March 2014

American Bar Association Bar Leadership Institute 2014 BLI logo

Last Friday, I had the chance to present to leaders of three sizes of bar associations—small, medium and large. Among the three, the best audience was those from bar associations that were —

Hold it. Let me pause before revealing who was the most engaged of my audiences at the ABA Bar Leadership Institute.

creating content that influences member engagement requires a plan and support.But I will tell you now that one thing I learned most as I prepared for my presentation was this: Everyone—even a bar president—seeks to be engaging. Even when we get the opportunity, though, we must have a plan, preparation and sufficient support to execute well.

To kick things off, here is what I opened with to each group:

“My modest charge this morning is to recommend ways for each of you to create phenomenal written content, fearlessly and with joy.”

“How hard can that be?” I may have continued.

It was a real privilege to be able to address attendees on one of their reported biggest concerns—Presidents’ messages or columns. My overall message to them—which I hope they appreciated—is that the primary job of a bar president is Chief Engagement Officer. And that there are techniques they could adopt that would help them create compelling content.

I wrote about this presentation a few weeks ago, and I thank those who offered suggestions for content and messages. As promised, those who shared ideas that I borrowed got a shout-out in my PowerPoint. Thank you especially to Dan Wise of the New Hampshire Bar, Brad Carr of the Alabama Bar, and Rick DeBruhl right here at the Arizona Bar. I also benefited from the insights of the past 15 years of Arizona Bar Presidents, a huge portion of whom responded generously to my queries about what makes an effective column.

My PowerPoint—minus its animated possibilities—is here. (It begins on the fourth page.) If I can figure out how, I may upload the robust version to SlideShare.

In my 14 years as editor at Arizona Attorney, I’ve read more than 150 such columns in our own magazine. Plus, I receive about 20 other bar magazines monthly—and yes, I try to read those, too. So I’ve come to be highly attuned to the challenge a president faces when she or he takes pen to paper. That’s why I ended my presentation with a toast (PowerPoint style).

Law and Order: "If you can lead your bar well, while making your practice thrive and keeping your family happy, I toast you."

“If you can lead your bar well, while making your practice thrive and keeping your family happy, I toast you.”

Finally, let me share the unofficial results of my assessment of audience engagement. I’d have to say that, all else being equal, the small and medium-sized bar groups were each highly engaged. If I were forced to choose, I suppose the medium group came in a nose ahead.

Let's give it up for ... the ABA BLI 2014 medium-bar group!

Let’s give it up for … the ABA BLI 2014 medium-bar group!

Both of those groups laughed and nodded in all the right places and ended with a bunch of questions. And the medium-bar group shouted out queries that even surprised me (“What was your favorite president’s column?” is something I am chagrined to say I had never considered—though I managed a response.)

Small but mighty: ... the ABA BLI 2014 small-bar group

Small but mighty … the ABA BLI 2014 small-bar group

So the large-bar group—my own people, you could say—take the number-three spot. But I won’t be too critical. After all, it was the final session of three, so they may have been a little shell-shocked. And as I headed into my third presentation, I faced a dry-mouth quandary, so my own delivery may have been on the decline. We got through it—together.

Don't be a (sleeping) giant ... the ABA BLI 2014 large-bar group

Don’t be a (sleeping) giant … the ABA BLI 2014 large-bar group

But what a privilege: To take some time to consider an important subject and to share ideas with smart and curious people—that may be one of the markers of a rewarding day job.

Tomorrow, I recommend to you the efforts of a law school that examines how the legal profession should be reinvented. I had heard of its work, but I learned more from someone who also spoke at the Bar Leadership Institute. But you’ll have to wait another day to know more.

Amtrak writing writer residency

On offer: The chance to ride the rails and write about it.

How many of you would like to engage the creative process while never having to consider acquiring life’s annoying essentials, like food and shelter.

If so, there may be a few opportunities for you (and me).

The news stories I link to today not only engage the artist in most of us; they also are perfectly matched to Change of Venue Friday, that casual day when no one really wants to read about the new rules of arbitration (or whatever else is cooking in the legal profession).

So I invite you to kick back and enjoy a vision of yourself as an artiste, accompanied by your own financial backers.

The first story is one you may have seen: Amtrak is looking for writers. That’s right; your benevolent backer would be none other than America’s passenger-railway system.

Here is a news story that explains Amtrak’s plan to plop writers into a cozy berth from which they will trip the light linguistic.

