On June 5, a panel of four corporate counsel addressed the challenges of diversity and inclusion that are faced by the legal profession.

The event, hosted at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, was sponsored by the Arizona Collaborative Bar, the South Asian Bar Association of Arizona, the Iranian American Bar Association, and the State Bar of Arizona.

The attorney–panelists were:

  • Sharad Desai, Litigation Counsel, Honeywell International Inc.
  • Maacah Scott, Staff Counsel Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Art Lee, Deputy General Counsel, University of Arizona
  • Ashley Kasarjian, Senior Corporate Counsel – Employment, Republic Services

Greg Gautam, a partner in Snell’s Phoenix office, moderated the discussion.

Among the questions posed:

  • How do the employers ensure they are reaching and identifying diverse candidates?
  • Why does your firm value diversity and inclusion? Does it start with your top executive?
  • How do you support lawyers who are parents?
  • How do you address the unconscious biases we all have?
  • What efforts does your firm make to mentor young lawyers?

Surrounded by an audience of more than 50 attorneys who attended this lunch-hour session, panelists warmed to the topics.

Desai described his company’s commitment to providing secondment opportunities – which is how he originally joined Honeywell. And Kasarjian stressed the value of holding multiple panel interviews to ensure that a candidate interacts with a broad swath of current employees.

Scott acknowledged that inclusion is a slow process – which may appear not to be advancing well in the profession. She pointed out that mindfulness about these issues is important. For instance, using non-gender-neutral language, even accidentally, sends a negative signal to listeners and slows progress.

Interactions like that occur far too often, panelists said.

“If you find yourself in a place with a lack of diversity,” Kasarjian said, “it’s not your fault. But it is your problem.”

And unconscious bias puts those on the receiving end at a disadvantage – a “different starting point that you have to explain yourself out of,” said Kasarjian. Desai recommended everyone take one of the many available Implicit Association Tests. “Acceptance [that biases are real] is the critical step. You then can begin to negate them.”

Panelists also spoke about how everyone in an organization can be an ally for diversity.

Art Lee offered advice to diverse lawyers: Reach out widely to a broad group of attorneys for ideas and mentorship. There will be lawyers in that group who may be extremely helpful on your path.

Scott agreed and urged lawyers to “recognize allies who may not be diverse.”

Kasarjian recalled the words of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she visited Arizona in 2017. It may be difficult to do, the Supreme Court jurist said, but we all must work to advance those people who may be different from us. “People who may not be walking your path” may still bring phenomenal value to the profession and to your workplace. And both the profession and your organization suffer if that talent is not nurtured and included.

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State Bar of Arizona sexual harassment seminar 05-09-18 image 1

Next Wednesday, May 9, a free seminar offered by the State Bar of Arizona examines the timely issue of sexual harassment. Called “Changing the Conversations,” it will include lawyers, judges and other experts discussing workplace environments and culture and the associated behaviors we all have grown too familiar with in media reports.

The Bar adds, “The program is not intended to offer CLE credit as it will address sexual harassment as a workplace culture issue instead of a legal issue, and therefore has not been developed with MCLE rules in mind. It is available as a service to the legal community.”

The event will be offered in person at the Bar’s CLE Center, and as a webcast. It is free but registration is required. Click here for more information and to register.

Here is the seminar faculty:

  • Chief Justice Scott Bales, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Margaret H. Downie (ret.), AZ Commission on Judicial Conduct
  • Hon. B. Don Taylor III, Chief Presiding Judge, Phoenix Municipal Court
  • Denise M. Blommel, Denise M. Blommel PLLC
  • Samara Cerven, Psy.D.
  • Don Decker, President, InReach
  • Kim Demarchi, Partner, Osborn Maledon PA
  • John F. Phelps, CEO/Executive Director, State Bar of Arizona
  • Barry G. Stratford, Perkins Coie LLP

State Bar of Arizona sexual harassment seminar 05-09-18 image 3

This spring, the Bar also distributed a member survey regarding their experiences with sexual harassment – to which almost 2,000 Bar members responded. Among other findings, 71.4 percent of women respondents indicated they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Overall, 43 percent of respondents indicated the same.

Arizona Attorney Magazine will cover the survey and its results in the September issue.

State Bar of Arizona Find a Lawyer logo

Imagine a way to assist consumers in locating an attorney – at the widest possible range of price points – and doing so in a way that helps lawyers obtain clients and develop their law practice.

