July 2013

Youngest-ever barrister Gabrielle Turnquest. How old? She was able to buy a pint just this year.

Youngest-ever barrister Gabrielle Turnquest. How old? She was able to buy a pint just this year.

We just got the news that an 18-year-old is about to become a barrister, the youngest ever. And what did you do this week?

As the story goes, U.S. citizen Gabrielle Turnquest, 18, will become “the youngest person in the history of the English and Welsh legal system to be called to The Bar after passing The Bar Professional Training Course.” Her achievement was formally recognized at a London ceremony yesterday, July 30.

More on that in a bit. But one element that caught my eye was the future she spies for herself. As the university reported, “She is returning to the USA this fall to continue studying towards fulfilling her aspiration of forging a career as a fashion law specialist.”

A fashion law specialist! Though the whole 18-year-old thing is amazing enough, I find Gabrielle’s aspirations pretty enchanting. Don’t we all think there are plenty of (you name the practice niche) lawyers practicing already? Do we need another to tout that traditional practice as a faux goal?

How many new lawyers try to convince themselves that they have a passion—PASSION!—for discovery and document review, or parking-structure zoning, or some other category that may make a fine living but that likely does not stir the blood?

(Before I get angry missives from attorneys who do exactly those things, let me make clear: Those are wonderful practice areas. But did you really (really?) imagine way back on your first day of law school that you would spend your life billing all those hours for your fertilizer and feed practice? Methinks not.)

And fashion law may not be a pie-in-the-sky dream. One of my favorite new blogs to relish is titled The Fashion Law. It is written by Julie Zerbo, who describes the blog as “one of the leading authoritative sources dedicated to the field of fashion law and the business of fashion. It also serves as a showcase of emerging and established design talent.”

If you are interested in who’s suing whom in the fashion world (and more), The Fashion Law may be the leading authoritative source.

It’s a marvelous mashup of many areas of law we all took in law school, plus a little Project Runway and What Not To Wear—which is exactly the wonderful career I wish for Ms. Turnquest.

Fashion Law Blog 3

That’s right: Fashion and law

She is graduating from The University of Law, of which I was not familiar. The university is a relative legal newcomer. As it describes itself:

“The University of Law is the largest provider of professional legal education and training in Europe with centres in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford, Manchester and York. Previously The College of Law, we were granted university title in November 2012.”

More information about the university is here.

And here is the university’s press release:

A University of Law graduate is to become the youngest person in the history of the English and Welsh legal system to pass The Bar exams at just 18 years of age. Gabrielle Turnquest will be called to The Bar of England and Wales through the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn on July 30, 2013, the youngest person in the Bar’s more than 600 year history to do so as a graduate.

Gabrielle, who is from Windermere, Florida, undertook The University of Law’s Bar Professional Training Course following passing the Graduate Diploma in Law when she was 17 years old. She is returning to the USA this fall to continue studying towards fulfilling her aspiration of forging a career as a fashion law specialist.

Historically, a trainee lawyer had to be 21 years old to be eligible for the call to The Bar but this was removed in 2009 when the Consolidated Regulations of the Four Inns of Court were replaced by the Bar Training Regulations.  The average age of a student graduating from the BPTC course is 27*. Gabrielle has already made history at her previous University, Liberty University in Virginia, where she became the youngest person to be conferred an undergraduate degree at that institution having completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the age of 16.

Under The University of Law’s Bar training programs, overseas students can undertake training at its centres that is internationally relevant, helping them to gain an international perspective and qualify for other countries’ Bar and solicitor training requirements.

Gabrielle will also be called to the Bahamas Bar, the country of her parental heritage.  She will then return to the USA and attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to pursue a programme in Apparel Industry Management.  This will equip her with the necessary skills needed to venture into the niche market of fashion law.  Alongside this course she will also prepare and sit the multi state Bar in the USA.

