January 2012

Justice Michael Ryan

The State Bar of Arizona issued the following statement this morning in regard to the death of retired Arizona Justice Michael Ryan, who passed away on Monday from an apparent heart attack. He was 66 years old.


Contact: Rick DeBruhl, Chief Communications Officer

Phone: (602) 340-7335, Mobile: (602) 513-6385

E-Mail: rick.debruhl@staff.azbar.org 

State Bar Mourns the Passing of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ryan (Ret.)

PHOENIX – Jan. 31, 2012 – The Board of Governors, along with the staff of the State Bar of Arizona, mourn the passing of retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Ryan.

According to Board President, Joe Kanefield, “Justice Ryan was a legal giant whose kind demeanor made all who appeared before him feel at ease.  He presided over some of the most important cases in our State’s history and set an example of courage and perseverance.  His wit and sense of humor are legendary.  He has earned his place in Arizona history and as one of our finest jurists.  He will be dearly missed by the legal community.”

Bar CEO John Phelps added, “The work and accomplishments of our true heroes are often lost in the noise and commotion of a world that too often honors celebrity, rather than service.  Mike Ryan, pure and simple, was a true hero in every sense of the word.”

Justice Ryan was an active member of the Bar, serving on the Disabilities Task Force. While serving on the Supreme Court, he helped to create the current lawyer regulation system.


This week, I will be attending a conference in New Orleans. There, the National Association of Bar Executives gathers to share best practices and find new ways to do recurring things. You can read more about the conference and its diverse sessions here.

And yes, I assume I’ll fit in the time to have a few oysters and listen to some Blues (after each day’s sessions, of course!).

I wrote before about The Big Easy, a city that provides unique experiences at every turn. And later in the week, I’ll write a few words about the legal and other topics covered at the NABE conference.

Today, though, you read this as I sail through the skies via Southwest, first to Houston and then to New Orleans. So to prepare both of us Blues Travelers, let me point you to a few NOLA stories that caught my eye. Each comes from the delightfully titled Times-Picayune, and is part of a series the newspaper did on the 175th birthday of the Crescent City.

The paper did a remarkable job of telling multiple tales. On Thursday, I’ll pass on some about judges and laws. But today? How about dunces?

That’s right. The paper wisely covered the topic of the phenomenal New Orleans novel A Confederacy of Dunces, written by John Kennedy Toole. Haven’t yet read the book that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981? Then start here with some well-written background.

Cafe du Monde

And let’s end with a sweet, sweet part of New Orleans: the beignet. This fried treat is perhaps most famously served at the city’s Café du Monde. As the Times-Picayune reporter noted humorously:

“[Café du Monde] now has a number of other locations in the New Orleans area, and in addition to Cafe du Monde and Morning Call, a few other places feature beignets on the menu. One is at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Twice during the mail-borne anthrax scare of 2001, the airport’s hazmat team was called out to inspect a powdery residue reported by travelers. Both times that white residue proved to be leftover powdered sugar from someone’s beignet.”

Read the whole story here. And I’ll see you tomorrow.

There may be no more divisive issue today than reproductive rights and abortion. A speaker series begins this Thursday that aims to say some things about the topic we may not have heard—not an easy task.

The Liberty Project is an advocacy organization. As they describe themselves:

“The Liberty Project is a think tank made up of law students, young lawyers and other interested professionals dedicated to the preservation of reproductive rights and sexual health.”

So, yes, the group comes down strongly on one side of the issue. I share news of this Thursday’s panel because it proposes to explain something about the time that preceded Roe v. Wade—not something often done.

In fact, on the panel—to be held at ASU Law School—will be Sherri Chessen. She may be best known to Arizonans as an actress who worked on the state’s version of Romper Room. Her own story about being unwillingly thrust into the spotlight due to her seeking an abortion is told here. (I’ve never met Ms. Chessen, but I should note that I attended law school with one of her daughters.)