That imaginative effort culminates today in the launch of web portal Find-a-Lawyer by the State Bar of Arizona.

How appropriate that the launch is on Law Day – an annual event that celebrates the role of law in society.

According to the State Bar, more than 8,000 Arizona lawyers have already updated their online profiles – which means they will receive matches with potential clients who post in the new tool that they are seeking legal assistance.

A first of its kind, the Find-a-Lawyer website allows consumers to control the process of finding and hiring an attorney through a safe and reliable platform. Find-a-Lawyer is accessible through smartphones, tablets and desktop computers via azbar.org to find legal help in three easy steps:

  • Summarizing their legal need Consumers will post their legal needs anonymously, quickly and for free. They will also choose what they can afford to pay.
  • Receiving emails from lawyers Lawyers who are interested in working on the consumer’s legal project will contact the consumer via email.
  • Review and Select a Lawyer Consumers will review emails from lawyers and will then select the lawyer who best fits their needs.

What follows is some more background about Find-a-Lawyer.

Facing a legal problem can be intimidating. Hiring a lawyer shouldn’t be. That’s why the State Bar of Arizona has created a new online tool to connect consumers with lawyers that’s free and easy. The new Find-a-Lawyer puts consumers in control.

According to a 2017 legal trends report, the most common way consumers find lawyers is through a referral. A friend or family member may recommend someone. But, what if no one in your circle knows a lawyer? What if that lawyer isn’t practicing in the right area?

The new Find-a-Lawyer gives consumers the ability to find lawyers in a safe and stress-free way.

How does it work?

State Bar of Arizona Find a Lawyer screenshot

Consumers start by going to the State Bar’s website, AZBar.org. Next, they’ll click on the Find-a-Lawyer button. They can then start the process of finding a lawyer. They’ll have the chance to post a brief summary of their problem and choose a practice area like bankruptcy or divorce.

Next, they’ll have the option of saying how much they can afford. They can choose low, medium or high. But the website makes it clear that the amount paid likely affects the amount of experience. As with many other professions, the more the consumer is willing to pay, the greater the level of expertise they’ll receive.

A 2014 research project done by the Texas A&M University School of Law found that providing legal services for people with lower incomes is an area of great concern. It pointed out that while more than 81 million households earned less than the median income of $51,017 in 2012, many of these individuals made too much to qualify for free legal services. The new Find-a-Lawyer will give people in lower incomes the ability to find the right lawyer at the right price.

Once the legal project is posted, Arizona lawyers who practice in that area of law will get an email about the case. They can respond to the consumer with information about how they can help, including information about price. If the consumer gets multiple responses, they can choose which lawyer will meet their needs.

People who have limited financial means can also post cases. They’ll be asked to provide information about their income and the number of people in their home. Lawyers willing to help can contact the individuals directly, although it’s important to point out there are only a limited number of free cases handled each year.

While lawyers will pay an annual fee to respond to cases, there is no charge per case and no fee splitting. That potentially means lower costs to the consumer.

Find-a-Lawyer can be easily accessed by smartphones, tablets and desktop computers, making it a next-generation tool. It makes the process of hiring an attorney painless and puts the consumer in control.

To learn more just go to AZBar.org and click Find-a-Lawyer.

ASU Arizona State Law Journal logo USE THIS

The Arizona State Law Journal hosts its annual banquet on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Jennings Strouss general counsel Scott Rhodes will be honored at the annual Arizona State Law Journal 2018 Awards Banquet. It will be held on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, from 5:30 to 9:00 pm. The banquet will be held in Room 544 of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix, 111. E. Taylor Street.

Rhodes will receive the 2018 John S. Lancy Distinguished Alumni Award. Other outstanding members, as well as Executive Board members, also will be recognized.

John S. Lancy was the Law Journal’s first Editor-in-Chief in 1969–1970, selected by the Faculty Board of Editors. He also was a member of the founding class of what was then the ASU College of Law. He had a successful legal career that included a Ninth Circuit clerkship, service as an airline in-house counsel, and private practice at Quarles Brady Streich Lang. In 2001, he died at age 56 after battling brain cancer for 20 months.

The award named for Lancy is presented to “Journal alumni who have demonstrated a standard of selfless integrity, humility, and charity in the legal field that warrants the recognition and acclaim of their peers.” (More detail here.)

