January 2014


The Big Game? What are they getting at? The World Cup?

The Big Game? What are they getting at? The World Cup?

This weekend, that big football event we’ve come to call the Super Bowl occurs. But this time of year we get to enjoy the timidity of advertisers, who tremble at the thought of using the “SB” term itself.

As a result, we are inundated with inane ads that trumpet “The Big Game” or some permutation of that milquetoast label.

The Super Bowl organizers and their attorneys guard that name carefully, as they should. But when the use is entirely peripheral to the game, and when advertisers mention the game not to confuse consumers but to offer products and services that would improve the game experience, they believe they cannot utter “Super Bowl”? Gimme a break!

That kind of circumscribed thinking made me chuckle as I gazed at the accumulation of ads that came in this week’s Arizona Republic. In this case, it was supermarkets who studiously avoided the term. Bizarro world.

Extending that “thinking,” I guess we should say that “This year’s Big Game is between a team from Denver and another from Seattle.” Wary of uttering “Seahawks” or “Broncos,” that’s all we should say.

The disappearing Super Bowl, via the timidity of advertisers.

The disappearing Super Bowl, via the timidity of advertisers.

To add a little legal thinking to my irritation, turn to this story echoing how ridiculous the fear is.

Here, the author quotes another on the harm we do to fair-use concepts when we surrender those rights without true understanding:

“In their recent book Reclaiming Fair Use, Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi warn that when we refrain from exercising our fair use rights, and act as if those rights do not exist, we help create a culture in which fair use loses ground to overly aggressive copyright enforcement. The same is true in the trademark realm. We can only hope that when the next Superbowl rolls around, the Times and its brethren, and even the HDTV sellers, will have shed their timidity.”

A hat tip to the eagle-eyed Kathy Nakagawa who spotted this wonderful issue that intersects sports and intellectual property.

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Irish Cultural Center from above - Weecks Productions

The Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix, from above (photo: Weecks Productions)

Earlier this month, Arizona’s own Sandra Day O’Connor was recognized at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix for her achievements and contributions—and for being Irish.

As the Irish Central news hub announced, the retired Supreme Court Associate Justice received “the prestigious Anam Cara Award (Irish Soul Friend).” It was bestowed in honor of “her illustrious career, long-term service to the community and her family’s Irish heritage.”

Justice sandra Day O'Connor (ret.) and attorney Debbie Weecks

Justice sandra Day O’Connor (ret.) and attorney Debbie Weecks

You can read the whole story here. (But you may have to suppress a chuckle at the photo caption, which somehow misidentifies Justice O’Connor’s late husband John as being then-Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. Here is the photo and accurate cutline.)

Thank you for the heads-up to Arizona attorney Debbie Weecks, who attended the event. Her son Dan also runs a production company and provided some photos of the evening, as well as a video made for the occasion. Here is the great video on what Anam Cara means, and why Sandra Day O’Connor is a worthy recipient. It includes interviews with noteworthy folks like former Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor.

And thank you to Dan Weecks of Weecks Productions for sharing the photos and the video.

More information on the Irish Cultural Center is here.

pro bono gavelI can’t let January slip away without pointing you toward a great column in Arizona Attorney Magazine. In the last-page column titled “Extra Value for Community Service,” attorney Gary Restaino reminds us all about a revised Arizona rule that is aimed to encourage pro bono work—and that could get you some CLE credit.

Here’s how Gary opens his essay:

“I suspect that if we made a list of lawyers who seek to give back to their communities, and a second list of lawyers who get some degree of agita from the State Bar’s continuing legal education requirements, lots of us would be on both lists. If you are among those counted twice, have I got a deal for you. Starting in January 2014, when providing legal assistance to the indigent through ‘approved legal services organizations,’ you can earn CLE for your pro bono service.”

“Supreme Court Rule 45, as amended, permits a lawyer to claim one hour of CLE for every five hours of pro bono service, up to a maximum of five self-study CLE hours per year. (This would get you halfway to the aspirational 50 hours of annual pro bono assistance.) Wholly apart from the personal satisfaction you can receive from representing those in need, you can save money on CLE videos and courses.”

Read Gary’s whole column here.

To make it easier for you to get started, I reprint here the column’s sidebar that points you to a few great agencies where you might offer your talents.

Offering Your Help

To enroll as a volunteer to provide general legal assistance, contact:

Community Legal Services (Maricopa, Mohave, LaPaz, Yavapai and Yuma Counties)

Southern Arizona Legal Aid (Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz Counties)

 DNA-People’s Legal Services (Coconino County, Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe)

An image of Gary’s essay is below; click to enlarge.

My Last Word Gary Restaino Arizona Attorney Magazine January 2014

Howard Ecker gazes at a model of Chicago.

