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 (, 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’ ( 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.

Creative Arts Competition photo shoot, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Creative Arts Competition photo shoot, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

One of my favorite days in the magazine’s year has to be the annual lawyer–artists photo shoot. This year’s version occurred on Monday afternoon.

Once again at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts, the shoot requires huge coordination and the establishment of numerous “shots.” We have single portraits (for each winning artist’s page in the printed magazine), as well as numerous group shots for the winners, honorable mentions, entire group, and other spur-of-the-moment combinations.

Karen Shell has been our go-to photographer for a number of years now, and I’m continually impressed by her creativity, willingness to adapt, and calm in the face of chaos.

Kudos also to Karen Holub, our Art Director. She herds multiple cats in the effort to get this whole affair launched, implemented, and sewn up.

Photographer Karen Shell (left) and Art Director Karen Holub consult on a shot.

Photographer Karen Shell (left) and Art Director Karen Holub consult on a shot.

In previous years, we’ve shot the photos in the light-filled lobby and on the lakeside patio of the TCA. But this spring, we wondered whether it would be possible to do something different. Could we get on the main stage and include shots of the gorgeous cherry-wood theatre?

You never know. Theatres and the acting companies that inhabit them can be a tetchy lot.

The happy answer: Yes. The result is a series of shots that capture the evocative theatre as well as the moody-black of the stage itself.

Here are a few photos (click to make them larger. The real deal—shot by Karen Shell and not be me on my Canon S110—will be in the May issue of Arizona Attorney. (Here is last year’s coverage.)

content marketing word cloudDo you enjoy predictions about the coming year? I have shared a few views of what to expect in law and practice areas in 2014. Today, I’m thinking about content marketing.

Not sure what that is? Here’s one definition:

“Content marketing is about consistently creating valuable and relevant branded content for a specific audience that keeps them engaged through all stages of the buying cycle in order to build trust, foster deeper relationships, and generate more leads.”

That definition was penned by writer Brent Gleeson. And it is the opening graf to his Forbes article on how to take content marketing to the next level.

Adding to the value, Gleeson’s article includes infographics. (And we all know how great those can be!)

If you’re not sure whether you or fellow lawyers are content marketers, I’d simply ask: Have you ever pointed folks toward anything you had written or created—maybe a magazine article or book chapter, or maybe a blog post or other online offering?

Assuming you’ve done that at least once, you may have been marketing content.

In the February issue of Arizona Attorney, we include a timely and insightful article on the topic by Joe Dysart. He cites to recent research on the importance of content marketing, and then he quotes Arizona attorneys for good measure. Read his complete article here.

As an attorney, if you’re still on the fence about the whole “M” word, read this article titled “Super Marketing Tips for Lawyers.” In the great suggestions offered, you’ll note that the number-one tip is content marketing; farther down the list is the suggestion to “recycle your writing.”

Boom. You’re a content marketer.

If you’re interested in more resources, download this white paper on social media, which includes ideas about putting your content to work for you.

And as always, a great way to get started is to get an article published in Arizona Attorney. Contact me anytime at to talk over some story ideas.

Howard Ecker gazes at a model of Chicago.

Howard Ecker gazes at a model of Chicago.

Today, I’m pleased to share a guest post that could just as easily have run in Arizona Attorney Magazine. The topic and its coverage may be of great assistance to lawyers examining their office space options.

The author is Howard Ecker. Here is some brief background on Howard (a more complete bio is at the end of this post):

“Howard Ecker founded Howard Ecker + Company in 1975 as the first real estate company in Chicago devoted exclusively to representing tenants.  From working on one of the original leases in the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco in the early 1970’s to currently representing national accounting firm BDO USA, Howard’s 40+ year career has included many significant projects.”

