August 2013


Old_Drum_dog Statue cropped

Old Drum

Yesterday, I shared what I believe is a great and substantive story from the July/August Arizona Attorney. And before that issue shuffles off this mortally digital coil, let me suggest you read one more item.

Retired Judge Bill Schafer offered us this story about Old Drum, a dog who trotted into legal infamy even as he died.

Like many remarkable events, this one started unremarkably:

“During its 1872 July term, the Missouri Supreme Court announced what appeared to be an innocuous opinion concerning $100. It opened with these words ‘Suit was brought originally before a justice of the peace for killing plaintiff’s dog, and damages were laid at $100’ and ended 10 sentences later with a decision for the dog’s owner. That was 106 years ago, and we are still talking about the case. You may recognize it as ‘Senator Vest’s Tribute To The Dog.’”

“The dog was named Old Drum. He was a black hound dog and had been Charles Burden’s companion for years. They lived in Warrensburg, Missouri. Burden’s brother-in-law, Leonidas Hornsby, lived next door, and they were both farmers.”

Well, if you watched Old Yeller or any other countless artistic works about dogs, you probably know it did not end well for Old Drum. But out of his story, we got a touching soliloquy on the relationship a person may have with his companion animal.

In my editor’s column this month, I urged folks to read Judge Schafer’s essay. In so doing, I poked some fun at my December 2005 column that had been “guest-written” by our dog Cleo.

Cleo tries her hand at a little writing, Ariz. Attorney, Dec. 2005

Cleo tries her hand at a little writing, Ariz. Attorney, Dec. 2005

The month’s poignancy was multiplied, though, when within a few weeks Cleo took ill and died on July 11. It was a traumatic event in our house, though we knew that our 17-year-old friend had lived a good and full life.

Enjoy the judge’s article. And then go home and, if you’ve got one, pat the head of your four-legged friend.

Cleo on porch 07-06-13

Cleo considers whatever it is dogs consider, July 6, 2013.

Most senior Arizona lawyer spread July Aug 2013Is it just me, or does it seem ridiculous beyond words that August is about to expire? The summer just started about yesterday, it seems.

Well, before the month passes, I will pass on to you today and tomorrow some items from the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, in case you haven’t seen them. If you have already read them, read them again—it’s highly nutritious stuff.

The first item of note arose from a question posed by attorney Richard Bellah: I wonder who the oldest-living member of the State Bar of Arizona is? Or, more particularly, who alive has the lowest Bar number?

Easy squeezey, we both thought. We have databases that can answer that kind of query quicker than two shakes of a dog’s tale.

Of course, we were wrong, much to our surprise.

Here’s why:

  • The data only go back so far, and
  • When the first lawyers became members of the Bar, they weren’t given numbers, and
  • When the Bar began handing out numbers, they didn’t start at 1.Arizona Attorney logo

Much head-scratching later, we developed a way to determine a pretty serviceable answer to our question. The result is a great feature article slugged “Who’s Number 1?” It examines the four oldest-living members, and includes their own commentary on what’s right and not so right with law practice.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The four most senior living Arizona attorneys—each well into their 90s—seem a satisfied bunch. They are very bright and could, if they desired, competently represent clients today; in fact, one still does. They remember in detail their law school experiences, the bar exam and early career days. They remember their colleagues fondly, and they acknowledge how different the practice is today. More than one of them mentioned that when they were young lawyers, everyone in the legal profession knew each other. There was an atmosphere of community and camaraderie. And there was no such thing as a ‘billable hour.’”

Yes, you’ll have to click through to see who those four are, and to read their valuable lessons from a life of law practice.

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers who found the piece refreshing and a surprising snapshot of Arizona legal history.

Tomorrow, I share a briefer but just as compelling piece from the issue. Fair warning: I’ve been told it’s brought tears to readers’ eyes.

Arizona Law logoThey say late notice is better than no notice at all, and so I pass on a legal event occurring at 4:00 today in Tucson.

Here’s the good news: You can attend via the power of live-streaming.

