September 2012


Attendees gather for a Legal Marketing Association event featuring a panel of in-house corporate counsel, at Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Sept. 26, 2012.

This week, I get to interact with many communications and PR professionals, and that leads me to wonder: Could their best practices align quite a bit with those of lawyers?

That thought occurred to me as I prepared to moderate a Wednesday panel at Snell & Wilmer for the Legal Marketing Association. The panel was comprised of in-house corporate counsel, and the audience included both lawyers and communications folks.

It was a blast, and I continue to be impressed by the deep level of commitment and quality that emanates from the LMA. As I said in my opening remarks, their story pitches and sharing of information are what allow us to cover our beat well.

But story pitches—and lawyers—are much on my mind this week, mainly because of a panel I will sit on this Saturday.

The “8th Annual Publicity Summit” is co-hosted by the local chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America. (Could those organization names be a little more intimidating, please?) I’ve been in the SPJ for years, and I’ll be on a panel of magazine editors, writers and reporters.

Here is how the PRSA describes the event:

“Now is your chance to secure that challenging story you have been working on or meet face-to-face with your favorite media person. [Beat] Join PRSA Phoenix Chapter and Society of Professional Journalists for the 8th Annual Publicity Summit and the opportunity to network with peers, meet key members of the Phoenix media and get your stories placed. More than 20 of The Valley’s top journalists and reporters from various media outlets across multiple beats will be in attendance.”

You can find more information and registration pages online. (Registration may be closed by the time you click the second link.)

It will be in the downtown Phoenix ASU Cronkite Journalism school. Please stop by to say hi if you’re there.

If Saturday’s group could learn anything, they should hear from members of the LMA, who routinely impress me by how well they can educate the media about lawyers and their accomplishments.

So what will the journalists be telling the PR folks? What we love love love in story pitches—and, conversely, what may be less than effective when trying to get your content placed.

The lessons that will be explained on Saturday should help those communications professionals (and us media attendees who may get great pitches). But it occurred to me that they are the same lessons that lawyers should take to heart when connecting—either with magazines or with each other.

Here is some of what I’ll discuss at the SPJ event. What other lessons would you add?

  1. Learn before you call: Like most media outlets, our magazine is available online. Plus, my own material is available via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, our website, etc. Given that, opening with “So what do you do there?” or “What kind of stuff do you guys publish?” is the path toward a very short conversation. And that’s true for lawyer connections, too: Read all you can about someone before striving to make a connection.
  2. Read our stuff: This is related to the first point, but it’s worth being explicit. Lawyers and magazines have an awful lot of their record “out there,” and it’s available via the web. Using Google to spot significant verdicts that have gone their way (or not) will help make your ultimate conversation more informed (even if you don’t explicitly bring up that searing loss!).
  3. Connect where it makes sense: Sending blanket queries to everyone and her sister simply does not work. Story ideas should be tailored to the publication and its audience. Similarly, lawyers don’t cotton to outreach that looks to have all the individuality of a widget.
  4. Reveal yourself: When you reach out to someone, let him or her know something about you and/or what you represent. Be sure your email signature provides access to relevant information. And don’t hesitate to provide links to other content that you think will make your connection to the other person more sensible.

Here’s to valuable connections! Have a great weekend.

L to R: Joe Kanefield, Peter Gentala, Hon. Ruth McGregor (ret.), and Mark Harrison.

Well done to the panelists in Tuesday’s Maricopa County Bar Association discussion of Proposition 115, this fall’s ballot issue that would alter the way we select and retain some state court judges.

Each side did their best to describe the merits of their position—as well as the one-hour format would allow.

The panel, moderated by Michael Grant (of Gallagher & Kennedy), was: former Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor; Osborn Maledon attorney (and former State Bar President) Mark Harrison; Peter Gentala, counsel to the majority, Arizona House of Representatives; and Ballard Spahr lawyer (and immediate past president of the State Bar) Joe Kanefield.

