March 2013

godfatherBeware Change of Venue Friday. And Happy Ides of March.

Hold it. I think I have that backwards.

In any case, I’m pleased that this day of auguries falls on my blog’s “casual Friday.” And as I have pointed out before, there are worse ways to spend the Ides than enjoying the movie “The Godfather.” For example, take Julius Caesar: As others have pointed out, the Ides in 44 B.C. were auspicious for him mainly for his inability to follow the Godfather’s edict: “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”

About 2016 years later, “The Godfather” premiered in New York City on March 15, 1972. How’s that for classic karma?

If I were you, I would avoid senators of all kinds today (Roman or otherwise). Instead, here’s hoping you enjoy the movie, and your weekend.

Clarence Earl Gideon

Clarence Earl Gideon

March 18, 1963, was the date on which the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a petitioner who was also a Florida convict. And through that ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright, Clarence Gideon initiated a sea change in American law.

Monday, of course, will be the 50th anniversary of the ruling, and we still marvel at the change he wrought: It embedded the legal cornerstone that a criminal defendant who cannot afford to hire a lawyer must be provided with an attorney at no cost. It could be argued that no single decision has more affected the ability of defendants to achieve fairness in legal proceedings.

So impressive was the result that it received a shout-out at a Phoenix event yesterday. I will write later about the continued success of the annual Learned Hand Awards luncheon. But at Wednesday’s event, Arizona Justice Scott Bales, emcee for the festivities, took a moment to mark the Gideon anniversary and to praise public defenders and all those who represent the indigent. Exactly right.

In honor of the anniversary, the American Bar Association Section of Litigation has created a resource page exploring Gideon’s legacy. Included on the page is a reproduction of the actual hand-written petition that Clarence Gideon drafted in a Florida prison. It is worth a read.

Also included is a video capturing a January panel discussion regarding Gideon. It is quite good, and I have posted it below. But among its gems is its replaying a 1964 CBS News piece on Gideon, the man and the case. It begins at 2:40 and runs to 13:03, and you should watch every minute.

Is your agency, firm or organization recognizing Gideon in any way on the 50th anniversary? Let me know.

Phoenix School of Law - ©Kevin_Korczyk

Phoenix School of Law (©Kevin_Korczyk)

This week, it seems that all the news is coming out of the law schools.

No, I’m not going to cover the revelation of this year’s US News & World Report law school rankings (otherwise known as the one element that keeps people reading US News & World Report). Instead, I point to another effort of a law school to transform itself to meet the shifting demands of possible students.

The story is a mild one, referring to the Phoenix School of Law’s alteration of its semester structure. As the article opens:

“Phoenix School of Law (PSL) announced that it is expanding its current schedule from two academic terms to three academic terms beginning in the fall of 2013. The academic terms will start in the fall, spring and summer. Students have the option of attending either two or three terms during the academic year. The new structure offers significant advantages to students and is responsive to challenges currently facing legal education and the legal industry.”

The whole story is here.

In an economic downturn, every change—even a “mild” one—is a potential game-changer. As more and more college graduates nationwide decide to forego a legal education that appears to be only tangentially related to the possibility of landing an actual law job, maybe changes like the semester structure could be persuasive.

What do you think?

In an upcoming post, I’ll examine the newest (and boldest) effort of the ASU College of Law to enhance its offerings—by opening a for-profit law firm to employ some of its grads.

ASU EDiscovery conference image 2013At the end of this week, a conference on eDiscovery issues will provide insights and national speakers.

I wrote about last year’s conference, here and here. I’d expect more great content this week.

As the ASU Law School describes it:

ediscovery Judge John Facciola

Judge John Facciola

“The Second Annual ASU–Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference will focus on the practical and cutting-edge issues affecting the discovery and admission of electronic information. The annual conference is hosted by the Center for Law, Science & Innovation, in collaboration with Michael Arkfeld, Director of the ASU–Arkfeld eDiscovery Program.”

You may register here.

It’s looking like I will be unable to attend any of the events at this year’s conference. But I’d enjoy hearing from someone who does attend. If you’d like to write a follow-up post, long-ish or short-ish, just let me know. It could be an overview of the entire conference, or a briefer post on a single panel or on the keynote address, delivered by Judge John Facciola. And photos are always welcome.