Gabrielle Turnquest said: “I am honoured to be the youngest graduate student to pass the Bar exams in England and Wales and grateful to The University of Law for helping me achieve this milestone. Studying at the University of Law has broadened my horizons and introduced me to a global legal system that will help me in my future career in the international fashion industry.”

Nigel Savage, President and Provost at The University of Law, said: “Like Gabrielle, students from across the globe are recognising the importance of having a legal qualification that is widely recognised in other legal jurisdictions. The growing globalisation of law firms and the need for more international expertise means that it is becoming increasingly more important for young legal professionals to have experience across different legal markets if they are going to maximise the number of job opportunities that are available to them.”

Globally the legal services market is thriving and is expected to increase to $751bn (£480bn) over the next three years, which represents an annual average growth rate of 5% between now and 2015**.  Over half of the revenue of the largest 100 law firms in the UK is now being generated by international law firms based in London putting the UK firmly on the map as a global legal hub and also opening up greater opportunities for UK law firms operating overseas.

ArmyOneSource logoThis month, the State Bar of Arizona launches a collaboration with an organization committed to making legal service more available to former military personnel. Here is news about how you can participate and lend a hand.

Since 9/11, many of those deployed have been National Guard or Reserve component servicemembers. They leave behind jobs, families, friends and civilian life to face the stress of combat, long deployments, and painful reintroductions to everyday life.

Coming home can mean facing difficult changes, reemployment and financial challenges, stressful family conditions, and in many cases legal issues that developed while on deployment. Help them face their legal battles at home.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorBecome a part of the State Bar of Arizona’s statewide effort to make military legal assistance more accessible.

Here are some of the ways you can help:

  • Represent – Provide pro bono or reduced-rate legal representation
  • Advise – Listen and offer direction and advice on legal issues
  • Mentor – Assist another attorney or supervise a law student in a legal clinic
  • Educate – Present a workshop at a Yellow Ribbon, Drill Weekend, or other event

Please help make military legal assistance available throughout the state.

To sign up, go here.

Follow the effort on Twitter.


lawyers meeting

If meet-and-confer rules work for discovery motions, why not use them for all dispositive motions?

Before the month of July fades away, I wanted to point to some terrific content in the soon-to-be-not-current Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Today, I point you toward an article that challenges the courts to consider a new approach to non-discovery motions.

In the article, Judge Douglas Gerlach (Superior Court for Maricopa County) and Eugene Cohen begin by describing the benefits that have flowed from Arizona’s revised approach to discovery.

So if Arizona’s legal profession is pleased at what we call “the Zlaket Rules” have done for discovery, why don’t we require meet-and-confer rules of lawyers even beyond discovery?

Here’s how they open their article:

“By rule, many jurisdictions require lawyers to meet-and-confer with their counterparts, and to so certify, before filing a discovery motion. This requirement has not solved all problems that accompany discovery disputes, but it has reduced the frequency and scope of discovery-related litigation, as well as the time and expense associated with those efforts.”

“This article suggests that the adoption of a similar rule for dispositive motions will produce the same benefits. Indeed, the cost-savings for litigants and the reduced burden on the courts will likely be more substantial than the savings that the discovery rule has produced. Because Arizona would be the first jurisdiction to adopt (or at least try) the proposed rule, there are no empirical data to support that conclusion. However, substantial anecdotal support, based on the authors’ professional experience and discussions with others, suggests strongly that the advantages of such an approach far outweigh any drawbacks (if, indeed, there are any drawbacks). At the very least, a pilot program to test the proposal would clearly seem warranted.”

Read the complete article here.

What do you think? Should the courts adopt such a rule? Would it improve law practice? Would it improve your ability to assess a case’s value?

The day's overcast, but this is a pretty sunny spot for a Venice Beach law firm.

The day’s overcast, but this is a pretty sunny spot for a Venice Beach law firm.

Strolling along the Venice Beach boardwalk in California, the last thing I expected to see was a law office. Sure, T-shirt shops, wild murals, henna stands. But a law office?