If you’re ready to board that train, here is a link to Amtrak’s own blog, where you can get more information and complete their application. And yes, there is a dining and adult-beverage car (we are writers, are we not?).

(And for you attorneys still hesitant about blogging: Amtrak is blogging, which is the sound of you officially becoming a super-late-adopter.)

Here’s the serious skinny:

“Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.”

“Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015. A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.”

Sign me up! (And yes, that means I’m applying.)

If a less rollicking journey is what your writing arm requires, consider Detroit. That’s where a nonprofit called Write a House is creating a unique “writer’s residency.”

As this news story explains, the organization is repairing vacant and blighted homes to give them to writers.

I was intrigued to see that it was an editor at the marvelous Curbed, the real estate site, who was one of the founders of Write a House. Well, if an editor is involved, it must have been well vetted! (No kidding, we editors have got it goin’ on.)

Pertinent info:

“Write A House will accept applications from working, “low-income” writers in the spring, who will be asked to send writing samples and a letter of intent. The judges include former National Poet Laureate Billy Collins, poet Major Jackson, writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton and editor of the Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishing house Sean McDonald. Writers from all over the world, or living just a few miles away, are all encouraged to apply.”

Well, if my Amtrak train makes a stop in Motor City, I’ll stop by your house and we can trade writing stories. In the meantime, let’s apply ourselves!

Have a wonderful—and writerly—weekend.

chicago bar association cba logo

When I find myself in a city other than Phoenix, I like to look around at what the area’s legal community has to offer. My stomping grounds this week are in Illinois, specifically Chicago. So let me point you to some law-practice-helpful content from two great bar associations.

First, I recommend some content related to law practice management technology (say that three times fast), available on the website of the Chicago Bar Association.

The lawyer-friendly material includes some how-to videos by the talented Catherine Sanders Reach. Now THERE are some ideas worth borrowing! (Follow Catherine here.)

Here, for example, is a video on editing or removing Linkedin endorsements:

And over at the Illinois Bar Journal (published by the state bar), I recommend a few things.

Illinois State Bar Journal 2014First, their magazine includes a series of short articles the comprise “Law Pulse.” In it, the author is able to cover a variety of compelling and timely legal topics, all without straining your patience with massive length or endless footnoting.

Good examples of their form are here and here.

Like most bar journals, the Journal focuses on state laws and cases. But in the magazine’s feature story area is an article that may catch your attention, no matter what state you’re in. Titled “The Ratings Game,” it examines the world of Avvo: “Sites like Avvo that rate lawyers and encourage consumer reviews are evoking reaction positive and negative in the legal community—and posing interesting ethical challenges.”

The article includes a useful sidebar that explains how Avvo says its formula works.

Illinois State Bar Association ISBA logoMany of you may belong to multiple bars. If so, I’d love to hear from you about what content from varying bar publications you’ve found helpful to your practice. Maybe we can borrow some ideas from fellow bar magazines!

A clean desk: Is that what we aspire to? Really?

No, this desk is NOT the winner of a prize for revealing workspaces.

And the winner is …

Wait wait wait! Taking a tip from the Academy Awards, I have to stretch this out for a bit.

Back in January, I offered a prize—a book of legal poetry—to a reader who shared a photo of their desk, messy or not. A description was invited but not required.

You may recall that my desk-psychosis grew deep as my own workspace got lost under piles. And I started to wonder what a clean or dirty desk says about each of us. Like my paper piles, that musing got pretty deep; read it here.)

I am happy to report that my messiness concerns resonated with readers. I heard from a number of folks who reported the state of their workspaces’ messiness levels.

As promised, I randomly selected a winner, and she is … K Royal. Congratulations, K!

K Royal's desk photo won her a book of poetry (though storage bins might have been a better prize!).

K Royal’s desk photo won her a book of poetry (though storage bins might have been a better prize!).

And here is K’s description of her space:

“Your note about a messy desk made me laugh out loud, so although not noteworthy, here is mine. Yes … double monitors, family photos … including my dog, shoe tape dispenser, diamond post it note holder, Dutch slippers, m&m coffee mug, and although you may not be able to see them … shoe phone holders for two cell phones and a Hedwig mug to hold pens.”

She ends with a cheery but noncommittal “May your organization remain exactly what you need it to be!”

By coincidence (yes, it’s a coincidence), I’ve known K from when she was at ASU Law School. She’s gone on to other things (including a stint in Texas), and she’s now Privacy Counsel at Align Technology in San Jose, California.

