September 2013

law-schoolLet’s start our week off with a fight, shall we?

Well, more like a debate. But when attorneys get chatting about whether law school should be three years long, or two (or some hybrid), things can get a little heated.

This fire was rekindled this month when President Barack Obama mentioned that he believed two years of law school may be adequate. I guess he was practicing for a controversial dialogue about Syria.

That led law school professor Bruce Ackerman to rise up to defend the status quo.

Well, whattayaknow, someone didn’t agree with that.

Well, quite a few, probably. But here is one lawyer–commentator who left no stone unturned in his dissection of Ackerman’s argument.

What do you think?

Is two years enough for a law degree?

And even if you think we should stick with three years, is the handwriting on the wall? Are we headed to a two-year J.D.?

Soon, a plaque may be all that remains of the garage where Watergate secrets were shared.

Soon, a plaque may be all that remains of the garage where Watergate secrets were shared.

We hear pretty often that we Americans don’t know nothin’ ‘bout history. That may sound curmudgeonly, but a news story this week reminded me how true that can be.

Just two years ago, almost to the month, I wrote about a new historic marker erected outside the parking garage where the Watergate leaker passed information on to a Washington Post reporter. (I got kind of lecture-y in that blog post; the anniversary of Ford’s pardon of Nixon can do that to me.)

It may not be the Gettysburg battlefield, but the garage where “Deep Throat” Mark Felt and journo Bob Woodward stood seems pretty evocative to me.

Well, two years later, it seems even Deep Throat’s garage is not safe from the wrecking ball.

You should read here how that “Watergate garage” is to be razed. The developer has said he may find a place for the plaque. Touching.

Well, it’s Change of Venue Friday, so I’d rather not leave you on a historic preservation #fail. Instead, enjoy the great voice of Sam Cooke, singing “Wonderful World” (where he says a little about history).

Psst. If you think privacy law is a growing practice area for attorneys, you're one of the few.

Psst. If you think privacy law is a growing practice area for attorneys, you’re one of the few.

Magazine folks and legal commentators all try to assess (OK, “guess”) where the legal profession is headed. And one of the important elements in that horse-race is determining what practice areas are growing—and which are shrinking.

Last week, legal staffing firm Robert Half International issued another of its studies of lawyer perception. This one reported on attorney responses to questions about areas that will have the most revenue opportunities in the future.

I was not surprised (nor was anyone) that “Litigation” and “General business commercial law” held onto the top two berths (59% and 31% of respondents, respectively, view those as growth areas). That fact may be true, but it doesn’t illuminate much about law practice. Even otherwise-educated lawyers, who know that those broad terms encompass a wide variety of practice areas, routinely select those umbrellas when surveyed.

So we’ve been taught to look instead at what came in at Numbers 3, 4 and so on.

Health care law is seen by a pretty resounding 14% of lawyer respondents to be a growth opportunity. Now that’s interesting. After that, bankruptcy/foreclosure (8%) and labor & employment (7%) follow.

Surprising to me is that “privacy, data security and information law” languishes at just 4%. Really? We are inundated with a barrage of news that reveals how significant those areas are in every area of modern life. I think that attorneys who can marshal the experience and knowledge to guide that conversation have to be making a winning gamble. Apparently, though, only few lawyers want to roll the dice.

Read more about the survey results here.

And what do you think the growth areas are? And once you identify them, are you able to mobilize to develop new lines of work?

Infographic_Robert Half growing practice areas

Legal Marketing Association logoQ: What do you do when you’re standing between an eager audience and panelists with valuable content to share?

A: Speak little, and ask a few good questions.

That is the primary lesson I’ve learned the last few years when I’ve had the pleasure to moderate an annual roundtable of corporate counsel.

Sponsored by the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, this year’s panel, on Friday, September 20, will include four in-house counsel from a variety of public and private companies:

    • Sonny Cave, ON Semiconductor—Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer, and Corporate Secretary, Law Department
    • Christy Hubbard, PetSmart—Senior Counsel, Marketing, Operations and Services
    • Lisa Loo, Arizona State University—Deputy General Counsel
    • Todd Weiss, Cole Real Estate—Senior Vice President, Legal Services

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headline

The event always packs a room. (You can read more and register here.)

As I always do, I come to you now, Arizona’s legal community, to ask for your help as I prepare for the September 20 event. Here’s my query:

If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Post your suggestion(s) below, or send me a note at

And I hope to see you there.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorThe State Bar of Arizona is now at the end of its multi-week campaign to help military servicemembers get the legal assistance they need. (Read more about it here.)

