Blog evangelism. Check. Professional engagement. Check. Surprising questions. Check, natch.

Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity logoYesterday, I had the privilege to present on the topic of lawyers and blogging to a national law society. As expected, I learned as much as I imparted.

The Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity held their annual conference in Scottsdale, and it was a pleasure to meet with many of its members as I presented on how to manage the multi-channel chaos that faces us (and use a blog to build your practice and secure your image).

You can see the list of rotating workshops here. I’m sure you’ll agree, there was some pretty serious content on offer—plus blogging, by me.

As is my custom, I took a photo of my two workshop audiences as they began to drift into the room.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

Each group was attentive, slept only a little, and had engaging questions at the end.

As occurs at the best conferences, some of their questions took me by surprise. But the surprises are where we presenters learn.

One young attendee asked about the overall professional wisdom of blogging. She related a story about a hiring lawyer who reviewed submitted resumes. When he spotted an applicant who touted their blog, he threw the c.v. in the trash. His reasoning: He didn’t want to hire someone who spent their time blogging.

Another young questioner said that she most often got advice to eliminate as much of her electronic contributions as possible, rather than add to them with a blog. She feared that every online offering, including blog posts, could eventually be sifted and analyzed and held against her by employers and professional colleagues.

Meanwhile, the questions I received from older audience members were more expected ones and had to do with functionality: Do I recommend WordPress over Blogger? How often do I post? Where do I locate public-domain images?

The risk-averseness-ness among younger voices took me by surprise. But these folks face a shifting world, one in which the media portray the online world generally and social media (even blogging) in particular as dotted with pitfalls.

So I responded (as I recall) that our best professional judgment will keep most of us from serious error online, just as it always has in person. A sober—even if occasionally cheeky—assessment of a legal topic is unlikely to cause anyone long-term harm. In fact, people (lawyers and non-lawyers) are more likely to be impressed by what makes your voice unique than they are by how well you recede into the mass of your navy-suited colleagues.

And, I pointed out, a post that assesses a recent Supreme Court case, for instance, is unlikely to generate the kind of professional shame that may accompany a naked drunk tweet. Professional tip: Avoid those.

I added that if your blog is well done, potential employers will spot the bottom-line value as quickly as they spot the book of business you may bring. Each is a professional asset that may be touted and capitalized on.

Finally, I added that if electronically stored evidence has taught us anything, it is that (1) yes, all that data (including your drunk tweet) will “stay out there forever,” but (2) it is amazingly expensive to go back years and years and years to locate a single tweet or a single Facebook post or a single screen-shotted Snapchat. An employer may not care to do that with an associate attorney applicant. I believe the media stories are largely a bunch of scare-tactic B.S. Then again, your mileage may vary.

Aside from the occasional hiring partner who doesn’t have a clue how to read resumes and assess value.

But those audience questions linger in my mind. They lead me to re-assess the part of my presentations that explain the value prospect in blogging. For clearly, the challenges and media scare tactics faced by younger attorneys and law students require a new and different response.

Thank you again to Phi Alpha Delta and its Executive Director Andrew Sagan for the invite. I had a blast—and learned a lot.

asu bonn un climate change negotiations polar bear

The climate is changing, along with the increasing impressiveness of law students.

I recall law school as periods of intense work surrounding by longer stretches of incomprehensible reading, periodic nervous gazing at my checkbook register, and coffee. Much coffee.

So when I heard about another approach, I had to take notice.

This week and next, a group of ASU Law School students will be in Germany, where they will present their own research on climate change as it relates to the law and international agreements.

And while they’re doing this, they will blog.

ASU Professor Daniel Bodansky

ASU Professor Daniel Bodansky

Did I mention I was good at drinking coffee?

In any case, the students and their faculty members will be abroad from June 3 to June 14.

Here is how the law school’s own Janie Magruder describes the exploits of these talented people:

“A group of professors and students from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University will present their research on international legal regimes at a global climate change negotiation organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on June 3-14, in Bonn, Germany.”

