In the February issue of Arizona Attorney, we will publish remarks delivered by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton at the dedication of the nation’s first Bill of Rights Monument.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks at Bill of Rights Monument dedication, Dec. 15, 2012

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks at Bill of Rights Monument dedication, Dec. 15, 2012

One of the reasons is that over the past year, we’ve covered the run-up to the monument, so it’s great to let you know the monoliths are finally in the ground.

But the bigger reason is that his words were well chosen and rather inspiring. Of course, you may disagree. But that’s the thing about inspiration: One listener’s wow is another’s woe.

Here is some of what the Mayor said:

“We risk shortchanging ourselves and posterity when we regard the Constitution as a closed book from which no further new insight is possible. Our flexible foundation for interpreting the Constitution has made our great country the strongest and oldest continuous democracy in the world.”

“The Founders’ genius lies not in a pretension to clairvoyant understanding of their thoughts at the time the Constitution was drafted. It lies in the Founders’ intent that we would apply common-sense understanding of whom We the People are, our shared history, and our shared aspirations. The Constitution is not a dead text that we mechanically recite. It is a mirror in which our better selves are reflected.”

“These stone monuments commemorating the Bill of Rights are magnificent. They are a fitting memorial for the real thing. But the real thing is not a stone. The real thing is a living Constitution that gives hope to the United States and the rest of the world, for today and the future.”

Ninth Amendment monolith unveiled by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

Ninth Amendment monolith unveiled by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

His words came to mind the other day as I read a blog post by lawyer Melinda Hightower. In it, she provided three videos that “help you rediscover your passion for law.”

Her selections are inspired, but you and I may have selected differently. She anticipates that when she asks her readers to offer their own favorite speeches. OK, I thought; let me think about it.

My first inclination was to watch a clip from My Cousin Vinny. (I know: It’s a cry for help.) But I suspect she meant a speech on a more serious plane. So although they were more recent and did not influence my decision to go to law school, I offer two. The first, recent, one is Mayor Stanton’s remarks.

The second speech is one that was uttered by Morris Dees, lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He delivered the McCormick Lecture at UA Law School recently, but I point you to “Morris Dees: With Justice for All,” the video version of a speech he delivered at Grinnell College. Here it is.

So let me repeat Melinda Hightower’s excellent question: “What speeches have inspired you to pursue your interest in law?” What speeches would you recommend to others?

Morris Dees

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s not too early to note that the end of this week will be all Tucson, all the time (not literally true, of course, but give me a little poetic license).

What the week features are two great events at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

This Thursday is the J. Byron McCormick Society for Law and Public Affairs Lecture. It will be delivered this year by Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Registration for the event (from 5:30 to 6:30 pm) is now closed. But the law school says:

“The Ares Auditorium (Room 164) is full and reservations are no longer being taken, but a live videostream of the lecture may be viewed in Room 160. Any seats available in the Auditorium will be filled just prior to the start of the lecture from those in the videostream room on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, the lecture will be available on our website at this URL shortly afterwards.”

I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Dees before, and I’m confident it will be a terrific lecture.

After the lecture, there will probably be some chatting and maybe a cheese-and-cracker or two. But is anyone getting dinner afterward? Let me know at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll be getting a bite before driving back to Phoenix.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday, November 10, the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy hosts an event titled “Can Arizona Become Solar Powered?” It runs from 8:30-10:30 am (yes, a.m., I guess going along with the sun-comes-up theme), and more information is here.

Not sure what the Journal is? Here’s how they describe themselves:

The Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy (AJELP) is an interdisciplinary online publication that examines environmental issues from legal, scientific, economic, and public policy perspectives. Our student-run journal publishes articles on a rolling basis with the intention of providing timely legal and policy updates of interest to the environmental community. We believe that the form of an article or written work should follow the author’s research, thinking, and style, and our editorial staff strives to help authors refine their work and make it accessible to our broad and growing reader base.”

It’s also worth noting that the Journal recently created a brand-new website. Again, as they describe it:

“Gone are the days of simply grabbing a journal off the shelf or Westlaw. AJELP’s new format allows readers to do more than just read timely legal scholarship. Readers are invited to discuss their thoughts about articles in the comments section, share articles in their favorite social media communities, and engage AJELP members in the blog. Another exciting new feature is the Synthesis section where Associate Editors manage and provide information on topics from climate change to biodiveristy. We are proud to be a truly dynamic law journal!”

Read it—and bookmark it—here. See you on Thursday.

Morris Dees

This week in Chicago, the American Bar Association hosted its annual convention. And among those who were honored by the national lawyers group was Morris Dees. He received the ABA Medal, its highest award.

I got the chance to meet Dees in 2005, when he was the keynote speaker at the annual State Bar of Arizona Convention. He spoke eloquently about the hard work of civil rights litigation. It was an impressive appearance.

After he left the stage, I wrangled 20 minutes from him before he could dart to the airport. He has been involved in remarkable and sometimes dreadful chapters in American civil rights history. But scratch the surface of anyone who is doing real good in the legal profession, though, and you come up with the identical foundation: hard work, long hours and a commitment to ideals. In other words, he was like many other great lawyers I’ve known.

Here is my Q&A with Morris Dees.

What really pleased me was hearing about his non-legal beginnings, when he and Millard Fuller, his co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, were direct-mail experts. Turns out, that’s a perfect training ground for people who listen to clients’ needs and try to solve their problems.

Click here for a video from the ABA, commemorating Dees’s award (Dees starts talking at 6:30). Congratulations.

And here is more on the award and on Morris Dees from the ABA.

Morris Dees receives the ABA Medal, August 7, 2012.

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