[This article was edited 4/8/14 to reflect the fact that the dancers represented a lion, not a dragon. There is a traditional lion dance and a traditional dragon dance. Here is some information on the lion dance, performed at the APALSA event.]

Yes, that is a dragon at a legal event. Why do you ask? APALSA banquet dragon 1 04-05-14

Yes, that is a lion at a legal event. Why do you ask?

It never fails to amaze how often those new to a profession lead the way.

That’s what occurred to me last Saturday evening, as I attended the first-ever banquet of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) of Arizona Summit Law School.

Out of the box, the talented law students took to heart a few of the most important lessons of professional event planning. Experienced (long in the tooth) planners, take note.

Here are three of those lessons, gleaned from Saturday’s gathering:

1. Food: Good, easy, relevant

Your legal event need not have food and drink. But if you go down that road, bring it, would you, please?

APALSA Asian Pacific American Law Students Assn logoAPALSA brought it, indulging its guests with terrific dishes from the Curry Corner. (Would it kill you to Like them on Facebook?)

This is how terrific their combination of various Asian foods was: I had planned to snack lightly at the event, as I had promised my younger daughter that we would get a bite together afterward. As I strolled the buffet line, though, that plan went out the window. Yes, I did get my daughter dinner later; but all my senses insisted that I eat a full meal at the APALSA banquet. And so I did.

A special shout out to law student Mary Tran, who hand-crafted a Thai iced tea that was the perfect complement to the meal. As I sit here Tuesday, I know my morning would be improved mightily by a glass of that!

All of the food and drink (plus the open bar) contributed to an evening of celebration and cultural identity. Nicely done.

2. Speaker: Smart, funny, brief

Let me be the first to say it: More Jared Leung, please.

Jared Leung

Jared Leung

The evening’s keynote was the Fennemore Craig lawyer, and he caught our attention in two ways.

First, he opened by admiring and critiquing the bathrooms in Fennemore Craig’s new-ish space. Restroom-talk is not the typical go-to intro for legal keynotes, but it got our attention as he described the difficulty some have mastering the motion-activated sinks. Leung’s message was about the importance of finding the sweet spot in our professional lives.

And that’s why Leung carried a tennis racquet (his second unique approach) up to the microphone.

“What are you comfortable doing as a lawyer?” he asked the assembled law students. “What is your thing?”

“If we just all stick with what we’re comfortable with,” he continued, “our growth will be limited.”

Punctuating his point with a tennis swing, he offered a story about a Queen Creek high school football player, Carson Jones, who, with some teammates, opted to stand up for a bullied special-needs classmate. (Read the story here.)

“Here we have a 16-year-old showing us how it should be done,” Leung said, explaining how Jones’s actions required courage. He reminded the students that law school and the legal profession offer ongoing opportunities to decide how and when to do the right thing.

Jared Leung delivers the keynote address (with tennis racquet) at the APALSA banquet, April 5, 2014.

Jared Leung delivers the keynote address (with tennis racquet) at the APALSA banquet, April 5, 2014.

“Get out of your comfort zone, and find the sweet spot. Someday I’ll learn from you.”

With a smile, Leung noted that he (like the rest of us) already was doing just that.

3. Lions: Yes, please

No, I suppose you’re right. Every legal event need not have a Chinese lion and a traditional lion dance. It might be odd to spring that on Bar Convention attendees.

But the APALSA banquet had one, and the articulated, two-man operation teaches us volumes about connecting with your audience.

First, it had obvious relevance to the association, and its presence was certainly evocative for many at the banquet.

APALSA President Vic Reid speaks at annual banquet, April 5, 2014.

APALSA President Vic Reid speaks at annual banquet, April 5, 2014.

But more important, it provided a lift in spirits—aurally and visually—that far too many bar events overlook. I’ve heard for too many years that legal affairs must be serious business—and then watched as attendees nodded off or checked their email during sonorous speeches.

No one checked email as the dragon marched about the room, demanding attention and collecting donations to the ASU Asian LEAD Academy. No one nodded off as the terrific DJ filled the room with music.

After all, the spirit is not fed only by footnotes and legal speeches. For your next event, consider a lion. Or maybe learn from TED talks. Or at least (please!) have some Thai iced tea.

Congratulations to APALSA and its president, Vicente Reid Y Lugto, and the whole board. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

Spot the lawyer: I also got the oportunity to pose with Asian community leaders and a talented Chinese dragon.

Spot the lawyer: I also got the opportunity to pose with Asian American community leaders and a talented Chinese lion.

ABA Section of Litigation logoLater this week, I’ll attend a conference focused on litigation. Just in case you can’t be there yourself, I thought I’d ask what you’d like me to cover.

The event is the annual conference of the American Bar Association Litigation Section (follow them on Twitter here). We are fortunate that the national event will be held April 9-11 right here in our state, at The Phoenician in Scottsdale. (The State Bar of Arizona CEO, John Phelps, is an Honorary Chair.)

The three days will have a boatload of seminars, 40 of them:

“including 3 plenaries and feature 150 of the nation’s most respected judges, academics and trial lawyers,as they address litigation development and techniques in trial advocacy. In addition to the education portion, the Section Annual Conference provides for an opportunity for meeting and networking with our distinguished guests and fellow participants.”

Wondering what the seminars include? You can breeze through the brochure here.

The ABA makes it even easier. Here is an abbreviated guide.

the phoenician scottsdale

The Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale, Ariz., site of the annual conference of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, April 9-11, 2014.

I’ll be in and out of the conference this week, seeking stories and great new article ideas for Arizona Attorney Magazine. I’m developing my week’s calendar now, and I’d appreciate knowing which seminars sound most interesting to you.

Here are a few I may drop in on:

  • General counsel forum reveals the real deal
  • Janet Napolitano keynote
  • New technologies of evidence coming to court
  • Essential apps and websites for litigators
  • A lynching that forever changed law practice
  • DOMA’s dead: Now what?
  • Hot Internet litigation trends
  • Lean In for lawyers
  • Social media’s implications for litigation
  • Communicating about mistakes with clients
  • Litigating privacy and data breach issues
  • Dealing with difficult judges
  • Business divorces

… and, of course:

  • The Trial of Wyatt Earp

And then after lunch …

Only kidding. I may not have time to attend all of these. But look over the program and tell me what you’d love to hear a synopsis of.

And if you plan to be there yourself, let me know. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. Or reach me on Twitter @azatty. I’ll also be tweeting, and here’s the conference hashtag: #14SAC

Let’s get litigious, shall we?

Ornament on historic Tucson, Ariz., courthouse

Ornament on historic Tucson, Ariz., courthouse

Just a short item today pointing you to a long article—but you didn’t want to work too much today anyway, right?

I recently was sent a story by Tucson Judge José Luis Castillo Jr. He has penned an essay online that tells us much about legal history and what preservation really is (and what it is not).

He writes about the history of Arizona’s oldest working courtroom. Read his article here.

“Working” is an important word, because much of what makes it vital as a teaching tool may be endangered. Jump to the closer paragraphs of his piece, if you must, to read his insightful conclusion.

But give yourself the time to read the whole thing. There, you will see the role a room has played in our history—and even in Hollywood.

Have a great weekend.

 

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 avialble in late April.

Because of obvious restrictions, our music winner’s work cannot be published in the megazine. 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.

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