“The law students—Daniel Crane, a May 2013 graduate, 3Ls Evan Singleton and Michael O’Boyle, and Ashley Votruba, a student in the J.D./Ph.D. Social Psychology program—will address participants on June 5. They will be accompanied by Professor Daniel Bodansky, the ASU Lincoln Professor of Law, Ethics, and Sustainability, and Daniel Rothenberg, a Professor of Practice in the ASU School of Politics and Global Studies, and the Lincoln Fellow for Ethics and International Human Rights Law.”

ASU Professor Daniel Rothenberg

ASU Professor Daniel Rothenberg

“The students’ work resulted from an independent research project this past spring, taught and supervised by Bodansky and Rothenberg, housed in the College of Law’s Center for Law and Global Affairs, and funded by the ASU Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. They were chosen from 20 applicants for ‘The Future of Climate Change Negotiations Project,’ during which they learned about the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and other elements of the larger effort to use international law and regulations to address global climate change.”

Both of those professors are amazing scholars, so I’m sure the students are getting the learning experience of a lifetime.

Read more about the trip here.

And as I said, they’ll be posting on a blog throughout their time in Germany. Why don’t you bookmark their page to keep tabs on them. Who knows; they may even allow comments and questions (giving us all a pen pal abroad!).

There may be no profession that does as much self-examination as legal education. And given the massive challenges it faces, who can begrudge them some navel-gazing?

Another introspective opportunity occurs this Wednesday, March 27, at the University of Arizona Law School. That is when an annual distinguished lecture will be delivered by Larry Kramer, President of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Previously, he served as Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School.

The title for his lecture? “The Past, Present, and Future of Legal Education” (he had me at future)

Larry Kramer will speak Wednesday on The Future of Legal Education (the past and present too)

Larry Kramer will speak Wednesday on The Future of Legal Education (the past and present too) (Photo by Norbert von der Groeben )

The lecture will be delivered on Wednesday, at 12:15 in the Ares Auditorium, Room 164.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required. When I checked the link Monday evening, there were still seats available. But don’t delay. Register here.

His bona fides for offering an educational prognosis are wide and deep. Here is how the school describes the speaker:

“Before joining the Foundation, Mr. Kramer served from 2004 to 2012 as Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. During his tenure, he spearheaded significant educational reforms, pioneering a new model of multidisciplinary legal studies. He also enlarged the clinical education program to promote reflective lawyering, an approach that seeks to integrate theory and practice as well as encourage self-reflection, and revamped programs to foster a public service ethos. He further developed the international law program to support a growing emphasis on globalization in legal practice. His teaching and scholarly interests include American legal history, constitutional law, federalism, separation of powers, the federal courts, conflict of laws, and civil procedure.”

I would very much like to know what Dean Kramer has to say. Unfortunately, I will be Phoenix-bound that day. Therefore, if there is a lawyer or law student attending who would like to write a bylined story for the blog, let me know. It doesn’t have to be long—200 to 500 words could do the trick. But feel free to let your insight as a lawyer or law student shine. Let us especially know about that third part of his lecture: regarding the future.

Interested? Comment below, or write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Rehnquist Center banner logoSo far, my overscheduled Tuesday looks like it won’t accommodate a trip south to Tucson. And that’s really too bad. (Well, that’s too bad most any day, but it’s especially the case on February 26.)

The reason I’d like to drop by the University of Arizona Law School is to attend an oral argument—before the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, of all legal bodies.

Here is how the Court describes itself and its civilian judges:

“The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces exercises worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Court is composed of five civilian judges appointed for 15-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.”

Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces sealThe Rehnquist Center at the law school has announced the morning event, during which law students will have the opportunity to argue; those same students have already filed an amicus brief in the case.

The Center says that the Court has never traveled to Tucson. But if that’s not enough of a draw, here are the case facts:

“GCM conviction of possession of child pornography, larceny of military property and filing a false claim. Granted issues question (1) whether the military judge abused his discretion when he failed to suppress evidence of child pornography discovered on Appellant’s personal computer in the course of an unreasonable search conducted to find contraband after Appellant was wounded in Iraq and medically evacuated to the United States; and (2) whether the Army Court erred in creating a new exception to the Fourth Amendment when it held that the Government’s search of Appellant’s personal computer was reasonable because the Government was not ‘certain’ or ‘absolutely clear’ that it would be returned to the wounded-warrior Appellant.”