Tickets to the event – and sponsorship opportunities – are available here.

Currently, event sponsors are: Jennings Strouss; Dickinson Wright PLLC; Gammage & Burnham; JDA Software, Inc.; Quarles & Brady LLP; Ryley Carlock & Applewhite; Bowman and Brooke LLP; Fennemore Craig; Gammage & Burnham; Lubin & Enoch PC; Perkins Coie; Polsinelli; and Snell & Wilmer LLP.

Attorney Scott Rhodes accepting the 2010 State Bar Member of the Year Award.

Attorney Scott Rhodes accepting the 2010 State Bar Member of the Year Award.

You can read more about Scott Rhodes here. The State Bar of Arizona selected the attorney – AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell – as a 2010 Member of the Year.

The Arizona State Law Journal is the law school’s primary scholarly publication. It is student-run, comprised of 35 Staff Writers (2Ls) and 31 Editors (3Ls).

 

Fred Korematsu Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao

Fred Korematsu Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao

In honor of a new day of remembrance in Arizona, all are invited to an event in one week celebrating the life and achievements of Fred T. Korematsu.

On Tuesday, January 30, the Arizona Asian American Bar Association hosts a reception honoring the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.” It will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at District American Kitchen in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 340 N. 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004.

The event is free and open to all, but an RSVP is requested. Write to Thomas Chiang at tchiang8@gmail.com

The honor and event are possible because Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proclaimed Tuesday, January 30, 2018 to be Fred T. Korematsu Day in Arizona. At the reception, the AAABA board will present the proclamation to Fred’s son, Ken – a well-known speaker on the Supreme Court case United States v. Korematsu.

According to the Fred Korematsu Institute, Arizona is the seventh state to declare this day of commemoration by proclamation. Four others – the first being California – established the day in perpetuity via legislation.

In case you know little about the matters that underlie that case, here is information from event organizers and those who advocated for the commemoration:

The following gives a short background on Fred T. Korematsu and the Japanese Internment Camps in Arizona. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. EO 9066 authorized internment camps for people, including American-born citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry. Approximately 3,200 resident aliens of Italian descent were arrested and more than 300 were interned. Approximately 11,000 persons of German descent were arrested and more than 5,000 were interned. Some of the persons of German descent were American citizens.

Japanese Americans in the Western Defense Area were ordered to report in much larger numbers. More than 121,000 people of Japanese descent were interned. Two-thirds were American born citizens. One fourth of those interned – more than 30,000 of the Japanese Americans – were moved from California and interned in Arizona. More than 13,000 were interned near Phoenix on the Gila River Indian Reservation, and more than 17,000 were interned at the Poston Relocation Center on the Colorado River Indian Tribe Reservation. The camps were opened in 1942 and closed in 1946.

Fred T. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fred T. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fred T. Korematsu was one of the many American-born citizens ordered to report to internment camps. He refused – and was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for his refusal. In a landmark decision, six of President Roosevelt’s eight appointees to the United States Supreme Court upheld Mr. Korematsu’s conviction, which stood until 1983. See Korematsu v. U.S., 324 U.S. 885 (1945). Almost 40 years later, a federal judge ruled that in 1945, the government’s lawyers knowingly gave false information to the Supreme Court. Because the false information had a material impact on the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling, Mr. Korematsu’s conviction was vacated by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco. See Korematsu v. U.S., 584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984).

Judge Patel’s ruling cleared Korematsu’s name, but was incapable of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision.

Fred Korematsu was able to testify at that hearing:

“I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color. … If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people.”

Peter Irons described Korematsu’s ending statement during the case as the most powerful statement he’d ever heard from anyone. He found the statement as empowering as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to Korematsu in 1998.

You may recall that Google recognized Fred Korematsu Day in 2017 with its “Google Doodle” by artist Sophie Diao. It featured Korematsu wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, internment camps at his back, while surrounded by cherry blossoms – flowers that have come to be symbols of peace and friendship between the US and Japan.

News from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez, Public Relations Manager at the State Bar of Arizona:

sba_logo_color State Bar of ArizonaThe State Bar of Arizona and ABC15 held the year’s first Let Joe Know, Ask a Lawyer Phone Bank on Wednesday, January 10. This new partnership between the Bar and ABC15 is proving to be a valuable resource for our community as volunteer lawyers answered an impressive 166 calls during the two-hour phone bank focused on family law.