That led me to think our Change of Venue Friday should be just a few photos. What’s a better fit for the end of the week?

The law firm, by the way, is not one I’m familiar with, so please don’t take this as an advertisement for Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison, LLP.

But imagine your own law office situated like this: The Pacific Ocean immediately west of you. And a continent of possible clients behind you. Pretty sweet.

I wrote the other day about Venice Beach’s founder, named Abbott Kinney. So esteemed is that fellow that he managed to be muralized only a block away from the boardwalk.

Venice Beach Abbott Kinney mural

Venice Beach Abbott Kinney mural

Finally, I take you off the boardwalk and high up into the air—into the LAX Theme Building, “the distinctive white building resembl[ing] a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs.”

LAX Theme Building (via Wikimedia Commons)

LAX Theme Building (via Wikimedia Commons)

With a longer-than-preferred layover, I decided to finally stroll over and head up to the building’s Encounter Restaurant and Bar. I’ve seen the mid-century modern iconic building for decades and always wondered about the view.

Here are a few photos of the view inside the funky building and its elevator panel, along with the traffic-control tower to the west.

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Have a great weekend—mid-century modern or not.

Flip off: All (protected) speech may not be for everyone.

Flip off: All (protected) speech may not be for everyone.

Where does protected speech end and obstruction of justice begin?

That has been on my mind since the 1980s, when I would regularly drive the many hundreds of miles of the New York State Thruway system.

It was not uncommon then (and probably the same today) that you would see State Trooper vehicles parked on a grassy berm, with a radar gun trained on oncoming traffic.

If you were fortunate enough, that radar gun was pointed the other way, aimed toward the opposite lane of vehicles. And so you, the lucky, were presented with a question: Should you flash your high-beams at the cars headed toward you, warning them that a speed trap was around the next bend?

If conditions were right (i.e., no massive curves that made oncoming cars invisible), I almost always opted to flash my lights. (Judge how you may.)

Please don’t remind me that speed may contribute to accidents and worse; I’m aware of that. But on most modern freeways (even in the 1980s) engineered for substantial speeds, 55 mph was a drowsy punishment. It is simply too easy to drift above that limit. And the costs associated with a ticket (including insurance costs) were (and are) substantial.

Back then, it was very common for many drivers to use their own headlights in aid of oncoming drivers. Especially appreciative appeared to be the semi-truck drivers, who would flash their thanks back to you.

Early social media, I suppose you could call it.

Were the troopers pleased at our community communication? Probably not. But they appeared to know what the First Amendment meant.

More recently, some police officers have been responding to headlight behavior with anger and the heavy hand of the law. Here is a story about a man arrested for obstruction of justice for flashing his lights as a warning.

The story opens:

“Missouri resident Michael Elli wanted to let others on the road know to slow down because they were about to drive into a speed trap, so he did what many kindhearted souls do: He flashed his headlights as a warning.”

“Police didn’t take at all kindly to warnings of this 21st century Paul Revere. They flashed him a ticket of his very own for obstruction of justice. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case, but Mr. Elli has now filed a class action lawsuit against the city because he says that the city retaliates against drivers who exercise their right to free speech–and that the government is trying to prevent it because it doesn’t like the message.”

Maybe the arrest came because so few people will flash oncoming drivers these days. My own unscientific poll of colleagues found that a majority did not even know what the practice meant. So if people are unaware of the flash’s meaning, why would they participate?

So perhaps Mr. Elli is one of the few remaining in that helpful herd. Whereas in years past police would have had to cite hundreds of drivers for the practice (and so wouldn’t), they now see the civic activity rarely, and so feel empowered to smite it.

But how different is Mr. Elli’s behavior, really, than that of some mainstream news organizations?

Every day, the Tucson Sentinel updates its online page of “Radar Van Locations.” You can see a screen-shot below; it’s very detailed. I doubt police like that page, but they appear to understand that it is protected by the First Amendment. How is the activity of a sole driver any different?

