A nose for news could be turned to other pursuits wine

A nose for news could be turned to other pursuits. True?

Writing a daily blog yields many advantages. You’re forced to read widely, listen intently, and converse often with readers near and far. And sometimes, you feel compelled to travel overseas.

Well, not often. But I’d appreciate your insight on that last element.

Happy Change of Venue Friday, a day a legal blogger might fantasize about taking a wine tour of France. No, I probably won’t be going. But the idea has a great nose.

My usual invitations are along the lines of a lawyer CLE staged in a wood-paneled conference room: “Nuts and Bolts of Administrative Law,” “What Attorneys MUST Know About the New UCC Changes” “Everything They DON’T Want You To Know About the Revised Securities Regulations”

You get the picture. Important. Significant. A bit drowsy.

So when I received another note headed “Press Invitation,” I did not expect much.

But then I spied the words “international wine competition held in France.”

It’s on April 5. And did I mention it’s in FRANCE? Could I go? Dare I go?

Here’s a piece of their marketing.

wine competition invitation for Bourg, FranceBut … How could I miss the administrative law extravaganza? The insurance business coverage limits analysis? And that panel discussion on employment law tips for the feedlot industry? How could all of that odorous content remain uncovered? Sacré bleu!

Ah, how beautiful Bourg, France, must be in the spring. Don’t we all deserve a junket?

Here is my analysis thus far. I would like you to chime in on whether a legal commentator should travel for a wine competition:

  • Pro: A wine competition and the legal industry both relate to the work of judges. I mean, that’s super-obvious.
  • Con: A junket of this sort might lead a writer to consider other paths and to desert equally deserving “serious” (“non-wine”) professions.

So you see my dilemma.

Let me know what you think. In the meantime, I will use the weekend to develop my nose on a variety of vintages and varietals. I await your counsel.

wine animated: Developing a new writing beat requires dedication, discernment.

Developing a new writing beat requires dedication, discernment.

Minority Bar Convention 2014 spring training for lawyers revised

It’s spring, so our days are filled with events. Today I mention an annual event, sponsored by the State Bar of Arizona, which is always helpful to lawyers in practice.

Formerly called the Minority Bar Convention (more on that in a minute), the Bar’s “Spring Training for Lawyers” covers a wide variety of practice topics. Maybe it’s something in the air at the location (the Desert Willow Conference Center), but I’m not sure I’ve ever sat through a weak seminar at the annual event.

Before I go on and one, here is where you can register. The conference is next week, on Thursday and Friday, March 27 and 28.

And the complete agenda and seminar descriptions are here.

Now to the name change.

I was a little surprised to see the longtime Minority Bar Convention transform into a baseball metaphor. Shifting from a storied brand is quite a change. Happily, the Bar has a video teasing the event, and it includes a discussion of the name change, as described by the co-chairs, attorneys Kami Hoskins and Chad Bellville.

Here is the video:

No matter the name, it appears that the event will continue its strong focus on quality. And for that, we must thank the State Bar of Arizona Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law.

My one passionate takeaway from the video? Buy a tripod, won’t you, State Bar? Let’s rifle through the closets; I’m sure we’ve got one somewhere.

Again, the location is the Desert Willow Conference Center, 4340 E. Cotton Center Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85040. Here is a map.

Legal scholar Arthur Miller will deliver the ASU Pedrick Lecture on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Legal scholar Arthur Miller will deliver the ASU Pedrick Lecture on Friday, March 28, 2014.

I can already see all of you non-civil litigators smirking. Well, banish the smirk, because the 75-year anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is a big deal.

Fortunately, the ASU Law School is prepared to honor it in style.

The school reports that scholar Arthur Miller will delivered the annual Pedrick Lecture, which is titled “Revisiting the Rules: Celebrating 75 years of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

The event will be on Friday, March 28, at 10 a.m. It will be followed by a panel discussion comprised of a great group of judges and attorneys.

More detail, including the complete list of speakers, is here.

The event is free but registration is requested. You can do that here.

It appears that I will be racing between three noteworthy events that day. So if you are attending some or all of the FRCP festivities at the law school and would like to write a guest blog post, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. Special consideration will be given to authors who salt their post with Rule-based references.

ediscovery lock on computer screenNext week, a conference that’s become an annual standout occurs again: The e-discovery conference at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

Scheduled for March 12 to 14, the third annual “ASU-Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference” features some talented panels of lawyers and judges. Those judges include some of the leading jurists who have rendered major e-discovery opinions: Judges Shira A. Scheindlin, John Facciola and Craig Shaffer.

Judge John Facciola at the 2013 ASU conference. eDiscovery 1

Judge John Facciola at the 2013 ASU conference.

I wrote here about Judge Facciola’s previous appearance at the E-Discovery conference.

More information and registration are here.

