this year’s State Bar of Arizona Convention, which ends this afternoon.
Any guess about what you’re looking at?
Let me give you a hint. It was sent to me by Jennifer Mott. Jennifer is a favorite person of mine, for a lot of reasons. But you may know her best through Arizona Attorney Magazine, in which she reported and wrote some great articles on green law practice.
Does that help you guess?
The photo shows the printed materials for this year’s Convention.
No, I don’t mean sample of the materials, or the materials for the Wednesday afternoon sessions. I mean all of the printed materials.
In past years, that stack would be a mountain. But in a great initiative, the Bar has provided materials to attendees on a flash drive. If they want to print, they could, I suppose. But most lawyers I spoke with this week appreciated the green effort—and not having to schlep binders of materials with them through 108-degree heat.
June 22, 2012
News from the State Bar about what looks to be a great event at 2:00 Friday afternoon:
Rule of Law Reform in a World of Conflict Featuring a Presentation by the
Honorable Medhat al-Mahmoud, Iraq’s Chief Justice
State Bar Convention
Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa
Friday, June 22, 2012
2 – 4 p.m.
This program is open both registered attendees and lawyers who will not be attending the convention. This program may qualify for 2 hours of MCLE.
About the Session
All too often we take for granted the solidity and stability of our legal system. Yet, what of countries emerging from dictatorship and war? How do they develop laws and create a legal order that defends basic rights and enables due process protections? Can they base a new system on prior structures? Can outside assistance from the U.S. and the international community support these changes? How do the experiences of other countries help us understand legal challenges within our own communities? This panel explores the role of law in the reconstruction of Iraq following decades of brutal authoritarian rule and Kosovo following years of devastating conflict. The panel features a talk by the Honorable Medhat al-Mahmoud, the Chief Justice of Iraq and President of the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council about the state of the country’s judiciary nearly a decade after the U.S. led invasion brought about regime change. It also includes a presentation by Tom Monaghan, a Nebraska judge who led legal reform projects in Kosovo. The panel is introduced by Douglas Sylvester, Dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and moderated by Daniel Rothenberg, also of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
About Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud
Iraq is known as the land of two rivers – the Tigris and the Euphrates – and many first learned of this part of the world as “the cradle of civilization” where writing, agriculture and other early signs of complex society began. For Iraqis, their land is also known as the birthplace of law through the Code of Hammurabi which defined key aspects of social order, including criminal punishments and rules for contracts, almost 4,000 years ago. Over the last several decades Iraq has been known to Americans as a zone of conflict, an oil-rich nation that was the focus of two major U.S. military actions, the Gulf War of 1991 and the invasion of 2003 and subsequent multi-year, large scale military and civilian presence.
The regime of Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party used law as a key tool for repression, creating special courts and legal proceedings that linked surveillance, abuse and the brutal targeting of those seen as enemies of the state. Yet, even under the dictatorship, the country’s regular courts and legal processes continued to function, reflecting Iraqi society’s longstanding respect for law and the judiciary. Following the fall of the prior government, Iraq experienced a political transformation to a democratic system, the significant rebuilding of state institutions and a period of sustained and devastating violence.
The Honorable Medhat al-Mahmoud, Chief Justice and President of the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council has played a central role throughout the reconstruction process. He has been directly involved in virtually every major rule of law reform initiative in Iraq, overseeing the interpretation of new laws, the development of revised court procedures and multiple efforts to strengthen the legal system. Many of these initiatives have been supported by our government as well as the international community. While most Americans are aware of U.S. military actions in Iraq, training for local security forces and support for elections, few know that the American government has invested over a billion dollars on rule of law reform in the country. The goal of this funding has been to support the Iraqi legal system with the understanding, shared by most Iraqis, that a clear sense of law and a functioning legal system are essential for democracy, economic growth and stability.
Like most countries in the world, Iraq’s legal system follows the civil law tradition, as opposed to the common law tradition that our system is based upon. Judges in Iraq participate in a special career track that involves specific training in judicial institutes and is deigned to highlight their role as members of a distinct profession. The Court of Cassation is the highest judicial body in Iraq and renders the final decisions on unresolved legal issues from the country’s lower courts which operate through fourteen judicial regions, each of which has an appellate court as well as various lower courts, including a number of specialty courts.