Radar Van Locations Tucson Sentinel

“Radar Van Locations” via the online Tucson Sentinel.

Finally, here is an indication that communications attitudes may be changing—when it comes to flipping off a police officer.

“A police officer can’t pull you over and arrest you just because you gave him the finger, a federal appeals court declared Thursday. In a 14-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that the ‘ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.’”

The man had been cited for “disorderly conduct.”

Call me old-school, but I must say activity like that is pretty distasteful. Police have a very difficult job, and it cannot always be fun being the professional authority figure. But the court’s reasoning may be sound.

It is interesting that the middle-finger incident occurred when the driver saw a police officer holding a radar gun. (And I chuckled at the fact that the charges were dismissed on “speedy trial grounds.” Get it?) That was the extent of their interaction, but radar may tend to have that effect on people; it just seems, I don’t know, unfair somehow (I know, that’s not a legal basis, but a court sitting in equity would get it!)

Would the police have cited the driver if he had flipped off an unmanned radar camera? (That must happen dozens of times every day.)

What do you think? Do people have a constitutional right to convey information to their fellows, as long as they do not otherwise interfere with police activities?

Jordan Furlong

Jordan Furlong

If you care about the direction the legal profession is headed (and I think you do), one person you ought to be reading is Jordan Furlong. The lawyer and accomplished speaker strategizes some of the best ways forward for lawyers and law firms.

In a recent blog post, he also offered advice to bar associations, which he says are in need of transformation.

Before you agree wholeheartedly, you should read his take on what he thinks many bars need to do—and already may be doing right:

“Bar associations are facing some existential challenges right now, and I wouldn’t want to see them just disappear beneath the waves without trying to extend a hand.”

“Many bar associations find, when they do a sober inventory of their true assets, that they have fewer than they supposed, especially in terms of the relevance and distinctiveness of their activities and services. Almost everything they offer to lawyers can be replicated in some way by other service providers, most of which have neither the overhead costs nor the organizational slow-footedness that hamstring associations. Like law firms, these are legacy organizations with legacy costs and legacy thinking, and they find adjustment to be a very difficult process.”

“But what most bar associations can still boast, the one legacy holdover that’s helpful to them, is their reputation: the brand recognition and authority they can still muster among lawyers. These assets have been developed over the course of many years of service, albeit service to a very different profession in a very different market than this one. But the respect survives as brand awareness, legitimacy and trust — much as it does for many historic law firms whose name partners died a long time ago.”

Brand awareness, legitimacy and trust—these are all elements of Arizona Attorney Magazine’s mission statement, so I’d like to think the State Bar of Arizona is on the right track, even in challenging times.

And when Furlong says that many so-called strengths “can be replicated in some way by other service providers,” I recall lawyer Mike Ostermeyer’s chuckling that lawyers (and maybe bars) all think their offerings are above average, as in Lake Wobegon. (We can’t all be above average, can we?)

Furlong goes on to advise about some practices bars may adopt to help them remain relevant to members.

How does your experience compare?

In February, I had the opportunity to hear Furlong speak at a national conference of bar executives. He was compelling and a little bit frightening—exactly the wake-up call he was hoping to deliver.

I was asked to write a news story about Furlong’s talk; you can read that here (go to page 5).

(If you’re of a mind to do it, you also can read an article there on page 3 about how a conference panel of “social media pros”—including moi—updated an eager audience.)

As I describe in my article, Furlong advises bar associations to remember that they serve the legal profession, which encompasses more than just lawyers. That broadening of scope may increase the reach of bars, but it may not be most pleasing to attorneys.

Jordan Furlong presentation at the National Association of Bar Executives, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 6, 2013.

Jordan Furlong presentation at the National Association of Bar Executives, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 6, 2013.

Furlong also points readers to an article by Sam Glover called “How Can Bar Associations Stay Relevant.” I recommend that too.

Finally, here’s a last mention on the bar association topic.

In a recent blog post regarding “the cloud” and how lawyers can grow comfortable with storage options “up there,” LexisNexis expert Frank Strong suggested some strategies.

