August 2012


Not only is this a Change of Friday, but it’s also the last day of the month. And on that doubly good occasion, I decided to try something different: I made a video.

Don’t get too excited; Martin Scorsese doesn’t have to worry about me upending his legacy. Instead, I got to try some funky animated functionality to convey some good news, which is: We at Arizona Attorney Magazine are going to improve even more our digital offerings. That’s right, an app is on your way.

Our digital edition already can sense (through computer magic, I guess) when you reach the site through a mobile phone. At that point, it opens up a version that is extremely readable. Still, we thought we could do better.

The app will be accessible via many devices, both iPhone (and iPad) and Android. And it will include not just the content from the print magazine, but feeds from a variety of our news channels.

I’ll send out more information as we get closer to our launch. But for now, enjoy a brief video that has two lawyers (O’Connor and Simpson) explaining the new effort.

Go on; click to watch the video. You can afford the minute and a half on a Friday!

Have a great—and animated—weekend.

ABA Journal cover preview (via former Journal editor @edadams)

Today, I send out a brief but heartfelt “Congratulations” to an Arizona lawyer who has made national headlines—in a good way!

This week, we learned that attorney Ruth Carter has been named a “Legal Rebel” by the ABA Journal. Although I strive not to spill much ink over other magazines’ competition results, I happily make an exception for Ruth.

You should go to the Journal’s Legal Rebels page (go ahead and give them the page views; they could use it!). There, the editors open by describing the kind of people they sought:

“Lawyers who are helping change the profession in ways both big and small. These are the innovators—the folks who’ve found a different path, some new way to blend the needs of their clients or their practice, or even their own needs of personal expression, into the way they practice the law.”

The editors searched high and low, and they found 11 people worthy of the Legal Rebel moniker. And how many are from Arizona? Just Ruth. And how many have ever been from Arizona, in the ranking’s history? Just Ruth.

Ruth Carter (photo by Don McPhee)

I have known Ruth for a few years, since when she was a law student. I’ve been pleased to see her grow into a confident practicing lawyer, one with her own practice and boisterous approach to the law.

Ruth has also written for us, on blogging. See the good advice she gives to bloggers here.

Well spoken as always, Ruth wrote her own reaction to the Legal Rebels announcement, posted on her firm website. I urge you to read it, and then to bookmark her page. It might come in handy to know a lawyer who has some rebel in her.

(You’ll probably also enjoy Ruth’s blog post describing her photo shoot for the ABA Journal.)

Ruth Carter (photo by Don McPhee)

Congratulations, Ruth—I continue to expect great things!

As I’ve talked about before, the gap between legal services and those who need them has never been wider. Fortunately, many, many lawyers do more than gaze into that chasm; they opt to offer their time and expertise on a free or reduced-cost basis.

October traditionally includes what the profession calls “Pro Bono Week,” a time to focus on the legal needs of many people. But lawyers give throughout the year, as we saw at an event last week.

The following news comes from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez at the State Bar of Arizona.

The State Bar and Univision 33 hosted Abogados a Su Lado (“Lawyers at Your Side”) on Thursday, August 23. The evening’s topic was personal-injury issues.

There were seven volunteer attorneys participating in the public service program (for this blog post, I’ve provided links where I could locate them): John Alston, Jess Gulbrandsen, Ridge Hicks, Jose M. Leon, Carlos Slack-Mendez, Patricio Smith and Julio Zapata.

The lawyers fielded 76 calls during the two-hour phone bank. The following is a small sample of the questions that were received:

  • How long do I have to file a claim after a collision?
  • How long does it take to resolve a claim after it has been filed?
  • Can I change attorneys if I am not satisfied with my current attorney?
  • Can I file an injury claim if the vehicle does not exhibit major damage?
  • Can I file a claim if I don’t have a driver’s license?

All seven of the Abogados a Su Lado volunteers were first-time participants. They were satisfied with the quality of the questions overall and were excited to have participated in the Abogados a Su Lado public service program. Calls were consistent from 5 to 7 p.m., which led to a successful phone bank.

Congratulations and thanks to all the participating lawyers.

Today, because I am still seeking great story ideas for 2013, I share my editor’s column from the July/August Arizona Attorney. Contact me with ideas—or most anything—at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Ever wonder what most interests magazine folks? Here it is: What’s next.

Even here, in the land of articles written on paper (paper!), we seek to examine what’s around the bend, not just what’s already occurred.

The reason for that is simple: What has happened in the law is certainly worthy of analysis. But what’s coming tomorrow, next week and next year may wreak havoc or happiness in your law practice and legal career. A firm and clear focus on the future is what your work life needs.

I’m thinking on that topic as I ponder two magazine initiatives.