Privacy Counsel? Hmm, am I allowed to mention that?

In any case, I hope K enjoys “Poetic Justice” as much as I did.

K, send me a note at with your snail-mail address and I’ll get this posted tout de suite.

K Royal's desk photo won her this book of poetry!

K Royal’s desk photo won her this book of poetry!

court rule aids lawyers who are military spouses

This month in Arizona Attorney, we published an article on assistance now available for lawyers who are married to active-duty servicemembers.

Given how unpopular taking a bar exam is for most lawyers, I cannot imagine the challenge of following a military spouse around the country, where you would face varying admissions rules and exams. It would be enough to go inactive.

And that’s exactly what has faced many attorneys, and state supreme courts have been listening—thanks largely to a few women who have raised the issue nationwide. And among those people are two woman with Tucson ties named Mary Reding and Rachel Winkler.

Former Tucson resident Mary Reding, founder of the Military Spouse JD Network.

Former Tucson resident Mary Reding, founder of the Military Spouse JD Network.

Together, Reding and Winkler started the Military Spouse JD Network, “a national association that works to find solutions to the challenges of lawyers who happen to have military spouses.”

Read a great story about their work here.

And you can Like the network on Facebook here.

Our Arizona Attorney story is one written by Rodney Glassman. He is a lawyer and airman, and he describes well the changed Arizona rule that makes our state a leader in assisting military spouses.

Read Rodney’s article here.

And here is a list of requirements in the Arizona rule.

court rules aids military spouses bullet points

Tim Corcoran, LMA President, speaks in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13, at the State Bar of Arizona.

Tim Corcoran, LMA President, speaks in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13, at the State Bar of Arizona.

This Thursday, an event at the State Bar of Arizona is absolutely worth your time. Here are 3 reasons you should attend:

  1. The presenter’s first name is Tim.
  2. The presenter is a committed blogger.
  3. The topic is law firms and money. You like money, don’t you?

The event is a production of the Southwest Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, a group I’ve been privileged to collaborate with numerous times before (here’s the most recent).

The title of the event is “Demystifying Law Firm Finance for Marketing and Business Development Professionals,” and it occurs Thursday, March 13, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

More detail and a registration link are here.

As the LMA describes it:

Legal Marketing Association logo“This interactive discussion will cover how law firms made money yesterday and how they will make money tomorrow. Tim Corcoran will discuss the role of Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs), Legal Project Management (LPM), Business Process Improvement (BPI), Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) and Big Data on the law firm of the future. This program is designed to demystify law firm finances so legal marketing and business development professionals can sit at the table as equals with finance professionals and firm leadership.”

“Tim will also provide an overview of the changing face of law firm finance, from the long-time R.U.L.E.S. approach to the more modern Learning Curve approach.”

Corcoran is the 2014 President of the LMA, and we are fortunate to have him come to Phoenix. The experienced executive “advises law firm leaders how to profit in a time of great change, with particular emphasis in strategy, business process improvement, legal project management and business development.”

And, as I alluded to at the top, he is the author of Corcoran’s Business of Law blog.

I am disappointed to say that as this program begins, I’ll be en route to Chicago for a presentation of my own. But I look forward to hearing about Tim’s message.

Again, here is a link to register.

grammar police badgeLate I am, but I still cannot let National Grammar Day pass without taking note.

It was “celebrated” on March 4, but I didn’t spot any parades or floats. However, the day gives us the opportunity to consider the role grammar plays in our lives.

Actually, that’s a little bit high-falutin’. What the day allows us to do is to get all judgy about other people’s awful grammar.

To mark the day on this Change of Venue Friday, I suggest you test your skills as a grammarian here. You might be pleasantly surprised that your you’re quite the talented expert.

Or, if you’re feeling pretty poetic, enjoy the results of the Twitter-borne haiku entries in a National Grammar Day contest.

Here are a few favorites:

Punctuation needs To be more important than The Kardashians #GrammarDay @copyeditors

— marducey (@marducey) March 3, 2014

Do not attempt a semicolonoscopy. Ask an editor. #GrammarDay

— John McIntyre (@johnemcintyre) March 1, 2014

And yes, I am now following those two insightful wags.

And then, because every fake American holiday must be marked via humorous T-shirts (memes before anyone invented memes), I offer you a Buzzfeed site that contains some shirt-borne grammar humor. (A hat tip to my friend William Tandy for spotting this sartorial site.)

