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?

magazine column dull + cats. What makes a compelling magazine column? Hmmm, let’s see. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two.

What makes a compelling magazine column? Hmmm, let’s see. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two.

I started out thinking today’s post was mainly for the lawyer readers. But now I’m not so sure.

In a few weeks, I’ll be presenting in Chicago at the American Bar Association’s annual Bar Leadership Institute. That’s where incoming leaders (often Presidents) of bar associations gather to get a crash course in numerous elements that go into guiding associations of attorneys.

My charge is to lend insight into what makes A-1 written materials—op-ds, letters to the editor, and the oft-feared President’s Message.

For the uninitiated, the President’s Message is a column-length essay published in a bar association’s magazine, newspaper or newsletter.

That message gives more agida to incoming leaders than virtually any other part of the job. And why shouldn’t it? Bar leaders are adept at many parts of the new job: They know how to run meetings, garner support and reach consensus (OK, “adept” may be a stretch). But how many of them have written a column?

Of course, most people have a good column in them. We have a powerful hankering to share the One Big Idea that has guided us, in life and practice. Without doubt, we can hit that column out of the park.

OK, that takes care of Month 1. Whatcha got for the other 11 months of your year? Gulp.

magazine column visual - Is it too much to expect bar leaders to write less and to think visually? Probably. Because law.

Is it too much to expect bar leaders to write less and to think visually? Probably. Because law.

I’ve read and edited President’s columns since 2000 (and I write my own monthly column; here’s January’s), so I have a pretty strong sense of what makes a good leader essay. But many of you read them; what do you think?

Because one of my messages to the presidents will be to crowdsource great ideas, today I am practicing what I preach. So …

In publications you enjoy (legal or not), what causes you to read a column (rather than a feature article)? What draws you in? What repels your gaze? Put another way:

  • What is the one piece of advice you would give a column writer?
  • What kind of content or approach do you find draws you in and leads you to respond?

If you have a thought that is not captured in my questions, please feel free to share that instead.

I am developing my presentation now. I’d be pleased to share your insight with the BLI attendees. And if I use your idea, I will credit you in my PowerPoint—so there; you, too, will be published!

Arizona Attorney wine label 2

No, Arizona Attorney doesn’t have a vineyard. But we can wish.

Happy Change of Venue Friday! As we get closer to the holidays, I thought you might enjoy this piece that comes from The Onion.

Or, at least, I thought it came from The Onion. But then I realized it was a special deal that came from the American Bar Association (those wags).

Here is the pitch:

“ABA invites you to experience exceptional sommelier-approved wines personalized for you or your firm at a special discounted price. White or red, dry or fruity—select the wine that suits your palate and custom-label it to your liking. Don’t miss this limited-time opportunity! Order by 12/15 for delivery by 12/25.

That alluring and vine-y call points us to a sales page; click here to head over.

A portion of the ABA wine ad.

A portion of the ABA wine ad.

Once I was there, I realized that the offer allows you to create your own semi-custom label for a variety of wines. This, it was intimated, is the quintessential gift that the discerning lawyer and law firm will be handing out this holiday season.

Intrigued, I searched high and low for the best of the boxed wine that we could distribute for Arizona Attorney partners. But I guess boxed vino is not the superb oenophile experience the ABA seeks to impart.

So here at the magazine, we won’t be buying any wine to re-gift. But I couldn’t resist using the site’s cool “create your own label” tool. I led this post with one of my semi-custom artworks. And here is another of my favorites:

Arizona Attorney wine label 1

Here at the magazine, we celebrate early and often, as our custom wine label shows.

I suspect the ABA thought only serious purchasers would fiddle around with their label-maker, so I apologize to them in advance for pointing people to the label page and saying, “Have at it.”

Have a great weekend. And if you decide to get me a gift with a really good nose, I prefer reds.

social media icons

Next February, I’ll be part of a panel communicating all we know for a “Social Media Master Class.” At the moment, I’m feeling vaguely outclassed.

Sure, by February, I plan to have a vast knowledge to impart. But right now, I’d appreciate your insight on what you would expect if you passed by a hotel conference room and spotted the following sign:

“Social Media Advanced Class”

That, essentially, is what we’ll cover in our session.

We will be presenting at the ABA/NABE Midyear Meeting in Dallas, and our audience will be chock full of bar association executives and lawyers.

I didn’t write the copy for the program description, but I am looking for ways to meet its expectations. Here’s what it says:

“If you have not seen the very latest features for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other leading social media platforms, you may be living under a rock. Delve into the newest add-ons and enhancements that will bolster your messaging workflow while optimizing your Association’s exposure. Learn how to navigate unexpected (and sometimes unwelcome) redesigns of leading sites. Plus, get recommendations on the best shortcut tools like HootSuite to ease the pains of posting. Whether you’re a seasoned social media junkie or the new kid on the block, you’ll find something valuable to take away.”

social media "map" by Fred Cavazza

I love this social media “map” by Fred Cavazza.

Hmmm. We’d better bring our A game.

I figure one of the best ways to stretch your audience’s knowledge is to stretch your own. That’s why I’ve reached into a few new worlds this past month, to Quora and even Instagram. And I’ve also been examining the old standards (Facebook and Twitter) for what I think are best practices. But Pinterest hasn’t yet sucked me into its vortex.

Later today, I meet (via conference call) will the other panelists (from Ohio, San Francisco, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia). We’ll be strategizing the best way to communicate valuable content to attendees.

Your insights would be appreciated. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

law-schoolHere’s a great way to start off a week: by trying to make a difference to the legal profession.

