law school

Is there any better morning than Monday’s to start an argument?

That’s why I wonder if you read an op-ed piece in last week’s New York Times. There, in “Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs,” attorney Steven J. Harper assesses what he sees as the continued sorry state of the economics underlying legal education.

NYT Harper essay on law schools illustration by Kevin Lucbert 08-25-15

Illustration by Kevin Lucbert in New York Times

Where do you stand on legal education? Is it still on a troubling path? Or has it located useful solutions? (If you don’t think there was a problem in the first place, well, I don’t know what to say to you.)

He opens with predictably dire statistics regarding the employment picture of law grads. Given all that, and a national wellspring of hand-wringing, the profession must have developed strategies to right the ship. Right?

Not quite, says Harper. Quite the opposite, in fact:

“Amazingly (and perversely), law schools have been able to continue to raise tuition while producing nearly twice as many graduates as the job market has been able to absorb. How is this possible? Why hasn’t the market corrected itself? The answer is that, for a given school, the availability of federal loans for law students has no connection to their poor post-graduation employment outcomes.”

He goes on to spread his critiques liberally. He has little good to say about an ABA task force charged with examining the pr­­oblem. At the end of the day, he says, the task force “dodged the issues that should have been the focus of its work.” And he draws a line between the task force’s mild-mannered assessment of the industry and the man who headed the committee: former ABA President Dennis Archer, “the former mayor of Detroit, who is also head of the national policy board of Infilaw, a private equity-owned consortium of three for-profit law schools—Arizona Summit, Charlotte and Florida Coastal. These schools are examples of the larger problem.”

OK, he’s called out one of the three Arizona law schools, so I imagine I’ll hear some grumbling now.

Before writing me in anger or joy, read Harper’s complete piece here. And tell me what you think.

nnaba National Native American Bar Association logo

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure to meet with Mary Smith, lawyer and Immediate Past President of the National Native American Bar Association.

The specific reason we met was to tape a CLE Snippet, “a unique opportunity to hear directly from the author of an article in the upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine.”

The topic of our conversation: a recent groundbreaking survey of Native American lawyers, available here.

Last April, I attended the annual Indian Law Conference of the Federal Bar Association, held in Scottsdale. There were some terrific panels, but I was particularly interested in a report about the first-ever survey of Native attorneys.

Panelists for April 9, 2015, “Strength in Numbers: Native Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice,” L to R: Helen B. Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center, Inc.; Mary L. Smith, Special Counsel and Estate Trust Officer, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver, and then-President, National Native American Bar Association; Dr. Arin Reeves, CEO, President, Nextions; Makalika Naholowaa, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation; and Francine M. Jaramillo, Staff Attorney, American Indian Law Center, Inc. (Photo by Federal Bar Association)

Panelists for April 9, 2015, “Strength in Numbers: Native Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice,” L to R: Helen B. Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center, Inc.; Mary L. Smith, Special Counsel and Estate Trust Officer, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver, and then-President, National Native American Bar Association; Dr. Arin Reeves, CEO, President, Nextions; Makalika Naholowaa, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation; and Francine M. Jaramillo, Staff Attorney, American Indian Law Center, Inc. (Photo by Federal Bar Association)

Mary presented on the survey along with a great panel. The early reports about the survey were that it explored subjects that previously have been shared openly too little. The ultimate survey results more than bore that out. At the conference and afterward, I spoke with Mary about sharing a summary of the results in Arizona Attorney. She kindly agreed, and her article is in the September magazine.

When we met, Mary was kind enough to indulge our tradition of a photo:

Attorney Mary Smith and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo, August 25, 2015.

Attorney Mary Smith and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo, August 25, 2015.

In my videotaped dialogue with Mary Smith, I mentioned how impressed I was with the survey. Not only was the survey smart and the responses candid; the report also folded in numerous personal stories and compelling sidebars. I recommend the survey to anyone interested in improving the legal profession or in launching and reporting on survey results.

The videotape will be available here after September 1. I hope a few of you get to watch it, as well as the article on the topic in the September Arizona Attorney Magazine.

September 2015 Arizona Attorney: JAG lawyers stand in front of F-35 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Photo by Karen Shell)

September 2015 Arizona Attorney: JAG lawyers stand in front of F-35 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Photo by Karen Shell)

Today I’m pleased to preview an article on lawyers who serve at Luke Air Force Base. It’ll be in the September issue of Arizona Attorney, and it’s quite a feature.

Written by attorney and JAG officer Rodney Glassman, it’s a complete picture of what goes into serving as an attorney in the Air Force. Adding to the story are the amazing photos, shot on location by photographer Karen Shell.

We’re always happy to feature photos of our Arizona lawyers. But equally exciting was the opportunity to include the new and path-breaking F-35 jet. It’s always nice to break news as well as sound barriers.

Our Luke AFB JAG opening spread (photo by Karen Shell)

Our Luke AFB JAG opening spread (photo by Karen Shell)

Thank you to Art Director Karen Holub for shepherding the photo shoot and for the story design. Here are some photos from the shoot. (Click to biggify.)

It was also fun, as always, to write headlines for our cover. As you can see, I ultimately opted for Gotta Jet. But my backup—and still a strong favorite—would have been Legal Zoom.

Get it? Yes, probably not as good and definitely more controversial.

The complete story is in the magazine mailed this week to readers. It will be available online September 1.

Art With Conviction logo

This Friday an art opening occurs in downtown Phoenix that displays the work of artists who are convicted felons. Art with Conviction is holding its first-ever Phoenix show at {9} The Gallery (1229 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85007).