Howard Ecker gazes at a model of Chicago.

Today, I’m pleased to share a guest post that could just as easily have run in Arizona Attorney Magazine. The topic and its coverage may be of great assistance to lawyers examining their office space options.

The author is Howard Ecker. Here is some brief background on Howard (a more complete bio is at the end of this post):

“Howard Ecker founded Howard Ecker + Company in 1975 as the first real estate company in Chicago devoted exclusively to representing tenants.  From working on one of the original leases in the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco in the early 1970’s to currently representing national accounting firm BDO USA, Howard’s 40+ year career has included many significant projects.”

Some of what he discusses is covered in the current Arizona Attorney in an article by James Robinson. I hope you find both of them useful as you plan your 2014. Here’s Howard:

THE LEGAL PROFESSION is not what it used to be. Our father’s law office is becoming unrecognizable; with the legal profession rapidly changing. It has become much easier to be strategic and efficient with office spaces.  With changes that have come about due to new financial models, emerging technology, and changing commuting habits, office worth is no longer easily predictable.

Howard Ecker, of Howard Ecker + Company is a national commercial tenant representation company and brokerage firm

Howard Ecker

How does a firm know when to grow, how to grow, and what tenets to keep in mind in these rapidly changing times?

It is a topic that I know very well due to my 40+ years in the commercial real estate business. Large and small law firms alike regularly contact us asking for advice on how to create office space that represents their unique culture.

Perhaps it’s wiser to think about what NOT to do, or the biggest mistakes law firms tend to make when expanding their office space. If you make it a point to avoid these, you will come out with a stronger, more strategic and successful business than you would have without it.

Mistake No. 1: Overspending

Firms often want to move into the newest “Class A” building and look to build out spectacular space with high end finishes and built-ins.  You need to keep in mind that often your clients are not willing to pay increased hourly billing rates / fees to cover the overhead for your accoutrements of wealth.  The result…a less profitable firm.  Also remember, the higher the rent and more expensive the build-out, the larger security deposit / guarantee the landlord will be looking for.  While it’s important that your space reflects the culture and brand of the firm, you need to balance that with the underlying financial impact to ensure the firm can support any increased operating or capital expense.  Additionally, you never want a client to say your rates are too high based on how you are living.

Mistake No. 2:  Not Considering Who Your Target Clients Are

For instance, if you are trying to expand your tech company practice, traditional office space in large office towers may not reflect the values of your future clients. Build spaces that attract your target clients, and particularly in locations where you want to attract top leads. If your goal is to attract technology corporations, you must build where they are in space where they feel comfortable.  Make it easy for you to market your services by building amenities that they can utilize, such as conference rooms with great connectivity and internal spaces that can host tech industry mixers or startup competitions.

Mistake No. 3: Treating Office Space as a Job Reward

Do not use the corner office or larger private offices as a symbolic reward for “making partner” if it causes the firm to use office space less effectively and efficiently.  Most of our clients are embracing the “one size fits all” mentality.  Building this way allows you to be much more flexible with the office space.

Mistake No. 4: Not Being Flexible for Future Growth

Firms often do not grow like other businesses.  Growth can often be more rapid when bringing in a new group of partners or practice group.  The same can happen in reverse, leaving you with significant excess space.  Pushing to have as much lease flexibility as you can with layers of options to expand, renew, contract and terminate is so important and, as we often advise our clients, worth paying a premium for.  That said, if flexibility is key, it is important to let landlords know at the start of negotiations.  That way you can quickly resolve if it will be an issue to get such rights and move on if the building cannot accommodate.

Mistake No. 5:  Failing To Consider Work-Life Amenities

Your staff, attorneys and partners work long hours.  It can help with both recruiting and retaining employees to locate your office near other businesses and services that enhance the work-life balance of your employees. For instance, fitness centers, abundant restaurant options, proximity to transportation, and even things like “doggie day care” can be big pluses for your employees when working long hours.

About The Expert

Howard Ecker founded Howard Ecker + Company in 1975 as the first real estate company in Chicago devoted exclusively to representing tenants.  From working on one of the original leases in the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco in the early 1970’s to currently representing national accounting firm BDO USA, Howard’s 40+ year career has included many significant projects.  Howard works with business leaders to align office location thinking with the long term fiscal and cultural needs of their business, connecting the worth of the company to its brand, culture and environment.  Howard is a member of the Board of Directors for Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.  He graduated from Tulane University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian History and attended DePaul Law School.

About Howard Ecker + Company

Howard Ecker + Company is a national commercial tenant representation company and brokerage firm that represents the commercial real estate interests of tenants throughout the United States.  With offices in Chicago, New York, Denver, and Miami, Howard Ecker + Company helps tenants locate, negotiate and evaluate all possibilities in their search for office space.  Learn more about the firm here.

