Arizona Attorney Magazine


How serious do Americans think our incarceration crisis is? Their word choice provides a clue.

How serious do Americans think our incarceration crisis is? Their word choice provides a clue.

It may be wonkish and nerdy to admit, but I enjoy the etymological side of public policy quite a bit.

Wait, that sentence itself is pretty incomprehensible. So let me start again.

We may all know “mass incarceration” when we see it (especially in the United States). But where did the term come from? Who used it first? And is it a neutral phrase, or laden with ideological baggage?

That is the conceptual adventure a reader embarks on when they begin a recent article on the Brennan Center website titled “Just Facts: Quantifying the Incarceration Conversation.

In the article, Oliver Roeder explains the roots of the term mass incarceration. That alone makes the article worth your time.

But of special interest is the kind of research that a digitized knowledge base allows us. The existence of digitized articles and scholarship permits talented people like Roeder to track trends in word use. Because of that, he’s able to explain, among other things, how use of the phrase ramped up, and to compare it to the increasing size of our prison population. Here is an example of one of his tables:

Mass incarceration table Brennan Center

Roeder earned his economics Ph.D. at the University of Texas in Austin. Perhaps not coincidentally, Texas is one of the states trying to make inroads in the mass incarceration challenge.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about the possibility for altered sentencing laws in Arizona. It appeared way back in 2012, when the prospects had brightened and then dimmed.

But if Roeder’s analysis shows anything, it is that the concept of mass incarceration has entered the collective consciousness. Supporters and detractors both understand that they must wrestle with the propriety of a historically large prison population.

So maybe it’s time for an updated look. What do you think?

state bars urge attorneys toward rural law practice

Some of us muse on the pleasures of a rural law practice. And others do something about it.

I have written before (like, here) about efforts to transform underemployed lawyers into busy rural attorneys. Not to romanticize the notion, but there is something fulfilling about a law practice in which you know many residents of your community.

Around the country, many communities suffer the effects of too few attorneys to do the necessary work. And a recent story in Associations Now explored the strategy of two bar associations—in Nebraska and Iowa—that devised strategies to address the challenge.

In Nebraska, the solution is a Rural Practice Initiative. In Iowa, a committee aims to alter the dynamic. And these are just a few of the organized efforts.

Would such efforts bear fruit in Arizona? Evidence suggests our rural areas face similar challenges. Let me know what you think.

This past week, two lawyers contacted me, asking how to be included in the Arizona Attorney Blog Network.

Fortunately, they contacted the right guy. After a few questions and a quick view of what kind of content they were posting, they were listed on our site.

But then I wondered, as I often do: What do those lawyers and law firms get out of the blogging experience? What are their goals for using the medium? And do they feel they’ve been successful?

(I know; I could simply ask them those questions. Well, they really just wanted us to post their content without a lot of jibber-jabber. But maybe next time.)

I admire those lawyers who opt to blog. They not only carve time out of busy practices; they also weather the critique, overt and covert, of others, who insist that blogging is either a time-sink or an ethical minefield—or both.

If you’ve ever wondered about the same issues, and if you think the answer is to abandon blogging, take a look at an interesting post from the U.K. Titled “Are Blogs Any Use to Law Firms?” it examines some of the elements that may make a blog not worth a lawyer’s time.

But if you’re nodding in agreement, you should pause your head-bob to read Joe Reevy’s complete post carefully. No; he’s really not saying that blogging is a waste of time—quite the opposite. Instead, he makes concrete suggestions that may yield more positive results for your legal blog.

If you consider and implement Reevy’s three strategies for success, you will likely see a spike in engagement with your audience. And that—not just increased billings—is what it’s really all about.

Tucson, Ariz., in 1909 (Wikipedia)

Tucson, Ariz., in 1909 (Wikipedia) (click to enlarge)

Imagine a legal system in which your property rights could not be assured, and where your land holdings could be stripped of you based on your marital status.

That scenario is not beyond imagining. As you might surmise, that situation was faced by approximately half of the U.S. population at one time (and continues for many more globally today).

