Do you think ghost-blogging by lawyers is misleading, unethical?

Do you think ghost-blogging by lawyers is misleading, unethical?

Here is a simple question for you on a Monday morning. It involves ghost blogging, the practice of some lawyers to post blog content on their own blog that was written by someone other than themselves.

 

My question arises from a few sources. It’s related to conversations I had at a Scottsdale conference last week. And it’s connected to an exchange that is evolving in a Linkedin group in which I participate.

Yes, I have my own opinions. But I’d like to hear from others and then we’ll chat more.

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.

2014 State Bar of Arizona Convention brochure cover hires_optIn advance of the Bar Convention, I contacted seminar chairs seeking their response to four questions about their upcoming panel. Here are the questions I sent:

  • Who should attend this seminar?
  • What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?
  • How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)
  • What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

Today, I share, in two separate posts, the responses of those whose seminars are calendared for tomorrow, Thursday, June 12. (Note: Not all seminar chairs responded.) Click on the seminar title to read more detail as published in the Convention brochure.

What follows are the seminar responses I received for the morning programs.

Thursday, June 12, 8:45 am

T-17: Roadblocks to Reentry: Employment Obstacles Following Conviction and a Guide To Ease the Transition

Chair: Gary Restaino

Who should attend this seminar?

Gary Restaino

Gary Restaino

Criminal defense attorneys, legal aid attorneys and employment law attorneys should attend this seminar to better understand the barriers (including employment) faced by defendants reentering society from a period of incarceration, and the opportunities available to assist them.

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

The biggest takeaway may well be the power of second chances.

How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)

One of the key current events with respect to this seminar is the growing “Ban the Box” movement, in which certain employers (either through voluntary action or local ordinances) push the background check process farther into the employee selection cycle, in order to enable a former criminal defendant to develop a rapport with the employer in lieu of outright rejection based on criminal history.

Thursday, June 12, 8:45 am

T-19: The Annual Ethics Game Show

Chair: Lynda Shely

Who should attend?

Lynda Shely

Lynda Shely

Anyone who needs 3 hours of ethics credit while having fun, wants to learn the latest ethics news, and earn a prize … several ethical rules changed this year – do you know how they apply to your practice?

What is the one main takeaway from attending?

No, it’s not the prize – it will be the latest ethics and risk management tips for all firms, including some checklists and templates.

What is the most common misconception about ethics?

IT IS NOT BORING – it can be fun and informative and everyone takes away not only a prize but useful ethics information to share with their offices.

Thursday, June 12, 10:30 am

T-20: The Unblinking Eye: High-Profile Cases and Cameras in the Courtroom

Co-Chair: Judy Schafert

Who should attend this seminar?

Judy Schaffert

Judy Schaffert

Practitioners who try cases, both criminal and civil; public lawyers; lawyers who represent potentially controversial or notorious clients; people who care about the public or the media; politically active practitioners; and anyone who cares about the courts as public institutions.

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

Cameras have entered the courtrooms of our state, but when and how involves more implications and decisions than many might expect.

How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)

There has been a recent change in Arizona court rules — and the technology continuously leapfrogs.

What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

Many lawyers do not appreciate the extent to which cameras in the courts implicate their duties, and their clients’ and witnesses’ rights, especially under the new rules.

Morris Institute for Justice LogoThis Friday provides an opportunity to hear from two legal experts who are also terrific presenters. It all happens on the afternoon of May 16, when Lynda Shely and Patricia Sallen speak on ethics issues and technology.

The three-hour presentation is titled “30 Ethics Tips Before Using Any Technology” and isoffered by the William E. Morris Institute for Justice on Friday, May 16, from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. It is co-sponsored by Lewis Roca Rothgerber

The event will also be live simulcast to Tucson.

Lynda Shely is an attorney at the Shely Firm PC, and Patricia Sallen is Director of Special Services and Ethics/Deputy General Counsel of the State Bar of Arizona.

The in-person presentation will be at:

Lewis Roca Rothgerber

201 East Washington Street, 3rd floor

Phoenix, AZ 85004

 

The live simulcast can be viewed at:

Lewis Roca Rothgerber

1 South Church Ave., Suite 700

Tucson, AZ 85701

 

As the Institute says, “The CLE fee is a $150 donation to the Institute (paid in advance or at the door), of which $50 may be tax deductible. The Institute qualifies for the ‘working poor tax credit.’”

RSVP by May 13 to Ellen Katz at eskatz@qwestoffice.net or 602-252-3432 ext. 2, or register online by making your $150 donation through the MIJ website (click “Donate to MIJ”).

Panelists of "Lawyering Political Environment," June 19, 2013

Panelists of “Lawyering in a Political Environment,” June 19, 2013

The State Bar Convention offers a multitude of learning opportunities. But I’m only one guy, so I opted to attend a morning seminar titled “Lawyering in a Political Environment.” It was deemed a President’s Award winner, and it seemed a good way to start my own 2013 Convention experience.

L to R: Kelly Schwab, Joe Kanefield

L to R: Kelly Schwab, Joe Kanefield

Here’s what I discovered: The first seminar in the first day of the annual State Bar Convention largely had to do with a lawyer who had been disbarred by the State Bar. Quite a morning. But in that regard, the educational offering was probably unique among seminars that could be offered at bar conferences nationwide. Arizona is an interesting place.

The conversation was far ranging, but panelists and their moderator Robert Robb found themselves, more often than not, addressing ethical challenges created by former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas—now disbarred. And because of that, the seminar was a timely and relevant presentation to a packed house of attorneys who had learned firsthand about the risks of blending law and politics.

The panel was a powerhouse one:

  • Former United States Attorney Paul Charlton
  • Former Governor’s Counsel Joe Kanefield
  • Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
  • Former Pinal County Attorney Jim Walsh
  • Attorney Kelly Schwab

Robb asked panelists to offer their general views about lawyering in a public setting.

Paul Charlton opened by saying that “Public service is a noble enterprise. Every day your one, monolithic goal is to give back.”

L to R: Robert Robb. Jim Walsh, Paul Charlton

L to R: Robert Robb, Jim Walsh, Paul Charlton

He continued by discussing his most difficult decision as United States Attorney—one that had career-changing implications.

“My most difficult decision? Whether to seek the death penalty.”

Charlton made a choice that did not square with the thinking of the United States Attorney General and so, he said, “I got fired for it.”

“How do you deal with those who take a political view of the world, or with those who think the death penalty should be sought—not pursued—in every situation?”

Bill Montgomery stepped into an office in which the top prosecutor had made politicizing legal decisions the norm. Montgomery says his focus has been on changing that atmosphere.

“It’s about knowing what’s right and wrong, not what’s right and left.”

Joe Kanefield recalled the biggest challenge faced by lawyers in state government: “resisting pressure to pursue legal remedies for political challenges.”

Moderator Robb asked the panel if elected attorneys are “special” because they serve voters first.

“Andy Thomas thought he was special,” said Robb. “But who is the client? Should the criminal and civil functions be separated” to reduce the possibility of overreaching?

No, said Charlton. “I’d say that’s a solution in search of a problem,” because instances like that are rare, “except that we do have Andrew Thomas in our recent history.”

“But that was an aberration,” he continued. “Though it was awful for anyone caught in Thomas’ crosshairs,” the legal community generally “catches” such behavior before it becomes egregious.

Robb kept the focus on specifics when spoke about Bill Montgomery’s recent legal advice to County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox that she had a conflict in regard to the county’s civil suit involving Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But the focus remained on a former prominent attorney.

Charlton said, “It was right to go after Andrew Thomas; it was right to take his license.”

L to R: Paul CHarlton, Bill Montgomery, Kelly Schwab

L to R: Paul Charlton, Bill Montgomery, Kelly Schwab

The whirlwind seminar included conversation about prosecutions of former Congressman Rick Renzi, Senator Ted Stevens, major league ballplayer Roger Clemens and others. And it extended beyond the practical challenges that prosecutors—especially elected prosecutors—face daily. It winded up with a discussion of possible changes to the Ethical Rules to accommodate the unique situations they may face. And at least one panelist recommended that young line prosecutors need a place to turn when challenges arise.

“We used to call them an ombudsman,” said Jim Walsh. “But whatever they’re called, we need someone in prosecutor offices that those attorneys can go to” when they develop the sense they are being asked to do questionable things to further political ends.

Morris Institute for Justice LogoEthics and justice combine in a seminar next Friday, May 31. I heard about it via a great colleague over at the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education. Let me pass on some of the details.

The legal education seminar is being offered by the Morris Institute for Justice, and the presenter will be Geoff Sturr on the topic of ethics and conflicts.

