Screen-shot from Federal Bar Association video on its Women and the Law conference, to be held on July 11, 2014.

Screen-shot from Federal Bar Association video on its Women and the Law conference, to be held on July 11, 2014.

How do you visually preview your events? Not at all? Maybe you need a new plan.

I became a convert to the in-person conference about a decade ago. That’s when I attended some events that provided an educational experience that could not be replicated in a webcast or podcast.

Many people agree with that sentiment. But far too few use all available channels to tout their upcoming event. Among the channels that are underused? Video.

Federal Bar Association FBA logo_optI previously shared my take on how the State Bar of Arizona and Niche Media proclaimed their coming educational conference. (And more on Niche later this week.)

But today’s thumbs-up goes to the Federal Bar Association. Many of you attorneys who practice in federal court may already be FBA members (and if not, you should consider it).

On July 11, the FBA hosts its Women in the Law Conference. You can read more about it here.

If I were in DC later this week, I would attend. But in the meantime, thank you to Stacy King, the FBA’s Deputy Executive Director, for sharing the organization’s video touting the conference. Here it is:

Well, if there’s one thing all my conference experience has taught me, it is to replicate the best ideas you see floating around. So congratulations to the Federal Bar Association for a terrific video; hello to wideo, a portal I will grow familiar with as I muddle through creating my own video.

Is anyone else planning to make a video in the near future? Let me know if you try wideo. Let’s get people looking even more at our content.

If a license plate is named after one of the deadly sins, you might want to avoid it (unless you're Al Pacino).

If a license plate is named after one of the deadly sins, you might want to avoid it (unless you’re Al Pacino).

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be in Los Angeles—which I really like, before you start with the grimaces. But maybe my pleasure came partially from the fact that I was not driving. The few times I had to travel about the freeway system, battle-weary cabbies did it for me.

My passenger status allowed me the luxury of looking at my surroundings as they flew by in a blur. But L.A. traffic jams also allow a more relaxed view of Southern California, and that is when I got to see my share of vanity license plates.

A strange thing, the vanity plate. Many (to me) are merely inscrutable, making me wonder why someone would spend money on an inside joke. (Of course, I’m famously clueless about deciphering the words. Years ago, I gazed at a plate, muttering, “Flaming Oz?” over and over. Until my daughters realized I was being dense, not funny, and they kindly informed me the plate meant “flamingoes.” Which was still stupid, but whatever.)

I’ve remarked before on the presence of lawyer license plates, and Above the Law has had some fun at the drivers’ expense.

Well, this past weekend, I saw one of my favorite attorney plates ever. As we drove east on the 10 out of Santa Monica, traffic ground to a near-halt as we entered the lane to head south on the 405. And that’s when a gorgeous black Porsche 911 Carrera slipped in ahead of us. It took me a moment to stop savoring the vehicle itself and for me to glance down at the plate: “Mns Rea.”

lawyer license plate mens rea

Yes, counselor, we’re very impressed. (Click for larger version.)

Even in the required shortened form, I understood immediately we were behind Mens Rea. Can’t recall law school? Well, it’s that quotable bit of Latin that refers to criminal intent, a necessary element to establish guilt.

Why a lawyer would gleefully holler “malice” from his plate, I don’t know. But it seems to fall in nicely with the humblebrag, the sly sharing of mundane personal information that covertly tries to toot your own horn.

An Arizona license plate of a decidedly different variety. immigration Anti SB1070

An Arizona license plate of a decidedly different variety.

Not impressive enough that the driver’s in a Porsche? Well, he (or she, I couldn’t tell) is also happy to let you in on the secret that a successful lawyer career paid for that machinery from Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.

What do you think of vanity plates? If you catch a photo of one that makes you laugh—or seethe—send it to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Georgetown Law Report on the Legal Market 2014It’s still early in the year, so legal experts continue to offer predictions about the path of 2014’s legal economy. Today, I share a rather good report, this one from Georgetown Law School, specifically its Center for the Study of the Legal Profession. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s titled “Report on the State of the Legal Market.” (Legal profession experts should begin hiring great headline-writers; they really should.)

I will let you dig into the blissfully brief (15-page) report. But I share just two of their charts so you can see the trajectory we’re on.

