Legal events


Feeling squeezed in your office? Shrinking office space is a national trend.

Feeling squeezed in your office? Shrinking office space is a national trend.

My title today—asking about law office square footage—is more than just a snarky opening designed to draw you in. (It worked, though, didn’t it? The title has something for everyone: Big-firm partners who bemoan the loss of space, and the rest of the world that pillories big-firm partners. You’re welcome.)

No, my title reminds me of a quiet revolution occurring in law firm offices (and in hallways, lobbies, common areas and lunchrooms. And don’t get us started on law firm libraries.)

That revolution (or devolution) is yielding smaller footprints, even for (some) bigfoot rainmakers.

A blog post recently sized up the size issue.

Closer to home, commercial real estate expert James Robinson wrote for us last fall in an article titled “Can the Credenza: Technology, Economics Change Law Firm Offices.”

He well describes the changes yielding small spaces, and he says much of the shift is attributable to changing technology. He (kindly) leaves aside the impetus of a bad economy and declining collected fees.

You should read James’s article; it even includes pictures!

What do you think? Is this a tempest in a shrinking teapot? Or could the change in office size signal (subconsciously) decreased horizons for a profession? And does that diminution have a demoralizing influence?

I’m no psychologist (or attorney whisperer); I’m just spit-balling here.

But I’d like to hear what you think. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

April Fool's hoax taillights for horses

Would you believe your horse requires a taillight? Many did.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

Yeah, I know it was yesterday. But only amateurs prank on the day everyone expects it.

In fact, I have no pranking plans today. But two fools-related elements looked too good to wait another year to share. And yes, they are connected to the law, for the diehard legal fans out there.

The first element reminded me of an old trick: convincing the unwary that a ridiculous new law has been passed.

A hilarious one you’ve probably heard is that an Italian city now requires taillights on horses. As a result, gullible Milanese residents dutifully trotted over to repair shops to affix the required luminary.

(More “stupid laws” are categorized at the Museum of Hoaxes.)

In defense of these folks, have you ever viewed what comes out of legislative bodies? Sure, we occasionally get a Clean Water Act or universal suffrage. But there are some howlers too.

Anyway, here is the second item I enjoyed related to April Foolss Day—this one even more closely tied to lawyers.

This story details how Ska Brewing is suing fellow Colorado firm Oskar Blues. The offense? Using Ska’s “s-k-a” right in the middle of the name “Oskar.” The nerve. Clearly infringement.

Here’s the opening of the Times-Call story:

“Ska Brewing and Longmont-based Oskar Blues teamed up on an April Fools’ Day press release Tuesday, announcing that Ska would be pursuing litigation over Oskar Blues’ use of the Durango-based brewery in its name.”

“‘They’re using our whole name,’ wrote Ska president and co-founder Dave Thibodeau in the made-up press release. “It’s right in the middle of their name, like we wouldn’t notice as long as they put an ‘O’ at the beginning and an ‘R’ at the end. Well, we’ve noticed now.’”

The reporter noted that the prank even included a Photoshopped picture of the “ska” being blacked out of an Oskar Blues sign.

April Fool's hoax Ska Brewing

Thanks to a Photoshop gag, letters are being blotted out of a competitor’s sign. April Fools.

Of most charming impact to attorneys, though, is this comment from the “plaintiff”:

“‘Once we figured out what those guys had done, we didn’t want to let another day pass without paying some lawyers,’ said Thibodeau. ‘Obviously bringing lawyers in immediately is the only way to resolve any conflict, so we hired a bunch of them. Hopefully they did too.’”

 Be sure to read the whole article here.

Let’s hope all your pranks are as cooperative as this one. And next April Fools’ Day, if you get a call from a client with a big promised payday, why not wait a day before expending resources on your conflict check? You’ll be glad you did.

Happy non-prank Wednesday.

APALSA Asian Pacific American Law Students Assn logoMark your calendars for this Saturday, April 5, when the first annual banquet of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) of Arizona Summit Law School will be held.

The event is open to all, and proceeds will go toward scholarships for the ASU Asian LEAD Academy.

Here are some details:

  • Location: Arizona Summit Law School, 20th Floor- 1 North Central Phoenix, Arizona 85004
  • Time: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Tickets: $15 pre-sale, $20 door

To purchase a ticket, email Larry Noyvong here: llnoyvong@student.azsummitlaw.edu

Here is a link to the ASU Asian Pacific Lead Academy. I have written about the great program and its results here.

There is a Facebook page for the event. And be sure to follow the Summit Law School’s APALSA organization here.

Thanks, to Vicente Reid Y Lugto, APALSA President, Arizona Summit Law School, for the detail and the invite.

APALSA banquet date 2014

Congratulations to all of the winners of the annual Arizona Attorney Creative Arts Competition. Each of them is featured in our May issue, which will be available in late April.

