Lawyer kudos


Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

On October 21, law firm Dickinson Wright held an open house to showcase their new space in the Viad Corporate Tower in midtown Phoenix. I stopped by to take a look.

Congratulations to the firm and its managing partner, Gary Birnbaum, who made some terrific choices for the new offices (especially in flooring and lighting—nice work!).

The event was impressive, and even included some culture. It was a pleasure and a treat to have live performances by talented young actors from the Valley Youth Theatre. They performed a selection of works from the then-current show Narnia. (Full disclosure: My daughter is in an upcoming VYT show. And as long as I’m disclosing, note that tickets are available here for A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail. If you go, give extra applause to Rabbit; I’d appreciate it.)

Touring law firm offices is a little like assessing gradations of diamond quality through a loupe. I mean, most of these offices rival fine hotel spaces in their sophisticated opulence. Among that class of office, though, I must say that the firm has created interior spaces that would be great to inhabit for 1,900 billable hours per year or so.

What made my tour a real pleasure, though, was the company. Firm partner Fred Cummings and communications pro Andrea Kalmanovitz made sure I saw ever item I desired and were helpful in answering all my intrusive questions.

For example, on the nuts and bolts, in case you’re wondering: According to the firm, the initial Dickinson Wright Arizona office lease agreement is through 2026.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright's Phoenix offices.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright’s Phoenix offices.

Fred’s good humor was especially appreciated. He even showed me his office, which (honestly, Fred) could use a few homey touches.

One thing I was pleased to see is the new space for the firm library. I knew it must be much reduced, and it is. Here is a photo of that new area:

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

As firms make these moves, they must decide whether and how to carry over their voluminous volumes. Most, like Dickinson, must pare down to a select few tomes. For not only are fewer lawyers turning to the print books, but the massive weight of them can make tenant improvement costs prohibitive. For example, in a multi-floor firm, the floor that holds your full-blown library can cost many times your other floors, simply for shoring up that paper weight.

(Another approach I noted last year in Fennemore Craig’s new offices: Subdividing that smaller number of volumes among the floors and spaces to site certain volumes near relevant practice groups of attorneys.)

This library-reduction development is not simply an Arizona one, of course. About a week ago, the New York Times ran article on Kaye Scholer’s new space. It’s titled “So Little Paper to Chase in a Law Firm’s New Library,” and here is a photo of that storied firm’s new library space (Dickinson’s may be nicer):

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Back at Dickinson Wright, the firm used the interior design services of Krause Interior Architects: Brad Krause, Jennifer Consentino and Alexandra Ayres. Andrea Kalmanovitz also tells me that the firm has worked with KIA in connection with its previous relocation and various expansions of its facilities. “The color scheme (largely gray, white, blue and various wood tones) was selected by the architect to convey a modern image and to reflect the youth and vitality of the Firm. The space consists of approximately 45,000 square feet.”

Some more photos from my tour are below (click to biggify). Congratulations again to Dickinson Wright on their beautiful new digs. Here’s to your attorneys, whether they enjoy using print books or not.

 

AZ Black Bar logoToday, I catch up with another Arizona legal event of note: the Arizona Black Bar’s Hayzel B. Daniels Scholarship Award Dinner.

Held on October 16, 2014, at the Phoenix Art Museum, the event carried through on its theme of “closing the opportunity gap and building coalitions.”

In the story of bridging the gap between communities, the keynote speaker was an inspired choice. Attorney Connie Rice is the co-founder of the Advancement Project, described by organizers as “an organization that was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.”

AZ Black Bar Connie-L-Rice

Connie L. Rice

Rice spent decades suing for justice in Los Angeles, but her work yielded not only positive outcomes for underserved communities; it also yielded respect and more from California centers of power. For as Judge Carol Berry introduced her, “Connie Rice would wake up every morning thinking of new ways to sue the Los Angeles Police Department. Today, they give her a parking space.”

Rice’s remarks were salted with numerous memories of toiling in the high-pressure L.A. legal community. “I learned from Johnnie Cochran,” she said of the storied trial lawyer. “I did whatever he did—but better.”

Her speech at the Phoenix Art Museum focused on the LAPD, which she claimed has come a long way.

