Arizona civil verdicts 2013 gavel

Are you curious to hear the stories behind the top Arizona civil verdicts of the past year? At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we covered the topic in our June cover story written, as always, by attorney Kelly MacHenry. But as they say, there’s always more to the story.

This Wednesday, August 27, you can hear Kelly explain what lay behind those significant jury verdicts; she’ll also cover punitive awards, defense verdicts and trends. I have seen her presentation over the years, and it offers helpful insight into what the jurors (and the lawyers) were thinking.

The event will be at The University Club, 39 E. Monte Vista Road, Phoenix, AZ 85004. The Arizona Women Lawyers Association event is $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers.

More information and registration are here.

Legal Marketing Association logoQ: What do you do when you’re standing between an eager audience and panelists with valuable content to share?

A: Speak little, and ask a few good questions.

That is the primary lesson I’ve learned the last few years when I’ve had the pleasure to moderate an annual roundtable of corporate counsel.

Sponsored by the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, this year’s panel, on Friday, September 20, will include four in-house counsel from a variety of public and private companies:

    • Sonny Cave, ON Semiconductor—Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer, and Corporate Secretary, Law Department
    • Christy Hubbard, PetSmart—Senior Counsel, Marketing, Operations and Services
    • Lisa Loo, Arizona State University—Deputy General Counsel
    • Todd Weiss, Cole Real Estate—Senior Vice President, Legal Services

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headline

The event always packs a room. (You can read more and register here.)

As I always do, I come to you now, Arizona’s legal community, to ask for your help as I prepare for the September 20 event. Here’s my query:

If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Post your suggestion(s) below, or send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And I hope to see you there.

Picture this.

No, I mean it: Picture this blog, not filled with streams of annoying words, but instead illustrating its main points in visual ways.

If you think you’re down with that, then we’re on the same page.

Understand, I’m all about the words. But I’ve been hankering for the past year for more pics and fewer verbal tics. And I have found infographics a terrific tool (maybe I just need a new reading prescription). And in Arizona Attorney Magazine, I’m trying to see where we can use infographics to good effect.

What is an infographic? You may have viewed them and not been familiar with the label. Here’s an example from the highly accomplished Bar Association of San Francisco:

Bar Association of San Francisco infographic

Cool, right?

And here is another shared by Association Media & Publishing:

infographic AMP Association Media and Publishing

Recently, I’ve engaged in a dialogue with a great member of the magazine’s Editorial Board. She too is intrigued by the possible legal uses of infographics. Because she’s efficient, though, she didn’t just muse on it. Instead, Ashley Kasarjian created one, and she’s on her way to creating others.

You may know Ashley as the author of the nationally recognized Employment and the Law Blog. And in her day job (oh, that), she’s an attorney at Snell & Wilmer.

Now, because we blog writers love us a little web-traffic, I’m not going to reprint Ashley’s whole infographic here. For that, you have to travel over here and give her a little SEO love. But here is a snippet of what she’s up to:

Ashley Kasarjian infographic

A portion of an infographic by Ashley Kasarjian

As you can surmise, she’s cooked up a Venn diagram of sorts (and who doesn’t love a Venn diagram?). So surf over to see the whole thing.

I happen to know that Ashley’s subsequent efforts are aimed at including even fewer words. Be still my heart!

(In fact, I will let you in on a little secret: Ashley has thrown down the gauntlet and suggested an infographic battle. I’ve accepted, naturally, but I may be in trouble, given that she’s already jumped in while I still simply ruminate. On the other hand, I’ve warned her that I am willing to include the ever-popular puppies and kittens; as a distinguished Snell attorney, she’s out of luck on that score! #winning)

But you may be unconvinced that such an accessible, concise and comprehensible tool has any place in the practice of law. Therefore, I urge you to set aside your reading of Bleak House and your admiration of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, while I share with you some reasons for you to embrace the brave new visual world.

So: Here are 5 reasons I learned to stop worrying and love the infographic:

1. Clients may love them, and they make your content more valuable to them.

Your background and experience likely mean that you have valuable content to share. And if you have a website (you do have a website, don’t you?), it may be brimming with content out the wazoo. But let’s be real; your mom may be reading it, but other people have higher standards. Why don’t you take some suggestions to make that content sing?