A panel discussion titled “Death of DOMA: Implications for Arizona? will be held at the James E. Rogers College of Law today (Wednesday, August 28) from 4:00 to 5:15 pm. It will occur in the Ares Auditorium (Room 164). Seating is first-come, first-served; there is no registration.

However, this program also will be live-streamed. To watch the program online, visit the home page and click on the DOMA panel link, which will become available shortly before the program starts.

Here is more information from the law school.

Law Professors Toni Massaro and Barbara Atwood will speak on a panel with attorney Steven Phillips about the Supreme Court decisions in Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry and the legal implications for attorneys and same-sex couples in Arizona. The program will be of general interest to lawyers and non-lawyers and conducted in a Q-and-A format.

Professor Emerita Atwood, family law scholar, and Dean Emerita Massaro, a noted constitutional law teacher and scholar, co-authored an opinion piece, “Gay Marriage: Let’s Talk,” published in the Arizona Republic in March, and they have frequently commented on these cases.

Attorney Steven Phillips, an alumnus of Arizona Law, is a Tucson attorney specializing in business and estate planning transactions and estate administration. A longtime Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, he is a frequent contributor and participant in programs of the State Bar of Arizona and the Tucson Tax Study Group, which he co-founded. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Southwest Super Lawyers.

The “Death of DOMA” panel is free and open to the public. Seating is first-come, first-served. No registration is required. Up to 1.25 hours of CLE credit are available.

Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time: 4 – 5:15 p.m.

Location: James E. Rogers College of Law, Ares Auditorium (Room 164), 1201 E. Speedway, Tucson

The program is being cosponsored by the University of Arizona Institute for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies.

Arizona Bar Foundation logoOn Friday, I received the announcement below from the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education—or the Bar Foundation, as we sometimes say for short.

I have participated in many of their fantastic programs, where their people are the best in the world. Anyone who signs on as an event planner with the Foundation is bound to have a marvelous time—and do quite a bit of good for Arizona and civic engagement.

The following job posting may describe you. Or it might describe someone you know well. Feel free to pass it on.

Here’s the job:

Great at planning events? Are organization and communication two of your strengths? If yes, we have an opportunity for you!

The Arizona Bar Foundation is looking for individuals with excellent event planning skills to plan, implement and host our We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution competitions and/or Project Citizen showcases. Eligible candidates must have effective communication, organization and logistical planning skills; however, it is not a requirement to be a We the People or Project Citizen teacher.

For more information and to complete a proposal, please visit the Competition Regional Coordinator Call for Proposals here.

For questions, please contact Jennifer.Castro@azflse.org. Thank you!

Society of Professional Journalists logoOh, what a luxury it is to be learning.

This past Saturday through today (Monday), I am in Anaheim, Calif., to attend an annual conference of journalists. (The hosts are the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.)

As I’ve said before, people learn in all kinds of ways. I’ve had great luck with the podcast and the webinar. But it is hard to beat the occasional face-to-face gathering, where you are not tempted to multitask as a national webinar streams into your office. Sure, it may be more challenging for busy folks to attend in-person conferences, but boyoboy they still have a place in professional education and development.

For example, I am always on the prowl for the best way to cover Arizona’s legal profession. How does a small staff analyze and share what’s important for a state full of attorneys? I am sure that lessons I learn in Anaheim will help me in that challenge.

EIJ13 Journalist conference app screenshot

#EIJ13 Journalist conference app screenshot

I plan to tweet some from the Excellence in Journalism conference (Find me here.). You can follow all the tweets at the dedicated hashtag: #EIJ13

And the conference website is here.

There is a telltale sign that this is a valuable conference: Using the terrific conference app, I started building my own schedule of preferred seminars. Much to my chagrin, in every single time period, there are competing seminars I want to attend. That, I assure you, does not happen at every event I attend!

Like all learning, the seminars run the gamut from skill-building I can use this week all the way up to aspirational tools that might improve Arizona Attorney Magazine next year. But it will be good have the mental gears turning.

(With my conference registration, I also receive two park-hopper passes to Disneyland, which is just across the street. Will I manage to get over to the Happiest Place on Earth? Time will tell.)