The American Bar Association is seeking comment on the best practices law schools should be adopting. This is an opportunity to sound off on the legal training ground.

The initiative is part of the strategy of the ABA’s Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession.

As the ABA describes it:

“The Task Force on the Future of Legal Education was created in summer 2012, and charged with making recommendations to the American Bar Association on how law schools, the ABA, and other groups and organizations can take concrete steps to address issues concerning the economics of legal education and its delivery. The need for the Task Force, and for recommendations as to action, results from rapid and substantial changes in the legal profession, legal services, the national and global economy, and markets affecting legal education.”

“The Task Force is working through two subcommittees, one dealing with the economics of legal education, and the other dealing with the delivery of legal education and its regulation.”

For more information about the specific questions the subcommittees are addressing, read this ABA Journal article by Mark Hansen.

When it comes to law practice, there’s nothing that quite says “Change of Venue Friday” more than poetry. So let’s get rhymin’.

What made me think of the topic was the annual writing competition by the American Bar Association. The Ross essay contest is almost always—you guessed it—an essay.

Recently, though, the ABA has been on the haiku bandwagon. Given the short attention spans of busy people, 17 syllables may be just about right. You can read more about the contest here.

Unfortunately—and this will be the subject of my poetical rant belowyou must be an ABA member to participate. (Full disclosure: Our annual Arizona Attorney Creative Arts Competition is open only to Arizona lawyers. But we’re talking about the ABA, people. Come on. It’s almost a public institution.)

If you are an ABA member, submissions are due September 28. Here are the rules (yes, of course there are rules) and the submission form.

Here is the ABA’s short description (if they could have kept the rules to 17 syllables, THAT would have been an accomplishment):

“In this year’s Ross Essay Contest, we’re looking for 17 syllables that address one of these five topics: Innovation, Inspiration, Law Practice, On Being a Lawyer or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Members Only? It went out with the jacket.

Yes, that’s right: You must select one of the topics, and be explicit about it; there’s even a dropdown menu on the submission form (just as Bashō originally required, I’m sure).

(And I assume in their topic list they should have included a comma before “or”—otherwise, I may be inclined to write a haiku on the topic “On Being the U.S. Supreme Court.” Hmm. “I got opinions …”.)

So back to my issue with the members-only submissions. Here’s my one-word reaction.

Really? Or, as Judge Learned Hand used to say, “REALLY?”

I get it. Paywalls are everywhere, and members like to feel special. But walling out poets? Say it isn’t so, ABA. You may be full up with tax lawyers, or securities specialists. But I’m willing to wager that your poet coffers are not full to bursting.

So I beseech you.

Don’t get all dictatorial with your caesura. We could be a pair—even a couplet—you and I. Stop being a pest with the anapest. Don’t get literal over your conceit.

We could be epic.

Amidst the constraint of the 5 7 5, I offer a few writing samples, my own protest wrought into rhyme. I invite you to offer your own, my fellow non-ABA members:

1

Within the gilt gates

ABA members harrumph.

Without, poets seethe.

2

Fencing out meter

May be lawyerly and all,

But learned it ain’t.

3

Erskine Mayo Ross

Bequeathed $100-sweet-K

To prod all, not some.

4

“Yo, tear down these walls,”

Say lawyer poets.

“Rhyme’s for sharin’, bro.”

Have a great weekend.

News from the State Bar of Arizona about a great annual event: Law Day

State Bar of Arizona Hosts First Annual Law Day Legal-Aid Clinics

Clinics will offer free legal advice across the Valley and in Tucson in celebration of Law Day

WHAT: The 2012 Law Day Legal Aid Clinics will serve as a free legal resource where members of communities from across the Valley and Tucson can attend information sessions on a variety of legal topics.

The information sessions will be conducted by volunteer lawyers and will last 90 minutes. Lawyers will provide guests with a presentation on a specific legal topic as well as reserve time for a question and answer period. Guests can participate in one or more sessions at one of the five partner locations.

WHEN: 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Session One: 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Wills and Estate Planning: Available at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church and St. Paul Church
Immigration Issues (in Spanish): Available at Fiesta Mall and Isaac School District

Session Two: Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Divorce, Child Support, and Paternity Issues

Session Three: 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Issues

Session Four: 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Immigration Issues (in Spanish): Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
Landlord and Tenant Issues: All other locations

WHERE:

North Valley

St. Paul Roman Catholic Parish

330 West Coral Gables

Phoenix, AZ 85023

Central/South Valley

Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church

1401 East Jefferson Street

Phoenix, AZ 85034

East Valley

Fiesta Mall

1445 West Southern Avenue

Mesa, AZ 85202

West Valley

Isaac School District—District Office

3348 West McDowell Road

Phoenix, AZ 85009

Tucson

State Bar of Arizona Southern Regional Ofc.

270 N. Church Ave., Ste. 100

Tucson, AZ 85701

HOW: Community members can participate free of charge and do not have to pre-register. Admittance to each session is on a first-come, first-served basis, until capacity is reached. For more information on the clinics, contact Alberto Rodriguez at 602-518-8704 or alberto.rodriguez@staff.azbar.org.

WHY: The State Bar of Arizona’s Law Day Legal Aid Clinics were created in an effort to provide access to justice while joining the rest of the nation in celebrating the legal profession. Each year on May 1, the United States celebrates Law Day. Originally proposed by the American Bar Association (ABA), in 1958 President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed the first Law Day to strengthen our country’s heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law. It was made part of the U.S. Code as Public Law 87-20 on April 7, 1961. The concept was to recognize the importance of the rule of law and both its effect and structure in our country. Over the years, legal and civic organizations nationwide have used these general ideas to develop educational programs for the public.

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