December 2012

Workers prepared to install a limestone slab that is part of a monument to the Bill of Rights at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. It will be dedicated Saturday. (Joshua Lott for The New York Times)

Workers prepared to install a limestone slab that is part of a monument to the Bill of Rights at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. It will be dedicated Saturday. (Joshua Lott for The New York Times)

Over the past year, I’ve spoken quite a bit with you about the Arizona Bill of Rights Monument (most recently here). But now the nation’s newspaper of record has even written about it. Time to pay attention.

I was pleased this past week to see the New York Times take note of the remarkable achievement of a man named Chris Bliss—and the fact that Arizona leads the nation on this. Amazing.

Arizona Bill of Rights posterHere is how NYT reporter and Phoenix Bureau Chief Fernanda Santos opens her article about Executive Director Chris Bliss:

“It started as a joke about 10 years ago. Chris Bliss, a juggler and stand-up comedian of Internet fame, had been scanning the headlines for inspiration and discovered the controversy over a granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of Alabama’s state judicial building.”

“‘Instead of arguing over whether to leave up or take down these displays of the Ten Commandments,’ he said in a comedy routine, ‘my suggestion is to put up displays of the Bill of Rights next to them and let people comparison shop.’”

(Want to see what she’s referring to when she mentions juggling? Go here.)

Tomorrow morning, December 15, is the dedication of the first capital-city monument to the Bill of Rights. I’m hoping a good-sized crowd comes out to see something that will be there for generations (the limestone, that is; we’re hoping the same for the rights themselves).

To get ready for the day, enjoy this article by the First Amendment Center.

And on Change of Venue Friday, enjoy a time-lapse video of the monument’s installation, followed by detail on tomorrow’s dedication.

Bill of Rights Monument dedication invite p1

Bill of Rights Monument dedication invite p2

The Risk game, an edu-taining endeavor

Risk, an edu-taining endeavor

In my way-back time-machine, I have to thank a board game for raising my geography quotient at least a little.

It was in marathon games of Risk at the dining room table that I (and the rest of my family, I’m sure) learned much about the world’s nation-states. Sure, there was as much disinformation as there was information in the game, but I do recall my 9-year-old reaction to coming across places like Mongolia, Yakutsk and Kamchatka. “Cool” only begins to describe it.

After that, the countries of northern Asia larger slipped under my radar. But then this year, I’m seeing Mongolia more and more.

Ian Neale

Ian Neale

For instance, Arizona lawyer Ian Neale spoke with me about a variety of nations, including Mongolia. Neale participates in a global program that places experienced lawyers in law schools around the world. One of his posts was Mongolia, which appears to be a place ripe with opportunity.

You can read our April 2012 story about Neale here (and some of his photos are in the slideshow at the bottom).

And then this week, the law school at the University of Arizona announced a new dual-degree program that involves Mongolia:

“The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona and the National University of Mongolia School of Law in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, have created a dual-degree partnership, recently formalized in a memorandum of understanding signed by the two schools.”

“The agreement allows students from the National University of Mongolia School of Law (NUM) to earn both a Mongolian law degree and a J.D. from Arizona Law in two years less than it would take to earn those degrees separately.”

The press release goes on to say that two students from Mongolia are already attending the UA Law School, courtesy of a scholarship from law firm Mahoney Liotta LLC.

University of Arizona Law School logo(Read the complete release here.)

I have to tip my hat to the law school and to Ian Neale. I mean, the game of Risk is great and all, but a decidedly less warlike stance to nations is even more welcome.

What other international locales do you think will be sites of legal opportunity in the next decade?

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorThis morning, an update from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez at the State Bar of Arizona:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision 33 hosted the final Abogados a Su Lado (“Lawyers at Your Side”) of 2012 on Monday, December 10. The following is a recap from the public service program.

Summary: Volunteer attorneys answered 93 calls during the two-hour phone bank focused on criminal charges/issues. The following is a small sample of the questions that were received:

  • Can I get my license reinstated after receiving a DUI?
  • How does receiving a misdemeanor charge affect my immigration case/status?
  • How is a potential sentence determined?
  • Should I hire a private attorney or use a public defender? What are the differences?
  • What are the repercussions of getting a DUI?
  • How do I take care of a warrant issued in another state?Univision 33 logo

All the Abogados a Su Lado volunteers were first-time participants. Calls were consistent from 5 to 7 p.m., which led to another successful phone bank.

In 2012, 20 Abogados a Su Lado volunteer attorneys answered legal questions from 284 consumers during three separate phone banks.

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision 33 will continue to provide the Abogados a Su Lado public service program in 2013 and are currently identifying dates and topics for the new year.