I will report back later with some things I learned (I reported on some previous SPJ learning here). But here (in no particular order) are a few seminars I may attend:

  • Working and thinking digital first
  • Digging deeper with social media
  • Data mining: Finding important demographic trends in Census data
  • Facebook usage survey
  • Geek out: The latest tech innovations
  • Best practices for journalists on Facebook
  • Journalism, coding and you
  • Storytelling with Instagram
  • Journalism, the Department of Justice and national security
  • Storytelling with Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Mobile newsgathering with your Smartphone
  • Immigration coverage beyond the fence
  • Effective use of social tools for reporting
  • The perfect interview: Improving your skills

When I return, I’ll give you a roundup of my takeaways (and whether I met with Mickey Mouse).

Who doesn't cheer the First Amendment? (Well, most of us do.)

Who doesn’t cheer the First Amendment? (Well, most of us do.)

Have you heard the phrase unconference?

It’s been applied—or maybe misapplied—to almost any gathering organized by participants rather than by hosts. It’s a way to have a professional conference without all the trappings that often get in the way of true communication.

We’ve all been to an unconference, of course. When you emerge, haggard and exhausted from a hotel conference room seminar and sink with happiness into a comfortable lobby chair, and engage in the best conversation of the day with a fellow wanderer, you’re at an unconference.

When you follow up with a speaker and get her to engage on the issues facing you and your practice (unaddressed in the formal presentation), you’ve created your own unconference. You have grasped the sinews of the conference, which had been organized to the tiniest detail, and bent them to be responsive to you. When you do that, and when you and your conversant both come away richer, you’ve become an unconference aficionado.

I recall hearing about the concept at—of course—a conference a few years ago, where a Tennessee bar leader urged attendees to think creatively. And I’ve been intrigued ever since by how we all learn, really learn, what we need to learn. And that learning happens only occasionally in a seminar room.

1st Amendment Gallery SF logo

A modern logo for a traditional concept

A few weeks ago, I participated in an unconference in the back of a cab. As I shared a ride from the airport into the San Francisco NABE conference, I had a great conversation with a Bar colleague whom I only sometimes get to converse with. We work close by, but the day-to-day always takes precedence over the leisurely chat. In the cab’s enforced lethargy, I was able to gain valuable insight into his thoughts and vision for the organization.

The ensuing conference itself was great, but its high points were almost all marked by conversations like that—brief, shining moments of genuineness and clarity. Who could wish for better?

As it is Change of Venue Friday, I must share one odd view I got during that cab ride (but it’s related, I promise). As we spoke, I looked out the taxi window and was surprised to see a sign bearing a legal term. “First Amendment,” it proclaimed. But was it a dive bar, a political office, a nostalgic cry? (Its retro font immediately put me in mind of the TV show Cheers. Young readers, ask someone old what that means.)

I snapped this bad photo:

The First Amendment Gallery, San Francisco

The First Amendment Gallery, San Francisco

But it wasn’t until later that I discovered the meaning on the organization’s website:

“1AM, short for First Amendment, is a gallery dedicated to street and urban art. Monthly themed exhibitions will feature artists from San Francisco to around the world. Seeing is believing, so come witness the 1AM movement.”

Read more about them here.

And they’re on Facebook and Twitter too.

So on this Friday, when I consider conferences and the people who transform them, enjoy looking at some art of people wholly dedicated to all the enumerated rights, including that to peaceably assemble.

When I’m next in San Francisco, I know I will return to 1AM (despite the font choice).

Have a communicative weekend.

Picture this.

No, I mean it: Picture this blog, not filled with streams of annoying words, but instead illustrating its main points in visual ways.

If you think you’re down with that, then we’re on the same page.

Understand, I’m all about the words. But I’ve been hankering for the past year for more pics and fewer verbal tics. And I have found infographics a terrific tool (maybe I just need a new reading prescription). And in Arizona Attorney Magazine, I’m trying to see where we can use infographics to good effect.

What is an infographic? You may have viewed them and not been familiar with the label. Here’s an example from the highly accomplished Bar Association of San Francisco:

Bar Association of San Francisco infographic

Cool, right?