In the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we were privileged to feature a story that occurred right in Tucson not so very long ago.

It was titled Anna’s Story, and here is how author and attorney Marjorie Cunningham opened the real-life tale:

“Buying, selling and trading land has been a part of Arizona’s booms and busts since colonial times. One shrewd and successful land speculator during the 1800s was a French woman named Anna Charauleau. Ms. Charauleau also exhibited the strong will and relentless nature needed to pursue the protection of her legal rights. Those qualities became important in Arizona legal history, as she was a party to several landmark cases decided by Arizona’s Supreme Court in the 1870s and 1880s in which women’s property rights were at issue.”

Read the whole article here.

And be sure to read carefully the excerpts from the Supreme Court opinion regarding the land matters. Here is how a wise justice analyzed things:

“Before her marriage, the law presumes [a woman] competent to buy and sell and convey property, and supposes she acts in such matters as intelligently as if she were the opposite sex; but during the existence of the marriage relation somehow this condition of ignorance and stupidity is supposed to settle down upon her, to benumb her faculties, to cast a cloud upon her intelligence, to be lifted only by the death of her spouse or other severance of the marriage. … ”

“We are certain that the presumption contended for by the counsel, that a woman of mature years, and an American wife, ceases from the day of her marriage to know what she is doing in the execution of a conveyance until advised … should no longer obtain in a court of justice.”

Thank you to our author for sharing such a compelling piece of Arizona history.

Are there other historic stories that are evocative to you? Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Your PowerPoint could bomb, or you could feature one on your title slide. Just sayin'. (Gotta love Slim Pickens!)

Your PowerPoint could bomb, or you could feature one on your title slide. Just sayin’. (Gotta love Slim Pickens!)

Recent online conversation has resurrected one of the more important debates of the modern age. In a nutshell: Why does PowerPoint suck, and what can be done about it?

Here’s my philosophy on PowerPoints:

  1. They may, indeed, be a sign of the downfall of civilized society.
  2. Most often, they are a force for evil rather than good.
  3. And, yes, many people sleep through them.

But I have come to be something of a convert to their hidden power—when wielded properly. That may be why this post’s opening image showing one of my own PowerPoint title slides comes not from a law book (booo) but is adapted from one of my favorite movies (yaaay). More on all that later in another post.

My PP dander was raised again recently when colleagues at the National Association of Bar Executives (no, not the good kind of bar) shared a few articles on presentations and PowerPoint. Read one of them here.

(So versatile are those social media mavens that the sharing was done via Facebook and Linkedin. Linkedin! Time to take another look.)

They also shared an article about presentations from the view of Guy Kawasaki. (I reviewed a Kawasaki book here. It included one of just two appearances of my shoes via social media. Ask, and I may unearth the second.)

Smart fellow, that Guy. Enjoy his article, but do not skip the reader comments beneath; they are worth the price of admission.

The best part about that article, though, was that it took me back to a PowerPoint expert whose work I very much appreciate—Eugene Cheng. Eugene is one of those folks who are my favorite people I don’t know yet. Look at what he does with PP, and you may agree he’s worth meeting.

Niche Media Digital Conference logoThe talented Eugene got me thinking about other digital thinkers and doers who do it right, PP-wise. That group includes the folks at Niche Media.

I have admired Niche’s tone and substance before, so let me do it again.

I get no benefit except happiness to tell you: If you or anyone in need of a creative jump-start are anywhere near a Niche conference this year, you really should drop in. True, they’re not free, but maybe you can sneak in, through the hotel kitchen or something. Try not to look lawyerly, and you may pass as part of the creative class.

The first will be in Minneapolis from September 30 to October 1. That is where you can learn an amazing amount about online revenue (you know, how to get more).

Niche Media Event Fest logoThe second nichey opportunity will be in the Big Easy November 3-5. The Niche Event Fest in New Orleans will offer learning raising your in-person events to be top-drawer.

