Arizona Justice Robert Brutinel

Justice Robert Brutinel

A panel discussion on Friday, October 17, will cover recent changes to the Arizona rules controlling use of mobile devices in courtrooms. Sponsored by the First Amendment Coalition of Arizona, it will feature Justice Robert Brutinel, who chaired the 2013 committee whose recommendations led to the changes.

Those changes specifically were made to Supreme Court Rule 122.1 (use of mobile devices in courtrooms) and Rule 122 (video, audio and still photography in courtrooms).

As the Coalition describes the free event, “Learn what is permissible use of smartphones, tablets or laptops in Arizona state courtrooms and what is not, as well as the latest regarding use of cameras and recorders in court.”

The discussion will be held at the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix.

The RSVP page (and more information) can be found here.

The local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is a member organization I’m proud to call home. And that chapter is a charter member of the First Amendment Coalition. I hope you come out to join journalists, lawyers, law students and others as we hear about this important and evolving topic.

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.

pro bono gavelI can’t let January slip away without pointing you toward a great column in Arizona Attorney Magazine. In the last-page column titled “Extra Value for Community Service,” attorney Gary Restaino reminds us all about a revised Arizona rule that is aimed to encourage pro bono work—and that could get you some CLE credit.

Here’s how Gary opens his essay:

“I suspect that if we made a list of lawyers who seek to give back to their communities, and a second list of lawyers who get some degree of agita from the State Bar’s continuing legal education requirements, lots of us would be on both lists. If you are among those counted twice, have I got a deal for you. Starting in January 2014, when providing legal assistance to the indigent through ‘approved legal services organizations,’ you can earn CLE for your pro bono service.”

“Supreme Court Rule 45, as amended, permits a lawyer to claim one hour of CLE for every five hours of pro bono service, up to a maximum of five self-study CLE hours per year. (This would get you halfway to the aspirational 50 hours of annual pro bono assistance.) Wholly apart from the personal satisfaction you can receive from representing those in need, you can save money on CLE videos and courses.”

Read Gary’s whole column here.

To make it easier for you to get started, I reprint here the column’s sidebar that points you to a few great agencies where you might offer your talents.

Offering Your Help

To enroll as a volunteer to provide general legal assistance, contact:

Community Legal Services (Maricopa, Mohave, LaPaz, Yavapai and Yuma Counties)

Southern Arizona Legal Aid (Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz Counties)

 DNA-People’s Legal Services (Coconino County, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe)

An image of Gary’s essay is below; click to enlarge.

My Last Word Gary Restaino Arizona Attorney Magazine January 2014

Most senior Arizona lawyer spread July Aug 2013Is it just me, or does it seem ridiculous beyond words that August is about to expire? The summer just started about yesterday, it seems.

Well, before the month passes, I will pass on to you today and tomorrow some items from the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, in case you haven’t seen them. If you have already read them, read them again—it’s highly nutritious stuff.

The first item of note arose from a question posed by attorney Richard Bellah: I wonder who the oldest-living member of the State Bar of Arizona is? Or, more particularly, who alive has the lowest Bar number?

Easy squeezey, we both thought. We have databases that can answer that kind of query quicker than two shakes of a dog’s tale.

Of course, we were wrong, much to our surprise.

Here’s why:

  • The data only go back so far, and
  • When the first lawyers became members of the Bar, they weren’t given numbers, and
  • When the Bar began handing out numbers, they didn’t start at 1.Arizona Attorney logo

Much head-scratching later, we developed a way to determine a pretty serviceable answer to our question. The result is a great feature article slugged “Who’s Number 1?” It examines the four oldest-living members, and includes their own commentary on what’s right and not so right with law practice.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The four most senior living Arizona attorneys—each well into their 90s—seem a satisfied bunch. They are very bright and could, if they desired, competently represent clients today; in fact, one still does. They remember in detail their law school experiences, the bar exam and early career days. They remember their colleagues fondly, and they acknowledge how different the practice is today. More than one of them mentioned that when they were young lawyers, everyone in the legal profession knew each other. There was an atmosphere of community and camaraderie. And there was no such thing as a ‘billable hour.’”

Yes, you’ll have to click through to see who those four are, and to read their valuable lessons from a life of law practice.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers who found the piece refreshing and a surprising snapshot of Arizona legal history.

Tomorrow, I share a briefer but just as compelling piece from the issue. Fair warning: I’ve been told it’s brought tears to readers’ eyes.

Sure, you may be able to buy them. But are fireworks legal to set off in your community?

Sure, you may be able to buy them. But are fireworks legal to set off in your community?

Not to be a wet blanket, but there is an interaction between Independence Day and the law.