Thursday’s panel is the first of three panels, and it’s called “Then, Then and Now: Reproductive Rights Before and After Roe and into Our Future.” It will occur noon on Thursday, February 2 at the ASU College of Law Great Hall. After the panel discussion, lawyer Leon Silver will moderate a discussion with the audience.

Lunch will be provided by Carolina’s Mexican Food. No RSVP needed.

Rex M. Anderson tunes his guitar at the Arizona Attorney Magazine photo shoot, March 5, 2012, Tempe Center for the Arts

Our 2012 Creative Arts Competition at Arizona Attorney Magazine yielded another bumper crop of phenomenal work by the state’s lawyer-artists. Among that work is the music of Rex M. Anderson

In our May issue, we have included Rex’s photo and bio, along with all the other winners. Of course, Rex’s work is the only art that is not displayed easily in a print magazine. Therefore, here are his three winning songs—along with a casual photo of Rex between shots at the issue’s photo shoot. Here is Rex’s bio:

“Rex M. Anderson practices in the area of estate planning and has extensive experience working in Trust, Investment Management and Private Banking with The Federal Land Bank, Brenton Banks, Security Pacific and Bank of America. In addition to his law practice, Rex is active in film, music and podcast production through his company Rexomatic Productions. He was one of the executive producers of the award-winning film Jesus the Driver. He has numerous music production credits as a songwriter/musician and performs with his band ‘Big For His Age.’”

Congratulations to Rex and all our winners.

Here are Rex’s pieces, along with detail on each one (click on the titles to listen):

Rex Anderson 1: Anderson – You Take What You Want

You Take What You Want is from an album I released a few years back. It is available here and here.

Written by Rex M. Anderson
Lead Vocals – Rex M. Anderson
Background vocals – Kerry Jackson
Drums – Dan Tomlinson
Guitars – Kerry Jackson
Guitar – Rex Anderson
Bass – Gregg Anderson
Copyright 2002 Rexomatic Productions
Produced by Rex M. Anderson, Kerry Jackson and David Nichols
Recorded at Livinghead Audio, David Nichols – Engineer

Rex Anderson 2: Anderson – Golden Boy

Golden Boy is a song from an unreleased album.
Written by Rex M. Anderson
Lead Vocals – Rex M. Anderson
Drums – Dan Tomlinson
Guitar – Darin Mahoney
Guitar – Rex M. Anderson
Bass – Mark Anderson
Keys – Andy Kern
Copyright 2006 Rexomatic Productions
Produced by Rex M. Anderson, David Nichols and Andy Kern
Recorded at D. Nichols Studio, David Nichols Engineer
Mixed at A. Kern Studio, Andy Kern – Engineer

Rex Anderson 3: Anderson – What Would You Do

What Would You Do is a demo of a newer song awaiting production.
Written by Rex M. Anderson
Guitar and Vocal – Rex Anderson
Copyright 2010 Rexomatic Productions
Demo recorded at R. Anderson Studio
Mixed at A. Kern Studio, Andy Kern – Engineer

Godzilla, Gojira, either way pretty scary

Happy Change of Venue Friday, the day we take a deserved amble down a path that’s not strictly legal—but a path I’d guess lawyers would enjoy.

Today, I take note of a new release of an old classic film: Gojira, the precursor to what most of us know as Godzilla.

It turns out there’s a lot more to the Gojira story than we would have guessed—so much so that the storied Criterion Collection is re-releasing the original. As the news story notes:

“The highbrow Criterion Collection, which usually traffics in the world of Hitchcock, Truffaut and Japan’s Akira Kurosawa, will add digitally restored editions of Toho Studios’ ‘Gojira’ and the watered-down American version from 1956, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters,’ with Raymond Burr, to its prestigious DVD and Blu-ray catalog.

“‘For viewers who grew up on the campy, silly ‘Godzilla’ movies that came later, this 1954 original is going to seem like a shock,’ says film scholar David Kalat, author of ‘A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series.’

