March 2012

On March 14, a researcher spoke at ASU Law School about his experience with human trafficking. But Charles Katz’s experience is not merely theoretical, however. His work—by him and his team—showed quite a bit of derring-do.

That night, Katz talked about the work he and others had done in the Philippines to assess the growth or decline of human trafficking in response to an interdiction effort known as Project Lantern, sponsored by the Gates Foundation. The evening’s conversation veered from eye-popping stories about the conditions in which young sex workers live, to eyelid-challenging sidebars on sample size and researcher bias.

All in all, a night at the university.

Charles M. Katz

Kidding aside, the presentation was well done, even if social scientists may have benefited more than the lawyers in the room. The lecture explained well the goals of Project Lantern—decrease child trafficking and increase local capacity to address it going forward.

Especially intriguing was the development of a “her space,” a location where the women and young girls who were found in brothels or elsewhere would be treated as victims rather than as criminals.

That discussion reminded me of a 2011 State Bar Convention seminar titled “Is Justice the Abuser?” There, some panelists talked about the challenges even American police departments have addressing sex workers as possible victims. Clearly, such a thing requires quite a mental shift. But without it, victims may be victimized twice.

Projects like this sound like they may be making an impact. Project Lantern included proposed changes at every level of the justice system, from policing, through prosecution and post-trial release, and even in statutory changes.

Unfortunately, as in most cases, the initial focus and research is just on the street-level policing. More research will have to be done to determine if all elements of the Philippine justice system have built their capacity to decrease or eradicate trafficking.

More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

One side note: I have come to appreciate the creative and imaginative programming to come out of the Center for Law and Global Affairs at ASU Law School. Professor Daniel Rothenberg is the Center’s Executive Director, and I tip my hat to him and his staff for their work.

I’d recommend you add the following upcoming Center event to your calendar:

  • On April 4 from 3:30-4:30, David Scheffer, Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law from Northwestern University School of Law will discuss his experiences as the first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, his experiences negotiating the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court and current challenges of international criminal justice.

Questions about the Center or its events? Suggestions on content for the future? Email    

Steve Little and Lynda Shely speak on professional dress, Bar Leadership Institue, Perkins Coie, Phoenix, March 24, 2012

Last Friday, I told you about an event I was attending as a clothing model. (The demands on the lawyer-ati never end, I tell you!) Here’s a brief update on our appearance before the 2012 class of the Bar Leadership Institute.

Those lawyers who are selected to participate in the State Bar of Arizona’s Bar Leadership Institute are offered a wide variety of speakers and instruction on a great many topics. I am expecting that our meager offering in regard to professional dress will not be one of their year’s highlights.

Nonetheless, I was pleased to be able to pitch in, along with lawyers Lynda Shely (the session’s moderator), CLE Director Lisa Deane, Member Assistance Program head Susan Kayler and Bar Counsel Steve Little.

Aside from Lynda, the four of us were paired up in a good-bad formation (Steve bad, me good; Lisa bad, Susan good). And just like the Silver Screen, I suspect it’s far more enjoyable to play a villain than a hero. Steve, for instance, went to town with his impersonation of a bedraggled attorney who was seriously in need of a makeover. (Steve, that was an impersonation, right?)

Lisa Deane also did what she could to look downtrodden, though I don’t think she is really able to look less than put-together. I was dismayed to see that her “gnarly” look appeared to be no worse than the way I dress most days in the office. (See, the life lessons benefited not just the BLI participants!)

The attendees looked mildly attentive, but they were also superbly dressed, so what did they need from us? I suspect that our life-modeling, along with my suggestions as to where to buy good vintage (“used”) menswear (The Well-Suited Man, in Phoenix and Scottsdale), left them more bemused than enlightened.

Oh well, we tried.

Today, let me share part of my From the Editor column from the February 2008 Arizona Attorney Magazine. In it, I discussed our cover story, Judge Timmer’s article on professionalism—including how to dress.

It’s always hard looking back at your previous work. For instance, I think the column is OK, but I sound like I’m at least 200 years old. What a curmudgeon! Oh, well—read on (more photos at the bottom).

It is New Year’s Day as I write this (for our February issue), and this month’s magazine may reflect some of my own hopes for law practice in 2008.