The first is our annual Editorial Calendar, which I’ll construct in the next month. That “roadmap” sets us on a trajectory, but it is valuable only insofar as it gives you useful insight and actionable news.

I invite you to share with us your thoughts for upcoming story ideas. Tell us what legal topics you believe we should cover in 2013. They may be broad or specific, profile ideas or trend stories. They may be about a particular case or law, or about a new practice area.

Write me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

In case you were wondering what we’re about, here is our mission statement, which I keep in mind as I think on the magazine’s content: 

  • Arizona Attorney helps our readers do their job better—more efficiently and profitably—through editorial content that is analytical and topical.
  • Arizona Attorney is a practical resource and a valuable tool for Arizona lawyers on matters related to their practice, the justice system, the regulation of the legal profession and the improvement of the quality of legal services.
  • Arizona Attorney strives to be the number-one source of legal news and information and the best forum for Arizona lawyers.
  • Our content sparks stimulating discussion through the presentation of challenging and thoughtful ideas.
  • We take an active role in creating a community in which lawyers can better connect with each other.

Our focus on the future may be best achieved by conversing with people who are inhabiting it. Lacking a time-machine, that takes me to our second initiative—our aim to create a “law school bureau.”

We are having conversations with Arizona law students and law schools right now. Our goal is to collaborate on articles that are forward-looking and that serve practicing lawyers as well as law students. The result may occasionally be a story about a new endeavor at one of the schools. More often, we expect the articles to be about the wider legal community.

Whether you’re a new lawyer or an experienced one, I welcome your ideas on that and all our initiatives.

Technology-wise, one of the questions lawyers most often ask is related to cloud security. That is: Is my data—including client material—safe in cloud-based applications and cloud-based storage?

This past year, one company has almost single-handedly made it more difficult to offer a resounding “Yes” in response. That firm is, of course, Dropbox.

Too often recently, we have seen stories that almost all could carry the same headline: “Dropbox Confirms Security Glitch.” In an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, lawyer Brian Chase examines the challenges of the cloud. And in so doing, he points us to a few good articles on Dropbox’s missteps. Read about them here, here and here. The most recent occurred just last month, in late July.

This past weekend, I came across an article that indicates Dropbox is edging toward a security solution, this time in the form of a “two-step verification.”

Will Dropbox meet its security challenges and renew users’ faith?

If you want to gauge public response to this latest Dropbox effort, just read the comments beneath the story. Here are a few:

“So wait, we should use a more time-consuming authentication system while THEY failed to secure their databases, resulting in all of their users now enjoying a dramatic increase of spam entering their mailboxes every day? I’m so sick of these companies forcing us into such overkill systems while whenever there’s a security breach, it’s always on their end.”

“What use is this? It only adds security to the part I already had control of—I use impossible to guess passwords with a password manager. The gaping security hole I worry about with Dropbox is that any Dropbox employee or hacker getting into Dropbox has access to my documents. Why don’t they implement two-step verification INTERNALLY for their own staff, and client-side encryption of data so hackers can’t get anything useful anyway? Oh never mind SpiderOak already does this and that is why I use them instead of DropBox.”

One commenter was more generous in his assessment, and pointed out an important part of the exchange process—it’s free! So quit your moanin’:

“No online system is flawless, none is unhackable, you’d rather they not give you the tools to protect your property? It’s YOUR data, YOU are getting a SERVICE for FREE, they owe you nothing. I say good on em, and thanks for the extra level of security, because I care about my data. And anyway, they’re not forcing anything, it’s entirely optional.

I have some agreement with the last commenter’s words. However, when it comes to lawyers or any businessperson, the benefit of free evaporates quickly when sensitive material is hacked. I’m sure lawyers would rather pay a fair price and get security, rather than revel in a cost savings while coders in their parents’ basement wreak havoc on a system most thought was safe.

It’s likely that Dropbox will weather this storm, and that the storm will be replaced with some other torrent that will overtake another company.

But in the meantime: What do you think? Is some use of the cloud inevitable? And will the risks ever decrease to an extent sufficient that you are comfortable with sensitive information floating up there?

The Icehouse: Sufficiently spooky

It is Change of Venue Friday, so I share with you an event (tonight!) that melds the law, murder and cinema. And to add to the mix, it will be a seriously spooky venue.

What am I talking about? Friday evening will be the last (Phoenix) chance to see the documentary “Of Dolls and Murder.”

Open to the sky: The Icehouse “Cathedral Room”

I wrote about the film before. But that was when it was shown in the comfort of a Scottsdale arts venue. Tonight, the screening will occur in a more suitably shiver-inducing location: the Icehouse in downtown Phoenix.