Because of obvious restrictions, our music winner’s work cannot be published in the magazine. But it is available, here, for you to hear and enjoy. Well done, Doug Passon.

I previously wrote about a film of Doug’s here. Read more about it below.

Here is Doug’s background and bio:

DOUG PASSON has been playing guitar and writing songs since the age of 14. He has been practicing criminal defense in the Valley for almost 17 years. His other creative passion is film. He is President & Creative Director of D Major Films (dmajorfilms.com), which produces commercial and narrative documentaries on topics and for organizations focused on fostering social change. He also teaches and consults with legal professionals nationwide on how to use moving pictures as a tool of persuasion in their court cases.

“No Tomorrow” is a meditation on the joy and pain of living, and a call to live more deeply by embracing the uncertainty of the future.

A compelling and charming film comes to Scottsdale on Sunday, Feb. 23.

As Doug says, he wrote the words, melody and music. “The song is performed by Dan Nichols, a singer/songwriter based out of Raleigh, N.C., and a dear friend of mine. Dan is the subject of a documentary film I recently directed called ‘Road to Eden’ (www.roadtoedenfilm.com). The song is a reminder that life is fragile and temporary and if we are to live fully, we must live fully in the moment. This was inspired, in part, by the life and death of an incredible lawyer, mentor and friend, Darrow Soll.”

Here is Doug’s winning song, “No Tomorrow.”


And here are a few photos of Doug at the magazine photo shoot.

Doug Passon being photographed by Karen Shell, foreground, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Doug Passon being photographed by Karen Shell, foreground, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Doug Passon passes the time between shoots, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Doug Passon passes the time between shots, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Practical Art Buffalo Girl Dinner April 10 in Phoenix

So who is up for an opportunity that combines, food, drink, art, maybe taking art home, and lively conversation—all in a setting that was originally established by an Arizona Attorney?

Yeah. Me too.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. On our casual day, I am pleased to share news about an April 10 event at Practical Art in Phoenix. The event is called “Buffalo Girl Dinner,” and you should read here to see where the quirky (and highly appropriate) name arose.

Practical Art, a Phoenix shop and gallery, is going as strong as ever, just as it was envisioned by former Lewis and Roca attorney Jane Reddin. (The shop is located at 5070 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012)

Jane_Reddin 1

Jane Reddin, founder of Practical Art, Phoenix

Back in 2008, I was intrigued when Jane decided to move away from the legal arts and focus on the real arts. I covered her grand adventure here, and have kept up with the amazing shop since—even after her death three years ago.

As you’ll see in the description, the evening is also a fundraiser for the Phoenix Art Museum.

If you’re curious what artworks will be available in the evening’s silent auction, get to following the Practical Art blog here. Those talented owner/organizers promise to reveal all soon.

The $35 ticket price gets you in the door, as well as “a $25 donation to the Phoenix Art Museum, a meal voucher for use at the food trucks, eligibility for participation in the art auction, live music by Pick N’ Holler, and drinks.”

Any idea what a good deal that is?

Buy your ticket here. And if you come, prepare to battle me in the silent auction

Enjoy your practical and artful weekend.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

Here is some great news about a monthly State Bar event in which lawyers volunteer their time. Thanks for the news to Alberto Rodriguez.

The State Bar of Arizona, azcentral.com and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, March 11. Volunteers answered viewers’ calls regarding their employment and labor issues.

Eight volunteer attorneys participated:

  • Denise Blommel
  • Richard Galvan
  • Richard Klauer
  • Stephanie Leach
  • Leah Lewandowski
  • Dawn Sauer
  • Paul Sheston
  • Sandra Shoupe-Gorga

The attorneys answered 83 calls on employment and labor law. An additional 34 consumers were assisted via social media, which means a total of 117 people were helped.

Here is a sample of the consumer questions:

  • Since Arizona is a right-to-work state, what does that mean to me and my issue?
  • Can employers harass and discriminate against its employees?
  • When are you covered by workers’ compensation?
  • I haven’t been paid overtime wages. How do I go about getting them paid?
  • I was fired for reasons I believe to be unfair; what can I do?

Several questions regarding employment discrimination were asked, including in the areas of age, pregnancy, ethnicity and disabilities.

AZBAR labor and employment lawyers on call 03-11-14

Volunteer Arizona labor and employment lawyers answer consumer questions, March 11, 2014.

The azcentral.com and 12 News teams were successful in adding a social media component to the phone bank. Thirty-four consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Stephanie Leach responded with her recommendations/advice.

Four of the eight attorneys were first-time volunteers.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ family law questions on Tuesday, April 8.

Bill Klain AZBAR member of the year 2013

Bill Klain, State Bar of Arizona 2013 Member of the Year

’Tis the season … to honor someone who deserves it.

