Legal events


Elizabeth F. Loftus

Elizabeth F. Loftus

This Wednesday, October 22, the University of Arizona law school co-hosts an event with cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus. Speaking on her topic “The Memory Factory,” Loftus explores “how the mind is a ‘memory factory,’ one that can construct a richly detailed and emotionally vivid story, believed sincerely by the speaker although it is entirely false.”

Often described as a memory expert, Loftus’s own university page describes her own work this way: “Her experiments reveal how memories can be changed by things that we are told. Facts, ideas, suggestions and other post-event information can modify our memories. The legal field, so reliant on memories, has been a significant application of the memory research.”

You are likely familiar with her work via the pitched “memory wars” that waged in legal circles. Through her research on “the malleability of human memory,” Loftus examined eyewitness memory and what was called “the misinformation effect.” Numerous cases and headlines over the years have centered on how false and recovered memories may be created, even inadvertently; those dialogues played out most notoriously in childhood sexual abuse cases.

University of Arizona Law School logoThe free event is open to the public and does not require registration (though seating may be limited).

When: Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 pm (doors at 6:00)

Where: Ares Auditorium (room 164), James E. Rogers College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway, Tucson

As the organizers say, Loftus’s presentation is “part of ‘The Mind & The Law’ Lecture Series sponsored by the UA’s College of Science, the School of Mind, Brain, and Behavior’s Cognitive Science Program and the James E. Rogers College of Law.”

More information on the series is available here.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will speak in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday October 22 on the topic of Citizens United and the influence of money in judicial elections.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will speak in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday October 22, on the topic of Citizens United and the influence of money in judicial elections.

The guest speaker at a Wednesday Tempe event will be a retired jurist who is expected to offer frank commentary about the corrosive role of campaign money in judicial elections.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will offer remarks about the Citizens United ruling—and especially the impact of money on the election of judges—at a mixer hosted by the Arizona Advocacy Network.

As the AAN says, “Learn how to keep Arizona’s judicial system protected from political attacks. Increasingly special interests groups and big money are targeting the courts for their own gain.”

Former Justice Nelson is just as likely to offer a rousing dialogue on a variety of issues. His judicial contributions have sometimes been controversial, outspoken and noteworthy. (You can read more about Justice Nelson here and here.)

The October 22 event, co-hosted by the ASU Indian Legal Program, takes place at the Old Main on the ASU campus, 400 E. Taylor Mall, Tempe (parking is available in the Fulton Center parking garage across University Ave.).

The event is free, but RSVP is required. Register here.

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.

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.

Today, I’m pleased to share a guest blog post written by an Arizona attorney. Michael K. Skousen takes up an issue on which most lawyers believe themselves expert: client communication. Of course, we all know we could improve, and Michael provides some pointers that may help you do just that.

Here is Michael, who is a member of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC, in Mesa:

Pretty good at client communications, are you? Here are some tips. Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience

Pretty good at client communications, are you? Here are some tips.

It is no secret that clients are what keep you in practice as an attorney. You have spent years honing your skills in your specific field of law, but all of that can quickly vanish if you do not excel at communicating with your prospective and current clients. When individuals reach out to you for help, it is easy to forget how frenzied and panicked they are because of their current situation. Chances are you have been trained or self-taught to see their situations in black and white, fact from fabrication, cause and effect. However, expressing that viewpoint can come off as cold and callous.

Client communication is a tricky aspect of your job because you want to exude intelligence and confidence while presenting yourself in a professional, yet compassionate manner to your client. Exactly how can you balance all of these traits and secure customer satisfaction? It all starts with your first point of contact with the individual seeking your representation or advice.

1. How quick were you to reply or answer the contact form inquiry or phone call?

Promptness is key in converting the prospective inquiry to an actual client. Understandably, some requests can come after-business hours, but a great rule of thumb is to respond to any questions within one business day. Taking this action can convey courtesy or respect to the prospective (and current) client by recognizing the time-sensitive matters.

