June 2013


legal sized Great White paper

So the paper that lawyers like to use comes emblazoned with a … shark? Ouch.

Boyoboy, I sure feel sorry for you. I had planned a really substantive, weighty and significant topic to cover today. My goal was to round out the blog week with something akin to majesty.

Though you would have enjoyed that, instead I have opted to present a slight and light view into a quizzical topic. On this Change of Venue Friday, the substantial has been shouldered aside by the goofy.

And for that, I apologize.

The oddity came my way via the Pacific Northwest (surprising absolutely no one). And that unique question is: Where the hell did legal-sized paper come from?

Do you ever see one of those queries and wonder how you had never come to ask it? But when you see the question, you’re all, “Whoa, good question!”? That’s where the paper question took me.

I heard about the topic via one of my favorite legal blogs. In the NW Sidebar (from the Washington State Bar), I was pointed toward a blog by librarians (natch) of the Seattle University Law Library (on Twitter here).

Here is how library intern Jason Giesler opens his detective blog post:

“Necessitating larger file cabinets, failing to fit in standard binders, and a real pain in the neck to copy and scan, one wonders, what are the origins of 8 1/2″ x 14” sized legal paper?”

“There are several historical stories relating to the adoption of legal sized paper. According to one story, during the time of Henry VIII, paper was printed in 17″ x 22” sheets because this was the largest size of mold that papermakers could carry. These large sheets were known as foolscap. Legend has it that lawyers would simply cut the foolscap in half and use the sheets for official documents. Lawyers liked longer paper so that they could take more notes than would fit on a normal page.”

That’s rich. “Lawyers liked longer paper so that they could take more notes than would fit on a normal page.”

Seattle U Law Library iconLawyers. Librarians. Henry VIII. They all crack me up.

When I decided to seek an image to run with this post, I was taken aback by the appearance of a leading brand of legal-sized paper. There it is above, clear as day: The lawyers’ paper of choice comes with … sharks on it.

Hmmm. Snarky, much? I’m sure the Hammermill Company would say the name is a reference to the “Great White” paper, but I’m prepared to stage a protest if readers want.

In any case, you should keep reading the results of Jason’s research here.

And, joyfully, he would seem to be one of those librarians who has never shushed anyone in his life. And so he ends—as I do today—with this video of an “IT cat.” Which would make this the debut of cat videos for my own blog (causing me to think I should re-examine things—I’ll do that this weekend).

Enjoy, and stay away from copier machines. Here’s da cat:

The Arizona Attorney Facebook page sports a new button on June 21, 2013.

During Convention, the Arizona Attorney Facebook page sported a new button in recognition of the AWLA Breakfast.

Amidst the bustle of an annual conference, it’s always a pleasure to find a quiet but impressive respite.

That is the dual role played annually by the breakfast of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, this year held on Friday, June 21.

The breakfast is a scholarship fundraiser, but it’s also an opportunity to honor a recipient for the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, AWLA’s top recognition.

This year’s honoree was Dee-Dee Samet, Tucson lawyer and member of the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors.

Dee-Dee Samet receives the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, June 21, 2013.

Dee-Dee Samet receives the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, June 21, 2013.

Dee-Dee was introduced by friend and attorney Jean Gage, who pointed out that the recipient was “president of almost every board she’s a part of.”

Gage praised Samet and offered the large audience a “double-dose of Dee-Dee.” She reminded listeners that Samet is “a tenacious fighter for the underdog” as well as a tireless fundraiser.

“She is the only person I know who can be in two places at the same time.”

Attendees at AWLA Breakfast, June 21, 2013.

Attendees at AWLA Breakfast, June 21, 2013.

Audience members smiled when Gage said, “If the measure of wealth is friends, Dee-Dee is fabulously wealthy.”

Samet has always been willing to offer a hand or advice, Gage said. She encourages women to apply for the Board of Governors, get on the bench or to change their career path to another legal practice area. And in so doing, she conveys to mentees a confidence Samet herself possesses: “Dee-Dee does not stay at the back of any line.”

When Samet rose to accept her award, she promised to “keep it short and sweet, like me.”

That she did, as she encouraged all lawyers to help others: “That’s how you make your life worthwhile.”

The persistent advocate reminded the audience to be persistent but enjoy life.

“As opponents, we fight hard, then look for some shoes, and then drink some wine.”