2. Your partners insist on depth, but they don’t read to the end of your memos either.

I am aware of the requirements of law practice; that 17-page brief on whether gravel should be regulated as a building material or a mineral had to be written. But your audience (even your partners) are yearning for the executive summary. What if that brief one-pager were fronted by an infographic setting out the rocky principles? Sure, you might get fired. But you’re a trailblazer.

Read here why simple = powerful, and why “Psychological research on cognitive fluency shows why easy to understand = more profitable, more pleasurable, more intelligent and safer.”

3. We’re all (even attorneys) visual thinkers.

That’s right, even you, with your Juris Doctorate, are likely a visual thinker. There may be some folks who think almost entirely in words, but scientists say they comprise only 25 percent of the population. (Cue the jokes to determine what practice area they’re in.) Want more evidence? (Of course you do, counselor.) Read this great essay about the power of visual thinking.

Or do you want that idea in a picture? (Yes? Now you’re getting the hang of it!). Here:

visual thinking a la postypography

Think about it: Which is mightier than which? (image by postypography)

4. Flowcharts work, especially when your mind doesn’t.

Do you remember law school? That was the place with all the words. Volumes of them. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to read 75 cases about wheat or chaff or something.

Do you remember your bar exam prep course? That was the place with pictures—or at least flowcharts. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to complete and then study a two-page chart that walked you through every possible permutation. Two pages, not volumes.

Close your eyes, and you may still remember those two pages. Close your eyes and think about the law school volumes. ZZZZZZZZZ.

But despite the evidence and our own experience, lawyers eschew images in favor of words. We know that Barbri (or whoever) saved our ass, but after that exam, we cozied up to words all over again.

Here’s an article that describes how valuable flowcharts can be. Read it, and then make one today.

5. Lawyers are creative, and many yearn to release a little art.

In case you missed it, I point you to a story we ran in Arizona Attorney recently. It’s about lawyers who were bit early by the art bug.

Read it and I bet you see a little of yourself there. You may not be a painter or author or sculptor. But infographics? It may be your milieu.

Want to get started? Here is a great collection of law-related infographics; they tend to be connected to personal injury practice, but let’s broaden our horizon to imag(in)e our own possibilities.

I’ll see you in the images.

Corporate Counsel panel discussion, Snell & Wilmer, Sept. 26, 2012

O in-house corporate counsel, how we yearn to know what’s in your heads.

That desire has long been held by lawyers and law firms. And in a tough economy, the yearning gets raised a few octaves more.

I wrote before about a recent corporate counsel panel discussion in Phoenix. There, we explored a number of topics. Of most interest to the assembled lawyers, though, were questions about how corporate counsel choose to hire—and fire—outside counsel.

An insightful article in the Harvard Business Review came to my attention (thanks to legal strategist Dee Schiavelli). In it, the author says that we’re in the age of the in-house counsel. He argues that they have eclipsed the powerful stature of the outside law firm.

For more evidence that our panel was on the right track, here is an article from the ABA Journal that explores “four reasons why general counsel fire their law firms.”

Intrigued, aren’t you? Let me know if there are reasons that the author fails to mention.

All fired up: Lawyer brain activity

Attendees gather for a Legal Marketing Association event featuring a panel of in-house corporate counsel, at Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Sept. 26, 2012.

This week, I get to interact with many communications and PR professionals, and that leads me to wonder: Could their best practices align quite a bit with those of lawyers?

That thought occurred to me as I prepared to moderate a Wednesday panel at Snell & Wilmer for the Legal Marketing Association. The panel was comprised of in-house corporate counsel, and the audience included both lawyers and communications folks.

It was a blast, and I continue to be impressed by the deep level of commitment and quality that emanates from the LMA. As I said in my opening remarks, their story pitches and sharing of information are what allow us to cover our beat well.

But story pitches—and lawyers—are much on my mind this week, mainly because of a panel I will sit on this Saturday.

The “8th Annual Publicity Summit” is co-hosted by the local chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America. (Could those organization names be a little more intimidating, please?) I’ve been in the SPJ for years, and I’ll be on a panel of magazine editors, writers and reporters.

Here is how the PRSA describes the event:

“Now is your chance to secure that challenging story you have been working on or meet face-to-face with your favorite media person. [Beat] Join PRSA Phoenix Chapter and Society of Professional Journalists for the 8th Annual Publicity Summit and the opportunity to network with peers, meet key members of the Phoenix media and get your stories placed. More than 20 of The Valley’s top journalists and reporters from various media outlets across multiple beats will be in attendance.”