The first chart is in regard to legal demand:

Georgetown Law Report on the Legal Market legal demand chart

And the second table I share reflects the continued gap between hours worked, hours billed and (gulp) hours collected on:

Georgetown Law Report on the Legal Market rate progression chart

Here is a good summary of the Georgetown report, from the Wall Street Journal.

And I must offer a hat tip to the ever-watchful Katie Mayer of The Artigue Agency Public Relations for spotting the WSJ article. Thanks, Katie!

I continue to stumble across the notion that the challenges in the legal market center around the need for changes in approach and imagination (says the guy no longer in practice; easy for me to say). But I urge you to look at a previous post in which a change in view led to increased service delivery, increased client satisfaction—and, we assume, increased profitability.

Of course, that related to the medical profession. But who knows; we may learn something.

Almost 20 years later, what are NAFTA's effects?

Almost 20 years later, what are NAFTA’s effects?

Has NAFTA been a success or a failure? The answer to that affects not only free trade, but the willingness of leaders to back future treaties.

That thought occurred to me as I read an article about the North American Free Trade Agreement. The story in the Tucson Sentinel points out what may be true about any such agreement: Some like it, and others don’t. As the article opens:

“Two decades after a pact initiated here created the world’s largest free trade area, economists are calling the North American Free Trade Agreement a resounding success, crediting it for fueling unprecedented trade and creating millions of jobs in the United States.”

“The agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, ratified 19 years ago Saturday, also made two of Texas’ land ports among the country’s busiest and delivered a multitrillion-dollar cumulative gross domestic product for its member countries.”

“But unions and consumer-advocacy groups say NAFTA has had negative effects in Mexico and the U.S. They say that resulting outsourcing and lower wages have hurt the United States’ domestic economy and that Mexico’s rural industries have destabilized.”

The complete news story is here.

Unlike many other treaties, though, NAFTA was a high-profile battle—not entirely resolved—and it affects us right here in the United States. That element, probably more than anything else, distinguishes it from the mass of agreements that Americans may barely notice. And that lack of notice is what may often give political cover to Senators exercising their advice and consent; Americans barely notice international affairs, especially those far from our shores.

But maybe the NAFTA effect is having a worldwide impact. That occurred to me as I read some fascinating and well-executed analyses of an important international development: the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

The analyses were published last week in the New York Times, and they included voices on both sides of the debate. The lead piece was by Georgetown Law Visiting Professor Catherine Powell, and here’s how it opened:

“Tuesday’s vote on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities was a disappointing moment for the U.S. Senate. Turning its back on a bipartisan approach to assuring disability rights forged under the landmark 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush, the Senate capitulated to the worst fear-mongering tactics related to individual choice and American sovereignty. Neither would have been limited by this treaty.”

You can read all the viewpoints here.

A hat tip to Suhrith Parthasarathy, a writer on the legal blog of Thomson Reuters, who brought my attention to the New York Times package. (You can follow him at @Suhrith).

There may be a lot of reasons for the failure of agreement on the Persons With Disabilities Convention. But perhaps the queasiness about international treaties goes back a few decades, to NAFTA, ratified 19 years ago.

What do you think? Has one close-to-home pact that had public backlash soured Senators on agreeing to politically charged pacts?

I am in Denver this week (my first time here; can you believe it?), where I’m attending a great communications conference. While here, I am pleased to be leading a panel on how to manage the avalanche of content that seems to overwhelm us (rest assured, our actual title is much nicer than that).

Whenever I travel for work, I try to find great ideas to steal learn from. And that’s what takes me to an award-winning blog site: Solo in Colo

I invite you to look it over. The website, created by the Colorado Bar Association (“Colo”) aims to give voice to the wealth of solo-lawyer knowledge and experience. (The Colorado and Denver Bars are also hosting this week’s national conference, so they’re talented and generous!)

I am used to my own avalanche of content that I must create, curate, rewrite and post. But even given the horrorshow that is my daily calendar, I am in awe of this site. It includes a breadth and depth of value that continues to amaze long after they launched it.

What do you think? Should the State Bar of Arizona take on such a task? Do Arizona’s lawyers—particularly its solos—have any wisdom to impart? (That’s a trick question. They do.)