Some of this year's talented and fleet Bar Flys.

Some of this year’s talented and fleet Bar Flys.

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted just thinking about all the running done by the State Bar of Arizona Bar Flys in the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Whew. I may have to sit down.

Well, those of us who did not run sure appreciate those who did. The team was comprised of 76 lawyers, law students and other committed law professionals (or those who love them).

Rehydrating at Mile 14

Rehydrating at Mile 14

Team captain (and Senior Bar Counsel) David Sandweiss shared the news of the team’s success in the corporate categories of the marathon. That 76-person team led the category of “Corporate Medium Division.” (Yes, David concedes, the Bar was the only entity in the category this year. But he adds, “Be it known, however, that last year’s runner up in our division had only 46 runners so with history as precedent we’d have smoked them this year, too!” That’s the spirit!)

Bar staffer Katherine Jendrisak and her family

Bar staffer Katherine Jendrisak and her family

No news yet on the team’s pledging for the Sandra Day O’Connor law school, on behalf of the memory of Professor Joseph Feller and the scholarship in his name. I will follow up once I hear the tally.

Click here to see the list of all the corporate winners.

Randall Hutson

Randal Hutson

Congratulations again and thank you, Bar Flys, for all your hard work and for keeping those feet moving.

PF Chang's Marathon logo 2014

Tree Hug by Dair Deckert

Tree Hug by Dair Deckert

Happy Change of Venue Friday. Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not enjoy an art exhibit?

Why is this on my mind? The Arizona Attorney Magazine arts submissions were due recently, so we’ve been up to our elbows in art of all kinds. So that may be why I was especially susceptible when I heard from a lawyer that her one-woman show was opening on January 21. The opening reception was a blast.

Dair Deckert It Rains on the Just and the Unjust

It Rains on the Just and the Unjust, by Dair Deckert

Dair Deckert is quite the talent, and getting a solo show at the Eric Fischl Gallery at Phoenix College is a pretty nice coup.

When I dropped by the reception, the room was packed with well-wishers and art lovers. I had seen a thumbnail image of one of Dair’s pieces, but that never does it justice. The large canvases are compelling and vibrant.

few photos of the event are at the end of this post.

Dair’s art will be displayed until January 30. The gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. More information is at the gallery’s website.

And because you will never in a million years be able to locate the gorgeous gallery on that web page, I’ve posted in a map below. (Click to make it larger.)

Dair Deckert Phoenix College mapIf you have a show—artistic or otherwise—that you think warrants some blog ink, contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’d love to help share your story.

Have a great weekend.

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Comedians at Law logo

They’re in town Jan. 30.

Note: This post was updated to reflect the fact that on January 24 organizers consolidated two shows into one. The show at the Tempe Improv was consolidated into the Stand Up Live show on Thursday. All Tempe tickets will work in Downtown.

As I’ve said before, lawyers make me laugh. And occasionally, that’s their goal.

Next week, you and I have the opportunity to see that second kind of attorney—the intentionally funny ones. That’s when a slate of talented lawyer–comedians take the stage at Stand-Up Live in Phoenix.

So let me start by saying you should buy tickets (no, no one paid me to say that). Click the link above to get to the ticket page. And when you get to the payment page, adding the word LAWYER to the promo code box gets you half off (did you hear me? Half off!).

I plan to be at the Phoenix event (yes, I paid for my own ticket), and I’m looking forward to it. As you may know, I have a rich and Borscht Belt history of admiring comedians. Here is a post I wrote about a local competition of attorney–comics.

Next week’s events include the comic genius (or at least idiot-savant-ness) of attorneys Bob Howard, Nancy Stanley and Matt Storrs. They will follow the headliner, Matt Ritter.

Their joint efforts are part of what’s called Comedians at Law, self-described here:

“Because of their passion for comedy and their desperate desire not to practice law, the Comedians at Law joined together to travel the country, deliver their diverse and intelligent brand of humor, and entertain audiences at law schools, bar associations, law firms, comedy clubs and anyone else willing to cut a check that can be used to pay down their student loans.”

“The reaction has been overwhelming. Comedians at Law are in demand, and members of Comedians at Law have appeared on Fox News “On the Record,” CBS, Sirius/XM’s “Raw Dog” Comedy (as guests and as guest-hosts of their morning program), and in The Wall Street Journal and CNN.com. Comedians at Law: Good at Law. Better at Comedy.”

Want to see more? Here is a video about those legal humorists.

So who’s with me? If you plan to be at the Phoenix event, let me know. It’d be nice to meet others who like to laugh at lawyers (in a good way!).

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