Some of what he discusses is covered in the current Arizona Attorney in an article by James Robinson. I hope you find both of them useful as you plan your 2014. Here’s Howard:

THE LEGAL PROFESSION is not what it used to be. Our father’s law office is becoming unrecognizable; with the legal profession rapidly changing. It has become much easier to be strategic and efficient with office spaces.  With changes that have come about due to new financial models, emerging technology, and changing commuting habits, office worth is no longer easily predictable.

Howard Ecker, of Howard Ecker + Company is a national commercial tenant representation company and brokerage firm

Howard Ecker

How does a firm know when to grow, how to grow, and what tenets to keep in mind in these rapidly changing times?

It is a topic that I know very well due to my 40+ years in the commercial real estate business. Large and small law firms alike regularly contact us asking for advice on how to create office space that represents their unique culture.

Perhaps it’s wiser to think about what NOT to do, or the biggest mistakes law firms tend to make when expanding their office space. If you make it a point to avoid these, you will come out with a stronger, more strategic and successful business than you would have without it.

Mistake No. 1: Overspending

Firms often want to move into the newest “Class A” building and look to build out spectacular space with high end finishes and built-ins.  You need to keep in mind that often your clients are not willing to pay increased hourly billing rates / fees to cover the overhead for your accoutrements of wealth.  The result…a less profitable firm.  Also remember, the higher the rent and more expensive the build-out, the larger security deposit / guarantee the landlord will be looking for.  While it’s important that your space reflects the culture and brand of the firm, you need to balance that with the underlying financial impact to ensure the firm can support any increased operating or capital expense.  Additionally, you never want a client to say your rates are too high based on how you are living.

Mistake No. 2:  Not Considering Who Your Target Clients Are

For instance, if you are trying to expand your tech company practice, traditional office space in large office towers may not reflect the values of your future clients. Build spaces that attract your target clients, and particularly in locations where you want to attract top leads. If your goal is to attract technology corporations, you must build where they are in space where they feel comfortable.  Make it easy for you to market your services by building amenities that they can utilize, such as conference rooms with great connectivity and internal spaces that can host tech industry mixers or startup competitions.

Mistake No. 3: Treating Office Space as a Job Reward

Do not use the corner office or larger private offices as a symbolic reward for “making partner” if it causes the firm to use office space less effectively and efficiently.  Most of our clients are embracing the “one size fits all” mentality.  Building this way allows you to be much more flexible with the office space.

Mistake No. 4: Not Being Flexible for Future Growth

Firms often do not grow like other businesses.  Growth can often be more rapid when bringing in a new group of partners or practice group.  The same can happen in reverse, leaving you with significant excess space.  Pushing to have as much lease flexibility as you can with layers of options to expand, renew, contract and terminate is so important and, as we often advise our clients, worth paying a premium for.  That said, if flexibility is key, it is important to let landlords know at the start of negotiations.  That way you can quickly resolve if it will be an issue to get such rights and move on if the building cannot accommodate.

Mistake No. 5:  Failing To Consider Work-Life Amenities

Your staff, attorneys and partners work long hours.  It can help with both recruiting and retaining employees to locate your office near other businesses and services that enhance the work-life balance of your employees. For instance, fitness centers, abundant restaurant options, proximity to transportation, and even things like “doggie day care” can be big pluses for your employees when working long hours.

About The Expert

Howard Ecker founded Howard Ecker + Company in 1975 as the first real estate company in Chicago devoted exclusively to representing tenants.  From working on one of the original leases in the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco in the early 1970’s to currently representing national accounting firm BDO USA, Howard’s 40+ year career has included many significant projects.  Howard works with business leaders to align office location thinking with the long term fiscal and cultural needs of their business, connecting the worth of the company to its brand, culture and environment.  Howard is a member of the Board of Directors for Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.  He graduated from Tulane University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian History and attended DePaul Law School.

About Howard Ecker + Company

Howard Ecker + Company is a national commercial tenant representation company and brokerage firm that represents the commercial real estate interests of tenants throughout the United States.  With offices in Chicago, New York, Denver, and Miami, Howard Ecker + Company helps tenants locate, negotiate and evaluate all possibilities in their search for office space.  Learn more about the firm here.