Our cover story explores a host of issues that were never addressed as we labored through three years of law school. But these are the issues that may make law practice for you—and your colleagues—a blessing or a curse, depending on your approach.

Beginning on page 12, Judge Ann Timmer examines the steps and missteps that many of us have made in the past. Some of the “traps for the unwary” she unearths include how to accept (and decline) work, how to dress, how to interact with others—even how to joke. Perhaps if we had had the benefit of what “seasoned” lawyers know, we would not have made those mistakes (as much).

That article and others like it remind me of the old lesson about the rules—not the Ethical Rules, but the rules of civility. The inexperienced see them as dated obstacles to efficiency, and as mechanical in the extreme. In fact, they are nothing more than courtesy made visible, gentle reminders that civility and kindness exist to make those around you (remember them?) feel at ease.

I suppose it boils down to a question we should all put to ourselves: “Would you want to work with you?”

If it takes you a few minutes to answer, read and save the article. It’s good stuff.

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Yesterday, the State Bar of Arizona issued a helpful primer on a high-profile lawyer discipline case involving former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and two deputies, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.

It would be helpful to read it before April 10, the day that the disciplinary panel’s ruling will be issued. Here’s the press release:


Contact: Rick DeBruhl, Chief Communications Officer

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


PHOENIX – March 27, 2012 – The State Bar of Arizona issued a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) today to provide an awareness and understanding of the process behind the investigation, hearing, and potential disciplinary action associated with the Thomas, Aubuchon, and Alexander case. The findings of the Discipline Hearing Panel will be released at a hearing on April 10, 2012.

The State Bar of Arizona serves the public and enhances the legal profession by promoting competency, ethics and professionalism of its members and enhancing the administration of Justice. The Arizona Supreme Court has oversight of the State Bar, however, the State Bar is not a government organization. It is supported through member dues and not taxpayer dollars. The Supreme Court adopts professional standards, which practicing attorneys in Arizona must adhere to and the State Bar investigates compliance with these standards.

The State Bar of Arizona does not sanction attorneys. The State Bar’s role in attorney discipline is investigation and prosecution. Sanctions come from the Supreme Court.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Why did the State Bar investigate Andrew Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander? The Bar chose to initiate an investigation as a result of complaints it received from the public as well as information that came from a February 24, 2010 ruling by Arizona Superior Court Judge John Leonardo. In a letter dated March 2, 2010, Bar CEO/ED John Phelps asked the Supreme Court to consider an outside investigator to avoid any potential conflict of interest. As a result, Colorado Supreme Court Regulation Counsel John Gleason was appointed by Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca Berch to handle the case.
  • What are the charges? The formal complaint listed 33 separate ethical violations ranging from conflict of interest to prosecutorial misconduct and abuse of the RICO suit process in an effort to burden and embarrasses political adversaries.  Individually, Thomas faces 30 charges, Aubuchon 28 charges and Alexander 7 charges. The formal complaint, along with other documents related to this case, can be found here.
  • How long did the hearing last? The hearing, which started September 12, 2011, covered 26 court days and ended on November 2, 2011. It was held at the Arizona Supreme Court, located at 1501 W. Washington. Archived video of the hearing is available on the Supreme Court’s web site.
  • How much money has been spent on the investigation? As of March 27, 2012, the investigation has cost the Bar $577,467.78. By court rule, the State Bar is responsible for the cost of the investigation. That expense is covered by State Bar dues, no tax money has been used to pay for the investigation.  Depending on the outcome, a portion of the costs and expenses of the investigation may be recovered by the State Bar from sanctioned attorneys.
  • Who heard the case? Disciplinary hearings were presided over by a three -member hearing panel. One member is the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, who is an employee of the Arizona Supreme Court, and the other two members are volunteers from the community. Panel volunteers are not compensated for their participation as a hearing officer. This panel consists of Presiding Disciplinary Judge William O’Neil, Scottsdale attorney Mark Sifferman and the Rev. John C.N. Hall, who is the rector of an Episcopal church in Chandler. Sifferman and Rev. Hall are volunteers. The panel determines if there were violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and if so, it also determines the appropriate sanctions.
  • What are the possible sanctions? Should it be determined that the lawyers have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, they could each face sanctions, including:

Reprimand – The attorney may continue to practice law.