“‘It’s like the difference between the Adam West ‘Batman’ and ‘The Dark Knight’—the basic premise is the same, but it’s so much darker and more horrific.’”

Yes, Godzilla got its own Hollywood star.

“Horrific”? Well, yes. For it is “a fearful atomic fable from expert filmmakers, a metaphor for the bombing of Hiroshima that ended World War II just nine years earlier.”

Read the whole story here. And have a great weekend.

Today I point you to some content that examines recent patent law changes.

Not grabby enough? Well, what if you knew that it covers a law—the Leahy–Smith America Invents Act—that altered our patent law system more than at any time since the early 1950s?

The law has not been without controversy. Opponents had said that it would disadvantage small and startup companies—where innovation often arises—and that its approach could make the U.S. patent system irrelevant.

In any case, here is the article by Sheri Qualters titled “Top 10 Things You Should Know About the New Patent Law.” For the article, she contacted practitioners to ask what people need to know about the law enacted on Sept. 16, 2011.

She opens with the top piece of guidance: File Early and Often:

“When first-to-file takes effect on March 16, 2013, it’s critical for inventors to race to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with high-quality provisional filings, which can be turned into full applications within a year.

“‘They should make sure their initial filing provides good support for all of those features that they’re later going to claim,’ said Steven Koffs, a partner and senior patent attorney at Philadelphia’s Duane Morris. Making additional provisional filings when there’s a significant improvement is also key for important inventions, Koffs said. Speedy filing is equally critical for lawyers concerned about potential liability. ‘The AIA has greatly increased the possibility of malpractice or even just malpractice allegations,’ said William Dippert, a White Plains, N.Y., partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott.”

Keep reading here.

Before January slips away, I must remind Arizona lawyers about an important article featured in the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. It involves rules of practice that you really want to get right.

The article, titled “Fees and Client-Trust Accounts: Rule Changes for 2012,” was written by Patricia Sallen, the Ethics Counsel for the State Bar of Arizona. In the piece, Pat gets directly to the point and informs lawyers exactly what they need to know about changes to:

  • ER 1.5(b), regarding written fee agreements
  • Rule 43, regarding client-trust accounts

Her entire article is online and is worth bookmarking.

Want to be drawn in a little more? Here is Pat’s article opening:

“Charging fees properly. Keeping client property safe. Managing client-trust accounts to the penny.

“Did your palms get sweaty as you read those words?

“For lawyers, those issues are always sources of concern (Am I charging fees ethically?) and anxiety (Am I managing my client-trust account properly?). In 2010, they comprised the fifth most commonly alleged misconduct against lawyers and are typically among the top 10 subjects of calls to the State Bar’s ethics hotline.

“You also may be among the lawyers who in summer 2009 received word they might have to move—on short notice—their client-trust accounts to a different financial institution. You ultimately didn’t have to … but talk about sweat that wasn’t related to summer heat.

“As a result of petitions filed by the State Bar—in part to try to reduce the sweat-inducing factors—the Arizona Supreme Court has amended and clarified rules related to fees and client-trust accounts. The changes take effect in 2012.”

Keep reading here.

This evening, an annual legal event takes place that may slip past you unnoticed: The St. Thomas More Society Red Mass. (It will be at St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, at 5:30 pm.)

The Society is an association of Catholic lawyers. The Catholic Mass they host annually has been held since the Middle Ages. In it, judges, lawyers, law school professors, students and others worship together. As Wikipedia indicates, those at the Mass request guidance from the Holy Spirit for all who seek justice. The event offers “the opportunity to reflect on what Catholics believe is the God-given power and responsibility of all in the legal profession.”

Of interest this year is the priest who has been invited to offer the sermon. Timothy Broglio is “Archbishop of the Military Services, USA.” For those who are not in the church and were wondering, Yes, the Catholic Church does have a leader focused on that particular part of the international congregation. Its website is here.