The film’s “host” is No Festival Required, who tells a little about the organization and some about the movie.

Share the event with others (and invite them too) from here.

The Icehouse—a former warehouse, now an arts and event venue—is at 429 West Jackson Street, Phoenix 85007. Here’s a map:

Or, if you are less Google-minded, here’s a map for the rest of us:

 

I hope to be there. If you see me, please say hi. And let’s compare our movie critiques.

Have a murder-free weekend.

The challenges that solo practitioners face are legion. And although the playing field may have been somewhat leveled over the past decade through widespread access to technology, the sledding may still be rather tough.

One Arizona development aims to make things a little easier, for solos or for any lawyer who may require access to legal research. This week, the Phoenix School of Law announced its Law Library Bar Access Program. Through it, lawyers and judges may gain “access to [the school’s] physical and online collections,” both at its downtown Phoenix location or via their own computers.

More detail on the Bar Access Program is here.

And here is a list of those who may apply for membership in the program:

  • Active members of the State Bar of Arizona
  • Active members of any tribal bar
  • Inactive members of any state or tribal bar engaged in pro bono service or scholarship
  • Employees of active members of the State Bar of Arizona under supervision per Rule 5.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

There are some modest fees involved: an annual registration fee of $120, and $30 “to defray the cost of the identification card.”

Phoenix School of Law Dean Shirley Mays said, “We are quite proud and excited to offer such an incredible resource such as our Law Library Bar Access Program housed here at Phoenix School of Law to the legal community in Arizona and beyond.”

Is this a benefit you may use? When I had my own law practice, I definitely would have made use of this, both for the resources and the support and insight a law librarian can provide. Today, however, is that still the case? Librarians, of course, can still be worth their weight in gold. But are the legal resources far more available than ever before—and at a good price?

Please let me know what you think of this offer. Or send me your own story about using it.

If you have questions about the program, contact Lidia Koelbel, Access Services Manager, at (602) 682-6899. The complete list of available resources and materials for on-campus and off-campus access is here.

Finally, don’t forget to bookmark the PhoenixLaw Library Blog, called Footnotes.

Phoenix School of Law Library

Arizona Superior Court for Pinal County

Yesterday, a press release came to my inbox, and it took me a moment to realize that it signaled a historic event.

Typically, when the State Bar of Arizona seeks lawyer applicants for an appellate court or trial court appointment commission, it is a routine event (though it is a prestigious appointment). For example, the Maricopa and Pima County Trial Court Appointment Commissions have been around a long time. In the decades since the merit-selection and retention system was instituted in 1974, many lawyers have served the state by participating in the work of those boards.

(For more detail on merit selection, go here.)

So when something’s been operating for almost four decades, I hope you’ll forgive me for almost missing a related press releases as it sails by me. To my surprise, I spotted the fact that this is not more of the same, but it is about a new commission entirely: the Pinal County Commission on Trial Court Appointments. With that commission, Pinal County joins the ranks of more-populous Arizona counties in their manner of selecting state court trial judges.

The notion of extending the merit-selection system is not without controversy, but the change comes simply through an increasing population. Once the county exceeded 250,000 people, a commission would be formed, as required by the Arizona Constitution.

In the September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we will have a great article on merit selection’s history and new developments, written by the State Bar’s CEO John Phelps and lawyer Kellen Bradley. In the meantime, read about this historic development in Pinal County. And if you are a lawyer in Pinal, you should consider applying to be part of the inaugural panel of this commission. There’s only one first.

Here’s the release:

Applications Being Accepted for Newly Forming Pinal County Commission on Trial Court Appointments

PHOENIX – Aug. 21, 2012 – The State Bar of Arizona, the State’s attorney regulation and consumer protection organization, is currently accepting applications to fill five lawyer openings on the Pinal County Commission on Trial Court Appointments. Results from the 2010 U.S. Census, which reported that the population of Pinal County now exceeds 250,000, triggered the constitutional requirement to create a trial court commission.

The newly forming sixteen-member commission will be responsible for screening, interviewing and selecting judicial nominees for submission to the Governor of Arizona for her appointment of superior court judges in Pinal County. It will be chaired by the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court (or her designee).

Applicants must be active members of, and in good standing with, the State Bar of Arizona; shall have resided in the state and been admitted to practice before the Arizona Supreme Court for no less than five (5) years; and must have resided in Pinal County for at least one year. There are no applicant restrictions with regard to one’s political party affiliation for these openings. 

Applications can be obtained at the State Bar of Arizona’s Appointment Committee webpage at http://www.azbar.org/sectionsandcommittees/committees/appointments. Completed applications must be submitted to Nina Benham at the State Bar of Arizona by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. Applications can be delivered in person to 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100, Phoenix, Arizona 85016-6266; or faxed to 602.416.7529; or submitted electronically via email to nina.benham@staff.azbar.org.