You can find more information and registration pages online. (Registration may be closed by the time you click the second link.)

It will be in the downtown Phoenix ASU Cronkite Journalism school. Please stop by to say hi if you’re there.

If Saturday’s group could learn anything, they should hear from members of the LMA, who routinely impress me by how well they can educate the media about lawyers and their accomplishments.

So what will the journalists be telling the PR folks? What we love love love in story pitches—and, conversely, what may be less than effective when trying to get your content placed.

The lessons that will be explained on Saturday should help those communications professionals (and us media attendees who may get great pitches). But it occurred to me that they are the same lessons that lawyers should take to heart when connecting—either with magazines or with each other.

Here is some of what I’ll discuss at the SPJ event. What other lessons would you add?

  1. Learn before you call: Like most media outlets, our magazine is available online. Plus, my own material is available via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, our website, etc. Given that, opening with “So what do you do there?” or “What kind of stuff do you guys publish?” is the path toward a very short conversation. And that’s true for lawyer connections, too: Read all you can about someone before striving to make a connection.
  2. Read our stuff: This is related to the first point, but it’s worth being explicit. Lawyers and magazines have an awful lot of their record “out there,” and it’s available via the web. Using Google to spot significant verdicts that have gone their way (or not) will help make your ultimate conversation more informed (even if you don’t explicitly bring up that searing loss!).
  3. Connect where it makes sense: Sending blanket queries to everyone and her sister simply does not work. Story ideas should be tailored to the publication and its audience. Similarly, lawyers don’t cotton to outreach that looks to have all the individuality of a widget.
  4. Reveal yourself: When you reach out to someone, let him or her know something about you and/or what you represent. Be sure your email signature provides access to relevant information. And don’t hesitate to provide links to other content that you think will make your connection to the other person more sensible.

Here’s to valuable connections! Have a great weekend.

On Wednesday, I will moderate a panel discussion of in-house corporate counsel. Its title is “Corporate Counsel Panel: Key Insights for Attorneys and Marketing Professionals.”

The sponsor is the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. I had the opportunity to play the moderator role last year, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. This year, the LMA has invited four in-house counsel. They come from a variety of public and private companies.

As I’ve pointed out before, what is on the minds of general counsel is very much of interest to Arizona Attorney readers. Right after lawyer discipline and what judges are thinking, the decision-making by general counsel is a prime topic of interest. And no wonder: Companies purchase a huge amount of legal services every year, and the General Counsel is the one who picks the outside lawyer and firm to get the work.

Last year’s corporate counsel panel, Sept. 22, 2011 (photo by Diana Wright)

But as I prepare for Wednesday’s event, I have a question for you: If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Last year I asked the same question in advance of the event and was pleased at the responses.

Post your suggestion below, or send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

In case you missed it, here is our roundtable discussion from the 2011 panel, as it appeared in Arizona Attorney.

And if you haven’t registered yet, here is a link to Wednesday’s event.

Our December 2011 cover story

Ashley Kasarjian

Hats off and hands together today for a lawyer, blogger and colleague who’s been honored for her blogging prowess.

Ashley Kasarjian is a lawyer at Snell & Wilmer whose blog—Employment and the Law—was just named the top labor and employment law blog for 2011.

Appropriately, Ashley announced the news on her blog.

The honor comes from Lexis Nexis, which knows quite a bit about lawyers and communications tools. Here is their announcement. That page also lists the top 25 labor and employment blogs.

Besides her busy day job and shoehorning in an award-winning blog, Ashley is also a valuable member of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board. So that doubles my admiration.

The badge earned by Ashley

You’ll see this week that I’ve listed Ashley’s blog as the lead item in the magazine Blog Network. You can find it at the bottom of the AzAt News Center.

Now that you’ve bookmarked and/or subscribed to Ashley’s blog, you might choose to do the same with the News Center. It provides good stuff throughout the day, and it’s all curated right here at my desk.

And here’s one more step: If you want your blog listed, send me an email at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll get your content up there tout de suite. Or if you don’t blog yourself, feel free to suggest a blog for us to list. The more, the merrier.

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