No, I don’t mean that obvious connection that involves Founding Fathers signing a letter to a king.

Instead, I refer to the annual question about fireworks: legal or illegal (or illegal but safe to set off)?

As you make your own ethical and legal decisions for the next day and evening, I point you to an Atlantic article about “The Great Illegal Fireworks Crackdown of 2013.” (Dramatic? Yes. But effective too.)

Here’s how writer Arit John opens:

“This Fourth of July, feel free to grill as many burgers and drink as many beers as your heart desires. But know that if you decide to partake in one of the most American traditions of all — driving over state lines and returning with a trunk load of fireworks — cops all across the nation will be waiting for you more than ever.”

Read the complete article here.

And click here for detail about your own Arizona community’s position on fireworks.

Have a great Fourth.

Letterpress BlogLearning what lawyers are up to is an avocation (and vocation) that occupies much of my time. And for that task, I can think of few other time investments as valuable as reading their blogs.

Sure, stopping by their offices and events is great, but that offers only a limited view inside law practice. But an aggregation of blog posts is revealing. It shows the multitude of challenges, pleasures and worries that lawyer brains are heir to.

Maybe because I’m a writer, I tend to believe that writing (when it’s substantive) reflects thinking. Therefore, if you want to know what folks are thinking, get reading.

That’s part of what drove the creation of our Arizona Attorney Magazine Blog Network a year or so ago. Let’s aggregate all of this brain power, and all of this writing, in one spot. Link them together, let the attorneys get some more traffic, and let readers enjoy the convenience of one-stop thinking.

In case you were wondering, here’s how it works.

On the bottom of the magazine News Center (launched alongside the Blog Network) you may have spotted a few blogs. That is our ever-changing roster of blogs I opt to highlight. They likely have new and interesting content. That changing list includes about five or six blogs. (And only one at a time can include the lawyer headshot.) See what I mean?

Arizona Attorney Blog Network screen shot 1More value awaits. If you click that button that reads “View All Blog Network Members,” then you can do just that.

Arizona Attorney Blog Network screen shot 2Once you’re there, you can scan the 50-ish attorneys currently in our network.

(Want to be added? Send me your URL and an author headshot. I’ll review it to be sure it should be in a lawyer network; if so, I’ll post it tout de suite. If you add your blog to the network, your blog remains your blog wherever it’s sited. We merely link to it, driving more readers—and SEO traffic—your way.)

Currently, you’ll see that our lead item points you to the blog of attorney Kim Brown. Her blog demonstrates perfectly the kind of valuable content you might get from reading lawyer blogs. Her lead item right now is asking the question of how similar a law firm partnership is to a typical marriage. She addresses the issue with humor but also with some serious takeaways that lawyers must consider when they review a partnership opportunity.

I hope you want to be part of the conversation. We always welcome new writers. And even if you’d merely view the thinking of Arizona attorneys, be sure to link to the page or sign up for the RSS feed. We’ll keep on blogging.

And I leave you with a hilarious blogging cartoon, shared with me by the great communicators at Association Media & Publishing.

blogging cartoon via AMP

legislative maps arizona

Like to draw? Get along well with others? Apply by June 10.

Looking for a unique opportunity to influence public policy in a state you care about?

On this Change of Venue Friday, I point you toward the fact that a new Redistricting Commissioner is being sought. There are a variety of qualifications to meet, and your deadline is Monday, June 10.

Below, I have included the language describing the position and including a link to the application.

If you read the newspaper, you know that the job is not without its, um, challenges, shall we say. The opening was created by the resignation of the Vice Chair. You could read more about that here.

Still interested, aren’t you? That’s what I like about attorneys: the dogged commitment to effective public policy!

Here’s the detail. Have a great weekend.

“Applications are currently being accepted by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments for a vacancy on the Independent Redistricting Commission, which is charged with mapping Arizona’s congressional and legislative districts. This vacancy was created by the resignation of Commission Vice Chair Jose M. Herrera.”

“Residents of all Arizona counties are eligible to apply. To be eligible, applicants must be registered Arizona voters who have been continuously registered with the Democratic Party for the last three years. People who have held or run for a public office (other than a school board), served as an officer of a political party or a candidate’s campaign committee, or worked as a registered paid lobbyist during the past three years are not eligible.”

Application forms are available here, by calling (602) 452-3311, or at 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, AZ.”

“Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on June 10, 2013.”

“Redistricting Commission members are barred from seeking or holding any public office in Arizona or for registration as a paid lobbyist during their term on the commission and for three years following.”

“The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments will review the applications and nominate a pool of three candidates. Representative Chad Campbell, Minority Leader in the Arizona House of Representatives, will appoint the new member of the Redistricting Commission.”

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