The Bar’s role as a partner and organizer of the phone bank is to help connect ABC15 viewers, and the community at large, with licensed attorneys for sound legal advice.

ABC15 logo

The following is a brief recap of the phone bank:

 Nine attorneys volunteered at the 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. event:

  • Angela Duhon, Duhon Law
  • Rachel Frazier Johnson, Rachel Frazier Johnson Law
  • Paul A. Jozef, Center for Complete Communication
  • Diana K. March, Law Offices of March & March
  • Robert A. March, Law Offices of March & March
  • Sonia Martinez, Law Office of Sonia Martinez
  • Ashley B. Rahaman, Stewart Law Group
  • Daniel A. Rodriguez, Law Office of Daniel A. Rodriguez
  • Billie Tarascio, Modern Law
Joe Ducey of ABC15's Let Joe Know program

Joe Ducey of ABC15’s Let Joe Know program

ABC15’s Joe Ducey used his Let Joe Know Facebook page to promote the phone bank and encouraged social media enthusiasts to ask their questions during his live broadcast. He also had lawyers answer their questions during the newscast. An additional 14 consumers were helped via social media.

The Bar thanks the attorney volunteers for committing their time and expertise to consumers through this access to justice program. And it thanks ABC15 for its continued partnership with the Bar, which provides this valuable program to its viewers.

Click here for quick video recap.

Trying play at Theatre Artists Studio

Many items may fill an attorney’s bucket list, but having a compelling play written about them and their work? Unlikely. Law practice may be many things, but most of its dramas are small, interior, and unsung.

Exceptions exist, of course, and Theatre Artists Studio of Scottsdale – a member organization of actors, playwrights, directors, producers and designers – seems to have found one in the life of Francis Biddle.

If his name rings no bells – it did not for me – that’s a shame, for his contributions were great. He served as the U.S. Solicitor General in 1940 and soon was appointed the Attorney General in 1941. He served in that role through the tumultuous years of World War II.

Following the war, President Truman appointed Biddle as a judge at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremburg – where former Nazi officers and others were tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

trying play francis biddle

Francis Biddle

Those posts, alone, make Biddle an important part of U.S. and world history. But they may not necessarily yield great theatre. Fortunately, there’s more to the story.

That story comes to us from playwright Joanna McClelland Glass, who relates her own life’s tale of being the personal secretary to an aging Biddle. “Trying” to write his autobiography, Biddle fears he will be unable to complete the work before his impending death. Along the way, the “brilliant and irascible” man makes life challenging – trying – for his young secretary, only recently arrived from the plains of Saskatchewan. The play promises to let audiences watch the two as they are trying to complete his memoir and to understand each other.

Actors Alan Austin and Vanessa Benjamin in

Actors Alan Austin and Vanessa Benjamin in “Trying,” Theatre Artists Studio

Biddle was accomplished as an attorney, judge and author of numerous books. But his renown comes mainly from his work as the Chief Judge at Nuremberg, and for his prior response to the incarceration of Japanese Americans – many of whom were citizens – during World War II.

Remember, he was America’s top legal officer at the time, so a close examination of his actions are warranted. He is said to have personally opposed the wholesale internment of nearly 120,000 people – especially given the results of FBI investigations that revealed no looming plot that these people were engaged in.

Nonetheless, despite his own misgivings and the protests of others like Assistant to the A.G. James Rowe Jr., Biddle ultimately acquiesced to the mounting pressure. The War Department wanted large areas of the western states turned into zones that permitted suspension of the writ of habeas corpus – and Biddle agreed. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942.

The documentary evidence is fascinating. You can read Biddle’s memo, and others’, here. It may have been small consolation in Biddle’s later years – and absolutely no consolation to incarcerated citizens – that he always regretted his decision.

Which makes the play’s title all the more evocative.

“Trying” opens tonight, Friday, January 12, and runs through February 4. It features Studio Member Alan Austin as Francis Biddle and guest artist Vanessa Benjamin as Sarah. Produced by Walt Pedano with direction by Judy Rollings.

Show times are Friday & Saturday nights at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm for all productions. The theatre is at 4848 E. Cactus Rd, #406, Scottsdale, AZ 85254.

Tickets are available here or at the Box Office: 602-765-0120.

For more information, go here.

You can watch a video about the play below: