Tucson, Ariz., in 1909 (Wikipedia)

Tucson, Ariz., in 1909 (Wikipedia) (click to enlarge)

Imagine a legal system in which your property rights could not be assured, and where your land holdings could be stripped of you based on your marital status.

That scenario is not beyond imagining. As you might surmise, that situation was faced by approximately half of the U.S. population at one time (and continues for many more globally today).

In the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we were privileged to feature a story that occurred right in Tucson not so very long ago.

It was titled Anna’s Story, and here is how author and attorney Marjorie Cunningham opened the real-life tale:

“Buying, selling and trading land has been a part of Arizona’s booms and busts since colonial times. One shrewd and successful land speculator during the 1800s was a French woman named Anna Charauleau. Ms. Charauleau also exhibited the strong will and relentless nature needed to pursue the protection of her legal rights. Those qualities became important in Arizona legal history, as she was a party to several landmark cases decided by Arizona’s Supreme Court in the 1870s and 1880s in which women’s property rights were at issue.”

Read the whole article here.

And be sure to read carefully the excerpts from the Supreme Court opinion regarding the land matters. Here is how a wise justice analyzed things:

“Before her marriage, the law presumes [a woman] competent to buy and sell and convey property, and supposes she acts in such matters as intelligently as if she were the opposite sex; but during the existence of the marriage relation somehow this condition of ignorance and stupidity is supposed to settle down upon her, to benumb her faculties, to cast a cloud upon her intelligence, to be lifted only by the death of her spouse or other severance of the marriage. … ”

“We are certain that the presumption contended for by the counsel, that a woman of mature years, and an American wife, ceases from the day of her marriage to know what she is doing in the execution of a conveyance until advised … should no longer obtain in a court of justice.”

Thank you to our author for sharing such a compelling piece of Arizona history.

Are there other historic stories that are evocative to you? Contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

ethics scales of justice

Today I urge you to consider something that I understand is often on the minds of Arizona lawyers: whether the current ethical rules (among other things) are a help or a hindrance to the practice of law.

For a long time (OK, forever), I have heard some say that the ethics structure fails to keep pace with the realities of law practice. Now, you have an opportunity to offer your views.

Patricia Sallen is the State Bar’s Director of Special Services & Ethics/Deputy General Counsel, but I just call her our ethics guru. And she and others have heard similar statements, and they are examining whether Arizona ethics and the regulatory scheme are meeting all of their multiple challenges. Here is Pat:

“A new Arizona Supreme Court committee will look at whether Arizona ethical and other regulatory rules should be amended because of the changing nature of legal practice in a technologically enabled and connected workplace and the growing trend toward multistate and international law practice.”

“Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer is chairing the new committee. A copy of the administrative order establishing it is here.”

“The committee’s charge specifically includes examining whether the current regulatory model – regulating the practice of law based on a lawyer’s physical location – should be changed and whether conflict-of-interest rules for both private and public lawyers should be clarified.”

“Should the rules be changed? If yes, what would you change? Email your ideas, thoughts and suggestions (as well as any questions!) tochangingpracticeoflaw@azbar.org.”

Time to share your thoughts.

Chief Justice Scott Bales on the Arizona PBS program Horizon, July 9, 2014.

Chief Justice Scott Bales on the Arizona PBS program Horizon, July 9, 2014.

A brief mention on this Change of Venue Friday.Arizona Supreme Court Strategic Plan 2014-19 cover_opt

In case you missed it: On Wednesday, July 9, Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales spoke with PBS Horizon host Ted Simons about the Court’s five goals, as described in the judicial branch’s strategic plan.

In the interview, Justice Bales touched on multiple subjects, including access to justice, specialty courts (such as drug courts and veterans courts), evidence-based practices, and lawyer discipline.

To see the whole video, go here (the interview with Justice Bales begins at about 10:17).

Download your own copy of the report here.

Have a great—and strategic—weekend.

Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales, left, speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, July 9, 2014.

Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales, left, speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, July 9, 2014.

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Every market has a vacuum that agile providers seek to fill. So if there has been a giant sucking sound in the presentation industry, eagerly filled by upstarts and platforms like Keynote, Prezi and Emaze (among others), that sucking must be attributed to one lethargic giant: PowerPoint.

I wrote yesterday about what comprises a great presentation, and I said I would offer some additional thoughts about PowerPoint.

My rule of thumb regarding PowerPoints is illustrated by the opening image of this post, and it falls along these lines: If your PowerPoint is entirely understandable to an uninformed audience simply by looking at your slides, and without any additional explanation, you’re probably doing it wrong. Just. Stop.

If, however, viewers were to gaze at your slides alone, without your explanatory presence, and as a result they experience some psychic discord and confusion, and if they begin to mutter “wtf” and scratch their collective head, you may (MAY!) be on the right track.

So, again, that opening image of the bottom of my shoes. A wtf moment.

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President's columns? (wtf?)

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President’s columns? (wtf?)

Why would that be? How can I claim that ready comprehension and ease of reading are markers for a sucky presentation?

Why? Because:

  • Because you are not charged with creating a shopping list. You are charged with informing and inspiring.
  • Because a presentation is not about reading. (It so pains me to point this out in 2014.)
  • Because you (the presenter) are supposed to bring something to the whole presentation deal-io.
  • Because if I can view your slide deck and master the subject easily, you probably have packed it with too many words (a premier suckiness marker).

But … if your presence enriches and illuminates your points, that tells me you have value, and it tells me that you are not simply using your PP as cue cards to be read to snoring people.