2. Do you or your office have a follow-up procedure in place?

Some phone calls or completed contact forms are individuals shopping around, and you respect that. After all, you examine your options before hiring a contractor or medical practice for yourself. Exactly how many of your own experiences in seeking second opinions included the courtesy of a non-salesmanship follow-up? This point of contact could simply be a phone call, an email or even a letter. Here are some guidelines that can impress your prospective client and potentially turn it around into a lead:

  • Set up a follow-up procedure for a three-day-rule of each inquiry not already converted into a client relationship
  • Summarize their original inquiry with the date they contacted you
  • Ask if they have found representation or received the adequate answer for their inquiry
  • Offer your availability for additional questions they may have
  • Provide your contact information
blog post Michael J Skousen

Michael J Skousen

Chances are they will perceive this as genuine, and if they do not need your services at this time, they are more likely to remember you for a matter either of their own or as a referral for someone else they know. Take notice at this last point:

  • Leave the ball in their court, so to speak, as this is your last point of contact with this individual until they contact you again

3. How much time are you really giving to your clients?

Some inquiries and consultations prove to be quick, while others linger on a bit too long. Here are some tips to make the client feel valued yet respectful of your time:

  • Your consultations should be more than 30 minutes but less than an hour
  • Provide adequate time for others to ask you questions about you and your firm
  • Give them your full attention. Keep distractions down to a minimum. This means the office phone, your personal phone and any other electronic devices that prevent you from staying focused
  • Summarize their need, how you can meet their need and your contact information at end of consultation to validate that you were listening to them and can provide a solution for them.

Every lawyer and law practice has their own communication style that works best for them; however, the tips mentioned throughout this article should serve both as a reminder and as a healthy adjustment if your communication record with clients has been less than satisfactory.

Skousen Gulbrandsen and Patience logo

Skousen Gulbrandsen and Patience logo

As a member of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, PLC, Mesa’s personal injury law firm, Michael J. Skousen has more than 20 years of experience working with victims of auto accidents and wrongful death cases. Mr. Skousen has achieved successful compensation for legal incidents in cases such as these, and his credentials with reputable legal organizations include the Maricopa County Bar Association, the State Bar of Arizona and the U.S. District Court. You can find him on his personal website as well as his law firm’s site, sgplaw.com.

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

This Thursday, October 16, former U.S. Representative Barney Frank speaks at the University of Arizona Law School, where he delivers the annual McCormick Lecture.

His topic: “Why We Need More Government and How We Can Pay for It

The event is free and open to the public (though seats may be hard to come by; register here).

As the law school reports:

“Barney Frank served as United States Representative from Massachusetts for more than three decades, starting in 1981. An outspoken and deeply respected legislator, noted for his keen sense of humor, Frank has played a key role in some of the most important legislation of our country’s recent history, including the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

“As Chair of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011, Frank helped craft the compromise bill to slow the tide of home mortgage foreclosures in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as the subsequent $550 billion rescue plan, and the landmark Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—the sweeping set of regulatory reforms named partly after Frank and signed into law in July 2010, to prevent the recurrence of the financial crisis.”

Arizona Law logoMore detail is here.

School representatives say that they anticipate a large crowd for the event. Capacity is limited to 300 registrants; the first 100 individuals to register will be seated in the Ares Auditorium, where Frank will deliver his lecture. The additional 200 people will be seated in adjacent overflow rooms to watch the lecture streamed live.

Hermans House movie poster

Herman’s House film poster

Last week, a remarkable film was awarded an Emmy. Herman’s House is a documentary I’ve mentioned and reviewed before, and it examines the use of solitary confinement and incarceration in a compelling way. The award news—plus a free screening—is reason enough to point you toward it.

My review was way back in 2012; you can read it here.

The Emmy, given to PBS’ POV Documentaries for Herman’s House, is described here. This is an excerpt from the press release:

“The POV (Point of View) film Herman’s House won the 2014 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming, it was announced on Sept. 30 by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Herman’s House aired on PBS in 2013 as part of POV, American television’s longest-running independent documentary series. The 35th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards were presented at a ceremony in New York City. PBS won a total of 11 awards, more than any other broadcaster.”

The award is bittersweet, for the film’s namesake, Herman Wallace, passed away a year ago.

You can watch a portion of the Emmy Award ceremony here, as the film’s producers accept (click on “Playlist” and select Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming).

Haven’t yet seen this award-winning film? It is screening—free—through October 15 here.

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