Maybe not what Toyota expected, the Scion xB proved to be a great family car. (As our younger daughter and a Christmas tree demonstrate.)

Maybe not what Toyota expected, the Scion xB proved to be a great family car. (As our younger daughter and a Christmas tree demonstrate.)

As you may already have heard, Toyota is ending its years-long experiment with the Scion brand. The cars remaining under that mark will be relabeled as Toyotas. And so ends the carmaker’s venture into a “youth brand.”

If that sounds like a Change of Venue Friday blog post that is pretty far afield from the legal, I agree. But I take the shuttering of Scion very personally, as my daily driver is a Scion xB. And I worry: Did I have something to do with the brand’s elimination? I mean, can the essence of a brand survive its users?

Let me explain.

Back in 2005, when our family bought the new car, we were impressed by its interior space and, yes, even its quirky look. Despite the critiques from armchair-engineer friends who noted the poor wind-resistance likely created by the car’s slab-faced visage, we were charmed by the appearance—and the car’s lightness and resulting quick response, especially with the manual transmission, made driving it a pleasure.

And so it remains today. (Yes, we keep our cars for quite a long time. Sorry to the durable-goods economy that relies on more frequent purchases.)

(Here is a slideshow detailing Scion through the years, and what I think have been some missteps as it sought to make the car more mainstream.)

Our Scion xB and I even survived a freeway-speed tire blowout. The solid little cube never swerved out of its lane.

Our Scion xB and I even survived a freeway-speed tire blowout. The solid little cube never swerved out of its lane.

But there were a few red flags that we were interlopers into a brand that was aimed at another demographic.

First, the base price was super-reasonable, but the amenities you could add on were pricy—and of no interest to us.

Gel lights to create a nighttime glow beneath your car? Um, no. Glowing rings to surround your cupholders and lend a club-vibe to your Ecstacy-filled experience? Thank you no thank you. Remove the rear seats entirely to fit in a couch-sized subwoofer? Nope.

We drove off the lot with a car that had no more than we needed—and that was probably more stripped down than the dealer had anticipated.

Meantime, we received even more reliable evidence that we were gatecrashers in Toyota’s rave/party line. A cousin of my wife is a longtime Toyota employee. Younger than us and working in California, even she opts to purchase from their Lexus line. Very grown up, you see.

So when she discovered we had bought an xB—and when she later saw us in it—she nearly wrinkled her nose at the cognitive dissonance. Her furrowed brow suggested that thousands of hours of focus-group focus were being squandered every time I slipped behind the wheel.

It’s true, she confirmed: That car was aimed at people decades younger (and probably cooler, though she didn’t say that part out loud).

All that came flooding back to me on February 3 when Toyota made its announcement. And I have to wonder if its finely wrought brand had been chipped away by drivers like me—outside the demographic but enamored of a speedy and peculiar car.

Scion is moving on. And I figure I’ve got 10 more years in ours. See you on the drift-track.

Have a fun—and boxy—weekend.

It's true: We passed on the Scion interior LED lights.

It’s true: We passed on the Scion interior LED lights.

Call it vellum, parchment, or (gulp) calfskin, the barn door is closing on the Parliamentary use of calfskin.

Call it vellum, parchment, or (gulp) calfskin, the barn door is closing on the Parliamentary use of calfskin.

You likely have not had your fill of vellum news stories this week. So here you go.

News from the U.K. tells us that Parliament—specifically the House of Lords—has voted to eliminate the use of vellum—calfskin—as the substance underlying its official Acts. Instead, they are shifting to archival-quality paper.

The New York Times story does an admirable job of describing the allocation of power between Lords and Commons—kind of like “I’m just a bill” for those of us wondering in the colonies.

And in this—the year of a major Magna Carta anniversary—it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the arguments of those who stand on the side of parchment. If only for their colorful language:

“James Gray, a Conservative member of the House of Commons, called the move a reckless breach of tradition and argued that inscribing laws on vellum conferred on them the dignity they deserved. ‘Vellum lasts 5,000 years, while there is no guarantee that electronic means of preserving documents will be there 1,000 years from now,’ he said in a phone interview on Wednesday, noting wryly that the once wildly popular floppy disk had long since been consigned to history’s dustbin.”

Nice point, that.

