Gallagher & Kennedy attorney Laura Antonuccio reads to Phoenix Day schoolchildren, May 28, 2014.

Gallagher & Kennedy attorney Laura Antonuccio reads to Phoenix Day schoolchildren, May 28, 2014.

At a school in south Phoenix, dozens of children smile as a group from a law firm enters the room. They’ve come to know these women—each one a woman professional from law firm Gallagher & Kennedy—over the course of many months. And this day—May 28, 2014—is the culmination of the nearly year-long relationship.

If your eyes grow large at the notion that children would be pleased to see attorneys, you really need to understand what these women accomplished at Phoenix Day, an early education and youth development center serving underprivileged children.

The 18 women from Gallagher & Kennedy sought a way to make a difference in their community. The result was their participation in the Million Minutes Reading Challenge of the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council.

Seeing the need, the G&K folks formed their own “Team Right to Read.” They also sought out a participating school, landing at Phoenix Day. Since last September, the women have volunteered more than 7,300 minutes (and counting) reading to 86 students.

Members of the Gallagher & Kennedy Professional Women’s Group who donated hundreds of books to children at Phoenix Day on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, as part of their role in the Valley of the Sun United Way's Million Minutes Volunteer Reading Challenge. L to R: Jodi Bohr, Jennifer Cranston, Lori Stinson (Phoenix Day), Laura Antonuccio, Meg Smeck, Alana Hake. (Photo: PatrickCorley.com)

Members of the Gallagher & Kennedy Professional Women’s Group who donated hundreds of books to children at Phoenix Day on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, as part of their role in the Valley of the Sun United Way’s Million Minutes Volunteer Reading Challenge. L to R: Jodi Bohr, Jennifer Cranston, Lori Stinson (Phoenix Day), Laura Antonuccio, Meg Smeck, Alana Hake. (Photo: PatrickCorley.com)

May 28 was a reading day like many others. But it also was an opportunity to give the children another present—a large box of books (and other items) for each to take home. The materials had been gathered and assembled over multiple weeks by the G&K women.

As the school’s Education Director Lori Stinson looks on with a smile, attorney Laura Antonuccio leads the kids in a rousing rendition of “Clap Your Hands.”

“Reach for the sky, wiggle your toes, Stick out your tongue and touch your nose.”

Antonuccio originated the idea of a reading support group, and she is adept at firing the children up with the excitement of reading.

She suddenly exclaims, “On the count of three, everybody tell me how old you are!” The joyful cacophony of “3,” “5,” “4” fills the room, while a sotto voce (and slightly Eeyore-ish) voice adds from the back of the room, “30.”

After the festivities, lawyer Jennifer Cranston tells a visitor why the women are committed to this effort.

“Of course, we are all a part of the community,” she begins. And if listeners need a better reason to offer children the gift of reading, she adds, “And we’ll certainly reduce the need for lawyers if the entire population can become better educated.”

(Yes, she meant reducing the need for lawyers is a good thing.)

Members of the Gallagher & Kennedy women’s group may continue their work at Phoenix Day. But the group also seeks a new initiative for the coming year. Congratulations and thank you to each of them for their remarkable commitment.

Here are some more photos from the May 28 event.

Gallagher & Kennedy's Meg Smeck with children of Phoenix Day.

Gallagher & Kennedy’s Meg Smeck with children of Phoenix Day.

One of the many boxes of donated items gathered by the Gallagher & Kennedy women as gifts to the children of Phoenix Day.

One of the many boxes of donated items gathered by the Gallagher & Kennedy women as gifts to the children of Phoenix Day.

Gallagher and Kennedy attorney Jodi Bohr reads to a Phoenix Day student.

Gallagher and Kennedy attorney Jodi Bohr reads to a Phoenix Day student.

Phoenix Day students and Gallagher and Kennedy women professionals at the May 28, 2014, event.

Phoenix Day students and Gallagher and Kennedy women professionals at the May 28, 2014, event.

Tim Corcoran, LMA President, speaks in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13, at the State Bar of Arizona.

Tim Corcoran, LMA President, speaks in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13, at the State Bar of Arizona.

This Thursday, an event at the State Bar of Arizona is absolutely worth your time. Here are 3 reasons you should attend:

  1. The presenter’s first name is Tim.
  2. The presenter is a committed blogger.
  3. The topic is law firms and money. You like money, don’t you?

The event is a production of the Southwest Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, a group I’ve been privileged to collaborate with numerous times before (here’s the most recent).

The title of the event is “Demystifying Law Firm Finance for Marketing and Business Development Professionals,” and it occurs Thursday, March 13, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

More detail and a registration link are here.

As the LMA describes it:

Legal Marketing Association logo“This interactive discussion will cover how law firms made money yesterday and how they will make money tomorrow. Tim Corcoran will discuss the role of Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs), Legal Project Management (LPM), Business Process Improvement (BPI), Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) and Big Data on the law firm of the future. This program is designed to demystify law firm finances so legal marketing and business development professionals can sit at the table as equals with finance professionals and firm leadership.”

“Tim will also provide an overview of the changing face of law firm finance, from the long-time R.U.L.E.S. approach to the more modern Learning Curve approach.”

Corcoran is the 2014 President of the LMA, and we are fortunate to have him come to Phoenix. The experienced executive “advises law firm leaders how to profit in a time of great change, with particular emphasis in strategy, business process improvement, legal project management and business development.”

And, as I alluded to at the top, he is the author of Corcoran’s Business of Law blog.

I am disappointed to say that as this program begins, I’ll be en route to Chicago for a presentation of my own. But I look forward to hearing about Tim’s message.

Again, here is a link to register.

Georgetown Law Report on the Legal Market 2014It’s still early in the year, so legal experts continue to offer predictions about the path of 2014’s legal economy. Today, I share a rather good report, this one from Georgetown Law School, specifically its Center for the Study of the Legal Profession. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s titled “Report on the State of the Legal Market.” (Legal profession experts should begin hiring great headline-writers; they really should.)

I will let you dig into the blissfully brief (15-page) report. But I share just two of their charts so you can see the trajectory we’re on.

The first chart is in regard to legal demand:

Georgetown Law Report on the Legal Market legal demand chart

And the second table I share reflects the continued gap between hours worked, hours billed and (gulp) hours collected on:

Georgetown Law Report on the Legal Market rate progression chart

Here is a good summary of the Georgetown report, from the Wall Street Journal.

And I must offer a hat tip to the ever-watchful Katie Mayer of The Artigue Agency Public Relations for spotting the WSJ article. Thanks, Katie!

I continue to stumble across the notion that the challenges in the legal market center around the need for changes in approach and imagination (says the guy no longer in practice; easy for me to say). But I urge you to look at a previous post in which a change in view led to increased service delivery, increased client satisfaction—and, we assume, increased profitability.

Of course, that related to the medical profession. But who knows; we may learn something.

What's coming in the legal profession? We'd all like to know.

What’s coming in the legal profession? We’d all like to know.

Earlier this month, I said I would highlight a few industry predictions for 2014 from pros in various segments. Today, consider the insights of Dave Canfield, of UnitedLex.

Describing itself as a “global provider of legal and data solutions,” the company put together a list of some of the major trends that are currently influencing the legal industry.

Those trends include the following areas:

  • Legal outsourcing
  • Law firm innovation and the cloud
  • Law school innovation and consolidation
  • General counsel priorities and return on investment

Dave’s article is here. It’s worth reading and saving. And you can reach him directly at dave.canfield@unitedlex.com.

One other topic examined previously by the firm but unmentioned in this article is that of cybersecurity and the legal industry. Among the challenges will be internal and external attacks on law firm networks, and managing the increased desire for staff to participate in the BYOD (“bring your own device”) movement.

The legal industry is facing a landscape that is unlike any it’s confronted in a generation. How has your law office been affected by the altered economy? Have any new practices areas saved your bacon? Have new technologies or methods provided increased profitability in unexpected ways?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. We may help tell your story in Arizona Attorney.

Venue Projects Beef Eaters sign

Longtime lawyer eatery Beef Eaters Restaurant, about to be reborn via Venue Projects.

Yesterday, I shared a story about historic preservation in Phoenix. And today, via the power of Craigslist, you may own an upholstered and cushy part of that history. You deserve it; take a well-earned seat.

Before I get to that, let me take you back to 1961, when the Beef Eaters Restaurant opened in Phoenix. From then until 2006, it was one of the go-to locations for prominent attorneys and their clients.

Today, it is being refurbished in a great collaborative effort. I wrote about that here.

Last night, scanning my Facebook stream, I saw a post by Modern Phoenix and by Lorenzo Perez of developer Venue Projects. Alerting those of us who like our history combined with comfort, they posted a photo of dusty but sumptuous Beef Eaters booths and suggested they could be in your own space.

*Like*

*Click*

Much to my pleasure, that click took me to Craigslist, where the following post appears:

“The iconic Beef Eaters Restaurant booths need to go asap! Some are in great shape and some are in need of repair. These booths are black high back leather 60′s style. 6’6″ Long x 4’6″ Wide. By appointment only to review the booths for purchase. Price is negotiable per booth.”

View the post for yourself here.

What settlement conference wouldn't go better when parties are seated around a Beef Eaters booth?