Here is one thing I know about both events: If a PowerPoint is on the premises at all, it will not suck.

Later this week, I’ll offer some of my own thoughts about PowerPoint and what is missing in the worst of the lot.

The complaint process for Arizona contractors has changed. ROC Contractor complaint process button_opt

Continuing legal education may never be the same again. After an event yesterday, W.E.B. DuBois, Temple Grandin, Ann Sullivan and every other famous educator may have spun in their graves. Why is that? Well, I participated in a CLE program.

What? You ask. You’ve never been a presenter or panelist on a Bar program? Alas, it’s true. (Well, there was one time I played a bumbling and confused attorney for a Solo Section program at the 2004-or-so Convention. But that was hardly acting, and barely educational.)

But then a few months ago, the Bar launched CLE Snippets, and I still wasn’t sure I’d have a part to play.

cle snippets teaser logo. This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.Do you remember my discussing the Snippets? They are 15- to 30-minute CLE videos. There will be one a month, each based on an article in the upcoming month’s Arizona Attorney Magazine. The inaugural video covered a topic from the Eye on Ethics column. So it made sense that columnist Dave Dodge and Bar Ethics Counsel Patricia Sallen illustrated the points in the video Q&A.

Our second Snippet, though, covers significant changes being launched to the complaint process regarding contractors. So the story affects lawyers who represent a whole raft of professionals. It’s good stuff.

Much to my surprise, I got to frame and ask questions of the author, Matt Meaker of Sacks Tierney. The questions covered everything from an explanation of what specifically changed, to asking which lawyers and other professionals will be most affected, and whether this is or could be a good thing (or not) for contractors and consumers.

As this is my inaugural CLE, I decided we should be as un-CLE-like as possible. So here is a selfie of me and Matt before the heated (not) conversation. What followed the photo was a casual but substantial Q&A (Matt provided the substantial portion!).

Matt Meaker and Tim Eigo clearly have no game face, as they prepare for a Q&A on changes to the Arizona contractor-complaint process.

Matt Meaker and Tim Eigo clearly have no game face, as they prepare for a Q&A on changes to the Arizona contractor-complaint process.

While the camera rolled, I also had the great pleasure to reveal—to viewers and to Matt himself—that his article was to be our cover story in the July/August 2014 magazine. So not only were we providing excellent practice pointers—we were breaking news!

Matt Meaker headshot

A better, more professional headshot of Matt Meaker of Sacks Tierney.

Matt and I may have similar non-reverential approaches to legal matters. Serious stuff, yes, but why can’t it be delivered in punchy and enjoyable ways?

Of course, I may never be asked back, so that would spell the end of that little experiment.

I’ll share a link of the preview once I have it. And here’s hoping I’ve got a future in legal education! (In this day and age, we all need a back-up plan.)

Ak Chin Justice Center, whose ribbon-cutting occurred June 6, 2014. Maricopa, Ariz.

Ak Chin Justice Center, whose ribbon-cutting occurred June 6, 2014. Maricopa, Ariz.

Maricopa, Arizona, was the site of a June 6 community gathering that marked the opening of the Ak-Chin Indian Community Justice Center. The 56,000-square-foot building houses the tribal police department, court and detention center, as well as offices for public defenders, prosecutors and probation staff.

That’s the opening to my news story that will be published in the July/August Arizona Attorney Magazine. That’s also where we’ll include a smattering of photos.

But who doesn’t like more photos? So here are a few in this post. And you can see the whole set on our Facebook page here.

Have a great—and justice-filled—weekend.

Basket-weaving, an important component of the Ak-Chin culture, is apparent in the Ak-Chin Justice Center's design and appointments. The photo shows how the design influences the light fixtures.

Basket-weaving, an important component of the Ak-Chin culture, is apparent in the Ak-Chin Justice Center’s design and appointments. The photo shows how the design influences the light fixtures.

Tribal Judge Brian Burke describes features of the new courtroom space at the Ak-Chin Justice Center, June 5, 2014.