In what I am sure is no coincidence, the Denver conference includes as a speaker Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, of the great website Attorney at Work. She will speak on (Re)Building Your Blog:

“Using the real-life example of Attorney at Work, Partner/Catalyst Merrilyn Astin Tarlton shows how to create and manage a multi-author blog. She will discuss building readership, creating interaction, creating presence, content development, daily blog management and more. Plan to take good notes so you can head home with a plan to launch or spruce up your own bar blog.”

Any site whose slogan is “One Really Good Idea Every Day” and that manages multiple contributors is worth stealing learning from. Here’s to great ideas!

I return from the Mile-High City Friday evening, laden down with a treasure trove of “borrowed” ideas (and a smile that comes from cooler weather). But I’d like to hear your take on SoloInColo and Attorney at Work, and what you think of getting more voices “out there.”

Although this is National Pro Bono Week, you still may be stymied as you consider the widespread need for legal services all over Arizona. Where could you even begin to make a difference?

One suggestion would allow you to create positive change in the lives of youngsters and their families. You could be part of that change by collaborating with the Juvenile Legal Assistance Partnership.

The JLAP, as it’s called, is an initiative at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. It’s housed within the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice Programs. (You can see the list of Center programs here.) The Center is headed by Sarah Buel, a nationally recognized expert on “legal advocacy on behalf of family violence victims.”

This week, I heard more about the program from Soo Chang, an ASU law student, who explained the unfilled need faced by those confronted by juvenile justice issues. That need would be better met by the involvement of more lawyers offering some pro bono hours.

JLAP meets clients at three locations, and they aim for weekly visits—three to four hours of volunteered time meeting with three to four different clients.

With JLAP, the lawyer meets with clients along with up to two law students. According to information from the Program, “Appointments are made by the clients directly to the Juvenile Court at Durango (each appointment is about an hour). The more common issues that we see are: dependency, custody, termination of parental rights, adoption, divorce, and child support. Attorneys normally help fill out paperwork with the clients.”

Sarah Buel

Like many legal assistance groups, JLAP has a core of hard-working volunteer lawyers, but the court receives more calls than the volunteers can handle. Having more attorneys participate would have a profound impact on the lives of youngsters and their families.

What follows is additional information about the program. But you’re busy, so I’ll repeat that most important last line here:

To get involved as a pro bono attorney please contact Erin Biencourt, ebiencourt@gmail.com or (602) 561-9080.

Juvenile Legal Assistance Program

The goal of the Juvenile Legal Assistance Program (JLAP) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is to acknowledge the continuous legal conflicts surrounding children and juveniles; to recognize the need for volunteers concerning issues governed by juvenile law; to provide legal services to those involved in various conflicts; and to provide law students opportunities to further their interest for public service and juvenile law alike.

JLAP provides law students and pro bono attorneys to work with the Maricopa County Juvenile Court to provide free legal advice and information clinics regarding matters involving children and their families. Other projects that JLAP participates in include National Adoption Day and Baby Court with Judge Eddward Ballinger.

The clinics are offered several times a month at the Juvenile Court at Durango and the Tempe YMCA. Additionally JLAP partners with Homeward Bound, a transitional housing program for homeless and domestic violence families with children, to provide monthly clinics as well. The matters most commonly seen include guardianship, dependency, termination, and adoption issues. At Homeward Bound, clients frequently present custody, child support, domestic violence, and other family law related issues.

Law students work alongside attorneys to satisfy client inquiries. Students are encouraged to actively engage in counseling clients and conduct legal research regarding juvenile law matters. All students have Westlaw and Lexis access and all sites have computer access. Attorneys provide clients with advice, information, and ideas. They do not advocate for or represent clients in court and they do not prepare documents for the clients, although they often explain how the documents are to be filled out.

Attorney volunteers are required to sign up with the Volunteer Lawyers Program, as they provide malpractice coverage. JLAP provides training twice a year for our new volunteers. Attorneys with juvenile law exposure may be able to waive this requirement by doing on-site training with Peggy Tinsley or by a showing of sufficient juvenile and/or family law experience.