From where I sit, that is a fascinating Fourth Amendment question. (Although didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court this past Term examine a question related to privacy rights on a school computer that could possibly be returned to the employer? What case was that? Anyone?) (Recently, Canada’s Supreme Court took the view that folks do have some measure of privacy, even on their work-issued computer. O Canada.)

More information about the Tuesday morning arguments is here. Included among the detail are the argument briefs (in PDF).

law-schoolAmidst a week that is filled with law school events, I was pleased to read a blog post that explores the “top websites for law students.”

Whether your law school days are current, recent or receding into the mists of time, let me know what you think of these choices.

The post itself appears on The Student Appeal, who describe themselves thusly:

“The Student Appeal is an online law journal that publishes legal articles and editorials discussing law and policy issues, law school, and different legal careers available to JDs. We welcome submissions from all members of the legal community, American and international.”

For more information, see their Submission page.

I’ve noted the site before. If you—law students or lawyers—are seeking a great outlet for your own writing, you should consider The Student Appeal.

The Creative Arts Competition deadline approaches!In just under a week, all submissions to the annual Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition are due. All of them. So get painting, writing, composing, shooting or whatever else gets your creative juices flowing. Bring it.

Just to be clear: All submissions must be received by us by the end of Tuesday, January 15. I’d love to get them by the end of the business day, but I long ago stopped arguing with lawyers over when the “day” “ends.” But I assure you, a stiff drink and I do check at midnight as the 15th turns to the 16th to see what’s arrived.

As always, winners will be published in our amazing spring issue, which features the work of remarkably talented lawyers.

Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition ad 2013 cropped

Here are the categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry; Humor; Photography; Painting/Drawing; Sculpture; Music (original compositions and covers)

All submissions must be e-mailed here: ArtsContest@azbar.org

Questions? Click here to read the complete rules, or contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

To see the great work that took the prize(s) last year, go here.

So there is still time. Set aside all of that law work, tell your partners to chill, set your cellphone to vibrate, and get to work. Email us a submission or two. You—and our readers, I’m sure—will be glad you did.

Here’s looking to another great competition.

The Risk game, an edu-taining endeavor

Risk, an edu-taining endeavor

In my way-back time-machine, I have to thank a board game for raising my geography quotient at least a little.

It was in marathon games of Risk at the dining room table that I (and the rest of my family, I’m sure) learned much about the world’s nation-states. Sure, there was as much disinformation as there was information in the game, but I do recall my 9-year-old reaction to coming across places like Mongolia, Yakutsk and Kamchatka. “Cool” only begins to describe it.

After that, the countries of northern Asia larger slipped under my radar. But then this year, I’m seeing Mongolia more and more.

Ian Neale

Ian Neale

For instance, Arizona lawyer Ian Neale spoke with me about a variety of nations, including Mongolia. Neale participates in a global program that places experienced lawyers in law schools around the world. One of his posts was Mongolia, which appears to be a place ripe with opportunity.

You can read our April 2012 story about Neale here (and some of his photos are in the slideshow at the bottom).

And then this week, the law school at the University of Arizona announced a new dual-degree program that involves Mongolia:

“The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona and the National University of Mongolia School of Law in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, have created a dual-degree partnership, recently formalized in a memorandum of understanding signed by the two schools.”

“The agreement allows students from the National University of Mongolia School of Law (NUM) to earn both a Mongolian law degree and a J.D. from Arizona Law in two years less than it would take to earn those degrees separately.”

The press release goes on to say that two students from Mongolia are already attending the UA Law School, courtesy of a scholarship from law firm Mahoney Liotta LLC.

University of Arizona Law School logo(Read the complete release here.)

I have to tip my hat to the law school and to Ian Neale. I mean, the game of Risk is great and all, but a decidedly less warlike stance to nations is even more welcome.

What other international locales do you think will be sites of legal opportunity in the next decade?

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