More photos are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

If you are seeking some lunchtime learning, a few upcoming webinars may fill the bill. The following are co-sponsored by Fordham Law School and The National Law Journal.

They are free to “attend,” but pre-registration is required. (See below for web registration details.)

And are any of the topics something you’d like to see covered in Arizona Attorney? Let me know, and we could slot an article.

Here is the information from Fordham:

Ethical Issues for Criminal Practitioners
October 2, 2012 at 1 p.m. Eastern

Panelists will focus on the ethical issues that often arise during criminal cases and the recent developments in ethics and professional responsibility.  Speakers include: Hon. Jed S. Rakoff, Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; Bruce Green, Professor and Director of the Louis Stein Center for Legal Ethics at Fordham Law School; Rita M. Glavin, Partner at Seward & Kissel LLP; and Sylvia Shaz Schweder, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The Foreclosure Crisis in the Courts
October 16, 2012 at 1 p.m. Eastern

Discussion will center on important trends in foreclosure law in the wake of the housing crisis. Speakers include: Nestor Davidson, Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Urban Law Center at Fordham Law School; Bruce J. Bergman, Partner at Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel, P.C.; and Meghan Faux, Director of the Foreclosure Prevention Project at South Brooklyn Legal Services.

Navigating Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law
October 30, 2012 at 1 p.m. Eastern

President Obama’s recent prosecutorial discretion initiative, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) relief process will be the focus of discussion. Speakers include: Jennifer Gordon, Professor of Law at Fordham Law School; Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director at the National Immigration Law Center; and David A. Martin, Warner-Brooker Distinguished Professor of International Law at the University of Virginia School of Law and Deputy General Counsel, Department of Homeland Security (2009-2011); General Counsel, Immigration and Naturalization Service (1995-1998).

The Boundaries of Fair Use After Cariou v. Prince
November 13, 2012 at 1 p.m. Eastern

Panelists will analyze the decision waiting to be made in Cariou v. Prince and the impact the case will have on the boundaries of visual art, fair use, and freedom of expression, particularly in visual art. Speakers include: Sonia Katyal, Joseph M. McLaughlin Professor of Law at Fordham Law School; Dale Cendali, Partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Virginia Rutledge, Attorney and former Vice President and General Counsel for Creative Commons; and Christine Steiner, Special Counsel for Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

To register, go to law.com/ethics, law.com/foreclosure, law.com/immigration or law.com/fairuse to register.

Dates:

  • October 2, 2012 (Ethics)
  • October 16, 2012 (Foreclosure)
  • October 30, 2012 (Immigration)
  • November 13, 2012 (Fair Use)

Time: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Eastern

On Wednesday, I will moderate a panel discussion of in-house corporate counsel. Its title is “Corporate Counsel Panel: Key Insights for Attorneys and Marketing Professionals.”

The sponsor is the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. I had the opportunity to play the moderator role last year, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. This year, the LMA has invited four in-house counsel. They come from a variety of public and private companies.

As I’ve pointed out before, what is on the minds of general counsel is very much of interest to Arizona Attorney readers. Right after lawyer discipline and what judges are thinking, the decision-making by general counsel is a prime topic of interest. And no wonder: Companies purchase a huge amount of legal services every year, and the General Counsel is the one who picks the outside lawyer and firm to get the work.

Last year’s corporate counsel panel, Sept. 22, 2011 (photo by Diana Wright)

But as I prepare for Wednesday’s event, I have a question for you: If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Last year I asked the same question in advance of the event and was pleased at the responses.

Post your suggestion below, or send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

In case you missed it, here is our roundtable discussion from the 2011 panel, as it appeared in Arizona Attorney.

And if you haven’t registered yet, here is a link to Wednesday’s event.

Our December 2011 cover story

Proposition 115 is on the November ballot in Arizona, and its passage would lead to changes in the way we select certain judges (appellate court judges and superior court judges in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties).

This past month, State Bar CEO John Phelps co-wrote an article in Arizona Attorney that described the history of merit selection. The authors also explored what would change under the new law.