And then there’s the argument by the vellum-supplier:

“‘With vellum you can roll up a document and leave it on a shelf for 5,000 years. You can handle historic documents that were touched by great artists and kings,’ Paul Wright said. ‘Now they want to throw this tradition away. If early civilizations hadn’t used vellum, our understanding of history would be diddly-squat!’”

You may wonder how much money the move from parchment will save: $116,000 annually. Which tells us a few things: (1) That’s not much money, and (2) Those in Parliament are pikers when it comes to drafting legislation, for I’m pretty sure that the cost for calfskin for our own Congress’s productions would run into the many millions. That’s a lot of cattle.

Read the whole tale here.

Yes, that's Magna Carta, on vellum.

Yes, that’s Magna Carta, on vellum.

The current issue of San Diego Lawyer asks attorneys how they view differences between the legal generations.

The current issue of San Diego Lawyer asks attorneys how they view differences between the legal generations.

Last week, I was happy to be in San Diego, where I was attending some legal-related meetings. And as you may know, when I travel, I like to see what local legal organizations have on offer in the area of publications.

So that took me to the pages of the San Diego County Bar Association’s San Diego Lawyer. And much to my pleasure, their current issue features a panel discussion related to differences between generations, perceived and real. As the panel of lawyers was asked, Are lawyers from different generations really all that different?

The whole issue opens here. (The Q&A begins on page 7 and jumps to page 24.)

Or you can click into the whole issue below.

 

 

That great feature article reminded me of a Q&A on a related topic we did back in 2008. Our September 2008 roundtable gathered the youngest and oldest Arizona lawyers in a room and asked them to talk about their challenges.

Attorney Tony Jones speaks at our 2008 roundtable that gathered Arizona's youngest and oldest lawyers.

Attorney Tony Jones speaks at our 2008 roundtable that gathered Arizona’s youngest and oldest lawyers.

I haven’t hosted a roundtable in a while. If I did plan one or more in the coming year, what topics would you like to see covered? In the past, I’ve covered, among others, topics like digital courts, solo lawyers, public lawyers, attorneys with disabilities, lawyer advertising, and lawyers in media/news.

The world’s your oyster! Let me know at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Civil discovery rule changes described by @swlaw attorney

“No (More) Fishing” may be one way to describe changes to federal discovery rules.

­­As you likely know, important changes were recently made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including changes in the discovery realm, captured in Rule 26.

In late January, Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein wrote about the amendments, particularly in regard to environmental and natural resource litigation.

He is some of what he said in his well-written blog post:

“Previously, parties were entitled to conduct discovery regarding anything that might be ‘reasonably calculated’ to lead to relevant and admissible evidence. In practice, this led to some parties deposing witnesses and subpoenaing documents with only a tenuous relationship to the real issues of the case. This kind of behavior caused significant costs and delays in litigation.”

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

“In environmental and national resource litigation, abusive discovery conduct typically results from parties without any real evidence looking for some (fishing expeditions), deep-pocketed parties trying to overwhelm their adversaries under a pile of documents and/or multiple and lengthy depositions, or parties who have no real idea what they were doing and are trying to figure it out along the way.”

“The new rule now requires an analysis of ‘proportionality.’ Rather than seeking everything but the kitchen sink, a party conducting discovery has an obligation to show why the discovery is reasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case.”

You should read the whole thing here.

Of course, I’ve been around long enough to know there’s more than one way to look at rule changes. And when I see phrases like “abusive discovery,” “fishing expeditions,” and “everything but the kitchen sink,” I would guess at least a few lawyers would want to characterize things differently.

So today I wonder:

  1. Should we cover this topic in Arizona Attorney Magazine? and
  2. How would you describe the discovery rule changes? As Mitch did, or otherwise?

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

Pile of documents stack up high waiting to be managed

Needles and haystacks are often a metaphor for civil discovery.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

News from the State Bar of Arizona:

The State Bar of Arizona’s Board of Governors is accepting applications from nonlawyers from outlying counties to fill one seat on its board. The application deadline is Friday, March 18, 2016. Participation of public members is essential to the State Bar’s mission of serving the public and its efforts of making sure the people of Arizona have a strong voice in the legal system.

A total of four public members, who serve three-year terms, sit on the 30-member board. The board establishes the vision, mission and policies of the association and ensures that there are sufficient resources for its management and operations.