Steven Keeva 2005

Steven Keeva, 2005

Yesterday we got the very sad news that esteemed editor and writer Steven Keeva passed away. Keeva was known for many things, but spurring a movement of lawyers with a book and his magazine columns cemented his legacy.

In 1999, he wrote Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life. Through that book and his other writing, he aimed to help lawyers find deeper meaning in a profession in which many had grown disillusioned.

Keeva died from the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s. He was 56.

He formerly served as an editor at the ABA Journal, which ran a heartfelt news story on Keeva by Debra Cassens Weiss yesterday.

Steven Keeva Transforming PracticesWeiss quotes lawyer and blogger J. Kim Wright:

“‘Dozens of people have told me that Steve saved their lives,’ Wright tells the ABA Journal. ‘That they were really all alone and hopeless, and they found his book or they found his column, and literally it saved their lives. He made that huge a difference, and left the planet so early.’”

(You can read more about J. Kim Wright here, and be sure to read her blog, Cutting Edge Law.)

Back in 2001, I had the pleasure to speak with Steve Keeva, as we sought permission to publish excerpts from his book. I found him to be a generous and warm man, one whose work we were privileged to publish in Arizona Attorney.

You can read those excerpts, along with a great story on attorney burnout by Tucson lawyer Peter Axelrod, here. (Peter’s own website can be found here.)

Rest in peace, Steve.

Arizona Attorney covers attorney burnout, July 2001

Arizona Attorney covers attorney burnout, July 2001

Almost 20 years later, what are NAFTA's effects?

Almost 20 years later, what are NAFTA’s effects?

Has NAFTA been a success or a failure? The answer to that affects not only free trade, but the willingness of leaders to back future treaties.

That thought occurred to me as I read an article about the North American Free Trade Agreement. The story in the Tucson Sentinel points out what may be true about any such agreement: Some like it, and others don’t. As the article opens:

“Two decades after a pact initiated here created the world’s largest free trade area, economists are calling the North American Free Trade Agreement a resounding success, crediting it for fueling unprecedented trade and creating millions of jobs in the United States.”

“The agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, ratified 19 years ago Saturday, also made two of Texas’ land ports among the country’s busiest and delivered a multitrillion-dollar cumulative gross domestic product for its member countries.”

“But unions and consumer-advocacy groups say NAFTA has had negative effects in Mexico and the U.S. They say that resulting outsourcing and lower wages have hurt the United States’ domestic economy and that Mexico’s rural industries have destabilized.”

The complete news story is here.

Unlike many other treaties, though, NAFTA was a high-profile battle—not entirely resolved—and it affects us right here in the United States. That element, probably more than anything else, distinguishes it from the mass of agreements that Americans may barely notice. And that lack of notice is what may often give political cover to Senators exercising their advice and consent; Americans barely notice international affairs, especially those far from our shores.

But maybe the NAFTA effect is having a worldwide impact. That occurred to me as I read some fascinating and well-executed analyses of an important international development: the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

The analyses were published last week in the New York Times, and they included voices on both sides of the debate. The lead piece was by Georgetown Law Visiting Professor Catherine Powell, and here’s how it opened:

“Tuesday’s vote on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities was a disappointing moment for the U.S. Senate. Turning its back on a bipartisan approach to assuring disability rights forged under the landmark 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush, the Senate capitulated to the worst fear-mongering tactics related to individual choice and American sovereignty. Neither would have been limited by this treaty.”

You can read all the viewpoints here.

A hat tip to Suhrith Parthasarathy, a writer on the legal blog of Thomson Reuters, who brought my attention to the New York Times package. (You can follow him at @Suhrith).

There may be a lot of reasons for the failure of agreement on the Persons With Disabilities Convention. But perhaps the queasiness about international treaties goes back a few decades, to NAFTA, ratified 19 years ago.

What do you think? Has one close-to-home pact that had public backlash soured Senators on agreeing to politically charged pacts?

cell phone nomophobiaNomophobia sounds vaguely like a condition afflicting a neighbor I’d like to see move away. But it’s really nothing more than “the fear of being without mobile phone contact.”

If the end of that sentence made your skin crawl, you may want to listen to that cry for help and read this terrific blog post out of the Washington State Bar Association site.

Titled “My Cell Phone Is Ruining My Life,” the post explores all the telltale signs of a disease that affects countless millions. In fact, as I perused the list, I must admit I spotted myself in a few places

  • Keeping your phone constantly within reach during both sleeping and waking hours
  • Checking your phone in the middle of the night
  • Taking your phone with you everywhere you go, including inappropriate places like the restroom
  • Obsessively checking battery life
  • Checking your phone every few minutes, even when interacting with other people
  • Feeling anxious when separated from your mobile device
  • Constantly checking your pocket or purse to ensure your phone is thereno-mobile-phone-circle

Sorry. While you were reading that list, I checked my phone twice. But on this Change of Venue Friday, I suggest you do as I say, not as I do. Read the complete article, without checking your phone once!