As John pointed out, there is a wide variety of opinion among the state’s lawyers and judges over the wisdom of passing Prop 115. The State Bar is supporting its passage and has written a ballot-pamphlet statement on its behalf.

(To read the text of the Proposition as well as all of the “For” and “Against” statements, go here.)

An event tomorrow night may allow you to hear both sides state their cases. The Maricopa County Bar Association (which wrote an “Against” statement in the voter pamphlet) is hosting a forum on the topic. It will be held at their offices at 303 E. Palm Lane in Phoenix, from 4:30 to 5:30.

More information on the event is here.

As the MCBA describes it:

“All sides of the issue will be debated by a distinguished panel moderated by Michael Grant of Gallagher & Kennedy.”

“The panelists are Hon. Ruth V. McGregor, retired chief justice, Arizona Supreme Court; Mark I. Harrison, Osborn Maledon; Peter Gentala, counsel to the majority, Arizona House of Representatives; and Joseph A. Kanefield, immediate past president of the State Bar of Arizona of Ballard Spahr.”

Admission is free, but they’ve asked people to register their attendance with bboehlke@maricopabar.org.

I may see you there.

Here’s a map to the location:

I just finished reading a book review sent to me by a great Arizona lawyer. And I was pleased to discover that it was a terrific read and on a topic that fits Arizona Attorney Magazine. We’ll run it in an upcoming issue.

And that reminded me about how much I like book reviews—when they are executed well.

Here is another review in the September issue of the magazine. It’s written by Judge George Anagnost, a frequent contributor.

If you read Judge A’s review, you’ll spot some of the elements that make a good review:

  • It tells its own story; it is not a forced march, chapter by chapter, through the volume.
  • It evinces an understanding that a book review is still a magazine article, which needs somewhat of a narrative arc.
  • It contains an author’s voice, rather than relying on the importance or prestige of the subject-book.
  • It ties the book to contemporary issues, recognizing that readers will wonder, “What does this have to do with my life?”
  • It reviews a recent book, rather than waits until the book is old and stale.
  • It is written well and in a tone that matches the volume reviewed, rather than sounding like a high school book report (no offense to my high school readers).
  • It is not a review of a textbook, or of a practice-specific volume, which would better serve a subset of Bar members.
  • It’s brief—or at least brief-ish. The New York Review of Books we ain’t, so a book review for us has to be a delightful break rather than a full-fledged escape. Aim for 700 to 1,200 words. Readers and I will thank you.

Given my own criteria above, you’re likely to see a good number of history books reviewed. I do enjoy history, and I’m hoping readers do too. (Here is one exception, a charming review of Reading the Green: The Real Rules of the Game of Golf by lawyer Faith Klepper. She describes the book—concisely—and leaves no snark unturned. It’s not quite history, and it’s maybe a little specific of a topic, but golf, lawyers and humor seemed a perfect mix.)

But any review, even a treatment of history, that doesn’t touch on the modern day, or that doesn’t “reach” readers in a deeper way, will not make it into print—at least, not at Arizona Attorney. Instead, those authors get a polite “decline to publish” letter.

Do you have your own ideas for books to review? Contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

I wrote last year about a State Bar of Arizona mentor networking event that kicked off a year of those bad boys.

Since then, I’ve tried to spill some ink in the effort to announce these events. But I have some fondness for this original Mentor Committee effort, which was a leader in what turned out to be a successful endeavor.

Here is the news about tonight’s event. Stop by the Sheraton in downtown Phoenix and chat with your fellows.

When: Thursday, September 20, 2012 from 5:30 pm-8:30 pm

What: Complimentary appetizers and networking with attorneys

Where: District American Kitchen and Wine Bar at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 320 N. 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 (Northwest corner of Van Buren & North 3rd Street).

Here is a map (and there’s complimentary 3-hour valet parking):

Co-Sponsoring Organizations: State Bar of Arizona Mentor Committee, Young Lawyers Division, Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Section, Tax Law Section, Public Lawyer’s Section, and Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law.

Corporate sponsors:

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