Suspension – The attorney is prohibited from practicing law during the suspension period. Length of suspension may range up to five (5) years. Suspensions lasting six months and a day or greater require the attorney to apply for reinstatement to the Court and show rehabilitation. Suspensions generally take effect 30 days from the final discipline order and may be stayed until an appeal is complete.

Disbarment – The attorney is prohibited from practicing law. The attorney may apply for reinstatement after five (5) years. The attorney is required to pass the bar exam and show rehabilitation.

Less serious sanctions, such as admonition and probation, are also available.

Traditionally, the imposition of sanctions has been guided by the American Bar Association Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions. An abridged version (lacking commentary) is available here.

  • Can the Disciplinary Panel’s decision be appealed? While the Disciplinary Panel’s decision is considered final, either side can choose to appeal the outcome. The appeal is heard and decided directly by the Supreme Court. In most cases sanctions are delayed until after the appeal; however, that is at the discretion of the court.
  • Did the State Bar’s Board of Governors influence the case? No, the State Bar’s Board of Governors has no direct involvement in lawyer regulation and cannot direct action on any case. The only way to initiate a formal case against a lawyer is by a probable cause order authorizing the filing of a formal complaint. At the time the Thomas/Aubuchon/Alexander case advanced through the system only one probable cause panelist was needed to make a determination about whether probable cause existed to move forward with a formal complaint. The Supreme Court appointed former Justice Charles E. Jones to act as the independent Probable Cause Panelist who ultimately entered an order authorizing the filing of a formal complaint against Thomas/Aubuchon/Alexander.

If you wish to view documents in this case, click here.

Try not to freak out, but it may be time to explore … another social media channel.

I know, law practice is hard enough without Internet geekdom thrusting another element our way, insisting that Blork, or Faceoff, or Blister or some other crazy site is the next best thing.

And yet, I’ve grown curious about Pinterest—even for lawyers. (Arizona Attorney is already on the web, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, not to mention this blog; but we like to go where our readers are, and Pinterest may be an outpost in the offing.)

Pinterest? Are you kidding? That site where brides-to-be hang out? Where people swap recipes and the otherwise-unemployed post swatches of new fabrics for the futon in their parents’ basement?

Yes, that site. But it may be more than that. And it may even be a spot that lawyers want to land.

Want more information? Begin by reading Carolyn Elefant on “Why Lawyers Should Take an Interest in Pinterest.” She provides examples of its use for the lawyer—especially the solo lawyer—in regard to law practice and to general networking. She covers sharing information and even office-space resources.

Other lawyers have provided helpful posts on Pinterest and the law firm. David Kaufer writes here. And here, Larry Bodine relates some answers he got to his question of how lawyers might use Pinterest (which is my question too). As he says, “Pinterest could become something more than an online refrigerator magnet collection.” Let’s hope.

But because lawyers may be, well, lawyerly, it’s only fair to note that Pinterest has received some shouts of caution across the blogosphere. Those shouts relate to the question of whether you are breaking the law when you “re-pin” information and images for which you don’t hold the copyright.

One notorious screed came from someone who purported to be a photographer and a lawyer, who was horrified by Pinterest’s Terms of Use. Believing she had violated them, she deleted all of her (what she said were voluminous) Pinterest boards. Her story is related here.

My reading of the brouhaha (and this is not legal advice) is that the fears are overblown. Or, rather, they are fears that should be taken seriously about posting anywhere on the Internet, not merely on Pinterest.

For a more pacific roster of the concerns, read the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. There, the delightfully straightforward copyeditors at the WSJ title an article “How To Use Pinterest Without Breaking the Law.”

The advice is good. It includes items like this (which I am reprinting under what are commonly called the Fair Use exceptions):

“‘The best and easiest way to avoid trouble is to put up your own content, the content you created,’ Jonathan Pink, a California-based intellectual property lawyer with Bryan Cave LLP told the Law Blog.

“For example, Mr. Pink said that if a Pinterest user sees a piece of furniture that he or she likes, or a tasty-looking cookie, they’ll be safe taking out their smart phone, snapping a photo, and pinning it.

“‘Own the content you are publishing,’ Mr. Pink said.”