And here is another shared by Association Media & Publishing:

infographic AMP Association Media and Publishing

Recently, I’ve engaged in a dialogue with a great member of the magazine’s Editorial Board. She too is intrigued by the possible legal uses of infographics. Because she’s efficient, though, she didn’t just muse on it. Instead, Ashley Kasarjian created one, and she’s on her way to creating others.

You may know Ashley as the author of the nationally recognized Employment and the Law Blog. And in her day job (oh, that), she’s an attorney at Snell & Wilmer.

Now, because we blog writers love us a little web-traffic, I’m not going to reprint Ashley’s whole infographic here. For that, you have to travel over here and give her a little SEO love. But here is a snippet of what she’s up to:

Ashley Kasarjian infographic

A portion of an infographic by Ashley Kasarjian

As you can surmise, she’s cooked up a Venn diagram of sorts (and who doesn’t love a Venn diagram?). So surf over to see the whole thing.

I happen to know that Ashley’s subsequent efforts are aimed at including even fewer words. Be still my heart!

(In fact, I will let you in on a little secret: Ashley has thrown down the gauntlet and suggested an infographic battle. I’ve accepted, naturally, but I may be in trouble, given that she’s already jumped in while I still simply ruminate. On the other hand, I’ve warned her that I am willing to include the ever-popular puppies and kittens; as a distinguished Snell attorney, she’s out of luck on that score! #winning)

But you may be unconvinced that such an accessible, concise and comprehensible tool has any place in the practice of law. Therefore, I urge you to set aside your reading of Bleak House and your admiration of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, while I share with you some reasons for you to embrace the brave new visual world.

So: Here are 5 reasons I learned to stop worrying and love the infographic:

1. Clients may love them, and they make your content more valuable to them.

Your background and experience likely mean that you have valuable content to share. And if you have a website (you do have a website, don’t you?), it may be brimming with content out the wazoo. But let’s be real; your mom may be reading it, but other people have higher standards. Why don’t you take some suggestions to make that content sing?

2. Your partners insist on depth, but they don’t read to the end of your memos either.

I am aware of the requirements of law practice; that 17-page brief on whether gravel should be regulated as a building material or a mineral had to be written. But your audience (even your partners) are yearning for the executive summary. What if that brief one-pager were fronted by an infographic setting out the rocky principles? Sure, you might get fired. But you’re a trailblazer.

Read here why simple = powerful, and why “Psychological research on cognitive fluency shows why easy to understand = more profitable, more pleasurable, more intelligent and safer.”

3. We’re all (even attorneys) visual thinkers.

That’s right, even you, with your Juris Doctorate, are likely a visual thinker. There may be some folks who think almost entirely in words, but scientists say they comprise only 25 percent of the population. (Cue the jokes to determine what practice area they’re in.) Want more evidence? (Of course you do, counselor.) Read this great essay about the power of visual thinking.

Or do you want that idea in a picture? (Yes? Now you’re getting the hang of it!). Here:

visual thinking a la postypography

Think about it: Which is mightier than which? (image by postypography)

4. Flowcharts work, especially when your mind doesn’t.

Do you remember law school? That was the place with all the words. Volumes of them. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to read 75 cases about wheat or chaff or something.

Do you remember your bar exam prep course? That was the place with pictures—or at least flowcharts. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to complete and then study a two-page chart that walked you through every possible permutation. Two pages, not volumes.

Close your eyes, and you may still remember those two pages. Close your eyes and think about the law school volumes. ZZZZZZZZZ.

But despite the evidence and our own experience, lawyers eschew images in favor of words. We know that Barbri (or whoever) saved our ass, but after that exam, we cozied up to words all over again.

Here’s an article that describes how valuable flowcharts can be. Read it, and then make one today.

5. Lawyers are creative, and many yearn to release a little art.

In case you missed it, I point you to a story we ran in Arizona Attorney recently. It’s about lawyers who were bit early by the art bug.

Read it and I bet you see a little of yourself there. You may not be a painter or author or sculptor. But infographics? It may be your milieu.

Want to get started? Here is a great collection of law-related infographics; they tend to be connected to personal injury practice, but let’s broaden our horizon to imag(in)e our own possibilities.

I’ll see you in the images.

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