What settlement conference wouldn’t go better when parties are seated around a Beef Eaters booth?

Not to be competitive or anything, but which lawyer or law firm will be the first to purchase a booth? Who in town will be the bravest and coolest law firm? Which law office will possess the hippest collaborative work space, the one the Mad Men themselves only wish they could claim as their own?

Over at my house, I’m taking a tape measure to our walls to see if we can shoehorn in a booth of our own. It may or may not work for us. But if I still worked in a law office, I’d draft a purchase contract fast enough to make your head spin.

Who’s with me?

No U Turn: The tried-and-true law practice techniques are not up to 2014's challenges.

The tried-and-true law practice techniques are not up to 2014′s challenges.

Last week, I mentioned NextLaw, our effort at Arizona Attorney Magazine to explore innovations in the legal profession.

The focus of that 2014 coverage will range among different niches of law practice. To help you understand what we’re looking for, I share here my editor’s column from the December issue.

I would appreciate it greatly if you would share this (and/or reblog it) with those who might have a great and innovative story to tell about their law firm, law practice or courthouse. Here’s the column:

What’s next? is something we all wonder. Here at a law magazine, that’s how we describe our job.

You may catch me talking quite a bit about the future of law in the coming year. We’re very interested (and pretty invested) in the topic. And as we considered the way forward in a profession as complex as the law, we realized we had to break it down—way down.

That is why we will cover the topic category by category next year. After all, what is going to transform large firm practice is not the same thing that will make law school education a compelling draw once again. Sole and small practitioners have their own challenges, as do our courts.

That’s why we’re engaged in the NextLaw Project. In it, we want to help portray the best practices available in those (and perhaps other) categories.

How could you, your law office or court get involved? I’m glad you asked.

Let's try forward (image courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

Let’s try forward (image courtesy Brooklyn Museum)

It’s possible that you’re aware of a remarkable tool or strategy that has made your work more competitive. Perhaps you’re developing a killer practice area, or your small law practice is suddenly benefiting from a resource—human or otherwise—that you hadn’t anticipated. Or maybe you know about your local courthouse that has made service to all its constituents better through initiative and imagination.

So we’re interested in your stories, which we’ve broadly grouped into the following categories:

  • The Emerging Law Firm
  • The Emerging Solo Practitioner
  • The Emerging Law School
  • The Emerging Courthouse

Why do I say “emerging”? Because we all feel we’re peering out of a dark recession, not sure if the light we see is sunrise or sunset. If experience is any guide, those who deem it sunrise will have some compelling stories to tell. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Mayer Brown and Platt 190 LaSalle library 1

How things change: This was the penthouse library on the top floors of 190 S. LaSalle in Chicago when I worked at Mayer, Brown & Platt in the late ‘80s.

If you are trying to figure out the legal profession’s big picture—especially the prospects for BigLaw—I’d recommend that you surf over to the amazing coverage offered up by The New Republic.

Recent offerings by the monthly magazine have included an examination of what’s new in law school thinking. In “How To Fix Law School,” they invite six experts to say what they would change about legal education.

Suggestions range from timing, to student loans, to the Socratic Method, and more.

(And if you’re in the mood—i.e., not already depressed—read Elie Mystal’s article “A Guide for Choosing a Low-Ranked Law School.”)

As good as the first New Republic piece is, I was riveted by an article in the same issue by Noam Scheiber titled “The Last Days of BigLaw: You Can’t Imagine the Terror When the Money Dries Up.”

Few commentators on big law firm life get the access Scheiber did. With that access, he develops a nuanced and detailed view into the inner workings of what many say is a devolving institution. Casual perusers may not want to know so much about (for instance) the differences between income and equity partners. But for those engaged in the legal profession, the insight is invaluable.

Perhaps part of my interest arose from the fact that I used to work at a firm he uses as an object lesson. In the late 1980s and just before law school, I worked in Chicago at Mayer, Brown & Platt (and then McDermott, Will & Emery). It was odd to have walked the same (conceptual) hallways Scheiber did. And even for someone who worked as a nonlawyer at Mayer Brown, his observations ring true.

Do his conclusions sound accurate to you? How’s BigLaw doing?

Breaking Bad actor Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman

Breaking Bad actor Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman

P.S. I also love The New Republic’s use of photos of actor Bob Odenkirk in his role of lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC series Breaking Bad. Not familiar with it? Get watching.

ABA red_high_heels_for gender equity

The ABA’s using these shoes to try to inject some more equality into the legal profession.

Hard on the heels of yesterday’s story of a remarkable woman, I offer another story—that also involves kicking up your heels.