Tribal Judge Brian Burke describes features of the new courtroom space at the Ak-Chin Justice Center, June 5, 2014.

How about a law office in an old cigar buidling? Puff on that idea! NHBAR historic building 1

How about housing your law office in an old cigar building? Puff on that idea!

How do we tell the story of law offices in historic buildings?

That’s something we’ve considered and attempted over the years at Arizona Attorney Magazine. I think (hope) that many of our readers agree with me that the life of the law may be illuminated by exploring the spaces we use for attorneys’ work. And when those spaces are vintage ones, we also manage to tell the story of our state.

Over the years, a lawyer I respect has urged me (a few times) to do such a story in the magazine. A history buff myself, I’m on board. But our challenge continues: There is no statewide inventory of historic structures that are now used as law offices.

So I keep beating the drum, urging lawyers to contact me with their buildings’ stories. (Send your information and photos to arizona.attorney@azbar.org.)

Meantime, I checked my mail this week and was greeted by a bar publication whose own exploration has yielded great fruit. Congratulations to the New Hampshire Bar Association for this month’s feature on historic law offices.

I spoke previously in praise of the NHBA’s premier publication. And now they’ve done it again. (Enough with the talent, already.)

In “Preserving the Past,” NH Bar News Managing Editor Kristen Senz and staff showed the results of scouring the highways and byways to find the best offices representing the topic.

Here is how their hard-copy pages came out. Note the great photos paired with the well-researched and detailed copy.

NHBAR historic law offices 1_opt

NHBAR historic law offices 2_opt

But this is 2014. So even if they’re writing about a 1700’s-era Colonial, publishers know they have to meet readers online too.

So if you don’t happen to have a print version of NH Bar News sitting around your office, you can go online to see the featured structures—and even more that wouldn’t fit in the publication.

You can view and read about all the historic buildings here. Well done (once again), New Hampshire Bar!

And now, you Arizona lawyers can help us tell the stories of your own vintage law offices. We’d love to hear from you.

Millennial Lawyers article June 2014 by Susan Daicoff

A few months ago, I was in conversation with a law school communications pro. She mentioned that a professor may be able to write an article on millennial lawyers. Would we be interested?

An article about younger lawyers, who are facing a nearly unprecedented bad economy? Who grew up and were schooled in ways distinctly different than their more-senior colleagues? Who will be inheriting and transforming the legal profession?

Hmmm …. Absolutely. Send it over and let’s talk.

She did, and we did. After some back and forth, we had what I suspected would be an extremely a valuable article for readers.

That article is in our June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can read it here.

Susan Daicoff

Susan Daicoff

The talented author is Professor Susan Daicoff; read more about her here.

Susan’s story is great reading for a few reasons, but what I especially appreciate are the specific takeaways she offers about a generation of professionals. But she is no cold-eyed anthropologist, examining these folks under a microscope. Instead, she displays her affection for them and her optimism for the profession under their evolving leadership.

Apparently, others see what we saw: We’re now up to two other magazines around the country that asked to reprint Susan’s article. It’s terrific to see good stuff get “out there.”

A realist, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop—a little one, anyway. What I wonder is this: Are there any millennial attorneys who resist being described and pigeonholed, who feel less identical to their own generation than to another that preceded it?

After all, even among generational waves of lawyers, we’re all individuals. So if your millennial experience varies from Susan’s description, I’d like to know.

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Lawyer-Word-Cloud

Keep up with what’s happening at the State Bar Annual Convention by following us on Twitter! Get short, timely messages (including photos, speaker presentations and more) from Arizona Attorney Magazine’s staff. If you, your firm or employer are active on Twitter, just insert the hashtag #azbarcon into all of your Convention tweets to allow them to be read and searched by fellow attendees and the entire legal community.

The Twitter links will take you to updates in our Convention Daily—news items and photos that will appear on the magazine blog, Facebook and Tumblr pages, and in our News Center:

For more detail, click on the image below for gigantification.

Twitter at Convention flier 2014

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