Write to me at


Paul Schiff Berman

Let me keep today’s post pretty short and a little less than sweet.

Something odd happened back east to a law school dean. And that former dean has ties to the Grand Canyon State.

Anyone up on updates regarding the ASU Law School probably learned this weeks ago, but for everyone else, it may be news that Paul Schiff Berman has exited the deanship at the George Washington University Law School.

Berman, you may recall, helmed the ASU Law School for a time (you can read our interview with him here). But he headed east to lead GWU Law, which was announced in April 2011. That, however, didn’t last long. By summer 2012, discontent was evident. By January 2013, he had left the law school, and the university named him vice provost for online education and academic innovation.

More than ever before, law deans have proven to be a transitory bunch. But even in a world in which deanships are rarely calculated in decades, Berman’s exit is noteworthy for its speediness. And according to the university newspaper, his departure was welcomed by a majority of law school professors. The story, titled “Law faculty plotted to oust dean,” opens:

“Faculty say they launched a near coup to remove the former dean of the GW Law School, who unexpectedly announced last fall he would resign after holding the position for just 18 months.”

“Paul Schiff Berman stepped down in January and moved to a new vice provost position after professors drafted a petition to reject his leadership, citing staff tensions and poor decision-making about how to restore a reeling legal education system, The Hatchet has learned.”

George Washington University Law School headerYes, the independent student newspaper is called “The Hatchet.” Draw your own conclusions.

If you want another take on the dean’s departure, be sure to read Above the Law.

A hat tip to Arizona lawyer (and ASU Law alum) Ruth Carter for sharing the news. If there is a followup or more of a response from Professor Berman, we’ll share it.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

By now, you’ve heard about a new book being launched, written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. It’s titled Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court.

Happy Change of Venue Friday. For those of you (OK, me) hoping for the excavation of a few skeletons from the Court’s many closets, we’re likely to be disappointed. Here’s how an ABA Journal news story opens:

“Readers hoping for juicy revelations about controversial Supreme Court cases or ‘tell all’ insights won’t find them in Sandra Day O’Connor’s latest book.”

“But those looking for a ‘succinct, snappy account’ of the Supreme Court’s history should pick up the latest book by the retired justice, the New York Times reports. The Christian Science Monitor also has a review of the book, Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court.”

(The whole story is here.)

Out of Order Sandra Day OConnor bookSuccinct and snappy are grand, just grand. But throw us a bone. I’m not expecting garish displays or jaw-dropping pronouncements. But something. Anything.

  • Does Justice Scalia slurp his soup?
  • Does Justice Kennedy irritate other Justices by earmarking the pages of books? (And is that really why Justice Souter retired?)
  • Does Justice Ginsberg sneak extra Jell-O in the Court’s dining room?
  • Does Chief Justice Roberts park badly, causing his next-door parker to put nasty notes on his windshield, and maybe, just maybe, to dissent more often as retribution?

You see where I’m going here. We want a little insight. But I suppose I’ll have to wait for a less courteous member of the Court to retire for that enticing volume to appear.

That said, I too will likely read the book. (Or, as the Justices stoutly declare, “I join.”) And if I know anything about Justice O’Connor, I’ll learn quite a bit in the process.

And if you want to buy what looks like a great book, it is available here.

Have a great weekend.

law-schoolMaybe it’s just because my fingers are stained with ink, but the following story pleases me quite a bit.

A new law review is being launched.

That sounds odd. Maybe I should explain my pleasure.

No, it’s not that a score more legal articles will populate the world every year (though that may be good news, depending on the articles). And it’s not that a thousand more footnotes will have the opportunity to join our already-footnote-laden world. (Once upon a time, I was senior managing editor on a law school journal, so I know whereof I speak. And I know how to use whereof.)

It is merely because a long-form style of writing, which actually requires something of the reader, will now be launched and have a chance to blossom (said the guy writing on his blog).

The Journal of Law and Courts will be published by The University of Chicago Press, which may have a corner on the “old-school intellectual” market.