In 2004, at an early stage in the nation’s reconstruction process, the Chief Justice wrote, “Judges enjoy a highly revered stature in the people’s minds . . . due to the role they play in preserving social equilibrium . . . Being the custodians and guardians of the people’s rights, freedom and dignity, they deserve the great veneration and esteem the people bestow on them.” It is an honor and privilege to welcome the Chief Justice Medhat al-Mahmoud of Iraq to Arizona.
June 22, 2012
The annual award breakfast of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association was held Friday morning. At the event, the AWLA recognized Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch with the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, the group’s greatest honor.
A recurring theme of the event’s comments focused on why groups like AWLA are still vital and needed in 2012.
AWLA President Kim Demarchi took that question on head-on when she looked back at Arizona history. She noted that Sarah Herring Sorin was admitted to the Bar—the state’s first woman lawyer—in 1892, 22 years before Arizona became a state. And then in 1951, Mary Anne Richey—for whom the annual breakfast is named—was the only woman admitted to the Bar that year. Thirty-seven years after statehood, the only one admitted.
“What AWLA is about today,” Demarchi said, “is support for each other, service to the community and a willingness to collaborate and build coalitions.”
Longtime AWLA member (and past President) Paige Martin echoed that mission. She also reminded attendees the reason the Chief Justice was receiving the award: not for being Chief or her work on the Court of Appeals before that, “but for her day-to-day acts of being a mentor.”
Martin also read a wonderful tribute to the Chief from Justice Berch’s daughter, who could not attend due to a conflict in her work teaching at Southwestern Law School. Among her remarks: “My mom is the glue that holds our family together. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
L to R: Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Kim Demarchi, Paige Martin
Chief Justice Berch then spoke movingly about mentoring, which she called “the work of everyone who cares about our profession.”
She then encouraged a new generation of women lawyers to advance to leadership positions, especially as part of the judiciary.
“I know we’re all balancing a lot, but you have to apply for those positions.”
Although more and more lawyers may be women, she said, “Look at who are the associates and who are partners. At law schools, look who are tenured faculty and who is teaching legal writing.”
The Chief demonstrated her down-to-earth advice when she urged attendees to focus on what’s important and to sometimes push other things down the to-do list.
Let your house go another day without dusting, she said. “I’ve served Grape-Nuts for dinner,” she laughed. “I am fond of popcorn and a glass of wine for dinner.”
“Get up and do the things we need to do that will have a lasting effect.”
To emphasize that drive, AWLA Vice President Janet Hutchison announced the winners of the AWLA Mary Anne Richey Scholarships: ASU Law student Ashlee Hoffmann and UA Law student Judith Davila.
Congratulations to the AWLA for another great event. More photos are available at the Arizona Attorney Facebook page.
June 22, 2012
Track down an AWLA Board member at the State Bar Convention. Any one of them will give you the little indicia of support for the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, a great organization.
Here’s a shot of my sticker. Jealous? Get one for yourself.
June 22, 2012
The annual awards luncheon of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education always highlights the lawyers and judges who have stepped up to make a difference. Thursday’s event was no different.
The event had moving remarks by all the speakers: AZFLSE Executive Director Dr. Kevin Ruegg, Hon. Roxanne Song Ong and soon-to-be Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer.
Out of those remarks, let me share just two quotes that helped define the great work the Foundation does.
Amelia Cramer quoted Cornel West: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
And Todd Lang: “Our democracy is an illusion to those who find out courthouse doors closed.”
Here are photos of the winners.
June 22, 2012
Here is my annual slideshow of select swag (OK, promotional items) provided by exhibitors at the Bar Convention.
A caveat: This is not all there is. What is shown here is an extremely subjective, personal selection made by me. I tend not to pick up pens (they’re nice, but meh).
Thanks again to the exhibitors for helping make the Convention more affordable.
Here’s the schtuff.
June 22, 2012
Great news from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University:
Justice Berch to receive top AWLA award for encouraging, mentoring women in law
By Janie Magruder
Hon. Rebecca White Berch
Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch will receive the 2012 Sarah Herring Sorin Award from the Arizona Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) for her superior contributions to women in the field of law. Justice Berch, who graduated from the College of Law at Arizona State University in 1979, will accept the award on Friday, June 22, during the State Bar of Arizona’s annual convention at the Arizona Biltmore.