Together, we can beat nomophobia (or at least learn to say it without chuckling).

Have a great weekend.

mergers acquisitions monopoly board

Are mergers & acquisitions really heating up again? Really?

Fall and winter are the seasons when commentators begin musing about the coming year. And in law, nothing is more attractive than coverage of what practice areas are on the rise, and which are on the decline. Or, in the argot popular in the genre, what’s hot and what’s not.

I came across a very good analysis of exactly that this week, by Bob Denney. His commentary is long, detailed and well supported. One thing I often enjoy is reviewing articles like this to see if they agree with my own armchair assessments.

By that standard, how does the article measure up against your own practice experience?

For instance, Bob rates as “red hot” the areas of energy, health care and sports law. More tepid are areas like real estate, M&A and bankruptcy.

I don’t know if anyone shops around for a new practice based on analyses like these, but they are helpful.

Also insightful is the section in Bob’s article titled “Other Trends and Issues.” There, he explores law school enrollment and even the declining square footage of law partner offices. But one thing that caught my eye was his conclusion that “Most law firms are undercapitalized.” We’ve seen examples of that—and of the occasional sorry outcome of that. But do you think that will be a significant driver of the profession in 2013?

He also says that, in regard to the trend to demand project management, “On the whole, there appears to be far more talk about PM—by both firms and consultants—than action. It may be another case of ‘sound and fury.’”

That comment led me to think about Mark Lassiter’s presentation last week. You may recall that he stressed the dire need for law firms to develop PM skills, which corporate clients increasingly expect to see demonstrated. But Mark also said the skill is often lacking.

Recently, I came across a Bloomberg News video in which an East Coast lawyer gave his own heat assessment about one practice area. Bill Lawlor of Dechert LLP (in Philadelphia) says that M&A is heating up.

Mergers and acquisitions? Hmmm. That one was a surprise. Watch the complete video below.

What practice is getting warmer here in Arizona? And do you agree with Bob Denney or Bill Lawlor on any of these areas? Have you migrated practices in the last few years? Or do you expect to move to another practice in the near future?

At Arizona Attorney, we’d like to tell some stories about areas that lawyers are headed toward. Contact me at

social media icons

Next February, I’ll be part of a panel communicating all we know for a “Social Media Master Class.” At the moment, I’m feeling vaguely outclassed.

Sure, by February, I plan to have a vast knowledge to impart. But right now, I’d appreciate your insight on what you would expect if you passed by a hotel conference room and spotted the following sign:

“Social Media Advanced Class”

That, essentially, is what we’ll cover in our session.

We will be presenting at the ABA/NABE Midyear Meeting in Dallas, and our audience will be chock full of bar association executives and lawyers.

I didn’t write the copy for the program description, but I am looking for ways to meet its expectations. Here’s what it says:

“If you have not seen the very latest features for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other leading social media platforms, you may be living under a rock. Delve into the newest add-ons and enhancements that will bolster your messaging workflow while optimizing your Association’s exposure. Learn how to navigate unexpected (and sometimes unwelcome) redesigns of leading sites. Plus, get recommendations on the best shortcut tools like HootSuite to ease the pains of posting. Whether you’re a seasoned social media junkie or the new kid on the block, you’ll find something valuable to take away.”

social media "map" by Fred Cavazza

I love this social media “map” by Fred Cavazza.

Hmmm. We’d better bring our A game.

I figure one of the best ways to stretch your audience’s knowledge is to stretch your own. That’s why I’ve reached into a few new worlds this past month, to Quora and even Instagram. And I’ve also been examining the old standards (Facebook and Twitter) for what I think are best practices. But Pinterest hasn’t yet sucked me into its vortex.

Later today, I meet (via conference call) will the other panelists (from Ohio, San Francisco, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia). We’ll be strategizing the best way to communicate valuable content to attendees.

Your insights would be appreciated. Write to me at

State Bar Governor Melissa S. Ho

State Bar Governor Melissa S. Ho, Nov. 17, 2012

Here is some great news that involves a member of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors.

Melissa Ho is an attorney at Polsinelli Shughart as well as a Bar Governor. Among her day’s already-long list of duties, she’s also committed to helping in numerous places in the community. (See my previous story about the inspiring words she delivered to teenaged participants in ASU’s Asian LEAD Academy.)

Today I share the news that Melissa was among a distinguished group of lawyers honored by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) on November 17 at a Washington DC event. She received one of the coveted 2012 Best Lawyers Under 40 Awards.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorAs the organization describes it, “These awards recognize talented Asian Pacific American attorneys under the age of 40 who have achieved prominence in their respective areas of law while demonstrating an unwavering dedication to the APA community.”