Coat of arms of the Archdiocese

According to the Archdiocese:

“The Archdiocese for the Military Services was created by Pope John Paul II to provide the Catholic Church’s full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces. This includes more than 220 installations in 29 countries, patients in 153 V.A. Medical Centers, and federal employees serving outside the boundaries of the USA in 134 countries. Numerically, the AMS is responsible for more than 1.5 million men, women, and children.”

More on this special Archdiocese is here.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq

Archbishop Broglio has served and studied around the world, including in Rome, Paraguay, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. He has been Archbishop of the Military Services since November 2007. (Read more about him here.)

(I will be unable to attend the Mass, but I’d appreciate hearing from someone who does; I am curious about Archbishop Broglio’s message. I wrote last year about an event sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society.)

Thanks to attorney Denise Blommel for the reminder about the Mass. (Denise is an employment law attorney. More about her and her practice is here.)

Archbishop Timothy Broglio


This month here in the State Bar offices, we are surrounded by packing boxes as we ready ourselves for a shift to another portion of the Bar’s building. Nothing like a move to get you to throw out stuff you shouldn’t be holding on to!

Our department is slated to be out of our current space by the close of business Monday. It appears that we’re going to make the deadline. So far, so good.

Our move got me thinking back to similar moves I’ve made when I worked in law firms. Mobilizing documents, technology and people can be a Herculean undertaking. And doing it without having productivity dip too severely is quite an accomplishment.

So that got me to wondering:

  • How many of you have lived through an office move?
  • What would you say is the single best decision you or your firm made to ensure a good move?
  • What was the single worst mistake that your firm made?

I’ll keep it all anonymous, of course, but I’d really like to know.

In my office, almost done

In the meantime, here are a few articles on the topic of law office moves. As the first—from Practice Blawg, of the Minnesota State Bar Association—opens:

“Anyone who has recently moved an office or home (or both at the same time) is familiar with the scatterbrainedness that accompanies the general sense of displacement. Having recently experienced the chaos fun of moving myself, I’m sharing my moving checklist here to hopefully simplify the process for someone else.”

Read the whole post here.

And over at Lawbiz, they have some helpful tips on moving your law firm into new space.

Wish us luck this week. We’ll be in our new space by next Monday.

Howard Cabot

In the February issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, I wrote about Howard Cabot and a great ASU Law School program at which he spoke. But I wanted to add a few things.

(In case you missed it, I pasted in below my editor’s column.)

Howard spoke that evening about the power of the sabbatical to refresh and re-energize. When the idea first started to gain traction at law firms, a bug was discovered in the system: Lawyers who went away for six months to “rest, relax and to get recharged” did not return. Life “on the outside” was simply too appealing. Reducing it to four months (a three-month sabbatical plus a month’s vacation) did nothing to reduce the attrition level. So finally his firm struck an agreement with those desiring a sabbatical: They had to return from their sabbatical and remain for t least two years, or they would forfeit some compensation. Giddyup.

Now, Cabot said, he compiles enough “credits” to take a sabbatical every seven years. Most recently, he took three months off-though he had enough credits for eight.

Before the ASU audience, Cabot was extremely willing to explore his own personal reasons for endorsing the sabbatical:

“The practice of law is difficult—dealing with the billable hour while keeping your family together. I had been at the firm 10 to 13 years, and I was growing short-tempered and was losing my focus.”

Until a firm partner told him, “Go away, Howard. You’re not doing anyone any good here.”

“Is it OK just to go away and golf?” Cabot asked ASU listeners rhetorically. “Yes, if you need to, by God, do it.”

He and his wife made other choices. For the first sabbatical, they traveled abroad to study at Worcester College, Oxford. With their kids, they took the Grand Tour. Most important, though, “We all had breakfast, lunch and dinner together every day. We got to know each other as a family again. It saved us as a family.”

Their second sabbatical involved volunteer work in Eastern Europe, where they were able to trace their Jewish roots.

In those trips, Cabot says he learned a few overarching lessons: Life really goes on (“The world can get along pretty well without you.”). And the sabbatical can be used to prepare clients for new lawyers—after all, life changes.