Beyond the “early adopters,” he says, attorneys may need prodding to feel secure in the cloud. And among four key factors he points to, bar associations are essential:

“Bar association endorsements. Several state bar associations have validated the ethics of cloud computing. In many ways, they’ve caused an industrywide stutter-step to cloud computing adoption. Initially they advised caution, but months later, in its simplest form, their advice is to disclose your use of the cloud to clients and to do your due diligence on vendors to ensure they are treating the data with care.”

That step is one that Furlong and Glover would recommend as reclaiming the relevance of bar associations. It is assistance with law practice made concrete.

You should read Frank Strong’s whole article here.

And on Arizona’s approach to the cloud, you also should read an Arizona Ethics Opinion from 2009 on “Confidentiality; Maintaining Client Files; Electronic Storage; Internet.”

Venice Beach Segway accident, June 2013

Venice Beach Segway accident, June 2013

This week, I am pleased to say I have escaped the Arizona heat and have headed west to California. Venice Beach and all its wonder is the destination.

As always, when I head to points-not-home, I get a bit curious about legal angles that may afflict the foreign community.

Given that the locale is Venice Beach, I took it as a challenge that the legal story could not be about medical marijuana, dog-leash laws, overnight parking permits, or injury caused by speeding Segways.

I mean, come on; give me a hard challenge.


Abbott Kinney, founder of Venice, Calif.

That’s when I came across a story about a deed from the turn of the last century that helped to create the free-and-easy Venice we know today.

Abbott Kinney was a developer, conservationist and founder of Venice.

Here is what the Venice Beach Boardwalk Coalition reported recently, on June 18:

“Over the years rumors of ‘Abbott Kinney’s Deed’ have floated through Venice but nobody ever seemed to know much about it, except that Abbott Kinney, the founder of Venice Beach, had made certain stipulations about how the deeded beach area was to be used.”

“But now, thanks to Venice activists, the deeds—there are more than one—have been made available to the public; we are now in possession of those deeds and can reveal what it was that Abbott Kinney stipulated over 100 years ago in 1904 and 1906.”

The “Spirit of Venice” website continues:

“It appears that Mr. Kinney had a very specific use in mind for the area—that is now considered Venice City Beach park—a ‘pleasure park’ is how he and his partners described it in the 1904 ABBOTT KINNEY DEED:


Free speech placard via the Venice Beach Boardwalk Coalition.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD all and singular the said premises together with the appurtenances unto the said party of the second part and its successors and assigns in the hereinafter named trust, forever, as a pleasure park or beach for the use, benefit and enjoyment of the public in general and particularly the inhabitants of said city and the owners of the property lying adjacent to the property hereinbefore described; provided, that this conveyance is made upon the condition that no house or houses or building of any kind or character, or miniature, steam, street, or electric railway or roadway, or any gas, water or sewer pipe shall ever be erected, constructed, laid, maintained or operated, or he permitted or allowed to be erected, constructed, laid, maintained or operated, in, along, upon or over said lands or any part thereof; and that no game of any kind shall ever be permitted to be conducted or carried on upon said lands or any part thereof, and said lands and every part thereof must at all times be kept free from teaming, open, and unobstructed for the use and enjoyment of the public and as a pleasure park or beach, and said property shall be kept clean at said City’s expense.”

A subsequent deed in 1906 conveyed the Ocean Front Walk itself.

Given the deeds, the community groups wonder, is all the development at the park and on the boardwalk legal?

I’ll leave that dialogue to community activists and chambers of commerce.

Read the original deeds (1904 and 1906) here.

I’m pretty fond of Venice Beach. And a legal mystery only adds to its charm.

Former Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and attorney Mark Harrison, on a Maricopa County Bar Association panel on merit selection, Sept. 25, 2012.

Former Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and attorney Mark Harrison, on a Maricopa County Bar Association panel on merit selection, Sept. 25, 2012.