Applicants for the public member position may be from any county within Arizona except Maricopa County and:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must have resided in Arizona for at least three years
  • May not be an active or inactive member of any bar association
  • May not have, other than as a consumer, a financial interest in the practice of law

Individuals with experience in human resources or accounting, or who have previous experience serving on professional boards, are especially encouraged to apply.

Members of the Board of Governors attend approximately 10 all-day meetings each year. Meetings are usually held on the third Friday of the month at the State Bar’s office in Phoenix. Preparation in advance of the meetings, including review of related materials, is essential. In addition, members attend the Bar’s annual convention in June and a two-day retreat in July. Board members also serve on standing board committees. Travel and meal expenses are paid for all meetings, but there is no other compensation for service as a board member.

An application form must be submitted to the State Bar by Friday, March 18, 2016. The form can be found online here or by contacting Nina Benham at 602-340-7329 or by email at nina.benham@staff.azbar.org.

State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors, 2015-16

State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors, 2015-16

caller ID spoofing scam

Today I share news from the State Bar of Arizona about a new spoofing scam that is afoot.

If that sentence sounds funky to you, it’s because it’s simply a new and different way to “exploit the attorney/client relationship and defraud consumers of their money.”

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorYou can read all the information here.

And if your outlook was not fraught enough, turn to this helpful piece on additional cybersecurity tech tips to avoid getting “the willies.” The risks include ransomware, pfishing, and even the threat your own employees may represent.

Finally, here is my previous coverage of a panel discussion last summer that managed to cause quite a few willies. Live and learn.

scam alert roadsign sign

True, the American Museum of Tort Law (and its Unsafe Pinto T-shirt) looks fun. But is that enough reason to advocate a legal career?

True, the American Museum of Tort Law (and its Unsafe Pinto T-shirt) looks fun. But is that enough reason to advocate a legal career?

Just as February begins, I’ve decided to share with you my column from this month’s issue of Arizona Attorney—for a single reason, framed as a question at the end of my column.

Namely, would you encourage someone to go to law school today? If so, what qualities would you stress that they should have or develop to maximize the value of the experience?

Here’s the piece:

 

“Bullish” is typically how I would describe my viewpoint about the future of the legal profession. We certainly face challenges, even big ones, and I do not agree with those who think things will return to “normal”—if normal means bushelfuls of billable hours, clients who don’t scrutinize invoices, the elimination of offshore legal services, and equity partnerships for those who simply put in the time.

Despite the new normal, I remain confident that the field is a worthy one to pursue—even if you accumulate some student debt along the way. In a month featuring Valentine’s Day, the law still deserves our love.

RBG Valentine via Georgetown Law Weekly

RBG Valentine via Georgetown Law Weekly

But what if I have to put my money where my mouth is? What if the lawyerly profession were to darken my own door? Would I be so sanguine?

That occurred to me over the holiday season, when my daughter was home from university. She’s a sophomore, studying a decidedly non-prelaw major. But this past semester, she took an elective on Business Law—and liked it very much. (Except for the way the instructor taught torts, which seemed pretty dull to her. I explained that when you get beyond business torts, you’re into eye-opening and awe-inspiring territory. Maybe we’ll take a field trip to the American Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut!)

For the first time ever, I heard our daughter say that she would consider aiming for a law degree after college.

Gulp. Time to decide if I walk the walk.

And my hesitation to embrace a legal future for someone I care for is not unique. I recently spoke with a partner at a large multistate law firm. He had previously reached positions of national prominence in the realm of criminal and civil law, and now is a shareholder in a respected, white-shoe national firm. The law has been very good to him.

Despite that, he confessed his own hesitation when his son, a recent college graduate, mentioned he may sit for the LSAT. “I wasn’t sure what to tell him,” the attorney admitted to me. “But I certainly didn’t encourage it.”

In a time when job prospects are still sparse and the practice is shifting in numerous ways, how do we encourage future applicants in a LegalZoom era? How do we describe the field, and what core skills do we emphasize as the future of a profession? How do we characterize important elements like fulfillment, service, and meaning in 2016 and beyond?

Your thoughts are welcome at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. The legal field—and at least a few of our kids—would appreciate the input.

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