Standing out: Not bad advice for a law school, your law practice -- or a legal magazine.

Standing out: Not bad advice for a law school, your law practice — or a legal magazine.

You don’t often hear magazine editors tout the advertising side of the business. After all, there is a cherished and sensible “wall” between the edit and the ad side of publications, a distinction that serves each side well.

But the existence of that wall doesn’t mean editorial staff are blind to the value ads provide. At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we understand which side our bread is buttered on. And a robust ad side—made possible, we believe, by having a robust edit side—has helped the magazine stay in the black for a good number of years now. That has been a benefit to State Bar of Arizona members and the magazine itself, both in costs and in expanded “real estate” in which we may provide valuable articles.

Why do I raise the topic today? Well, I’m pretty pleased with a new ad feature we were able to provide readers (and advertisers) in our January and February issues—a gatefold ad in the “front of the book.”

That ad—a first for us—allows our cover to fold out, giving the advertiser three pages to convey its message. That space is especially valuable for an organization rolling out a rebranding—which is exactly what the Arizona Summit Law School did in the ad.

You can see the whole ad here and here. But really, you should pick up the print magazine to appreciate the entire effect.

(I should point out that I have nothing to do with ad sales in the magazine. I work alongside terrific advertising colleagues, but someone buying an ad—whether a three-page gatefold or a tiny classified—has zero effect on whether we accept and publish their article on the edit side. Just sayin’.)

I routinely ask readers for story ideas or other content they would like to see in the magazine. But today, I wonder about ad products and tools you’ve viewed in other magazines. Whether they were in a national consumer publication or in a much smaller local publication, what ad types have caught your eye? What ads have led to improvements in your law practice?

Your insights have been a great help to me on the edit side. But a magazine is a complex organism, and we believe the ads should serve your purposes, too. How can we improve?

Tom Chandler, 1920-2013

Tom Chandler, 1920-2013

How should we cover the life and achievements of a terrific man and attorney? That’s my question for you today.

Last month, I reported on the passing of lawyer Tom Chandler. His contributions were broad and deep, and the state is a poorer place for his death.

But how do you best tell a man’s story? Thousands of Arizona folks had the chance to know Tom over his life and career. How do you boil that down into a piece that does him justice?

A few years ago, federal Judge Christina Reiss described her own experience in the office of Chandler. I’ve always enjoyed reading her story.

So I ask Arizona’s legal community what you would like to share about Tom Chandler. Not to be rude, but telling us he was a great man is not enough; we all know that. Instead, we’d like to hear your stories, funny, serious or in between. We’d like to publish anecdotes that are revealing and compelling.

Please consider your own experience with Tom and contact me at Feel free to share this request far and wide with others you think may have a story to offer.

Arizona Attorney Magazine would be privileged to help give some insight into legal leader Tom Chandler. (For some ideas, look back at our coverage of the passing of Arizona Justice Michael D. Ryan here, here and here.)

You think health insurance reform is hard? Try covering it in print.

You think health insurance reform is hard? Try covering it in print.

I decided I’d better mention our Arizona Attorney cover story before the facts (and law) change again.

Of course, I’m talking about our coverage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—which was a pretty brave move on our part, considering the shifting sands of politics.

Given the early deadlines demanded of article writers in print publications, I suppose I could offer an evolving list of changes that our article was unable to address. But I won’t do that today. Instead, I will simply acknowledge a big one:

Yes, we understand that has had problems. We’re aware that our article doesn’t mention it. We’re not blind and deaf (though if I were uninsured and having vision or hearing problems, Obamacare might do me better than the previous system. Just sayin’.)

So I urge you to read our great explanatory article alongside a daily newspaper, or maybe Twitter, so you can fold in all of the newest tweaks and developments to the Act.

