Legal events


In what has become an annual tradition, on Wednesday, the Arizona Women Lawyers Association hosted a debate of the candidates for Arizona Attorney General. Held at the University Club in Phoenix, it featured a packed-to-the-gills room, candidates committed to their goals, and organizers who were committed to: (1) a value-packed event and (2) getting people out on time.

Organizers succeeded on both counts. The candidates? Well, attendees may each have had their own favorites.

AWLA Arizona Women Lawyers Association logoThe format was composed of 10-minute candidate statements, followed by 10-minute rebuttals, and finally audience question. The candidates are Republican Mark Brnovich and Democrat Felecia Rotellini.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow, let me share a few of the candidates’ main points.

Mark Brnovich speaks at the debate of Arizona Attorney General candidates at a forum sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, Sept. 24, 2014.

Mark Brnovich speaks at the debate of Arizona Attorney General candidates at a forum sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, Sept. 24, 2014.

Brnovich:

“We as a society cannot tolerate when our most vulnerable are unprotected.”

“I am fully ready to push back against the Obama administration and its job-killing carbon regulations, which have a devastating impact on the economy and jobs.”

“He is such a fiscal conservative, he won’t even buy vowels for his last name.” (quoting Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery)

Felecia Rotellini speaks at the debate of Arizona Attorney General candidates at a forum sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, Sept. 24, 2014.

Felecia Rotellini speaks at the debate of Arizona Attorney General candidates at a forum sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, Sept. 24, 2014.

Rotellini:

“I want to return the Attorney General’s Office to its core mission; it should be an independent watchdog for the people. I worked to be sure mortgage fraud was made a criminal act.”

“I will take politics out of the office. When you’re in the trenches, you’re colorblind. There’s no red; there’s no blue.”

“It is important that the Attorney General not be an ideologue, and that the elected official appreciates the awesome power of the office.”

On rebuttal, the candidates became considerably more impassioned. In response to Rotellini comments, Brnovich told the audience that he is not an ideologue or an extremist.

Rotellini countered by discussing her opponent’s positions on pro-choice issues, SB1062, the Corrections Corporation of America, and Medicaid restoration, among other topics. She also mentioned the $700,000 in “dark money,” which she claims came from the Koch Brothers, which was spent in the primary in a successful effort to defeat incumbent Tom Horne.

Audience questions covered sex trafficking, same-sex marriage laws, lawsuits regarding federal mandates, and what changes each would make in the ranks of career prosecutors in the Attorney General’s Office.

Both candidates urged attendees to view all their positions on their respective websites:

Judge George Anagnost moderates the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014. He gestures toward panelists Bob McWhirter and Doug Cole.

Judge George Anagnost moderates the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014. He gestures toward panelists Bob McWhirter and Doug Cole.

Last week, I attended the annual “We the People” CLE program, which gathers smart folks and lets them loose on the most recent High Court Term. The follow-up was complete and often enlightening.

Paul Bender, Doug Cole and Bob McWhirter offered insightful and often humorous takes on a wide variety of the cases taken by SCOTUS. Led by moderator Judge George Anagnost, they were a formidable intellectual team.

(I appreciated Professor Bender’s unintended error when he misquoted the opening words for the Court’s day: “God save the United States from this honorable Court.” Who doesn’t agree with that occasionally?)

And yet I continue to wonder about the marrying of content with the panelists who discuss it. I have covered this topic—diversity—before, and so let me mention it again.

As always, the cases explored by the panel touch on nearly all areas of human experience. But, as an example, how would the treatment of even one case—Hobby Lobby—have varied had there been even one woman scholar on the panel? Some closely held businesses apparently are untroubled by any medical product or procedure save one—and that one affects women most of all. Would a woman scholar’s view have offered a different, compelling vision?

Of course, I do not believe that all women—or all of anyone—think the same way about legal topics. But, conservative, liberal or in between, a woman panelist may have taken more than an academic interest in the issue.

Professor Paul Bender, seated, at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

Professor Paul Bender, seated, at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

The same is true of the Shelby case regarding the Voting Rights Act, or the Schuette case regarding affirmative action, or the McCullen case regarding abortion-clinic buffer zones, all ably examined. A mandatory number of African American scholars, or women, per panel is not what I’d expect. But their complete absence is surprising. (Imagine attendees’ surprise if they walked in and saw an all-woman panel, or an all-Black panel. THAT would be news!)

Adding to the oddity of the absence of diversity was the extended discussion on that very topic by the panel. Professor Bender, for example, took pains to note that all of the current Supreme Court Justices have had professional lives as professional judges, rather than some form of law practice (except for Justice Kagan). And he and others noted that the Court may be diverse in some ways, but not in socio-economics, or geography, or even religion (currently, the Court has no Protestants, six Catholics and three Jews).