Lawyer Geoff Sturr of Osborn Maledon

Geoff Sturr, Osborn Maledon

Geoff is a partner at Osborn Maledon, and I asked him to provide some more detail on what he’ll cover:

“Thanks for your interest. The seminar will focus on three areas:  conflicts, confidentiality and candor (which will include, among other things, conduct in negotiations). It will provide an update on recent decisions and opinions, and pending or anticipated rule changes. The primary target audience will be civil practitioners, but I hope to cover issues of interest to criminal and government lawyers.”

In case you don’t know them, the Morris Institute describes itself as “a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of low-income Arizonans.” Read more about them and their work here.

As you may surmise, CLE credit will be offered for the event, which will be delivered in person at the Phoenix office of Lewis and Roca, and in a live simulcast at their Tucson office.

RSVP by May 29 to Ellen Katz at eskatz@qwestoffice.net or 602-252-3432 ext. 2.

All the detail is provided below.

Morris Institute CLE flier

stale-fortune-cookie

Cookies may be stale, but the message may last.

Three weeks may be too far past an event to report much value—that is, for most events. But a few speakers I heard in March—and failed to report on in a timely way—still yielded insights I believe are worth sharing. This cookie, as they say, ain’t stale.

The first event to share—the one most distant in time—is the annual Learned Hand Awards luncheon. As always, the three honorees were well chosen. And, in a Learned Hand tradition, just as much was expected of the introducer’s speech as was of the honoree herself.

Justice Scott Bales emceed, and he hit exactly the right note by honoring the anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright. In a ballroom full of lawyers, the reference was spot on.

Nicole France Stanton at the Learned Hand Awards luncheon, 2013

Nicole France Stanton at the Learned Hand Awards luncheon, 2013

The first award—called the Emerging Leadership Award—went to Nicole France Stanton. Andy Sherwood explained her talented background, as well as her commitment to fight bullying and cystic fibrosis.

Stanton urged all lawyers to find their ethical center.

“Finding your voice as a leader at a law firm does not have to wait until you’re an equity partner,” she concluded.

Terry Fenzl introduces Terry Goddard.

Terry Fenzl introduces Terry Goddard.

Terry Fenzl took a more humorous tack in his introduction of the next honoree, Terry Goddard. He displayed—with accompanying ribbing—a photo of a boyish Goddard being sworn in as Phoenix Mayor in 1984.

But like Learned Hand, Fenzl said, Goddard always spoke up for the rule of law, in the fight over polygamy in a Utah border town, in the use of methamphetamine, in mortgage fraud.

Goddard used his speech indicate his gratitude—a commonplace in remarks like these—but also to hurl some political barbs.

“I remember I got to discuss constitutional law with Russell Pearce,” he said. “Maybe not the highest point of my career, but memorable nonetheless.”

He criticized the efforts of legislators to alter the law regarding recall elections, including making the new law’s effects retroactive.

“They claimed it was the will of the people,” Goddard said, “and not just trying to save Joe Arpaio’s behind.”

“Respect for the rule of law is not common in Arizona,” he concluded.

Charles "Chick" Arnold, 2013 Learned Hand Awards

Charles “Chick” Arnold, 2013 Learned Hand Awards

The final honoree was Charles “Chick” Arnold, of Arnold v. Sarn fame. It was his lawsuit that led to massive changes in the way the State of Arizona addressed the needs of it mentally ill residents.

Arnold’s advocate was Judge James McDougall, and he provided eloquent testimony as to Arnold’s fitness for the award. He recalled how the then-Maricopa County Public Fiduciary filed a class action suit on behalf of his 600 wards, demanding that the state live up to its statutory obligations to provide a “continuum of services” for those who had been deinstitutionalized.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors were angered by the action and fired Arnold—only to have to reinstate him after a separate lawsuit.

The stories reflecting courage were touching and remarkable. And that pointed out a fact that I should have noticed in covering years of Hand lunches: The speeches tend to get better and better as the lunch goes on. Not because the speech drafters vary widely in skill level—they all tend to be excellent writers. No, the difference comes from the vastness of life stories that the (usually) older lawyers can marshall.

And so the day opened with ethics and then moved seamlessly to the rule of law, featured by both Goddard and Arnold. Terry Goddard reflected on his career through the prism of that rule, and Arnold did also, always believing that his obligation to his wards trumped his duty to his employer. And for that, all of Arizona should be grateful.

Terry Goddard congratulates Chick Arnold following the 2013 Learned Hand Awards

Terry Goddard congratulates Chick Arnold following the 2013 Learned Hand Awards

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