Another chapter in the merit selection of judges was started on Friday, July 12. That’s when a group of people you’ve likely heard of filed a lawsuit.

As the Republic reported:

“In April, the Arizona Legislature passed a bill that increased the minimum number to five candidates for each judicial vacancy, and Gov. Jan Brewer, who has lobbied for more candidates, signed it into law.”

“On Friday, four members of the commission that nominates judicial candidates for the state’s appellate courts filed a petition for special action in the Arizona Supreme Court, asking the high court to throw out the law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Among the lawyers of record for the petition are six former Arizona Supreme Court justices, including five former chief justices.”

That sequence of events came after a November ballot initiative that sought to change the selection process set out in the Arizona Constitution. In case you don’t remember, voters rejected the effort to change the process by giving the governor’s office even more say than it has now.

Read the whole news story here.

The newest development sees four members of the appellate court commission suing to have the Legislature’s recent actions found unconstitutional.

Lawyers on the special action are Tim Eckstein and Mark Harrison as well as former Chief Justices Ruth McGregor, Stanley Feldman, Tom Zlaket, James Moeller, Frank Gordon, Jr., and Charles Jones.

Quite the legal heavyweights.

Just to keep you up to speed, be sure to read the Republic’s editorial “Supreme Court should throw out judicial-selection law.”

And just because it’s worth reading, here is the Introduction and Statement of Issues  from the Special Action:


The Arizona Constitution, in Article VI, creates the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments (“the Commission”), and establishes the procedures by which the Commission must nominate candidates to the Governor for judicial vacancies. Article VI, § 371 requires the Commission to nominate “not less than three” candidates, but leaves to the Commission’s discretion whether to nominate more than three candidates. In 2012, the Legislature attempted to amend this constitutional scheme by referring to the People a measure (Proposition 115) that, among other things, would have amended the Constitution by changing the number of candidates the Commission must nominate. Over seventy percent of voters rejected that measure.

Not content with the People’s decision to leave Article VI, § 37 of the Constitution as it is, the Legislature, in its just-completed session, passed (and the Governor signed) House Bill 2600 (“H.B. 2600”), which purports to amend Article VI, § 37 by requiring the Commission to submit at least five candidates to the Governor, but provides that on a two-thirds vote, the Commission may reject a candidate and “submit fewer than five names.”2 This statute thus attempts two changes in the constitutional scheme: First, in the absence of a supermajority vote, the Commission is required to nominate five (rather than three) candidates.

Second, with a supermajority vote, the Commission may nominate fewer than three candidates. The Legislature’s attempt to amend the Constitution in these ways cannot stand. Under Article XXI, the Constitution may be amended only by vote of the People—not, as here, by legislative fiat. In addition, under Article IV, Part 1, § 1(14), the Legislature cannot supersede Proposition 115, which was defeated by the voters in 2012. Because of the frequency and importance of the Commission’s work, this Court should exercise its special action jurisdiction, declare that H.B. 2600 is unconstitutional, and enjoin and prohibit the Commission from applying H.B. 2600.

1 Article VI, § 36 of the Constitution creates the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments and Article VI, § 37(A) of the Constitution sets forth the nomination procedures for the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. Article VI, § 41 creates Commissions on Trial Court Appointments and Article VI, § 37(B) sets forth nomination procedures for the Commissions on Trial Court Appointments. Counties with populations of 250,000 or more are covered by §§ 37(B) and 41; presently Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties are covered by those sections.

2 H.B. 2600 applies to the Appellate Court Appointment Commission and the three Commissions on Trial Court Appointments. The arguments and references made in this Petition with respect to the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments apply equally to the three Commissions on Trial Court Appointments.

Statement of Issues

1. Does H.B. 2600 unconstitutionally amend Article VI, § 37 by (1) requiring the Commission, in the absence of a supermajority, to nominate more than three candidates to the Governor; and (2) permitting the Commission, with a supermajority, to submit fewer than three candidates to the Governor?