To refer potential clients to JLAP, have them call (602) 506-4533 (West Valley clients) or (602) 506-2544 (East Valley clients). When calling they should ask to schedule a JLAP appointment.

To get involved as a pro bono attorney please contact Erin Biencourt, ebiencourt@gmail.com or (602) 561-9080.

Toni Massaro, Ted Cruz and Linda Greenhouse at the University of Arizona Law School, Sept. 16, 2011

Last week, I wrote about a great UA Law School event held on September 16. That was Constitution Day, and the school held a panel discussion on the topic of current legal cases that are significant and worth watching.

I mentioned that I had tweeted a bit during the presentation by moderator Professor David Marcus, former law school Dean Toni Massaro, lawyer Ted Cruz, former New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse, and U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake.

A few readers who struggled with the hashtag asked me what I had said. So, combining old and new school, I have posted just a few of those tweets below.

Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share a few moments that stand out from the day’s events:

    • One humorous moment occurred during that break, when I walked up to speak with Linda Greenhouse, whom I had interviewed about three years ago. As I re-introduced myself, she began speaking to me as if we had met just yesterday, and informed me that I had an error on my blog. I thanked her, walked back to my seat, and confirmed she was right. She has segued into the law professor role well.
    • I took a foot-in-mouth minute to thank Professor Marcus for the masterful job he was doing herding legal cats. But in complimenting his presentation, I added that the event was enjoyable and invigorating, unlike law school. A gentleman, the law professor smiled and said he would take that as a compliment. (I did not attend UA for law school, which undoubtedly is the reason for my misunderstanding

Linda Greenhouse


Richard Zorza

Today, I commend to you a great blog and its blogger, who writes on a compelling subject, and who does so eloquently.

The writer is Richard Zorza, and his blog was brought to my attention by a good friend. It is titled “Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog,” and you can read it here.

Hon. Kevin Burke

Any day of the week, he provides valuable content on one of the most pressing issues in our society. But yesterday’s lighter fare was a blog post of another variety.

In it, he reported that the American Judges Association has a new President—as associations are wont to do. This year, the new top jurist is Judge Kevin Burke, a state court judge in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Judge Burke is reason enough for the item to come to my attention. He is a highly accomplished judge, one who is well (and often) published and who has garnered praise and awards both locally and nationally. You may read more about him here.

Here in Arizona, there’s another reason to know Judge Burke—he is brother to Dennis Burke, until this month the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona.

Dennis Burke

In his post, Richard Zorza wisely provides a link to Judge Burke’s Wikipedia entry. But that made me chuckle, because when I interviewed Dennis Burke a few years ago, he praised his brother–judge up and down, and added a smirk when he pointed out that Kevin has his own Wikipedia page. O brother—Some families are accomplished beyond belief!

Zorza’s post also alludes to a connection between chocolate and judges ruling well. In fact, Judge Burke (on his own blog!) provided his own commentary on the sugary subject.

Litigants benefit from a well-fed judge, a recent study reports.

As I read that, I looked past my computer screen to some old print ads I have framed on my wall. Once is a yellowed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad showing a judge chowing on the stuff in chambers. The subtitle advises, “More judges pass down a friendly verdict on Kellogg’s Corn Flakes than on any other cereal.”

Now that’s an ad.

All around an educational post, for which I thank Richard Zorza. But that makes me wonder: Are any Arizona judges blogging? I’d love to hear from them, or from those who read their pages. Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.





The October issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine includes a variety of content dedicated to alternatives to trial: mediation, arbitration and even a Guide that contains information about people and companies who can help with your ADR needs.

Here are some links to Community Mediation organizations, which may assist you or your clients:

Coconino County Superior Court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program


(928) 779-6805

Sedona Mediation Services


(928) 204-7127

Surprise Community Mediation Program


(623) 222-3242

Solve-It! Community Mediation Service


(480) 732-7296

Community Mediation Program


(520) 323-1708 ext. 504

On October 6, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon declared Mediation Week, which will occur October 16-22. What follows are the remarks of President Joe Kanefield at the proclamation ceremony at Phoenix City Hall:

Phoenix Mayor Declares Mediation Week

Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 9 a.m.