The strain of deployment isn’t just felt by servicemembers. Military families live with the pressures of war thousands of miles away. Lengthy separations, the realities of single parenting, financial stress, constant worry for loved ones’ safety, and difficult communications—these all take a toll that is sometimes irreparable.

Military families need local legal assistance.

What should be a joyful reunion can turn painful when family life becomes an unexpected casualty of war. The life they thought they were getting back, in some cases, has ceased to exist. Military families often need local legal help or mediation to face failing marriages, custody and child support issues, and the division of assets.

ArmyOneSource logoSometimes they need help moving forward.

An attorney from their community who understands the intricacies of the state and federal laws affecting military personnel and family law is the kind of advocate military families need most.

Attorneys may sign up here.

Follow the initiative on Twitter.

Rehnquist Center banner logoI do enjoy Monday-morning-quarterbacking U.S. Supreme Court decisions. You too? Now imagine how great it would be if we also possessed deep knowledge to accompany our opinions.

That is kind of the thought behind the celebration of “Constitution Day” at law schools. In recognition of one of our nation’s founding documents, scholars and wise practitioners hold forth on recent opinions.

The University of Arizona Constitution Day event was a high point of my 2012 (and I covered it here). Unfortunately, it’s looking like I will be unable to attend this year’s event, to be held next Monday, September 16.

Is anyone else planning on attending? Would you like to write a blog post covering the highlights? Or do you just want to send photos? Write to me at

Meanwhile, here’s the news:

The William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government will present its annual Constitution Day program at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, featuring legal experts who will review some of the major cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2012 Term.

Date:               Monday, September 16, 2013

Time:              1 – 4:30 p.m. (reception to follow)

Location:        Ares Auditorium (room 164), James E. Rogers College of Law

Address:         1201 E. Speedway, Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona Law logoCLE credit is available. Space is limited, and registration is recommended. Reserve a seat online here. Visitor parking is available for a fee at several parking garages near campus. A visitor parking map is available here.

Panelists include:

  • Clint Bolick, Vice President for Litigation, Goldwater Institute
  • Melissa Murray, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley
  • Hon. Neil V. Wake, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona
  • Moderator: David Marcus, Professor of Law, James E. Rogers College of Law         

Cases to be discussed are (click the names to read the opinions):

For more information about the Rehnquist Center, visit here.

Stars and Stripes logoChange of Venue takes a military turn today.

Yesterday, I reminded you about a State Bar of Arizona effort to get more attorneys involved in providing legal help to formerly deployed military servicemembers.

Today, I point you to a news story about a sea change in the Army JAG Corps (I know, I’m missing my military metaphors, but bear with me).

This week, for the first time in history, the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp (the Army’s attorneys) is led by a woman lawyer. As Stars & Stripes reports, Brig. Gen. Flora D. Darpino took over as Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army on Wednesday,

Brig. Gen. Flora D. Darpino

The JAG’s new top lawyer: Brig. Gen. Flora D. Darpino

The article goes on to point out what a significant time in history this is for the Corps.

“Significant bills [are] circulating that would give the JAG far more power over prosecutorial decisions. She’s slated to take command at a time of increased scrutiny of the military’s handling of sexual assault cases, with legislators in both houses of Congress trying to strip commanders of authority over serious criminal prosecutions. That authority would then flow to prosecutors.”

Meanwhile this week, I heard from Ann Murphy at the Bar Association of San Francisco, who mentioned the plight of the lawyer spouses of military personnel. As you might guess, state-by-state admission is no picnic for folks who move with their spouse often. State bar admission can be severe impediment to maintaining a lawyer career.

Ann suggested I look at the Facebook page of the Military Spouse J.D. Network, which aims to be a support network for these folks.

Meanwhile, on the legal front, some states, including Arizona, are trying to take the barriers down.

Just this past January, Arizona Supreme Court Rule 38(i) went into effect. It allows qualified attorneys married to servicemembers to apply for admission without examination. So it’s admission on motion for otherwise-qualified attorneys who are married to servicememebers.

You can read the order on Rule 38(1) here.

Do you see a story here? Should Arizona Attorney cover it, and what questions would you want answered?

Have a great weekend.

ArmyOneSource logoHere is another in a series of news items related to an initiative of the State Bar to help fill the legal needs of recently deployed military personnel. (Read more about it here.)

Tomorrow, I have a JAG item and other news that may affect attorneys you might know. But first, today’s news:

When legal issues arise at home, servicemembers are often unable to find the help they need. The aid and advice of a trusted attorney located in or near their home community can be a lifeline of support.