Recalling her initial impressions, Rice said, “I had never been to a town where everyone hated the cops.”

Her answer to alleged dehumanizing practices was through the courts.

“Back then, I was totally fearless. We had seven major class actions; we won. But with every victory, what could I show the community?”

To Rice, the problems—and the solutions—lay deeper.

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” she wondered. “Why do they make every African American get out of their car and lie on the ground?”

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” Connie Rice wondered. (Photo: Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 16, 2014.)

“Why do the police have to brutalize people?” Connie Rice wondered. (Photo: Phoenix Art Museum, Oct. 16, 2014.)

Part of the solution, she started to believe, came from new ways of seeing. For if an officer could look at a little Black boy and “see only an arrest statistic, and not feel love,” change would never occur.

The drug war and the prevalence of gangs was then making parts of Los Angeles a place of daily terror. And that spurred Rice to consider new approaches.

“I was winning my cases, but my clients were losing their lives. The first of the civil rights is the right to be safe. The first of all freedoms is the freedom from violence.”

She told the audience that her book Power Concedes Nothing is where she “documented my journey into copland and gangland, and then knit them together.”

Attorney Gerald P. Richard II, President, Arizona Black Bar

Attorney Gerald P. Richard II, President, Arizona Black Bar

The book explains how she was invited into the police department to help investigate police corruption and stayed to help rewrite the department’s anti-gang efforts.

Those efforts are credited by Rice with significant decreases in gang-related deaths. And it was “the most important thing I’ve done.”

Of her work with the police department, Rice says, “It’s all about cross-pollination, the opening of hearts and minds.”

Rice says the approaches are replicable across the country.

“If we can turn the LAPD into a bunch of heartfelt cops, anybody can do this. The lesson is, you can unlock everybody’s heart if you take the time to learn what’s in others’ hearts.”

To hear from Connie Rice herself, watch this video from a previous award.

Congratulations to the Black Bar and its leadership, including its President Gerald P. Richard II. Not only is he an esteemed attorney who serves as the Assistant to the Phoenix Police Chief, he also was an event honoree, receiving the Cecil B. Patterson Jr. Community Service Award.

Finally, if you’re curious what your correspondent writes on when he arrives at an event and realizes his pad is full and he needs more, click here.

NAPABA_logoIn the upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine, I talk about a national legal event coming to our state—the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association convention. More to come soon.

But in the meantime, convention organizers are putting together an event that helps military personnel. Your help may be needed—and you need not be a convention registrant to step up.

Attorney Jared Leung is President of AAABA, the Arizona affiliate. And he has issued a call for help. When are you needed? Sunday, Nov. 9, from 7 am to noon.

What’s happening? NAPABA is donating money and volunteer hours to assist Phoenix-based “Packages from Home.” Attendees will assemble 300 care boxes of comfort foods for military men and women stationed overseas.

As Jared says:

“The Project is absolutely wonderful, as we are packing food boxes for military men and women based overseas. These boxes must be packed in a certain way and inspected carefully because of security and shipping reasons. You will receive training on-site and assist others volunteers, who are attendees of the Convention from all over the country. You do not need to have registered for the NAPABA Convention to volunteer in this event, and we encourage you to bring a friend, family member, or significant other to come as well.”

See the flyer below for more information.

For more information or to RSVP to lend your assistance, contact Jared at jleung@fclaw.com.

More detail about the Convention is here.

AAABA Packages From Home event

Arizona Corporate Counsel Awaards logoHave you met or worked with in-house counsel who impress you with their skills and approach? Organizers of an annual award event seek your nominations.

Founded by AZ Business Magazine and the Association of Corporate Counsel state chapter, the Arizona Corporate Counsel Award nominations are due by Thursday, October 23.

More detail and a nomination form are here.

Categories include:

  • Public company (large and small)
  • Private company (large and small)
  • Nonprofit company
  • Government/municipal/public sector
  • Up-and-comer
  • In-house law department of the year
  • Litigator of the year
  • Intellectual property attorney of the year
  • Community/pro bono attorney of the year

The Awards Dinner will be held at the Camelback Inn on January 15, 2015.

The State Bar of Arizona is a presenting partner for the program.

logo-AJS American Judicature Society 100yearA brief and sad item today: The American Judicature Society is closing its doors.