The award is named for Sorin, Arizona’s first woman lawyer who, in the early 1900s, became the 25th woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sorin was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1902, and practiced throughout the Arizona Territory, developing a specialty in mining law and practicing with her father, William Herring.
The award is given by the AWLA Board of Directors to a member who demonstrates support for and encouragement of the advancement of women in the legal profession.
“Rebecca is a living mentor who reaches out to help those coming up through the ranks behind her,” said Paige Martin, a partner in the Scottsdale office of Kutak Rock LLP, who submitted her nomination. “She is not a pedestal-sitter. She’s a person who takes all of this very seriously.”
In assembling the nomination, Martin spoke to people who work directly with the Chief Justice, and Martin also had a great deal of personal, first-hand experience with Justice Berch’s support for women in the law.
“The award has several components, including professional achievement and personal involvement with women in the law, and Rebecca certainly is outstanding in both of those,” said Martin, a past AWLA president and member of its advisory board. “She also is a great supporter of AWLA and its goals. She comes to our events, she brings people with her, and she encourages her clerks and others to join. Moreover, Rebecca’s physical presence at AWLA events demonstrates her recognition of the importance of an organization such as ours. Our mission is to promote and encourage the success of women lawyers, and she is a living embodiment of how to accomplish that goal.”
AWLA advocates for and shares information with its members on maternity policies, part-time work flexibility options and salary disparities, among other issues, fosters connections among women lawyers, and monitors and celebrates the successes of its members and women lawyers.
Justice Berch said she is honored by the nomination and the award, especially to be included in the company of its past recipients. They include Justice Ruth V. McGregor (ret.), Judge Mary M. Schroeder, Helen Perry Grimwood, Doris F. Mindell, Roxana C. Bacon, Grace McIlvain, Barbara A. Atwood, Laura A. Cardinal, Amy Schwartz, Georgia A. Staton, Judge Janis Ann Sterling (ret.), Amelia Craig Cramer and Martin.
Advocating for women in the law is a natural for Justice Berch. She first joined AWLA after her law-school graduation, and later, when she taught and directed the legal writing program at ASU, she was the faculty advisor for the Women Law Students’ Association.
Those were dichotomous times, the era of the “Fab Five,” when the five top elected offices in Arizona were held by women, and yet a prominent local country club still banned women from its men’s grill, and the Augusta Country Club, sponsor of the Masters Golf Tournament, would not have women as members.
“AWLA, then and now, helps lawyers make friends and find mentors. Participation may also alert you about career opportunities. And, by the way, men are welcome to join, too, and we hope they find the same advantages,” Justice Berch said.
The organization helped her with mock interviews and critiques before she submitted her judgeship application, which resulted in a boost to her poise, confidence and knowledge, she said.
“In today’s tough job market, membership in organizations such as AWLA has never been more important for law students and new lawyers,” she added.
“Starting in practice is more difficult than new lawyers anticipate it will be, and they can feel quite alone sometimes, so it’s helpful to have a friend outside your firm who you can call, and who will act as a sounding board,” Justice Berch said. “And don’t we want these new lawyers to have the best possible bridge into the practice of law?”
Born and raised in Phoenix, Justice Berch is a “Triple Devil,” having also earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ASU. She has spent most of her career serving Arizona and its citizens. She was in private practice from 1979-1986, then directed the law school’s legal writing program from 1986-1995. During that time, she co-authored Introduction to Legal Method and Process, a law-school textbook that is used around the country and is in its fifth printing.
Justice Berch served as Solicitor General for the State of Arizona from 1991-1994, and was Special Counsel and First Assistant Attorney General from 1995-1998. She was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1998, then appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court in 2002. In 2009, Justice Berch began a five-year term as Chief Justice.
She speaks to hundreds of groups annually, from school assemblies to service organizations, and serves on several national boards, including the National Conference of Chief Justices’ Board of Directors, the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Board of Trustees, and the Green Bag Board of Editors.
Janie Magruder is the Director of Print Communications and Media Relations at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.