To the Wall Street Journal’s credit, the story includes a response sent to the WSJ from Pinterest. The three-paragraph note begins:

“The protection of copyrighted content is by no means unique to Pinterest—virtually every site on the web that allows users to express themselves contends with copyright complexities.”

Translated from the social media world: Take a chill pill.

To see a little of what’s happening in the Pinterest world, surf over to the Wall Street Journal’s own Pinterest page. (I couldn’t resist.)

Also see Time Magazine, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

And let me know if you have any (P)interest in the topic. I’m curious how readers use the platform, whether for law practice or not.

On Monday and Tuesday this week, a horde of extremely smart people (and I) will gather to discuss solar power. More specifically: “The Southwest’s future as a solar superpower.”

The speaker lineup is impressive, and many are hoping that it yields a practical way forward on a topic that shines almost every day of the year in Arizona.

Mostly, though, I’m curious about its impact on lawyers and law practice.

Below, I have included a terrific press release (actually, it’s a full-blown article) by ASU’s Janie Magruder. She explains who’ll be there and what they plan to achieve.

It’s in the last graf of Janie’s article, though, that I found what I was interested in. It was bound up in a quote from ASU scholar (and former Corporation Commissioner) Kris Mayes. She said that the conference is a good opportunity for anyone interested in practicing in renewable energy law. “When solar energy takes off, this will become a significant practice area for a lot of attorneys in Arizona and other states in the Southwest,” she said.

(We covered Kris Mayes and some her work at ASU here for Arizona Attorney Magazine.)

Do you agree with her? Are there opportunities here? And more important, will you attend the conference?

If you can’t be there, tell me what you’d like to know; I’d be happy to ask your questions.

The Summit’s website is here. And more detail is here.

Here’s the article from ASU:

The Southwest’s future as a solar superpower to be explored at national policy summit in Phoenix

By Janie Magruder

The legal and policy structures necessary to foster solar energy development in the Southwest and propel Arizona to national prominence in the field is the focus of a conference to be hosted March 26-27 by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

“Arizona Solar Summit 2012: Breaking through the Barriers to a Solar Future in the Southwest” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, March 26, and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, March 27, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. Registration is $75 for general audiences and $125 for attorneys seeking CLE; visit for more information and to register.

“Arizona has the natural resources, the human capital and the legal structure to make this happen,” said Kris Mayes, Faculty Director of the College of Law’s Program on Law and Sustainability, housed in the Center for Law, Science & Innovation. “This conference is about making sure we advance the legal infrastructure in Arizona to create conditions that will allow us to really expand our solar energy capacity.”

Mayes, a Senior Sustainability Scholar in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, is a lead organizer of the conference, along with ASU LightWorks, ASU SkySong and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). ASU’s first Solar Summit, in August 2011, drew dozens of participants from government, academia, industry and technology to launch a network designed to address specific challenges that, if met, will move Arizona forward. The first conference established four working groups whose members will report on their recommendations during Solar Summit 2012. (For information about the first summit, go here.)

“When you talk to Arizonans, you quickly realize that this is a state that believes solar energy is its economic destiny,” said Mayes, former chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission and co-author of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard. “This conference is the next step in making that a reality, and we’re doing that by bringing together some of the best thinkers to continue what ASU started last August.”

Arizona Solar Summit 2012 will offer five panels during Monday’s schedule. Todd Hardy, ASU’s Associate Vice President for Economic Affairs and a participant in the 2011 summit, will moderate a panel of representatives from the Solar Summit working groups.

“Four working groups were formed at the 2011 Arizona Solar Summit to address the primary challenges we face in developing Arizona’s solar industry: Supply Chain and Workforce Development, Applied Research Collaborations and Pilot Projects, Policy and Finance, and Building and Strengthening the Narrative,” Hardy said. “Each of these working groups is actively engaged in identifying strategies that will be implemented to foster growth and development of the solar energy industry, on a national and regional scale.”

Gary Dirks, Director of ASU LightWorks, who also participated in the first summit, will moderate the panel, “A solar super hub in the Southwest: Imagining Arizona and surrounding states as the exporters of solar energy to the rest of the nation.”