The complete release is below. Congratulations to Melissa.

NAPABA Presents Special Awards at 24th Annual Convention in Washington, DC

Washington, DC – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) presented the 2012 NAPABA Trailblazer Awards, the 2012 Best Lawyers Under 40 Awards, and the 2012 NAPABA Affiliate of the Year Award during the 24th Annual NAPABA Convention in Washington, DC.

The 2012 Trailblazer Awards were presented on Friday, November 16, 2012, during a reception and awards ceremony hosted by Walmart. The Trailblazer Award, which is NAPABA’s highest honor, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated vision, courage, and tenacity, and who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the Asian Pacific American (APA) legal profession, as well as the broader APA community. NAPABA is proud to present the 2012 Trailblazer Award winners:

  • Hon. Danette “Dee” Brown, California Office of Administrative Hearings (Eastern California Region)
  • Nicholas V. Chen, Pamir Law Group (Southeast Region)
  • Michael P. Chu, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione (Central Region)
  • Hon. Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California (Northern California)
  • Hon. Kimi Kondo, City of Seattle Municipal Court (Northwest Region)
  • Carol C. Lam, QUALCOMM (Southern California Region)
  • William F. Lee, WilmerHale (Northeast Region)
  • Hon. Kathryn Doi Todd, Second District Court of Appeals for the State of California (Central California Region)
  • Lawrence Tu, Dell Inc. (Southwest Region)

The 2012 Best Lawyers Under 40 Awards were presented at NAPABA’s Anniversary Gala and Celebration Dinner on November 17, 2012. These awards recognize talented Asian Pacific American attorneys under the age of 40 who have achieved prominence in their respective areas of law while demonstrating an unwavering dedication to the APA community. NAPABA congratulates the following 2012 Best Lawyers Under 40 Awards recipients:

  • Akemi Arakaki, LA County Superior Court, Central Juvenile District
  • Steve Choi, MinKwon Center for Community Action
  • James Derry, Arbitron, Inc.
  • Marita Etcubañez, Asian American Justice Center
  • Rio M. Guerrero, Guerrero Yee LLP
  • Mark Hanasono, LA County Alternate Public Defender
  • Melissa S. Ho, Polsinelli Shughart PC
  • Peggy L. Ho, LPL Financial
  • Laboni Hoq, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
  • Blossom Kan, MetLife, Inc.
  • Naho Kobayashi, McGuireWoods LLP
  • Nicole Kubista, Office of the Public Defender, St. Paul, MN
  • Jason Leung, Ridout & Maybee, LLP
  • Edward Lew, The Walt Disney Company
  • Tirzah Abe Lowe, Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP
  • Samuel S. Park, Winston & Strawn LLP
  • Teena-Ann Sankoorikal, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
  • Jeannie Suk, Harvard Law School
  • Vinoo Varghese, Varghese & Associates P.C.
  • Carla Wong McMillian, State Court of Fayette County, GA
  • Calvin K. Woo, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP

This year, Christopher Kang, Senior Counsel to President Obama, was awarded the President’s Award for outstanding service to NAPABA and the legal community. Mr. Kang was honored for his dedication to NAPABA and his efforts to diversify the federal bench.

The 2012 Affiliate of the Year Award was presented to the Asian/Pacific Bar Association of Sacramento. This award was established to recognize outstanding local NAPABA affiliates and their best practices and accomplishments in their respective local communities.

NAPABA established the APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award to recognize NAPABA’s law firms—solo, small, and large—that have achieved prominence and distinction, and have demonstrated a strong commitment to the Asian Pacific American community. The Award celebrates law practices that embrace the APA community while maintaining the highest ethical and legal standards in our profession. The Award also recognizes firms that have advanced the goals and ideals of NAPABA and APA legal advocacy groups. The inaugural APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award was presented to Minami Tamaki LLP.

law-schoolHere’s a great way to start off a week: by trying to make a difference to the legal profession.

The American Bar Association is seeking comment on the best practices law schools should be adopting. This is an opportunity to sound off on the legal training ground.

The initiative is part of the strategy of the ABA’s Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession.

As the ABA describes it:

“The Task Force on the Future of Legal Education was created in summer 2012, and charged with making recommendations to the American Bar Association on how law schools, the ABA, and other groups and organizations can take concrete steps to address issues concerning the economics of legal education and its delivery. The need for the Task Force, and for recommendations as to action, results from rapid and substantial changes in the legal profession, legal services, the national and global economy, and markets affecting legal education.”

“The Task Force is working through two subcommittees, one dealing with the economics of legal education, and the other dealing with the delivery of legal education and its regulation.”

For more information about the specific questions the subcommittees are addressing, read this ABA Journal article by Mark Hansen.

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