An attendee could be excused for feeling some disconnect, sympathetic to the desire to see a diverse bench, while at the same time looking around the very room in which we sat …

Bob McWhirter presents at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

Bob McWhirter presents at the We the People panel, Sept. 17, 2014.

Again, and in advance of the usual commenters who will say this is window-dressing (or worse): This is about excellent legal education, and a topic on which the State Bar of Arizona has pledged its focus. I found the discussion to be first-rate, but how can we know all of the excellent diverse commentary we are missing? A consistent absence of diverse voices on legal topics that disproportionately affect those very voices is odd, at best. And it makes you wonder if you are getting a full and complete examination of the issues underlying a Supreme Court docket.

That, after all, is what is promised.

OK, have at it in the comment box below.

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
Attorney Rodney Glassman speaks to educators at the Madison Elementary District offices, Sept. 15, 2014.

Attorney Rodney Glassman speaks to educators at the Madison Elementary District offices, Sept. 15, 2014.

On Monday, educators gathered at a school district office to hear about an initiative that aids literacy—environmental and otherwise.

Attorney Rodney Glassman spoke to the group at the Madison School District offices about the series of books featuring Jeremy Jackrabbit—a creation of his and his wife Sasha Glassman (also a lawyer, as well as a school board member in Madison).

Glassman Jeremy Jackrabbit 4 book character

Jeremy Jackrabbit

An upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine will describe the book project—the fourth in the series. When the student illustration contest is complete and the book is done next spring, almost 60,000 kindergartners around the state will be treated to a free copy of this year’s “Jeremy Jackrabbit Saves Every Drop.”

For more information (for you or the youth artists in your life):

Once the story in our October issue is live, I’ll share that here too. And then, come spring, we’ll tell you how the initiative is hip-hopping along.

Constitution DayIn case you hadn’t made your Constitution Day plans yet, I recommend to you a great video that includes a retired Supreme Court—and Arizona—jurist.

The National Association of Women Judges has launched a public service announcement (in separate video and audio). In it, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor discusses the value of free and fair courts.

And what is more constitutional than that?

Here is the video:

Fair and Free – Full Film – featuring Sandra Day O’Connor (EN) from Informed Voters Project on Vimeo.

Below is more background from the association (and a hat tip to Francine Walker of The Florida Bar for putting me on this very cool trail!)

“In honor of Constitution Day, September 17, the ‘Informed Voters Project’ sponsored by the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), has released a new :30 second TV public service announcement and a :60 second radio announcement featuring retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The PSA campaign’s message is a reminder that politics and partisanship have no place in the courts of the United States of America.”

“The National Association of Women Judges ‘Informed Voters – Fair Judges’ project is a non-partisan voter education project developed to increase public awareness about the judicial system, to inform voters that politics and special interest attacks have no place in the courts, and to give voters the tools they need to exercise an informed vote in favor of fair and impartial courts.”

More details c­­an be found here.

Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

On Thursday, another in a popular series of networking events for lawyers will be staged in downtown Phoenix. You should consider stopping by.

Hosted by the State Bar of Arizona (Mentor Committee and Young Lawyers Division), it will be held on Thursday, September 18, at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton Hotel, in its District American Kitchen and Wine Bar.

This is the fourth annual such kick-off event, and the previous ones have been crowded and enjoyable affairs.

Here is an image with more particulars:

State Bar Networking event 09-18-14And here is a map:

Lawyers and history buffs (and many more) should read this month's Wired Magazine coverage of Edward Snowden.

Lawyers and history buffs (and many more) should read this month’s Wired Magazine coverage of Edward Snowden.

I can suggest a few reasons you should read the cover story in this month’s Wired Magazine.

First, you should always read the cover story in Wired Magazine. But you probably want more reason than that.

OK. Second, the legal-lover in you knows you’re aching to gain some insight into Edward Snowden’s role in an ongoing international incident. How does he justify his actions? Will the American people ultimately view him as a villain or as an aid to American transparency?

The U.S. government’s response to that second question is a complicated and not entirely coherent one. It has ranged from throwing around the word “treason” to claiming pleasure at the resulting dialogue about the NSA and the CIA (always, of course, without praising Snowden).

If that legal insight is all you aspire to, the Wired feature story based on exclusive one-on-one conversations with the former intelligence operative should please you very much. You can read the whole story here.

BUT … if you, like me, enjoy gaining insight into how magazines are created, then you really need to read the opening letter by the editor-in-chief too. (Yes, some of us read those too!)

It is only in Scott Dadich’s column that you will learn how Platon’s phenomenal photos came to be. You’ll read about the machinations that led to surreptitious meetings in Russian hotel rooms. And you’ll marvel at how random inexpensive props bought in Manhattan spurred the imagination of Snowden thousands of miles east.

Kudos to the editor, writer James Bamford, director of photography Patrick Witty, and photographer Platon. This is an amazing accomplishment.

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