Dirks said the topic is critical because “this discussion will explore opportunity for a solar super hub in the Southwest. We will cover both the challenges and the benefits of becoming a state and region that can be the leader in producing and exporting solar energy. We hope to identify goals and next steps that will allow us to collectively reach our potential as a solar energy center.”

Mayes said the summit will be a standout for a number of reasons:

  • Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday, March 27. Wellinghoff is expected to discuss how the federal government is helping the Southwest develop its solar potential.
  • Five CEOs of solar energy firms will sit on a roundtable panel, following Wellinghoff’s remarks, to talk about the challenges facing their industry in 2012 and beyond.
  • Public utilities commissioners from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada will sit on the panel, “Getting along?: Imagining a strong regional future for solar, and the build-out of regional transmission needed to get us there.”

“Transmission is a big theme of this conference, and it’s a huge issue as we try to expand, so having these commissioners coming to Arizona to talk about these issues is a very big deal,” Mayes said. “By the same token, it’s critical to have these CEOs here to discuss where they see their industry going and also to delve into what they believe are the regulatory needs. This is an industry at a pivotal point and where we go from the legal and policy standpoints is going to be critical for them.”

The panel of solar CEOs will be moderated by Barry Broome, CEO and President of GPEC, another returning participant from the first summit.

“Arizona is indeed a solar leader,” Broome said. “However, the solar industry has seen dynamic changes over the past year, so understanding the corporate challenges facing these CEOs will be critical to not only maintaining our position as the ‘Solar Energy King,’ but also expanding into other areas of the clean economy.”

Conference organizers have tapped for consideration these three distinct scenarios for a bright solar future in the Southwest:

  • A robust distributed generation future in which rooftop solar takes off, aided by a smarter grid and the development if micro-grids in cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Denver.
  • A solar future driven by strong interregional cooperation among the states on transmission, leading to regional solar development.
  • A transformational solar future in which the Southwest becomes the solar hub of the nation, drive by interregional development of transmission and generation or the creation of a national Renewable Energy Corporation

Mayes will moderate the first panel of the day, “Is solar temporarily stuck: Immediate challenges to the development of solar energy in the Southwest and what I necessary to break through the logjam.”

“There’s a feeling out there that we are a little bit stuck in first gear and we need to do something from a legal standpoint to get out of it and get moving,” said Mayes, noting that tax credits, the build-out of transmission grids and support for state Renewable Portfolio Standards will be on the table for discussion.

The conference also will debut a 10-minute documentary film about solar energy development in Arizona, including a segment about the great progress in Gila Bend, a town about 70 miles southwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Town Manager Frederick Buss will join the panel of public utilities commissioners discussing the creation of a Southwestern market for renewable energy.

“Gila Bend is the little solar town that could,” Mayes said. “It’s a great story about a part of Arizona that’s’ been overlooked. You can walk into any restaurant in town and the waitresses are conversant in solar energy, and they have come to believe that solar is their future. We can learn a lot from them.”

A fifth panel is “Distributed generation goes the distance: Imagining a robust future for distributed generation in the Southwest,” moderated by Bud Annan, ASU’s Senior Advisor for Solar Energy.

Attorneys will be able to obtain up to 10 credits of Continuing Legal Education at the conference, said Mayes, noting it’s a good opportunity for anyone interested in practicing in renewable energy law. “When solar energy takes off, this will become a significant practice area for a lot of attorneys in Arizona and other states in the Southwest,” she said.

Night before a seminar, I consider some ties. Hmmm. Professional enough?

What should lawyers wear? And are attorneys succumbing to a more-casual time, to the detriment of the profession?

No surprise, I guess, that I can’t answer those questions. But a State Bar seminar today urges lawyers to consider them.

And my role in the morning’s events – Panelist? Moderator? Scribe?

How about … model. (No joke.)

In what will be a first for me, I’ve been asked by seminar organizers to attend for one reason: to demonstrate lawyerly dress. Paired with me will be a lawyer whose sartorial choices would be considered inappropriate for such an august profession. (Much to my chagrin, our selection was based not on my own stellar dressing abilities; I suspect it was more random than that.)

I’m hoping I can carry off my modeling tasks well. I bet I’ll be able to walk in, turn, and walk out. Wish me luck.

More curious is the question of how attendees will receive the lesson in professional dress. My own experience with the topics reminds me that it can be a powderkeg. I mean, not everyone enjoys being told how to dress.