About the State Bar of Arizona Appointments Committee

The mission of the committee is to recommend to the Board of Governors the appointment of members to fill openings on state-wide boards, committees and commissions. Achieve a “balance” in all appointments as they relate to each voluntary professional activity, i.e., age, gender, geography, ethnicity, area of practice. The Committee and the Board of Governors consider all aspects of diversity in their recommendations and appointments.

About the State Bar

The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar includes approximately 17,000 active attorneys and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. Since 1933 the Bar and its members have been committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system.

Today, more of a question than a talky talky post: Do any of you use an iPad for work?

I ask for a few reasons.

First of all, we are working on the October issue of Arizona Attorney, in which we’ll have some IT for lawyers content. And unlike last year, when we had an iPad story, we don’t have one this year. A reason for that was that no one ever said to me, “Right on, finally some content for the iPad lawyer!”

I would have been happy even without the “Right on.” But it was pretty quiet out there.

Another reason is that I came across this great article, which explains some nifty ways to present using your iPad. That made me think, we should have done something like that in the upcoming issue. But then I remembered my first point above, and I wasn’t so sure.

At home, we have a few iPads, and they are terrific. But it hadn’t really crossed my mind to use them for work stuff, let alone in presentations.

So how about it? Do you use one for work?

Tougher questions now: Have you used them for courtroom presentations?

Would you?

Gary Marchant

Last week, the law school at Arizona State University announced the news that it had been awarded a substantial grant aimed at research into personalized medicine—specifically, the liability issues that flow from it.

The almost-$900,000, three-year grant goes to a team led by Gary Marchant, a professor at the school. The grant was made by the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute. His project’s title is “Liability in the Delivery of Personalized Medicine: Driver, Impediment, or Both?”

In the school’s press release, Professor Marchant is quoted:

“Liability is likely to be an increasingly important driver of personalized medicine, but it can be a double-edged sword. Our goal in this project is to first understand the dynamics and likely trajectory of liability in the field of personalized medicine. We then will try to shape liability impacts to be a positive rather than detrimental influence on the deployment of personalized medicine technologies and knowledge.”

More from the announcement is here.

National Institutes of Health logoIf you read Arizona Attorney Magazine, you have read Gary’s work before. (Professor Gary Marchant is the ASU Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law and Ethics at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and Faculty Director of the College of Law’s Center for Law, Science & Innovation.)

Gary’s collaboration with us at Arizona Attorney came in 2007, after he and I “met” on a national telephone conference on the topic of personalized medicine. Pleased to hear another Arizona voice on the conference call, I sent him an email while we all chatted. He followed up by graciously agreeing to write something on the topic for us.

The result was an October 2007 cover story on personalized medicine. In that article, he included a substantial portion on liability issues, so we may have gotten a preview of his study’s focus. Here is some of what he said then:

“One looming legal issue is the potential liability risks that PM may present for pharmaceutical manufacturers, genetic test providers and health care professionals. …

“All drug manufacturers now routinely collect genetic information of patients enrolled in pharmaceutical clinical studies. A manufacturer may face liability if these data show that certain genotypes are more susceptible to adverse side effects to a drug that is subsequently marketed without adequate genetic warnings. Drug manufacturers are legitimately concerned that genetic data of unknown or ambiguous significance at the time it is collected will be seen in hindsight by a jury in a product liability case many years later, relying on new evidence available at the time of trial, as evidence of a genetic susceptibility for which a warning should have been provided. Drug manufacturers are also concerned that pharmacogenomics will limit the sales of their new blockbuster drugs to specific genotypes within the population, and may be vulnerable to “failure to test” claims if they do not diligently investigate potential genetic susceptibilities to their drugs that may reduce their market by 50 percent or more. …

“Health care professionals are likely the most vulnerable to liability risks associated with PM. State-of-the-art diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease will increasingly rely on genetic characterization of the patient and his or her disease. Yet many doctors lack any training in genetics. And even those who have understanding lack the infrastructure and guidance needed to effectively use the pharmacogenomic information that is increasingly appearing on drug labels. … As the nation’s leading medical institutions implement new PM tests and knowledge as they emerge, the standard of care will shift rapidly, leaving many physicians behind. These doctors may increasingly face the risk of lawsuits if they fail to consider genetics adequately when prescribing a drug with known severe side effects or recommend the wrong course of treatment for a tumor with a genetic profile suggesting a different approach.”

To read Gary’s complete insightful cover story, go here.

Congratulations to Gary, and to the law school. We look forward to the results of the study, which should yield insights for policymakers and lawyers alike.

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