Here is how the Press describes the new journal:

“Sponsored by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science Association, JLC aims to be the premier journal for members of the law and courts intellectual community.”

Journal of Law and Courts coverI could be crazy, but I think there’s a typo in there. Oh well, ink-stained wretches (even at the UofC) will do that on occasion.

Besides enjoying actual writing by authors who think deeply, I also think the chosen topic is one that will provide much fertile ground to cover. As the publishers say,

“The peer-reviewed journal publishes scholarship that examines legal institutions, actors, processes, and policy. As an interdisciplinary journal, JLC is dedicated to combating intellectual fragmentation by promoting communication and fertilization across traditional boundaries.”

Who doesn’t support the battle against intellectual fragmentation? I know I do.

Here is what the inaugural issue will include:

  • Gillian K. Hadfield and Barry R. Weingast, “Law without the State: Legal Attributes and the Coordination of Decentralized Collective Punishment
  • Ryan J. Owens, Justin Wedeking, and Patrick C. Wohlfarth, “How the Supreme Court Alters Opinion Language to Evade Congressional Review
  • Alec Stone Sweet and Thomas L. Brunell, “Trustee Courts and the Judicialization of  International Regimes: The Politics of Majoritarian Activism in the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization”
  • Lawrence Baum, “Linking Issues to Ideology in the Supreme Court: The Takings Clause
  • Ward Farnsworth, Dustin Guzior, and Anup Malani, “Policy Preferences and Legal Interpretation
  • Peter F. Nardulli, Buddy Peyton, and Joseph Bajjalieh, “Conceptualizing and Measuring Rule of Law Constructs, 1850-2010”

The first issue (March) will be free to all. Subsequent issues, not so much. So if you also support thoughtful prose, head over to the Journal of Law and Courts site now.

In the annual cycle of Arizona Attorney Magazine, an event in early March has become one of my favorites.

That is when we schedule the photo shoot for the winners of the lawyer arts competition.

We publish those winners and their art in the May issue, and so the shoot occurs in March.

Art Director Karen Holub, left, and photographer Karen Shell collaborate at our creative arts photo shoot.

Art Director Karen Holub, left, and photographer Karen Shell collaborate at our creative arts photo shoot.

To achieve that, Art Director Karen Holub must wrangle about a dozen busy people to all congregate at the same time and the same place. Once she’s done that, she and photographer Karen Shell can work their magic. (Me? I attend merely to meet the winners, if I don’t know them, and to nosh a bit on the finger foods we offer; that’s my complete contribution.)

Here are a few of my own poor cellphone shots from the shoot (click any of them to view as a slideshow), held at the beautiful and hospitable Tempe Center for the Arts. All of the truly stellar work will appear next month, in print and online.


Larry Hammond

I should have shared this before, but at noon today, the ASU Law School is the site for what looks to be a compelling speaker panel.

Then, Then & Now: Reproductive Rights Before and After Roe and In Our Future” is the second installment of a three-part speaker series. Organizers say the discussion “will focus on the social and legal impact of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in honor of its 40th anniversary.”

(I wrote about the panel last year.)

Among those who will speak is attorney Larry Hammond, law clerk to Justice Lewis Powell at the time Roe was decided.

Where: The Great Hall at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

When: Noon – 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 5

Food: Yes! Lunch will be catered by Carolina’s Mexican Food.

The event is open to the public and no RSVP is necessary.

More detail is here.

The State Bar’s electronic newsletter dedicated to technology items has just come out in its winter 2013 issue. As I’ve mentioned before, this quarterly news source provides a wide variety of headlines on topics that may affect your law practice.

State Bar of Arizona eLegal Technology NewsletterAmong the stories is a lead item on addressing the digital accounts of the dead.

If you’re interested in the topic, you should turn to the current Arizona Attorney, where Rex Anderson writes on digital assets in estates.

And while you’re at it, do you like how we transformed this month’s Facebook profile picture for Arizona Attorney? The image is below (click to make it bigger and look closely). (We like to change the image every month depending on our cover story.)

Facebook profile picture for Arizona Attorney Magazine March 2013

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