Back in 2008, our cover story in Arizona Attorney Magazine was titled “Working Class: Being a Pleasure in Practice.” Written by Court of Appeals Judge Ann Scott Timmer, it examined a variety of situations in which the new-ish lawyer might find himself. She explored occurrences like office politics, accepting or declining work from a partner, and work ethic. But she also examined how lawyers dress.

I’ve included a few images from our content on clothing. Looking back today, they seem pretty mild-mannered.

That’s more than I can say for some of our readers. I heard early and often from Arizona lawyers who were offended that we dared to critique their clothing choices. More than three years later, I still hear every few months from an attorney who mentions being irked by that advice.

Here’s hoping today’s attendees at the Bar Leadership Institute take the lesson more cheerfully. Have a great weekend.

Another in the State Bar’s successful series of networking events occurs this evening. It will give attendees the chance to visit, nosh and listen to some blues at a downtown Phoenix venue.

The gathering occurs at Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen. Here is more detail about the evening, sponsored by the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division:

March Madness Viewing Party and Networking Event for Attorneys at Copper Blues

Please join the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, and other attorney organizations on Thursday, March 22, 2012, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a March Madness viewing party, networking with other attorneys, and free appetizers.

Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen is located downtown in CityScape:

50 West Jefferson Street #200

Phoenix, AZ 85003

*Free three-hour parking in garage with validation

Co-Sponsoring Organizations: The State Bar of Arizona’s Young Lawyer Division, Sole Practitioner & Small Firm Section, Mentor Committee, Tax Law Section, and Public Lawyers Section; Sports Lawyers Association; Maricopa County Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division; and Arizona Black Bar

Corporate Sponsors: Epps Forensic Consulting PLLC; Cox Business; Sharp Business Systems; GEICO and Fendon Law Firm, P.C.

If law students are the cannon-fodder necessary for the law-school-industrial complex, news this week looked pretty dire for the factory foremen.

(Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present to law students on the topic of alternative careers. More on that another day.)

As has been reported pretty much everywhere the past few days, the number of prospective law students sitting for the LSAT has plummeted pretty dramatically.

The LSAT Blog (yes, there is an LSAT blog) described it thus:

“The Law School Admission Council just released the number of February 2012 LSAT-takers, and it’s low. In fact, fewer students sat for the February 2012 LSAT than for any LSAT administration in over 10 years.”

The blog authors draw some conclusions for the legal profession and for potential employers (the takeaway: There are enough students in the pipeline to fill employers’ meager needs for the near future). But their conclusions for law schools are more serious:

“For law schools, it can only be bad news. A smaller pool of applicants means fewer test-takers with 165+ and 170+ scores to help them boost their rankings. Law schools have become accustomed to the flood of tuition dollars. Some have even been expanding their facilities. They’ll be looking to fill those seats, and they may have to take a hit to their LSAT medians in order to do so.”

Above the Law, one of the legal profession’s highest-profile sites, takes a decidedly snarkier approach to the LSAT-decline news:

“It took four years, but perhaps prospective law students are starting to get the message the law school is not a guarantee for a good job or financial security. … So what’s going to happen to the law schools that exist by the grace of the stupidity of prospective law students? … You know you are running a shady business if it suffers when your customers start making more intelligent decisions.”

As ATL points out, “The New York Times is eager to start throwing dirt on the graves of the law schools at the bottom.”

The NYT article, subtitled “Legal diplomas are apparently losing their luster,” says:

“The decline reflects a spreading view that the legal market in the United States is in terrible shape and will have a hard time absorbing the roughly 45,000 students who are expected to graduate from law school in each of the next three years. And the problem may be deep and systemic.”

ATL has a decidedly sunny view of all this: “But this is a good start. Fewer applicants will put some pressure on law schools that shouldn’t be here, and discourage other universities from opening up a new one.”

What view do you take of the precipitous LSAT decline? Do you too see some positive results that may come out of this?

And what do you think a declining pool means for law schools?

P.S. One more story from the NYT worth reading, called “Is Law School a Losing Game?”

Last Wednesday, the Learned Hand Awards continued its run as one of the most impressive legal events of the year. If it were a franchise, its success would be comparable to McDonalds.