Judge Shira Scheindlin

Judge Shira Scheindlin

If any lawyer or law student is headed to the conference (just part of it or the entire two days), and if you would like to write a blog post, please feel free to contact me. I’d be pleased to run it following the ASU event. (Photos are welcome too!)

Former Chief Justice Ruth McGregor delivers keynote remarks at panel on judicial diversity, Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 27, 2014.

Former Chief Justice Ruth McGregor delivers keynote remarks at panel on judicial diversity, Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 27, 2014.

A busy spring is kicking the butt of Change of Venue. There are just too many great events.

By way of explanation: Change of Venue is my attempt to have some lighter lifting on Fridays. A photo or two, a humorous (and maybe nonlegal) story, in, out, hello, weekend!

I mean, you like that too, right?

Well, yesterday I attended a powerful panel discussion on the topic of diversity on the bench. And I thought I should share what was said and ask for your thoughts.

Sponsored by the Arizona Advocacy Network and Justice at Stake, the event at the Carnegie Center in Phoenix was a kickoff to the groups’ efforts to address some judicial challenges in 2014. Here are a few of the day’s high points.

Judicial diversity forum 2014 3 v2

Judicial diversity forum, Feb. 27, 2014, Carnegie Center, Phoenix, Ariz.

It is always a privilege and pleasure to hear Ruth McGregor speak. The former Arizona Chief Justice was the keynote speaker, and she delivered some compelling statistics about the lack of diversity on the bench, nationally and locally.

But before you presume she’s in favor of a simple numbers game, understand that the quality of judicial decisions is her goal—and that of many engaged in the creation of diverse benches.

As Justice McGregor said, “Diverse experiences can be used in appropriate circumstances to better understand the case at hand.”

And yes, Justice McGregor has data. She cited studies from Tufts and Columbia that examined group decision-making. Here’s what they found.

In Tufts’ mock juries: “Diverse groups discuss significantly more case facts than non-diverse groups; and diverse groups exhibited significantly fewer inaccurate statements.”

Also at Columbia: The presence of even one female participant in a group increased the probability of a different decision. That’s one woman.

What are the results for judges? “Diversity may yield a more careful, more accurate and broader discussion of issues.”

“The presence of diverse voices,” Justice McGregor said, “broadens discussion and analysis.”

Would judicial results be different? We cannot say that. But “at least the discussion would be different,” she said.

Lisa Loo moderates judicial diversity panel, Feb. 27, 2014.

Lisa Loo moderates judicial diversity panel, Feb. 27, 2014.

She urged attendees to consider how certain blots on legal history may have been decided if there had been even a tiny bit of diversity on their judicial panels. Consider Korematsu, Bowers v. Hardwick, Plessy v. Ferguson. Would those rulings have been the same if one of the judges had been Japanese American, gay or lesbian, or African American? Can you doubt it?

Justice McGregor also urged listeners to try their hand at an online Implicit Association Test. Try one here!

Kudos also to moderator Lisa Loo, who strolled among the audience, tossing queries to panelists. And the panelists—Linda Benally, Judge Roxanne Song Ong and James Christian—offered excellent summaries of the challenges faced by diversity advocates.

(I reported from the event on Twitter, and you can see below how talented a moderator I found Lisa to be. Click the link to see the photo:)

At left, Lisa Loo @ASU @AZStateBar governor kicks butt as @JusticeStake moderator, strolls room, tosses Qs to panel. http://t.co/WfdTY8Knxg

— Tim Eigo (@azatty) February 27, 2014

Judge Song Ong said something that made me think of the old proverb about when it’s best to plant a tree. So here is a Change-of-Venue-style image to consider:

Plant a Tree Now revised judge

Have a great—and diverse—weekend.

ASU hosts American Moot Court Tournament

Are you ready to pick up the gavel and give back to legal education at the same time? Does ASU Law School have a deal for you!

On January 17 and 18, the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law will host the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s national championship tournament. This is quite an impressive honor, and it will see undergraduates from all over the country traveling to Arizona to compete by mooting an issue in our Supreme Court.

That’s where you may come in. The law school is in need of JDs who are willing to volunteer as judges (I’ve been told they need about 250 total).

Hesitant? Well, the school is willing to sweeten the pot for those on the fence: If you sign up with a lawyer–friend, the organizers will aim to pair you together as a judging team.

Whaaat? A judging team? I don’t know about you, but nothing binds a friendship more than judging others. Come on out!

More detail is below. And to volunteer as a judge, sign up here.

ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law logo“The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is proud to host the American Collegiate Moot Court Association’s national championship tournament on January 17-18, 2014. 80 undergraduate teams from across the country will come to the law school to compete in this prestigious tournament to determine this year’s national champion.  The College of Law is excited to be this year’s competition host, and we hope that you will join us in making this a memorable experience for competitors.  Volunteer judging is a great way to contribute to the education and training of future legal professionals as well as showcase the strength and involvement of our local bar.”