Kind of inside-baseball-ish, I know. But the AJS had a laser-focus mission to safeguard fair and impartial courts. The decision to dissolve comes at a time when courts are under greater attacks than ever before. Here’s hoping others step into the breach.

Among many other things, the AJS publishes the esteemed Judicature. You can read the current issue here.

Here is part of a news release. You can continue reading it here.

“On September 26, 2014, the Board of Directors of the American Judicature Society (AJS) approved a plan to dissolve the Society and wind up its affairs.”

“AJS was the original ‘fair courts’ citizen organization and, for 101 years, has worked nationally to protect the integrity of the American justice system through research, publications, education and advocacy for judicial selection reform. Among its notable accomplishments are the development of the ‘Missouri Plan’ for judicial selection, the creation of state judicial conduct commissions and judicial nominating committees and publication of its award winning peer-reviewed journal, Judicature.”

“More recently, other entities have joined the American Judicature Society’s mission to ensure that the nation’s justice system is fair, impartial, and effective. In the coming weeks, AJS will reach out to these entities in an effort to ensure the continued operation of its Center for Judicial Ethics and Judicature, which serves as a forum regarding all aspects of the administration of justice and its improvement.”

cle snippets teaser logo. This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.How enjoyable a snippet can be.

No need to be mysterious. I’m talking about CLE Snippets, those brief-ish video conversations I’ve been having with Arizona Attorney authors. (Read more about them here.)

Last month, I interviewed Ken Motolenich-Salas about his topic: the Washington Redskins trademark cancellations. (You can read his article here.) Fascinating and timely.

Just as fascinating and timely, though, was my dialogue with Anthony Tsontakis yesterday. Fascinating – OK. But timely? That seems surprising, considering Anthony’s topic: a battle over the 1912 judicial nomination of Judge Richard Sloan.

Indeed, our dialogue was timely. Anthony’s article and our conversation focused on how the nomination battle could lead a commentator to say, “No uglier fight was ever made against a man.” Our dialogue reveals just how little we’ve changed in a century. Not a bad lesson to learn in a bruising election season.

I’ll provide links to the videos with Ken and Anthony as soon as I have them.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Legal Marketing Association logoThis Friday, I have the pleasure of moderating a great annual event: a panel of corporate counsel at a lunchtime gathering of the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association.

Before I get to the meat of the matter, be sure to read and register here (the speaker names are at this end of this post).

And now, 3 reasons you should be there on Friday:

1. Your question could be asked.

That’s right. I am seeking (here and via Twitter) great questions to put to attorneys who are in-house counsel at companies and nonprofits. What do you want to know about their work life? Curious how to get hired, in-house or as outside counsel? Secretly yearn to know how not to get fired in either of those two roles? Send me your question(s) to arizona.attorney@azbar.org (or tweet it to me @azatty).

2. These people are canaries.

No, I am not insulting them with a bird reference. I merely analogize them to the proverbial canary in a coal mine. There, the little birds could spot trouble before humans could—and communicated it in a disconcerting way.

AzAt 2011 GC panel headline corporate counsel legal marketing associationCorporate counsel are likewise on the leading edge—of the legal profession’s economy. As purchasers of outside legal services, they are extremely well informed about the state of things. As a result, they hire more, hire less, and examine bills with a fine-tooth comb (or whatever the opposite of that is). They also can gauge our profession by the number of others gunning for their positions. So if you’re looking for guidance on how the legal profession is emerging (or not) from a bad recession, listening to a corporate counsel is a pretty good strategy.

3. They may talk about you.

Well, OK, not exactly you. But I have asked the panelists to consider some anecdotes (omitting names, of course) that explore some of the great things outside counsel have done. But I also asked for their cautionary tales, those that arise out of law firm fails. Nervous-making and exciting all at once, right? That’s our goal.

So, once more with the registration link. I hope to see you there.

And here are the great speakers on tap:

Panelists:

  • Karim Adatia – Insight, Associate General Counsel & Director, Legal (Global Sales, Corporate and IP)
  • Steve Beaver – Aspect, Senior Vice President & General Counsel
  • Lukas Grabiec – Microchip Technology Inc., Senior Corporate Counsel
  • Carmen Neuberger – Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel

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