Fourteen years later, Cabot was in need of another sabbatical, which is when he was approached about Guantanamo litigation.

“You learn as a young lawyer that there is a code for cases to avoid.” This, he saw later, may have been one of those cases. At the time, though, he was asked if he “would mind helping out” on a case that should only require a bit of his supervisorial duties.

The only thing Cabot hadn’t counted on was that his client—Noor Uthman Muhammed—would be one of only 10 detainees who were indicted for war crimes. “Of 800 or so in and out of Guantanamo, he’s 1 of 10.”

To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, Cabot reminds listeners that 5 of the 10 were implicated in the 9-11 attacks.

ASU Law School Interim Dean Doug Sylvester, Center for Law and Global Affairs Executive Director Daniel Rothenberg, and Perkins Coie partner Howard Cabot

ASU Law School Interim Dean Doug Sylvester, Center for Law and Global Affairs Executive Director Daniel Rothenberg, and Perkins Coie partner Howard Cabot

Cabot described his work as a lawyer on behalf of his client in that matter. But a unique view into that work may come from Cabot’s son, who is a writer for Esquire Magazine. He wrote two features about his dad—read them here and here.

Back at ASU, Howard Cabot was eloquent as he described his wrestling with ethical dilemmas, as a Jewish American representing a man who opposed the state of Israel and whom the government contended was an enemy of the United States.

Finally, he concluded, “Who but we as lawyers will take on unpopular causes? If we don’t take on the higher issues—like torture and prolonged detention—are we any better than our supposed enemies?”

That case led Cabot and his wife to another sabbatical. As he described his travel pitch, “Let’s go to places that know about unlawful detention and torture: Buenos Aires, Morocco, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Sarajevo, Israel, Capetown, Johannesburg.”

To help them prepare for the trip Daniel Rothenberg gave them huge binders of background material. That work by Rothenberg, the Executive Director for ASU’s Center for Law and Global Affairs, allowed the couple to get a running start on their education.

In regard to law-firm sabbaticals, Cabot’s takeaway at his talk was pretty simple: He is a strong advocate of “living a whole life.”

“If the people with you don’t find that important, find different people.”

(More photos for this story are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.)

Here is my column from the February issue:

Please Release Me

Raise your hand if you’d like to take a sabbatical. Anyone?

I write this on the third day of a new year, and my hand is high in the air. Perhaps immediately after a welcome break and a return to work is the wrong time to ask.

The notion of a sabbatical arose thanks to a unique event at Arizona State University. There, a successful large-firm lawyer extolled the virtues of—down time. Will wonders never cease?

The speaker melded the time-off idea with his own experience representing a detainee housed in Guantanamo Bay—quite the synopsis.

Congratulations to Perkins Coie partner Howard Cabot, who joined the topics surprisingly well. He offered candid insights into his own path toward rejuvenation, and even shared what he could about his imprisoned client.

The event was presented by the Center for Law and Global Affairs, and its Executive Director, Daniel Rothenberg, adeptly engaged Cabot in a far-ranging dialogue.

As Cabot called it, the sabbatical is like a schmita—a Hebrew term signifying how it’s best to allow fields to lie fallow for a season so they may regenerate their nutrients (a literal translation is “release”). His experience with lawyer sabbaticals started at Brown & Bain, which had borrowed the idea from Latham & Watkins. At the firm, Cabot said, Jack Brown, Paul Eckstein, Randy Bain and others “developed a culture that saw a lot of good in taking a break.”

In his long career, Cabot is pleased to have taken three extended breaks, each of which involved travel and mind-broadening experiences. His most recent included the representation of a Guantanamo detainee—a release in more than one sense.

Later in 2012, we will publish the results of a unique survey of Arizona lawyers—on their professional happiness. Until then, consider some well-deserved time away, and enjoy the ninth verse of the wisdom of Tao, which Howard Cabot shared:

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about other people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.

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