And given the trouble the Act’s website has had, I also acknowledge how humorous our article’s caveat now appears:

“PPACA is a controversial, complicated and multifaceted collection of laws. This article, limited to PPACA’s shared responsibility of employers (‘Play or Pay’) and employees and individuals (‘Individual Mandate’), was prepared in September and October 2013. It is possible that some details or entire concepts in this article may have changed by the time of publication. Read this article simultaneously with the latest version of”

Done chuckling? Click here to start reading.

Obamacare article in AzAt Dec 2013

Happy October! Time for new ideas.

Though I may be three months early for a resolution, I do offer this insight, which grew out of a terrific conference I attended last week.

Surround yourself with smart folks in your industry, and your own work is bound to get even better. That was clear to me as I attended and led conversations about communications strategies.

Among those I met in Portland (some for the first time) was an accomplished communicator from the Washington State Bar Association. Grabbing the opportunity, I told her (OK, I gushed) how much I enjoy the content and approach of their NWSidebar, a terrific blog.

Writing? Thinking about it? Contact us! (great image via

Writing? Thinking about it? Contact us! (great image via

Here’s how the WSBA describes their blog:

“NWSidebar is focused on creating a welcoming, useful, dynamic and engaging communications forum that attracts contributors and readers. We hope to create a sense of community among blog contributors and readers, and provide an opportunity for more organic, member-driven content and interaction on an ongoing basis.”

The communicator I met is the WSBA’s Online Communications Specialist, Julia Nardelli Gross. I told her that I enjoyed her blog contributions quite a bit, and that I’m often tempted to steal her ideas. She was friendly and gracious, exactly the person you want being one of your communications leaders.

As I am considering story ideas for 2014, I came across one of Julia’s posts recently that featured five hot topics that they want to see Washington lawyers write on in the future. The suggestions include the Second Amendment and changes in law school education—and a few notions farther afield.

I’ve done my share of crowdsourcing stories, but that post is so well written and constructed, it’s hard to believe they won’t get a great response.

Like the WSBA, I too am seeking great and interesting writers and stories, both for guest blog posts and for Arizona Attorney Magazine. Contact me anytime. But first head over and follow what Julia’s up to.

Arizona Attorney Magazine June 2013What happens in courtrooms may only be a part of the legal profession. But litigation and practice areas surrounding it are important indicators for the economy and more.

The current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine includes some robust content on litigation. I leave the readers to adduce their own meaning.

You may read the entire issue here. Feel free to share it around.

Our cover story is one of our most-read recurring features: our annual roundup of the previous year’s top verdicts—plaintiff and defense. Snell & Wilmer partner Kelly Wilkins MacHenry continues to be our talented reporter and writer in this endeavor.

Also included is an analysis of litigation trends, courtesy of Tom Littler.

Read how Tom Littler describes trends in trials, discovery, litigation, fees and more.

Read how Tom Littler describes trends in trials, discovery, fees and more.

Finally, what about that long period leading up to trial (or settlement). Judge Douglas Gerlach and Eugene D. Cohen write on a proposed method of handling non-discovery motions. Let me know what you think.

Writing for Arizona Attorney remains one of the best ways for attorneys to distinguish themselves among their peers. It showcases legal knowledge and experience, and it helps lawyers convey their content in a timely and award-winning way.

Do you have story ideas? Would you like to be among those who display their talents?

Write to me at

Twitter on wallKeep up with what’s happening at the State Bar Annual Convention by following!  Get short, timely messages (including photos, speaker presentations and more) from Arizona Attorney Magazine’s staff. If you, your firm or employer are active on Twitter, just insert the hashtag #azbarcon into all of your Convention tweets to allow them to be read and searched by fellow attendees and the entire legal community.

Can’t attend Convention but want to know what’s going on? You also should follow

The Twitter links will take you to updates in our Convention Daily—news items and photos that will appear on the magazine blog, Facebook and Tumblr pages, and in our News Center:

For more detail click on the image below to enlarge.

Twitter at Convention flier 2013


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