Finally, Dee-Dee remained indefatigable, encouraging her colleagues to participate in the Convention’s silent auction.

“Don’t forget to contribute,” she exclaimed that morning, and always.

Great Convention addition: My AWLA pin

Great Convention addition: My AWLA pin (click to enlarge)

Twitter on wall

Legal news arrives pretty fast via the little blue bird.

Conversation with many lawyers about law practice inevitably leads to dialogue about the value of social media. In that regard, things are shifting. We used to never hesitate to call the profession a very very very “late adopter.” But more attorneys have dipped their toe in to test the waters.

However, even those lawyers who may have established a LinkedIn page for themselves (daring much?) shiver in fear at the suggestion of engaging via Twitter.

Perhaps it’s the less-than-serious name and surrounding nomenclature that turns them off, or the fact that many cannot say their complete name in fewer than 140 characters, but attorneys too rarely share the Twitter love.

Here’s hoping the summer and the United States Supreme Court can change that.

Unlike other breaking news, Supreme Court opinions are issued on a relatively predictable schedule. As such, I can count on my Twitter feed to light up like Broadway as news of an opinion emerges. Via Hootsuite or directly via Twitter, I can quickly scan the posts of journalists and lawyers I’ve come to trust about these things.

Constitutional law communicated via digital means may not be something the Founding Fathers anticipated, but I’m confident they’d be down with it. I mean, if published today, Common Sense would have a digital edition, and The Federalist Papers would have a paper-free app.

The stream of SCOTUS news got me wondering: How are you tracking breaking updates from the Court?

Reading the daily newspaper? Reading websites of partisan groups? Watching TV news?

Please tell me you’re not watching TV news.

Don’t get me wrong: Many of those media are perfectly fine. But if you like how they cover news, check to see if they have a Twitter handle. If they do, follow it. (And if they don’t, seriously reassess your choices.)

Remember, you can use Twitter solely as a one-way news stream. Though I recommend you be an active participant with those you follow (and who may follow you), it is not required. Silent reading and consuming of news is perfectly OK. That way, at least you’ll be benefiting from some of Twitter’s functionality.

(And yes, you may even follow my own Twitter feed here.)

follow us on twitter-bird

… at @azatty

If you have not clicked through Twitter links before, you may be pleased to discover this: That what begins as a pithy 140-character tweet may blossom into some wonderful long-form coverage. Don’t buy into the stereotype that complex ideas cannot be synthesized, and that Twitter is analysis-lite.

Don’t be that guy. Get on Twitter.

Once there, search around for media sources you trust, or lawyers whose insight you appreciate. Click Follow. You might even organize them into Lists to encapsulate all your interests (“Supreme Court coverage,” “Mad Men,” “Law Practice Management,” “Recipes”).

The Supreme Court and I will be there waiting for you. And we may even retweet your own insight out to the world. Because we’re all share-y that way.

Attorney-Client shake handsHow many lawyers find fulfillment in their work?

I don’t have statistics, but based on many conversations with attorneys over the years, the number who would trumpet themselves “fulfilled” has declined over time.

A bad economy has a lot to do with that, I’m sure. But finances cannot account for all of the disappointment we hear about. After all, most people (really) are not in it just for the financial return. Something deeper must be afoot.

Insight into what may be missing appeared in a great recent post at Above the Law. In it, lawyer Brian Tannebaum examines a few ways to strengthen the lawyer–client relationship. And in so doing, he points us toward a few elements that may be lacking in many a law practice. The absence of those ingredients is not a mere annoyance. Instead, it could be a serious impediment to fulfillment and satisfaction.

Brian Tannebaum

Brian Tannebaum

Interestingly, Tannebaum suggests that the elements that could make lawyers happier may be exactly the same elements that could make clients happier.

Imagine that—there’s a connection.

“Meaning” may be too complex a concept to reduce to a blog post, but I think Tannebaum’s done a great job at it.

Here’s how he opens his post:

“Lawyers like to say, ‘I’m a lawyer, not a psychiatrist.’”

“If you’re dealing with people’s problems, you’re a lawyer and a psychiatrist. While clients understand you are the person hired to try and resolve their legal issues, the not-so subtle secret of a successful practice is a slew of clients that believe their lawyer actually gives a crap about how their legal issues are affecting their personal life.”

Read the whole post here.