Many are quite good, but here, I think, is my favorite.

T-shirt evokes national security: Grammar Day error terror

Finally, if you seek a rousing defense of adverbs that is really, really well written (hold it; that seems to be a piss-poor use of intensifying adverbs), enjoy this.

Here’s wishing you a typo-free weekend.

Creative Arts Competition photo shoot, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

Creative Arts Competition photo shoot, Tempe Center for the Arts, March 3, 2014.

One of my favorite days in the magazine’s year has to be the annual lawyer–artists photo shoot. This year’s version occurred on Monday afternoon.

Once again at the beautiful Tempe Center for the Arts, the shoot requires huge coordination and the establishment of numerous “shots.” We have single portraits (for each winning artist’s page in the printed magazine), as well as numerous group shots for the winners, honorable mentions, entire group, and other spur-of-the-moment combinations.

Karen Shell has been our go-to photographer for a number of years now, and I’m continually impressed by her creativity, willingness to adapt, and calm in the face of chaos.

Kudos also to Karen Holub, our Art Director. She herds multiple cats in the effort to get this whole affair launched, implemented, and sewn up.

Photographer Karen Shell (left) and Art Director Karen Holub consult on a shot.

Photographer Karen Shell (left) and Art Director Karen Holub consult on a shot.

In previous years, we’ve shot the photos in the light-filled lobby and on the lakeside patio of the TCA. But this spring, we wondered whether it would be possible to do something different. Could we get on the main stage and include shots of the gorgeous cherry-wood theatre?

You never know. Theatres and the acting companies that inhabit them can be a tetchy lot.

The happy answer: Yes. The result is a series of shots that capture the evocative theatre as well as the moody-black of the stage itself.

Here are a few photos (click to make them larger. The real deal—shot by Karen Shell and not be me on my Canon S110—will be in the May issue of Arizona Attorney. (Here is last year’s coverage.)

UA Law Professor Robert Glennon

UA Law Professor Robert Glennon

We have done stories in Arizona Attorney Magazine on water resources, but they involve concepts that are difficult to wrangle. For instance, we have to ask if, at its base, it’s a story about:

  • Environmental resources
  • Agriculture
  • Regulatory and administrative law
  • International trade
  • Sustainability
  • Domestic security
  • The Corporation Commission, the Legislature, the courts

Unfortunately for us, the answer is usually “Yes.” And that’s because water—especially in the arid west—can involve all of those things.

That’s why I was struck when I heard an NPR story this week on a unique take on water use: The claim that using scarce water to grow crops to ship overseas may be inappropriate.

The question is raised by Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona Regents Professor (whom I’ve covered here and here).

To illustrate the stream of water (if you will), NPR’s Fronteras Desk created the following image:

Water use and exports. (Image: NPR Fronteras Desk).

Water use and exports. (Image: NPR Fronteras Desk).

Before anyone gets fired up about capitalism or some such, Glennon is not recommending a prohibition on crop sales overseas. But he does ask: When water is scarce, should  water-hungry cities get the opportunity to purchase agricultural water, rather than see it be used on water-hungry crops that are then packed on container ships and ultimately offloaded in China to feed cows?

Here is the story, including the audio clip.

What do you think? Do thirsty Chinese cows get your goat? Should the dialogue about scarce resources include a broader conversation that may transfer some uses from agricultural to residential and commercial?

Who knows? Your insight could be the seed for a magazine article.

So: Water --> alfalfa --> Chinese cows.

So: Water –> alfalfa –> Chinese cows.

ediscovery lock on computer screenNext week, a conference that’s become an annual standout occurs again: The e-discovery conference at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU.

Scheduled for March 12 to 14, the third annual “ASU-Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference” features some talented panels of lawyers and judges. Those judges include some of the leading jurists who have rendered major e-discovery opinions: Judges Shira A. Scheindlin, John Facciola and Craig Shaffer.

Judge John Facciola at the 2013 ASU conference. eDiscovery 1

Judge John Facciola at the 2013 ASU conference.

I wrote here about Judge Facciola’s previous appearance at the E-Discovery conference.

More information and registration are here.

Judge Shira Scheindlin

Judge Shira Scheindlin

If any lawyer or law student is headed to the conference (just part of it or the entire two days), and if you would like to write a blog post, please feel free to contact me. I’d be pleased to run it following the ASU event. (Photos are welcome too!)

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