One of the works to be displayed at the Art with Conviction show at 9 The Gallery, Aug. 28, 2015.

One of the works to be displayed at the Art with Conviction show at 9 The Gallery, Aug. 28, 2015.

Art with Conviction invites people for the event on August 28, which it describes as “a special evening celebrating humanity and the creative spirit of convicted felons, from 6 to 10 pm and August 29 during the gallery’s regular business hours (12 to 5 pm).”

Here is how the organization describes itself:

“Art With Conviction is a community project whose purpose is to allow people who have been labeled as ‘convicted felons’ to demonstrate to the community that they are more than just a criminal conviction. Instead, through their expression of passion and talent in their artwork, they can be viewed as being a contribution to our society, separate form their past. Art With Conviction was born out of a sense that a felony conviction should not mean a lifetime of stigmatization and harsh judgment as it so often does for so many people. The stigmatization too often results in challenges that are very difficult to overcome no matter how much good work an ex-offender puts between him/herself and the crime.”

You can read more about the event here and about the organization here.

I have written before about the power of art within correctional institutions, whether displayed at a Boston museum, via a university prison education-awareness club, or even by way of a convicted man’s imagining a different home.

If you are able to attend the opening at {9} The Gallery and send me your reactions, I’d appreciate it! Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Arizona Attorney Magazine July/August 2015 beards and mustaches facial hair

Before I move onto touting our September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine (which is pretty fantastic, if we do say so ourselves), I have to tip my hat to the July/August issue—specifically, our cover story on the wisdom of your witness having facial hair.

As the authors examine, beards and mustaches can be polarizing. And as you’d guess, there are good ways to do beards, and ways not to.

This past week, I strolled into my office’s lunchroom, where there is a small stack of magazines available for reading (even beyond AzAt; I know – I’m as surprised as you are!). That’s when I spotted a Men’s Fitness from this spring.

And what did I see? Facial hair everywhere. (Click to gigantify the bearded celebs.)

Clearly, a touch or more of scruffiness serves their readership. But even the hirsute magazine gave over a small area to muse in a piece titled “Old Growth: A Beard Can Age You Eight Years.”

Facial hair can age you: Hollywood's been warned.

Facial hair can age you: Hollywood’s been warned.

Ouch,” as the old folks say. Well, love facial hair or hate it, read up on this hairy subject in Arizona Attorney here. After all, our authors have combed through a thicket of research to get you answers.

By the way: We’ve had a good amount of fun this month featuring bearded famous folks on the magazine Facebook page. An example is below. Follow us for all the legal fun.

Yes, Arizona Attorney can get cheeky on its Facebook page. facial hair Nick Offerman

Yes, Arizona Attorney can get cheeky on its Facebook page.

the-future 2 road sign editorial calendar story ideasAs we head toward the end of August, I confront my annual challenge of writing an editorial calendar, this time for the magazine’s 2016.

Let’s get together, shall we?

As always, I benefit greatly from the insights of readers, who offer me ideas for content. Those ideas typically arise from:

  • New things happening in law practice
  • New niche practices that are growing
  • Crazy-important topics that legal publications have failed to cover in sufficient detail (or at all)

I’ve heard all such ideas, and following that, we really do strive to address those issues in the coming year.

So consider this an open invitation for your ideas, of all kinds. They are welcome anytime, but contacting me in the next few weeks would help ensure those ideas get into our formal editorial calendar. (Curious? You can see our 2015 calendar here.)

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

A sampling of all NABE's creatures, great and small. Pet Dog Cat

A sampling of all NABE’s creatures, great and small.

Gather enough battle-weary association communicators, and who knows what you’ll get?

Actually, we now know: #PetsofNABE (A link to the entire story via Storify is here.)

The hashtag idea arose at the annual meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives. At a luncheon banquet in the Chicago Hyatt Regency, more than a dozen folks shoehorned themselves around a table to discuss the NABE website—which we as a committee were charged to do.

Over the hour, we also chatted about the other NABE channels, including Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.

It was the Twitter that got us sidetracked. It’s always the Twitter.

I can’t (won’t) recall who first came up with the idea—though it would surprise no one if it turned out to be Kallie Donahoe and Sayre Happich of the Bar Association of San Francisco (just sayin’).

“What about a contest hashtag to engage people?” the chat began innocently enough. “Or what about just urging, I don’t know, pictures of your pets?”

Seminar-addled, the committee rapidly agreed to the experiment. We have the Twitter, we have the dogs (etc.), let’s get jiggy with it. Done. A hotel dessert has never tasted so sweet.

After that, I conveyed this hashtag notion to the NABE’s Web Editor, Brad Carr. Brad has been a legal association executive for decades, and therefore he: (1) has seen it all, and (2) is unflappable. Still, I thought he might be a tetch … flapped.

But no. He just listened and nodded (at least I think he nodded during our Arizona-Alabama phone call). On Friday morning, I awoke to the following tweet:

Would folks respond? Would they tear themselves away from their Friday duties to post their pets and to gaze lovingly at those of their colleagues?

I’m totally kidding right there. Of course they would.

As I mention in my Storify of the hashtag, #PetsofNABE may not have broken the Internet, but it did sneak onto its couch for a little bit.

The story exists here, but the hashtag lives. More animals are added all the time—and with it, the growing engagement of busy and talented people.

A serious tip of the hat to the pioneering Brad Carr and to the website committee that can’t stop ‘til it gets enough.

Have a wonderful—and pet-filled—weekend.

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