As the American Bar Association annual meeting approaches, that organization has been trumpeting the work of its Gender Equity Task Force. (Besides great information, the website also includes free publications.)

Here, the ABA describes the group and then seeks action:

“Study after study has shown that women—in particular those in law firm practice—are not compensated at the same level as men. In August 2012, ABA President Laurel G. Bellows appointed a blue-ribbon Task Force on Gender Equity with a call to action for concrete movement in the issues of equity in the workplace and a principal focus on compensation.”

“You can help raise awareness of these critical issues by joining the ‘Click Your Heels’ virtual march for gender equity.”

ABA logoTo vote “with your feet”:

  1. Go to the Task Force website here.
  2. Click the vote button to the right of the red shoes.

Why is it important to “click your heels” for gender equity? The ABA explains:

“The visuals of hundreds of thousands of people descending on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and the sea of people coming together for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 have become iconic representations of people standing in concert to effect change. While nothing can ever replace the historic transcendence of that day, in this new millennium a virtual voice carries the same power and ability to effect change as a physical presence.”

gender_equality symbol“As in 1963, people of today still struggle with the ability to be treated equally in the work place. What is gender equity? It is equal pay for equal work. It is paternity leave without stigma. It is flexible time to meet personal and family needs, while still being able to participate and make a productive contribution to the work place. It is the recognition of the differences between men and women without diminishing the value and contribution each person provides. In a word, it is ‘fairness.’”

This all is timely not just because of the ABA meeting, but because the ABA’s Day of the Woman is on August 10, 2013. (More information on Day of the Woman events is here.)

(You can also follow @ABAGenderEquity on Twitter.)

When you click, you can see how many others have done the same. What number are you?

The day's overcast, but this is a pretty sunny spot for a Venice Beach law firm.

The day’s overcast, but this is a pretty sunny spot for a Venice Beach law firm.

Strolling along the Venice Beach boardwalk in California, the last thing I expected to see was a law office. Sure, T-shirt shops, wild murals, henna stands. But a law office?

That led me to think our Change of Venue Friday should be just a few photos. What’s a better fit for the end of the week?

The law firm, by the way, is not one I’m familiar with, so please don’t take this as an advertisement for Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison, LLP.

But imagine your own law office situated like this: The Pacific Ocean immediately west of you. And a continent of possible clients behind you. Pretty sweet.

I wrote the other day about Venice Beach’s founder, named Abbott Kinney. So esteemed is that fellow that he managed to be muralized only a block away from the boardwalk.

Venice Beach Abbott Kinney mural

Venice Beach Abbott Kinney mural

Finally, I take you off the boardwalk and high up into the air—into the LAX Theme Building, “the distinctive white building resembl[ing] a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs.”

LAX Theme Building (via Wikimedia Commons)

LAX Theme Building (via Wikimedia Commons)

With a longer-than-preferred layover, I decided to finally stroll over and head up to the building’s Encounter Restaurant and Bar. I’ve seen the mid-century modern iconic building for decades and always wondered about the view.

Here are a few photos of the view inside the funky building and its elevator panel, along with the traffic-control tower to the west.

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Have a great weekend—mid-century modern or not.

law-schoolThe tribulations of law schools continue.

Yesterday, a story from the ABA Journal reported that the McGeorge School of Law had cut its enrollment by 40 percent. That massive sea change was accompanied by staff layoffs at the California school.

Of course, no one course of treatment will be adopted by all the law school patients. A local response to the economic downturn is for an Arizona law school to create its own law firm.

Previously we’ve read about ASU Law School’s plans to launch a firm populated with recent law school graduates. You can read more about it here.

I had mentioned ASU’s initiative back in April. As the law firm gets closer to openings its doors, I’m still wondering what Arizona lawyers think of it.

ASU Law School logoThis past week, one lawyer penned his support for the project in the Arizona Republic. As Mark Briggs opens:

“Something in the legal world is broken. Law schools are creating more lawyers than there are good jobs, and many of these new lawyers have over $100,000 in student-loan debt. It is a tough problem, but ASU is about to try an innovative solution.”

“Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law plans to create an “Alumni Law Group,” which will employ 30 new graduates and will cost approximately $5 million a year to launch. ASU believes it will be self-sufficient in five years.”

“While some have criticized ASU’s plan as merely a ploy to improve the law school’s rankings by boosting its graduates’ employment rates, I think it is a concept well worth trying for several reasons.”

Briggs then offers three reasons he thinks the effort will succeed. And no, it’s not a softball piece; he also critiques what he believes was the law school’s error in being “overly optimistic in admitting far more students than there are jobs in this market.”

You should read his complete op-ed here. And then sound off below with your own viewpoint on the law firm project.

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