And what do you think? Have you found changes that improve your clients’ experience have also improved your outlook? Are you considering any law practice changes to make your own work more satisfying?

Maricopa-County-Superior-Court-logoHere it is the Monday after the State Bar of Arizona annual convention. Later this week, I have some follow-up information about last Friday’s keynote. But on a I-can’t-believe-it’s-Monday already morning, let me share some news from the Superior Court for Maricopa County.

There are a number of changes to the Local Rules of Practice that go into effect on July 1.

Click here to read the Order.

And click here for the Supreme Court page displaying the Local Rules of Practice for all the Superior Courts.

Maricopa County Superior Court image

Amelia Craig Cramer opens her gift of a bound volume of Arizona Attorney Magazine, while State Bar CEO John Phelps looks on, June 18, 2013.

Amelia Craig Cramer opens her gift of a bound volume of Arizona Attorney Magazine, while State Bar CEO John Phelps looks on, June 18, 2013.

On the Tuesday before the State Bar Convention begins, the Board of Governors holds its June board meeting. It takes most of the afternoon (OK, the whole afternoon), but it does have its charms.

First of all, it’s the last board meeting over which the outgoing President presides. That means Tuesday was Amelia Craig Cramer’s last meeting. She was a pleasure to work with, and we were lucky to have her lead the Bar in the past year.

Others, too, cycle off the board at that meeting. And it is always great to hear the warm best wishes uttered among people who work hard together and often do not have a free minute to commiserate and visit as friends. The June meeting provides that opportunity.

The passing of the gavel includes a few gifts to the outgoing President. Amelia wanted the Bar to donate to the Foundation the money they would have spent on her gift—and so they will. But she still receives (whether she likes it or not) a gift of a leather-bound year of Arizona Attorney Magazine. She opened the gift, smiled, and then mentioned that with the Bar’s green and paperless initiative, this may be the last year the gift will be possible. Gulp. I’ll take that as being part of her great sense of humor!

Another tradition that’s arisen is the oh-so-brief crowning of the Incoming President. And so we got to view the already-tall Whitney Cunningham achieve a truly regal height. He generously allowed a photo or three as Amelia placed the velvet and ermine piece on his head, but then declined to wear it further—being a man of the people, I suppose (me, I would have worn that around the Biltmore throughout the Convention’s duration!).

Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer crowns her successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer crowns her successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

The reveal: Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer displays her crowned successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

Congratulations and thanks to Amelia, Whitney and all those others who offer their time and more in service to Arizona’s lawyers.

Booker T. Evans is in the house -- as he emceed (and sang) for the Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

Booker T. Evans is in the house — as he emceed (and sang) for the Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

The Thursday night party has become a loud and raucous staple of the Bar Convention. As I write this late Thursday night, my ears still ring as testament to that fact.

I did not get photos of all the bands in action—I must confess I was enjoying conversation too much to snap pictures. But I did get a shot of one band (Guilty as Sin) while on stage. Expand your imagination to place your own favorite band in that space.

Guilty as Sin on stage at the Biltmore for the State Bar of Arizona Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

Guilty as Sin on stage at the Biltmore for the State Bar of Arizona Battle of the Lawyer Bands, June 20, 2013.

The evening’s host was lawyer Booker T. Evans, and he took a few moments between acts to serenade the appreciative crowd. Quite the crooner, that one.

Battle of the Lawyer Bands big check

Yes, that’s a big check, destined for those with a big sound.

When it comes to the band-battle portion of the evening, I had a surprise in store. Because I pay attention too little, I did not realize that real cash-money is at stake. I understood that the audience voted, but I had guessed that bragging rights were at stake, not dollar signs. But as I sat with colleagues just outside the Grand Ballroom (so that we could hear each other), I saw staff gathering up three of those Publishers Clearinghouse-type checks.

I immediately thought two things: I must take my voting privilege seriously. And I should have been far more diligent in my sixth-grade guitar instruction. Live and learn.

All the bands were great, and here are photos of the third, second and first-place winners.

Leon Silver accepts the third-place check for Guilty as Sin.

Leon Silver accepts the third-place check for Guilty as Sin.

Second-place winner Los Big Grandes

Second-place winner Los Big Grandes

First-place The Gotes

First-place winner The Gotes

And let me end with another shot of the inimitable Booker Evans.

Booker T. Evans

Booker T. Evans

Rock on.

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