JAG Corps attorneys can only provide limited counsel.

Military families may need assistance dealing with divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, probate and financial issues. Attorneys in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGs) are able to provide limited counsel to servicemembers, but heavy caseloads and numerous demands compete for their time. 

When servicemembers return, they need legal help near their home communities.

Only 37 percent of military families live on installations; the remaining 63 percent live in more than 4,000 communities nationwide. Our troops need legal assistance closer to home. Give them someone to turn to for help.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorLearn how you can help Servicemembers in your community.

Attorneys may sign up here.

Follow the initiative on Twitter.

State Bar of Arizona logoHere is some great news I pass on from the State Bar of Arizona. Congratulations to all the lawyer–leaders of the Bar Leadership Institute.

Sixteen attorneys from across the state have been selected to participate in the State Bar of Arizona’s 2013-14 Bar Leadership Institute (BLI).

For the seventh year in a row, the BLI will provide its participants with a nine-month leadership program that will foster their professional growth and enhance their leadership skills.

2013-14 Participants:

  • Jason Barraza, Veridus, LLC
  • Brandon Brown, Pima County Attorney’s Office
  • Patrick Camunez, Solo Practitioner
  • Thomas Chiang, Maricopa Public Defender’s Office
  • Charity A. Collins, Goodyear City Prosecutor’s Office
  • Joni Lawrence, Thermo Fluids Inc.
  • Francesca Montenegro, Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP
  • Nora Nuñez, Federal Public Defender’s Office
  • Javier Puig, Schiffman Law Office PC
  • Andrew Reilly, Office of the Attorney General
  • Denise Ryan, Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community
  • Brenda Sandoval, Federal Public Defender’s Office
  • Laura Schiesl, Farhang & Medcoff
  • Natalya Ter-Grigoryan, Tiffany & Bosco PA
  • Michael Valenzuela, Office of the Attorney General
  • Janina Walters, Pinal County Attorney’s Office

Bar Leadership sessions cover topics ranging from leadership, ethics and career development to conversations with judges, government attorneys, in-house counsel and executives. Participants can receive up to two years of CLE credit.

The participants were selected based on their legal and non-legal community contributions, as well as their statements of interest and qualifications. All participants must be active Bar members in good standing. The participants represent a diverse range of racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious communities, among others.

Upon completion, the BLI participants must commit to a full year of active involvement with the State Bar and/or the community.

More information on the Bar Leadership Institute is here. For more detail, contact Elena Nethers at 602-340-7393.

Here is a photo of the BLI’s recent graduates from the 2012-13 class, whom I reported on here.

State Bar of Arizona BLI graduates 2013

2013 BLI Graduates—Back row, L to R: Brad Martin, Blair Moses, Elizabeth Kruschek, Buck Rocker, Doreen McPaul, Ray Ybarra Maldonado. Front row, L to R: Chris Tozzo, Tabatha LaVoie, Nicole Ong, Laura Huff, Annamarie Frank, Cid Kallen, Jessica Sanchez. Not pictured: Heather Baker.

Labor Day 2013 Made in America stamp 2

Released on August 8, this is one of a series of stamps honoring the achievements of American workers.

If you still occasionally mail an actual letter via the U.S. Postal Service, you’ll be glad to see that the USPS just released a new stamp series that recognizes the achievements of the American workforce. What better way to honor Labor Day?

(Or the day after. No, I’m not accidentally late. Yesterday, you may have noticed, was Labor Day; if you didn’t, I hope you had a good day at work. But because most folks were grilling meats or some such on Monday, I decided it was unlikely they were reading legal blogs (I know; you protest!), so I provided a light and film-related item. I decided to save this cool Labor Day news until today.)

The “Made in America: Building a Nation” stamps were issued on August 8, and they feature workers in many manufacturing occupations.

ABC News reports, “Eleven of the 12 stamp images were by photographer Lewis Hine, a chronicler of early 20th century industry.” Those images include a man on a hoisting ball on the Empire State Building,” as well as others laying railroad tracks or mining coal.

You can view all the images in a slideshow here.

Labor Day US Department of Labor sealMore detail about every image (and, natch, a portal to buy the stamps) is here on the Postal Service’s site.

And in case you missed it, 2013 is the centennial of the Department of Labor, which was created by President William H. Taft. (I appreciate the excellent fact that “The department’s headquarters is housed in the Frances Perkins Building, named in honor of Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945 and the first female cabinet secretary in U.S. history.”)

Congratulations to American workers, the Post Office, the Department of Labor, and the memory of a successful woman.

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