2. Does H.B. 2600 violate Article IV, Part 1, § 1(14) of the Constitution by superseding Proposition 115, which was defeated by a majority of the voters in 2012?

We're sprouting bollards today. Here's a mushroom one in Belgium (Wikipedia)

We’re sprouting bollards today. Here’s a mushroom one in Belgium (Wikipedia)

When I received an email this week from the State Bar of Arizona CEO and glanced at the subject line, my first thought was: I must have really irked him.

After all, my speedy glimpse revealed what I thought was a British obscenity. Upon closer examination, though, I could read it accurately: “Bollards”

Whew. Not an Anglo–Saxon expletive, after all.

Once I got past my concern about the subject line and read John Phelps’ email, I realized that he was informing State Bar staff about the installation of new short vertical posts, placed outside the building’s front doors as security devices.

US Capitol security

Safe and sound? Warm and fuzzy?

John took the moment to make it more than a construction update. He informed us why they were appearing (no specific concerns, but let’s be safe out there). And then, because he knows how much some of us enjoy the oddities of life, he included the link to the Wikipedia page on bollards.

Yes, there is one. And yes, you should click it. (That’s where I got a few nifty bollard photos, natch).

So John’s email was helpful, but I still was concerned. Would we step outside and see yellow pylons, a la Safeway or Costco? Or, even worse, had the charming entrance been transformed into a Benghazi streetscape (or a tourist’s modern-day view of the U.S. Capitol)?

Imagine my pleasure at seeing the result. The bollards complement the building and surrounding planters nicely. Security appropriate to its surroundings—well done!

Bollard state bar

Bar bollards bloom

Immediately after snapping this shot, I was able to get confirmation that the good taste of Bar deciders is not universal. Twenty minutes later, I was at the downtown Phoenix Police station for a meeting, where I strode up to the brutalist architecture (which undoes any good done by the officers’ community policing).

Phoenix Police Department HQ

Phoenix Police Department headquarters

There, I spotted the alternative to the Bar’s approach: the police bollards.

Bollard phoenix police

Bollards protect and serve up some hurt

Yikes. They were what I had feared. Fierce and menacing, they ensure a visitor does not feel welcome. (And before you say “unfair,” the ones at the front of the building are pretty grim, too.)

Well done, State Bar.

Back to the Wikipedia page.

A big fan of tugboats, I was pleased to see the entry’s nautical bent. Here are a few more bollards that add quirkiness to function.

bollard Victoria Canada

Well-dressed bollards in Victoria, B.C.

And for those of you whose hopes were raised upon mention of the British expletive, I offer a Change of Venue Friday video: a banned VW ad that prominently features the word “bollocks.”

Let’s see if that irks John.

Have a great weekend.

Arizona Attorney ideas

Yes, I found the Scrabble tile in the street. The “I” just spoke to me.

Last week, I promised a conversation about strategy as it relates to law practice. Here we are.

You rarely hear magazines singing the praises of other magazines. I suppose that would be a little like a law firm crowing about the terrific work another law firm does.

Despite that, I have to mention an article I read in Law Practice Magazine the other day. And the fact that it was written by an old friend of mine is immaterial.

LPM, in case you don’t know, is a publication of the American Bar Association. It typically has good content. Their July/August issue caught my eye right away, though, for a few reasons.

The first is that they had the good sense to put Richard Susskind on the cover. Any magazine (for lawyers) that has the good fortune to publish the legal futurist Susskind had better have the sense to put him front and center. And so kudos for that.

The second thing that caught my eye? It’s their “Big Ideas Issue.” Their inaugural Big Ideas Issue, in fact.

Well, I’ll be.

Let me tell you how I know that’s a great idea. We did the same thing in Arizona Attorney Magazine, way back in September 2010.

We loved the content (well, I did, anyway). But ultimately we decided we were in the Ideas business every month, so restricting the concept of Ideas (or the idea of Concepts) to a single month seemed self-defeating.