I’m pleased to report that you still have a few days left to nominate an Arizona attorney for a prestigious award from the State Bar of Arizona. The awards will be given at this June’s Bar Convention in Tucson, and there may be no better way to recognize the highest commitment to the legal profession.

To give an idea of how moving the awards can be, here are the words of Bill Klain, who was the Bar’s 2013 member of the year:

“Receiving the Member of the Year award was both gratifying and humbling. While I greatly appreciate the Bar’s recognition of my work to improve civil practice and procedure through my committee service and involvement with continuing legal education, the award results from the collective efforts of a large number of people devoted to improving our justice system and with whom I have had the good fortune to collaborate. I am proud of the work we have accomplished and appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to these group efforts.”

In your own life and practice, you have likely come across an attorney or two worthy of recognition. Here is a description of what the Bar seeks:

“Each year the State Bar of Arizona honors members of the legal profession who go above and beyond. We want to know who you think should be recognized this year. Take a look at the awards listed below and think about lawyers you know who make a difference. There is even an award for a non-lawyer who helps the public understand justice and the legal profession.”

The deadline to submit nominations is March 26th at 5 p.m. That’s this Wednesday. Nominating is simplicity itself. Just write a letter telling the Bar about the person’s achievements and why they deserve the award. Send it to:

State Bar of Arizona

Awards Committee

c/o Nina Benham

4201 N. 24th St., Suite 100

Phoenix, AZ 85016-6266

Or email it to her at Nina.Benham@staff.azbar.org

The Bar has created a helpful page that provides detailed descriptions of the nine awards. It also includes a link to a list of previous winners.

Now the ball is in your court. You have two days to write a letter (brief or otherwise) nominating someone for an award. Get to drafting.

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.

ReInvent Law Laboratory at Michigan State: You've heard that in Detroit they build things? They do the same in East Lansing. Some smart people have your law profession up on the lift, and they've got some bad news.

You’ve heard that in Detroit they build things? They do the same in East Lansing. Some smart people have your law profession up on the lift, and they’ve got some bad news.

Sometimes—especially on Twitter—uttering a great witticism can prove irresistible. Tossing out a touch of snark may even be appreciated. But it may also miss a bigger picture.

Three days after I posted a heartfelt and humorous (I think) tweet, I’ve come to reassess it.

A Funny But Misleading Tweet

Here’s the sitch: I had just arrived at the ABA Bar Leadership Institute on Thursday. I landed at Chicago Midway and took the subway in (oh how I miss reliable mass-transit—the Orange Line to Roosevelt, change to the Red Line, walk three blocks from the Grand station, 25 minutes total!). But that meant I strolled into a session about halfway through.

The speakers’ subject was “Opportunities for Innovation in a Changing Legal Landscape.” And the style was unique: Each of the seven speakers got about 8 to 10 minutes, TED-talk-style.

Arriving late, I got to see about two and a half of the presentations. But that meant I did get to see the amazing Will Hornsby, of the ABA, as his presentation closed out the session.

Will is a smart and talented man. In fact, I had met him when I had been in the editor job for only about five months. Back in 2001, I decided to host a roundtable on lawyer advertising. Much to my pleasure, Will agreed to travel from Chicago to Phoenix to participate (yes, it was in February; what are you getting at?). You can read the result here.

Personally effusive and digitally adept, Will and his humorously delivered insights carried the audience along on a very engaging stream. And so I tweeted:

Great innovative ideas at #BLI14. Someone call the police, cuz @willhornsby is stealing the show! http://t.co/PUU1zRM8i6 #closer

— Tim Eigo (@azatty) March 13, 2014

Was I wrong? No, for Will spoke eloquently on that changing legal landscape we’ve heard so much about.

Rethinking Engagement (and Law)

But then I got to thinking—maybe the tweet wasn’t entirely fair. I mean, you can’t review a movie if you walk in halfway though. So this weekend I started looking at the handouts of others in that session.

R. Amani Smathers, Innovation Counsel at the ReInvent Law Laboratory.

R. Amani Smathers, Innovation Counsel at the ReInvent Law Laboratory.

That takes me (and you, finally) to the work of a lawyer named R. Amani Smathers. Though I stand by my assessment of Will as a primo closer, I am very impressed by the vision and approach of Amani. Here is a video of one of her presentations (similar to the one she delivered in Chicago, which I missed).

That video drew me in and made me interested in the work of the ReInvent Law Laboratory, where she has the job title “Innovation Counsel” (yes, I’m jealous). I had heard about ReInvent Law, but it took her video to make me explore further.

What is unique about this effort, sponsored by the Michigan State University College of Law? Well, let’s start with the website, which is designed with curious legal innovators in mind, rather than law-journal-loving traditionalists. So from the get-go, they are signaling a new day.