The College of Law is looking for attorneys to volunteer as judges for the following times:

Friday, January 17:

  • 4:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • 5:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Saturday, January 18:

  • 8:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Bring a buddy—sign up to judge with a friend and we will pair you to judge oral arguments together.

If you would like to volunteer but the above scheduled time blocks do not match your availability, please contact Adam Almaraz at aalmaraz@asu.edu.

To volunteer as a judge, click here.

indigent defense need-blind justice by Yarek Waszul

Illustration by Yarek Waszul

Last month, I reported that attorney Larry Hammond and others are seeking to establish an Arizona indigent defense commission. The unfilled need is dire, he said, and growing worse. He asked the State Bar to step up and create a body that will study and propose alternatives. (The Bar is considering it.)

So timely, a New York Times article this Sunday explored two states’ responses to the crushing problem. Here is how Adam Liptak opens his piece on Need-Blind Justice:

“Fifty years ago, in Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court ruled that poor people accused of serious crimes were entitled to lawyers paid for by the government. But the court did not say how the lawyers should be chosen, how much they should be paid or how to make sure they defended their clients with vigor and care.”

“This created a simple problem and a complicated one. The simple one is that many appointed lawyers are not paid enough to allow them to do their jobs. The solution to that problem is money.”

“The complicated problem is that the Gideon decision created attorney–client relationships barely worthy of the name, between lawyers with conflicting incentives and clients without choices. Now a judge in Washington State and a county in Texas are trying to address that deeper problem in ways that have never been tried in the United States.”

“Their proposed solutions reflect competing schools of legal thought. The approach in Washington State is a top-down exercise of federal power, pushing lawyers to make sure they meet with their clients, tell them their rights, investigate their cases and represent them zealously in plea negotiations and at trial.”

“The one in Comal County, Tex., is a bottom-up appeal to the marketplace. Defendants there will soon be able to use government money to choose their lawyers in much the same way that parents in some parts of the country use government vouchers to pay for grade school.”

“The county calls it ‘client choice.’ Another name: Gideon vouchers.”

Read Liptak’s whole story here.

It was Justice Louis Brandeis who mused that states could serve as laboratories for democracy, where they might try “novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” It seems that Washington and Texas are doing just that, all in service to a problem affecting countless residents.

Two questions arise:

  1. Which approach, if either, offers the greatest likelihood of success?
  2. Where is Arizona’s approach? Will it be one of those two, or an entirely different strategy that a new commission may devise?

In Arizona Attorney Magazine, we’d like to cover the developing conversation. So what do you think?

ABOTA American Board of Trial Advocates logoWe received word this month about a newly named “Judge of the Year,” an honor bestowed by the Phoenix Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). The 2013 Judge of the Year is Judge A. Craig Blakey II.

(I wrote about last year’s honoree here.)

Congratulations to Judge Blakey, who serves on the Superior Court for Maricopa County. He received the award at a dinner on December 6, and he was recognized for his “integrity, dedication and professionalism.”

According to the court: “Judge Blakey, who was appointed in 2002, is currently assigned to Juvenile Court. He previously served on civil, family and criminal court calendars. He earned his Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law in 1979 and his Bachelor of Science in American Studies from Northern Arizona University in 1975.”

ABOTA’s mission includes promoting the efficient administration of justice and constant improvement of the law.

Winnie the Pooh was just one of the participants in the 2013 National Adoption Day, Nov. 23, 2013. The biggest such event nationwide was held at the Durango Juvenile Court Center, 3131 W. Durango in Phoenix.

Winnie the Pooh was just one of the participants in the 2013 National Adoption Day, Nov. 23, 2013. The biggest such event nationwide was held at the Durango Juvenile Court Center, 3131 W. Durango in Phoenix.

On Saturday, November 23, the Superior Court for Maricopa County held another in its series of successful Adoption Days.

As the court describes it, “National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness for the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families.”

I have covered the event before in Arizona Attorney Magazine, and it is a remarkable occurrence. This year, 312 children were adopted in this local version of the national event. As the court says, “For the past six years, Maricopa County’s NAD event has been the largest adoption day in the United States.”

Congratulations and thanks those to all who participated. Here is a video about one participant’s story, followed by some more information from the court about the November 23 event:

Amy Flanagan is opening her heart and home to another loving child.

On National Adoption Day, November 23rd, Flanagan, a Peoria resident, adopted her fifth child into her forever family.

“Seven-and-a-half years ago, I planned on adopting one child” Flanagan said. “But did I plan on adopting five? No.”

Flanagan’s newly adopted child was one of 312 kids who were adopted on NAD.