But now that I see how well LPM has done with the theme, I may steal borrow it back.

In any case, back to that article I enjoyed so much.

Attorney Mike Ostermeyer would like to see more strategic thinking in BigLaw.

Attorney Mike Ostermeyer would like to see more strategic thinking in BigLaw.

It’s titled “A Big Idea for Biglaw? Just One Word: Strategy.” The title’s a bit cumbersome, but there’s gold in them thar hills.

The author is a BigLaw partner himself. Mike Ostermeyer works in the Milwaukee office of Quarles & Brady.

(He and I were in English graduate school together at Notre Dame back in the ‘80s. He then realized law was his future before I did. The best-dressed we ever were together was when I was a groomsman in his wedding.)

From his Midwestern perch, Ostermeyer offers a hard look at some of the central challenges facing big law firms today. His writing is good, but his prognosis is not rosy.

His article’s foundation begins with a seminal definition:

“What is strategy? For Michael Porter—the Harvard Business School professor who largely created the field, and who today remains its most prominent figure—strategy is the purposeful definition of differences. Indeed, for nearly 20 years since his seminal article ‘What Is Strategy?’ appeared in a 1996 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Porter has consistently emphasized that strategy is about only one thing: fundamental difference.

Definition set, Ostermeyer then asks and answers a compelling question: “Why is strategy so hard for BigLaw?”

If that seems ouch-worthy, you should read his entire article here.

Among the lessons he imparts, he tells a story that is worth reprinting in full:

“Many years ago, on my very first day as law clerk to a federal judge, my judge told my highly impressionable 27-year-old self: ‘You’re a professional now, and the best thing about being a professional is’—and here he paused for effect—‘that you’ll know what you have to do, but nobody will ever tell you how you have to do it.’ Now, you may fairly disagree over whether that approach suits partners in a business organization—even if that organization is a professional services firm. What you cannot argue, though, is that strategy simply doesn’t work that way. Rather, it rises or falls on what strategists call “fit”—as Bamford and West define it, ‘tight coordination and internal consistency of action across the company.’ Without fit, strategy fails.”

That was an aha moment for me. Reading Mike’s story, I recalled a compelling New Yorker article I read last fall. It was written by Atul Gawande and was titled “Big Med.” His question was, What can medicine learn from the Cheesecake Factory? (you read that right)

Arizona Attorney September 2010

Yes, we’re always on the hunt for great ideas, too.

Gawande’s point was not that medicine should be rote—neither is the restaurant, he found. But he was struck at the amazing variety of approaches medical professionals take to complete often routine care and procedures. Lost amidst the sense among doctors that “We are professionals and cannot be told there is one best procedure” is the fact that there may actually be one best procedure for many ailments. But the pros refuse to be streamlined into a consensus.

And that’s what Ostermeyer was told by his federal judge. But whereas Gawande bemoaned it, the judge—and most lawyers—revel in their individuality, even when it comes to techniques easily unified.

Gawande spoke with many doctors, finally finding one who understood the value of a best way whenever possible. That doctor said:

“‘Customization should be five per cent, not ninety-five per cent, of what we do,’ he told me. A few years ago, he gathered a group of people from every specialty involved—surgery, anesthesia, nursing, physical therapy—to formulate a single default way of doing knee replacements. They examined every detail, arguing their way through their past experiences and whatever evidence they could find. Essentially, they did what [the Cheesecake Factory] considered the obvious thing to do: they studied what the best people were doing, figured out how to standardize it, and then tried to get everyone to follow suit.”

That may be tough medicine for lawyers. But as revenues are driven down by international competition by lawyers and non-lawyers, streamlining wherever possible may be part of a success story. After all, law may not be a commodity; but some of the tasks lawyers perform are exactly how we define commodity.

Here in Arizona, is there a big-firm partner who is similarly willing take to a steely look at the profession as it is (rather than as we wish it were)? If so, I’d love to talk with you. Perhaps there should be a magazine column in your future.

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

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