Or maybe Katz’s Delicatessen, given that the event sponsor is the American Jewish Committee, Arizona chapter.

In fact, any misconceptions about the host were eliminated in the luncheon’s opening introductory video, which set the stage for the day’s festivities. As hundreds of people tucked into their salads at a legal event, they heard a voiceover warn that America had a dire need for “energy independence.” Curiosity piqued, diners listened to an impassioned lecture about Iran, a “longtime opponent of the Jewish State.”

By the time we started our salmon, the event had segued from the heavy-handed to the elegant, as Rabbi John Linder offered his well-wrought invocation. He invited listeners to consider what kind of world they wanted to live in. Answering for the room, he said it is one in which we hold dignity and respect for all. One in which we recognize that a threat to one is a threat to all.

“May we leave today with our sleeves rolled up, ready to perspire and work for justice.”

Perspiration was the perfect lead-in to the accomplishments of the three honorees: Lindsay Marshall of the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, and Perkins Coie partner Howard Cabot.

As I’ve said before, the Learned Hand awards are remarkable for many reasons. One of the most intriguing is the high caliber of the three introductory speeches honoring the three awardees. This year, they were delivered, respectively, by Milagros Cisneros, Illinois Judge Kevin Lyon and Paul Eckstein. Each did a terrific job at encapsulating a life and a career.

Events like this remind us that a legal community is comprised of more than a geographic region. Arizona is no more likely to be a cohesive and collaborative place than, say, a bus station or a supermarket if we lack leaders and a vision of excellence. That is what lawyers like Marshall, LaWall and Cabot provide a fortunate bar.

Ariz. Vice Chief Justice Hurwitz, Mar. 14, 2012

That good fortune was poignantly brought home early in the lunch when Vice Chief Justice Hurwitz delivered a moving introduction. The jurist who will soon be headed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reminded attendees that on the same day we sat in a Hyatt ballroom, Justice Michael Ryan’s interment was occurring in Arlington National Cemetery.

Justice Hurwitz’s request for a moment of silence was kind, but unnecessary. For at the utterance of Justice Ryan’s name, the cavernous room had grown silent and pensive as a community recalled another who had given time, talent and much perspiration to the cause of justice.

Here are more photos from the event.

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Example of stonework to be used in Arizona monument to the Bill of Rights.

A May 13 comedy concert at Symphony Hall in Phoenix promises an impressive roster of nationally known comics. Tickets, expected by event organizers to sell out quickly, go on sale at 10:00 a.m. today on

The concert aims to raise funds for the installation of a Bill of Rights Monument in Wesley Bolin Plaza at the State Capitol in Phoenix. The planned dedication this coming December would signal the first such installation in the United States. No state or other public monies are being spent on the monument; organizers say they must raise $400,000 to complete the project. (State Bar of Arizona President Joe Kanefield is on the Executive Fundraising Committee.)

Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss, executive director of, is spearheading the monument project. He worked with event expert Danny Zelisko to develop the comedy evening. Comics slated to appear will be Lewis Black, Bill Engvall, Bobcat Goldthwait, Dick Gregory, Kathleen Madigan, Tommy Smothers and Steven Wright. Musical guests from the band Little Feat will be Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett.

Bliss says that individual ticket prices are reasonable and well worth the comedy talent that will be on display. But he urges anyone interested in a “Hall of Fame comedy experience” to consider purchasing special VIP seating. Called the Founders Circle and President’s Circle, the seats are described more fully here. According to Bliss:

“Founders Circle seats include an invitation to the artists’ reception before the concert, and a signed lithograph (by all the artists) of the event poster. The President’s Circle is available to individuals, but is also for businesses and firms of any size that want participate in this truly historic project. Individuals at the firm/business make their tax-deductible contributions to, and both the individual and the firm/business get recognition in the concert program and on our website, along with a block of premium seats determined by the total amount. Or businesses can contribute directly through the fiscal sponsorship of the Arizona Community Foundation.”

The Monument is touted by Bliss as a historic legacy for the state, “one that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will get to visit and be inspired by.”

For more information, see my previous coverage here, here and here. And view a story by a local Fox affiliate here.

A longer story on the Monument project will appear in the May Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Poster for May 13 comedy concert

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