Phoenix City Hall – Mayor’s Conference Room

Remarks by Joe Kanefield, President, State Bar of Arizona

Thank you, Mayor Gordon, for your willingness to declare Mediation Week as October 16 through 22, 2011, and for working with the State Bar of Arizona to raise awareness of the importance of mediation and conflict resolution.

As a public official, your support of mediation week and the legal profession is a fine example of your leadership and commitment to help educate members of the communities you serve.

Thank you also to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section of the State Bar of Arizona for promoting the advancement of ADR and the services that are available to citizens, families, businesses and government bodies.

ADR Section members maintain their commitment to advancing the practice and supporting the principles of mediation, arbitration and alternative procedures to resolving legal issues in a civil manner.

Their efforts align with the Bar’s overall mission to enhance the administration of justice

As we gather today to commemorate Mediation Week, I’d like to give a brief overview of ADR.

ADR recognizes that not all cases are suitable for sometimes costly and time consuming trials, and it institutionalizes mediation as one of many appropriate dispute resolution processes.

ADR is a practice that allows members of the legal profession to encourage the use of dialogue, problem solving, and other collaborative practices when attempting to resolve legal issues outside of the courtroom. It promotes civil and peaceful conflict resolution.

October has become a time to promote and celebrate peaceful conflict resolution worldwide. Mediation Week is celebrated on a local, national and international level from October 16 through 22. We join the American Bar Association and celebrate this week to educate the public about mediation and other innovative conflict management processes.

Just as Arizona Attorney’s October issue was going to press (an issue dedicated to law office management, of all things), a unique video competition came to our attention. And it may be a way to highlight your firm or office.

The American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section has announced the first-ever “Law Video Awards,” to recognize the best law firm and legal industry videos. There are four categories: Large Firm, Small Firm, Legal Consultant/Vendor/Organization (open to any legal-related organization) and Short Video.

The submission deadline is September 30, and winners will be announced in November.

Are you ready for your close-up?

Here is a link to more information. And below is the complete ABA press release.

American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section Announces Inaugural “LPM Law Video Awards” Honoring Top Law Firm and Legal Videos

Chicago, IL (August 15, 2011) – The American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section (LPM) is pleased to announce the first ever “Law Video Awards,” which will recognize the best law firm and legal industry videos in four categories: Large Firm, Small Firm, Legal Consultant/Vendor/Organization (open to any legal-related organization) and Short Video.

The Law Video Awards are taking place at the 3rd Bi-annual ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference, November 8-9, 2011, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia, PA.  Focusing on business development strategies for law firms, the Conference provides attendees with practical advice from leading attorneys in the field today.

As a new addition to the Conference, the Law Video Awards will examine the increasing use of videos by law firms for promotional purposes. Video submissions are being accepted and will be previewed and honored during a special Golden Gavel Award Ceremony on Tuesday, November 8. For complete information on the Conference and registration to attend, visit ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference 2011

“There is a growing recognition that video is increasingly becoming an important part of the law firm marketing mix, and firms and organizations that have created innovative and interesting videos are benefiting,” said Micah Buchdahl, Chair of the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference. “The ABA and LPM are well positioned to organize and create an innovative and entertaining program to highlight the best videos in the law business.”

“The power of video as a business development and marketing tool is undeniable,” added Nick Gaffney, Vice Chair of the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference and Director of the LPM Law Video Awards. “For years, professional services firms have used video for public relations, training and recruitment, and it is crucial that the legal profession keeps pace with the leading accounting and consulting firms. While some law firms are just beginning to explore the use of video, the marketplace is demanding more and better content.”

Winning videos will be selected by a panel of judges and the public. Entries will be reviewed using eight criteria:

  • Creativity
  • Marketing of the Video
  • Tangible Results
  • Overall Design
  • Copywriting
  • Use of the medium
  • Memorability
  • Popular appeal

All video entries must be submitted by September 30, 2011. In addition to awards in each of the four categories, an overall “Best in Show” award will be handed out (voted on by conference attendees).

Additional details about the Law Video Awards can be found on the call for entries page.

The ABA Law Practice Management Section is a professional membership organization providing resources for lawyers and other legal professionals in the core areas of the business of practicing law — marketing, management, technology and finance.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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