Building a New Legal Profession

Others may have their own favorites, but among the Lab’s action words is my number-one evocative verb “Build.” Here’s what the organization says about build:

“Law firms should have research and development departments, but they don’t. ReInvent Law fills the R&D gap for law firms, in-house legal departments, and other legal service providers. We conduct experiments. We beta test new products. We engage in market research. We take risks. We question. We explore. … Learning by doing, learning by building is what we do. Talk is cheap. We build.”

A little in your face, right? Well, what part of “everything in the profession is changing” did you not understand?

What To Do, Who To Follow

Here’s how I can spot a compelling vision for our shared legal future: When I see another of their verbs is “Join Us,” I want to. But short of an offer to take an energetic work sabbatical in East Lansing (which would be pretty cool), I have opted to sign up for their email updates—which is what you should do, as well.

And if you want more news from the Lab, follow them on Twitter here. You should do the same with Amani Smathers here, and for good measure, take a look at her own site, which explains more about her “search of what it means to be a 21st-century lawyer.”

So in my defense: Will did steal the show, at least the part I saw. But more shows are a’comin’, folks, and I look forward to seeing how Amani and her colleagues bring the legal house down.

American Bar Association Bar Leadership Institute 2014 BLI logo

Last Friday, I had the chance to present to leaders of three sizes of bar associations—small, medium and large. Among the three, the best audience was those from bar associations that were —

Hold it. Let me pause before revealing who was the most engaged of my audiences at the ABA Bar Leadership Institute.

creating content that influences member engagement requires a plan and support.But I will tell you now that one thing I learned most as I prepared for my presentation was this: Everyone—even a bar president—seeks to be engaging. Even when we get the opportunity, though, we must have a plan, preparation and sufficient support to execute well.

To kick things off, here is what I opened with to each group:

“My modest charge this morning is to recommend ways for each of you to create phenomenal written content, fearlessly and with joy.”

“How hard can that be?” I may have continued.

It was a real privilege to be able to address attendees on one of their reported biggest concerns—Presidents’ messages or columns. My overall message to them—which I hope they appreciated—is that the primary job of a bar president is Chief Engagement Officer. And that there are techniques they could adopt that would help them create compelling content.

I wrote about this presentation a few weeks ago, and I thank those who offered suggestions for content and messages. As promised, those who shared ideas that I borrowed got a shout-out in my PowerPoint. Thank you especially to Dan Wise of the New Hampshire Bar, Brad Carr of the Alabama Bar, and Rick DeBruhl right here at the Arizona Bar. I also benefited from the insights of the past 15 years of Arizona Bar Presidents, a huge portion of whom responded generously to my queries about what makes an effective column.

My PowerPoint—minus its animated possibilities—is here. (It begins on the fourth page.) If I can figure out how, I may upload the robust version to SlideShare.

In my 14 years as editor at Arizona Attorney, I’ve read more than 150 such columns in our own magazine. Plus, I receive about 20 other bar magazines monthly—and yes, I try to read those, too. So I’ve come to be highly attuned to the challenge a president faces when she or he takes pen to paper. That’s why I ended my presentation with a toast (PowerPoint style).

Law and Order: "If you can lead your bar well, while making your practice thrive and keeping your family happy, I toast you."

“If you can lead your bar well, while making your practice thrive and keeping your family happy, I toast you.”

Finally, let me share the unofficial results of my assessment of audience engagement. I’d have to say that, all else being equal, the small and medium-sized bar groups were each highly engaged. If I were forced to choose, I suppose the medium group came in a nose ahead.

Let's give it up for ... the ABA BLI 2014 medium-bar group!

Let’s give it up for … the ABA BLI 2014 medium-bar group!

Both of those groups laughed and nodded in all the right places and ended with a bunch of questions. And the medium-bar group shouted out queries that even surprised me (“What was your favorite president’s column?” is something I am chagrined to say I had never considered—though I managed a response.)

Small but mighty: ... the ABA BLI 2014 small-bar group

Small but mighty … the ABA BLI 2014 small-bar group

So the large-bar group—my own people, you could say—take the number-three spot. But I won’t be too critical. After all, it was the final session of three, so they may have been a little shell-shocked. And as I headed into my third presentation, I faced a dry-mouth quandary, so my own delivery may have been on the decline. We got through it—together.

Don't be a (sleeping) giant ... the ABA BLI 2014 large-bar group

Don’t be a (sleeping) giant … the ABA BLI 2014 large-bar group

But what a privilege: To take some time to consider an important subject and to share ideas with smart and curious people—that may be one of the markers of a rewarding day job.

Tomorrow, I recommend to you the efforts of a law school that examines how the legal profession should be reinvented. I had heard of its work, but I learned more from someone who also spoke at the Bar Leadership Institute. But you’ll have to wait another day to know more.

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