My title mentions “tone.” Know your audience, which may even include sober-minded (and perhaps sober) lawyers. But know that even serious folk are swayed (just like real people) by brevity, wit and humor. Your takeaways may be recalled better if they are encapsulated in an image rather than in 7,000 words.

Well, I complained about too many words and then proceeded to give you a 420-word blog post. But I’ll end with a few slides I have offered before on the topic of providing stellar content and even better social media engagement. In each instance, I made the point as the presenter; the image merely got the assist.

Don't work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Don’t work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

Your PowerPoint could bomb, or you could feature one on your title slide. Just sayin'. (Gotta love Slim Pickens!)

Your PowerPoint could bomb, or you could feature one on your title slide. Just sayin’. (Gotta love Slim Pickens!)

Recent online conversation has resurrected one of the more important debates of the modern age. In a nutshell: Why does PowerPoint suck, and what can be done about it?

Here’s my philosophy on PowerPoints:

  1. They may, indeed, be a sign of the downfall of civilized society.
  2. Most often, they are a force for evil rather than good.
  3. And, yes, many people sleep through them.

But I have come to be something of a convert to their hidden power—when wielded properly. That may be why this post’s opening image showing one of my own PowerPoint title slides comes not from a law book (booo) but is adapted from one of my favorite movies (yaaay). More on all that later in another post.

My PP dander was raised again recently when colleagues at the National Association of Bar Executives (no, not the good kind of bar) shared a few articles on presentations and PowerPoint. Read one of them here.

(So versatile are those social media mavens that the sharing was done via Facebook and Linkedin. Linkedin! Time to take another look.)

They also shared an article about presentations from the view of Guy Kawasaki. (I reviewed a Kawasaki book here. It included one of just two appearances of my shoes via social media. Ask, and I may unearth the second.)

Smart fellow, that Guy. Enjoy his article, but do not skip the reader comments beneath; they are worth the price of admission.

The best part about that article, though, was that it took me back to a PowerPoint expert whose work I very much appreciate—Eugene Cheng. Eugene is one of those folks who are my favorite people I don’t know yet. Look at what he does with PP, and you may agree he’s worth meeting.

Niche Media Digital Conference logoThe talented Eugene got me thinking about other digital thinkers and doers who do it right, PP-wise. That group includes the folks at Niche Media.

I have admired Niche’s tone and substance before, so let me do it again.

I get no benefit except happiness to tell you: If you or anyone in need of a creative jump-start are anywhere near a Niche conference this year, you really should drop in. True, they’re not free, but maybe you can sneak in, through the hotel kitchen or something. Try not to look lawyerly, and you may pass as part of the creative class.

The first will be in Minneapolis from September 30 to October 1. That is where you can learn an amazing amount about online revenue (you know, how to get more).

Niche Media Event Fest logoThe second nichey opportunity will be in the Big Easy November 3-5. The Niche Event Fest in New Orleans will offer learning raising your in-person events to be top-drawer.

Here is one thing I know about both events: If a PowerPoint is on the premises at all, it will not suck.

Later this week, I’ll offer some of my own thoughts about PowerPoint and what is missing in the worst of the lot.

Lodestar Day Resource Center Thirst_Aid_Logo

To the uninformed, the State Bar of Arizona offices may look like we’re getting ready for the next big disaster. But in fact, Bar staff are working hard to address a disaster that strikes unfortunate people every day.

A water drive to assist the Lodestar Day Resource Center and its Thirst Aid initiative has definitely caught the attention of staff. Here’s how Lodestar describes the summer water drive to serve homeless individuals:

“The Human Services Campus is asking the community to participate in the Thirst-Aid campaign by donating bottled water and/or monetary donations to help hydrate those experiencing homelessness. With support from the community, the Human Services Campus hopes to raise 500,000 bottles of water (approximately 20,000 cases) between May 1 to September 30.”

More information about the Center—and what you can do—is here.

Bar staff’s competitive side was roused by the Community Service Committee , which wisely decided a battle between colleagues on the first floor and on the third floor could result in a flood (get it?) of liquid submissions.

That appears to have worked wonders, for staff recently received an email reading, “There have been concerns about the amount of water being stored on the 3rd floor.”

Boom! When staff must be cautioned about a building’s very structural integrity, they have clearly brought it!

In truth, water is everywhere. It’s in the CLE Department’s classroom, multiple people’s offices, hallways, spare cubicles. I get thirsty just seeing it.

Water and tote boards collect on the State Bar's third floor.

Water and tote boards collect on the State Bar’s third floor.

At last count, here’s the tally: 1st floor, 128 cases; 3rd floor, 159 cases.

The drive continues through July 9, so it’s more neck-and-neck than it may appear. (And I have been officed on both floors, so I feel conflicting loyalties. But I guess I’m a 1st-floor person.)

Donated water sits amidst desks in the Bar's CLE Center.

Donated water sits amidst desks in the Bar’s CLE Center.

Besides the water, staff are also donating sunglasses, hats, sunscreen, and lightweight long-sleeved shirts.

In case you wondered, the prize is a pizza party. But honestly, no one I’ve spoken with is primarily driven by the saucy prize; they just want to roll like a river across the finish line.

One of the many State Bar of Arizona offices and cubicles you'll find donated water stored.

One of the many State Bar of Arizona offices and cubicles you’ll find donated water stored.

To help them cross that line, let’s enjoy some river music, as Tina Turner belts out a little Proud Mary. And then, go get more water.

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.

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