“We call National Adoption Day, our ‘Gotcha Day.’ It’s a day everyone has been waiting for a long time. It’s a huge sigh of relief for a lot of families,” Flanagan said.

For the past six years, Maricopa County’s NAD event has been the largest adoption day in the United States.

“National Adoption Day is a joyous celebration where our community comes together to recognize the importance of finding permanent, loving families for each and every child,” Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Colleen McNally said. “The day brings together hundreds of people including judges, attorneys, adoption agencies, adoption professionals, child advocates and members of the public who are dedicated to creating forever families for waiting children.”

The festive atmosphere of Maricopa County’s National Adoption Day event is heightened by a visit from the Phoenix Suns Gorilla mascot; games and activities for kids; photos of the newly created families and cake and ice cream.

Judges, Commissioners, court staff and members of the public volunteered their Saturday to take part in National Adoption Day.

Richard Posner and his cat: Is law school the way it is because of this man? (But not because of his cat, we believe.)

Richard Posner and his cat: Is law school the way it is because of this man? (But not because of his cat, we believe.)

This is a short (and therefore busy) week, so it may be unwise for me to point you toward a long article. But I suspect it will reward your time investment.

It is titled The real reason law schools are raking in cash,” and I thank the New Hampshire Bar Association for pointing me toward it.

Pressed for time? The story’s deck provides a hint of the theme: “The profession’s in crisis, but the schools don’t care. They’re steeped in a toxic, hyper-capitalist worldview.”

No, this ain’t take-to-the-ramparts class warfare, but it is a very nuanced examination of the process of changing minds that we have called “law school.” And anyone who has been through the lawyer-manufacturing process may recognize the steps that author Benjamin Winterhalter dissects.

After explaining the odd economic dynamics of today’s legal profession—student employment is down, their debt is up, and school coffers remain full—he offers his analysis about what he calls an “obvious question about the discrepancy—the gulf between the continuing financial success of American law schools and the grim financial realities of their graduates—that no one seems to be asking.”

“That question, the one that is so obvious that even thinking about it is deeply painful, is this: Why aren’t law schools ashamed of themselves? Where is their sense of pity, of remorse, of human decency? After all, aren’t the very ideals that law schools purport to teach about—justice, fairness, equality—fundamentally and exactly opposed to this sort of naked capitalist exploitation? In the standard liberal vision of a functioning democracy, isn’t the rule of law supposed to be our salvation from the savagery of the free market?”

That is a substantial shot across the bow of American law schools, one that requires some hefty evidence to support. If we require a prime mover of this alleged discrepancy, the author is prepared to offer one:

“[L]aw school’s indifference to student suffering results not from an inexplicable love of torturous methods of instruction, nor from the inevitability of natural human selfishness, but from a profound ideological commitment to a particular version of neoliberal capitalism.”

Who is in the vanguard of that “ideological commitment”? Winterhalter points to former professor now judge Richard Posner as an undisputed leader. He is the most well-known proponent of the law and economics philosophy, which urges us to understand that the law’s primary question and concern should be whether “the rules” promote economic efficiency. That belief system, Winterhalter claims, “is now so deeply ingrained in the teaching at U.S. law schools that it is regarded as dogma.”

The outcome of that hegemonic thinking, he argues, is significant. It affects not just the quality of the law and policy that results. But it also affects the way law school graduates view themselves.

“For most students, the ideological training “takes”—like a plant in new soil. So when they find themselves enduring tough economic times, they assume that, other than grab hold of their bootstraps, there is nothing they can do. As they learned so many times in law school, the market wants what it wants, and it seems—at least at the present moment—not to want them. Since the market, the organ of social judgment, the grumbling gut of a hungry nation, has spoken, there is nothing for them to do but listen. To try, in other words, to make the best of it, all while sensing—if the plant has truly put down roots—the unavoidable conclusion of the law-and-econ doctrines: they deserve their fates.”

That is a powerful indictment. Read his whole essay here.

This may be one of the most unique examinations I’ve read of the truism that law school gets us to think like lawyers. It’s often remarked upon wryly, as if that thinking then does some disservice to those who must live and work amongst attorneys. Winterhalter says it does that, but it harms law graduates, as well.

What do you think of this analysis? Is Winterhalter on to something when it comes to law schools?

Why so down in the mouth, legal profession? For an answer, let's look to the field of dentistry.

Why so down in the mouth, legal profession? For an answer, let’s look to the field of dentistry.

If you are seeking a more concise examination of the state of the legal profession, I’ve got that for you too. Head over to the Wall Street Journal, where an author suggests that legal education is about where dental education was three decades ago: oversubscribed and underemployed. As the author says, “In the 1980s, dozens of dental schools were forced to shrink their class sizes and several shut down.”

There’s even a fun quiz. Find it here.

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