November 2014


Volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on landlord-tenant issues at the Lawyers on Call public service program, Nov. 11, 2014.

Volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on landlord-tenant issues at the Lawyers on Call public service program, Nov. 11, 2014.

Today I share some news from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, 12 News, and azcentral.com hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, November 11. Volunteers answered viewers’ calls regarding their landlord/tenant issues.

Five volunteer attorneys assisted with the program: Clare Abel (Burch & Cracchiolo PA); Kristen Coyne (CKGH Law); Clint Dunaway (Dunaway Law Group PLC); Mark Heldenbrand (J. Mark Heldenbrand PC); and Nick Wood (Snell & Wilmer).

The lawyers answered 28 calls on landlord/tenant issues. Compared to previous phone banks, there was a substantial decrease in calls.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How can I break my lease? How long of a notice do I have to provide my landlord?
  • I don’t have a lease agreement with my landlord, how do I request one?
  • My landlord won’t fix issues with my unit. What can I do?
  • Fumigation has not fixed the bedbug and roach infestation, what can I do?
  • How do I evict a tenant?

One out of the five attorneys was a first-time volunteer. Returning volunteers were surprised at the low call volume, but were hopeful that consumers are experiencing fewer issues with their landlords/tenants.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ mental health, disability, and elder law questions on Tuesday, December 2, the final Lawyers on Call public service program of 2014.

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University leaders and dignitaries break ground at the ASU Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2014. Those pictured include law school Dean Doug Sylvester (third from left), retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (center) and ASU President Michael Crow (right).

University leaders and dignitaries break ground at the ASU Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2014. Those pictured include law school Dean Doug Sylvester (third from left), retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (center) and ASU President Michael Crow (right).

On a crisp and clear autumn day, Arizona State University officials yesterday welcomed a throng to downtown Phoenix to witness the groundbreaking for its new Center for Law & Society. On a temporarily closed Taylor Street, nearly 200 attendees, many garbed in maroon and gold, happily ate pastries, sipped coffee and smiled as speakers praised the university and touted the new building’s innovative features.

The building ultimately will be 280,000 square feet and cost $129 million to construct and launch. (According to the university, “This includes the cost of the construction, furniture, IT/AV equipment, and all of the soft costs associated with the project.”)

Fork-branded construction headgear awaits dignitaries at the ASU groundbreaking.

Fork-branded construction headgear awaits dignitaries at the ASU groundbreaking.

Speakers at the ceremony included ASU President Michael Crow, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.), Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Dean Doug Sylvester, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

President Crow said that the notion of a new kind of law building was conceived as immigration fights raged across Arizona. The topic, he said, is “one of the most important issues we face,” and yet the dialogue was “a rather uninformed series of debates.”

What was missing, he said, was the university’s projecting “our role as teachers and thinkers. We needed a new gathering spot,” he said, and it should be in downtown Phoenix, center of the state’s activities.

President Michael Crow speaks at the groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

President Michael Crow speaks at the groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

The building, Crow and other speakers reiterated, would be far more than a law school. It would be “a community center for engagement in law.”

According to the dedicated website, the structure will contain the law school as well as “two think tanks, multiple centers with cross disciplinary focus including the Lincoln Center, and the new ASU Alumni Law Group that will house the first teaching law firm associated with a law school.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the site “ground zero for discussions of critically important issues.”

“This is about building the kind of community we want,” he continued. “It is about being embedded in the community.”

He added, “There is not an inch of space between the success of ASU as an enterprise and the future success of the City of Phoenix.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs a construction helmet as attorney Leo Beus looks on, Nov. 13, 2014.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs a construction helmet as attorney Leo Beus looks on, Nov. 13, 2014.

In her brief remarks, Justice O’Connor noted with pleasure that the building would be “open to the public and open for community events.”

President Crow acknowledged the struggles the legal profession faces today, but said the building signifies a new strategy.

“The older models have run their course. We’re forging the new way.”

As of that morning, Crow said, $34 million had been raised toward the building’s construction. ($10 million of that comes from attorney Leo Beus and his wife Annette. It is reportedly the largest single donation in the law school’s history. Leo spoke at the groundbreaking; more detail on his gift is here.)

Shovels await their users at the ASU groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

Shovels await their users at the ASU groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

Following the remarks, dignitaries and guests turned some dirt with silver-plated shovels. Meanwhile, attendees could gaze into the two-story-deep excavation where workers prepared footings and rebar for the building’s construction.

Besides the Center’s own website, you also can get more information from its project site, on which you can watch its ever-updating construction cam.

Click here to see more photos from the event at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page. Below is some more information provided by the university.

Screen-grab from the university's construction cam, Nov. 13, 2014; the groundbreaking occurred near the white tents at the top of the image.

Screen-grab from the university’s construction cam, Nov. 13, 2014; the groundbreaking occurred near the white tents at the top of the image.

“Construction on the Arizona Center for Law and Society began in July. The new building will be ready for classes by August 2016. The College of Law currently occupies its home of almost 50 years, Armstrong Hall, on the Tempe campus. ASU and the College of Law are committed to ensuring that the Armstrong name will be honored in the new law school.”

“The Arizona Center for Law and Society is being funded by the city of Phoenix—which is providing land and $12 million—construction bonds through Arizona State University and private donations. ASU Law has set a capital campaign goal of $50 million for contruction of the building. The College has raised more than $34 million so far.”

“‘This could not have been possible without the generosity of our alumni and connected legal communities,’ Dean Sylvester said. ‘We are particularly honored that long-time Phoenix attorney Leo Beus and his wife, Annette, recently made a $10 million contribution to the building’s capital campaign.’”

“The building is planned to be approximately 280,000 gross square feet with two levels of underground parking. It will have 18 rooms in which classes will be regularly scheduled, including one large lecture hall dedicated to university undergraduate education. Features of the new law school include a high-tech courtroom and an active learning classroom.”

“‘Not only will the new law school have state-of-the-art learning facilities, it also will provide our students with incredible opportunities,’ Sylvester said. ‘The downtown location is near the courts and the city’s legal district, which will prove invaluable to our students in the form of internships, externships and networking.’”

“The Ross–Blakley Law Library, currently located in a separate building near the law school in Tempe, will be moved to the new building. The library will occupy multiple floors and create the main circulatory structure of the center. The first floor of the building will have retail space consisting of a school bookstore and a café.”

“The Arizona Center for Law and Society also will include space for two think tanks, multiple centers with cross-disciplinary focus and the new ASU Alumni Law Group, the first teaching law firm associated with a law school.”

“The lead architects on the project are Ennead Architects and Jones Studios, with DPR Construction as the lead builder.”

 

Construction crane on the site of ASU's Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix.

Construction crane on the site of ASU’s Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix.

The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are headed to Arizona. If you're considering renting your home short-term, there are a few things you should consider.

The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are headed to Arizona. If you’re considering renting your home short-term, there are a few things you should consider.

Today I am pleased to share a guest post written by an Arizona lawyer. Spencer Cashdan (see his bio after the post) offered a piece on an extremely timely topic: renting your home during Super Bowl season (or, really, anytime paying vacationers come to town).

If this question has ever intrigued you—or if you find yourself on the lessee end of the exchange, his leasing tips could be very valuable.

(And if you decide to rent your space, consider whether to tout it as a Super Bowl bargain, or if doing that would unduly rankle the Big Game organizers.)

Without further ado, here’s Spencer:

Each year, the Valley hosts myriad events such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Barrett–Jackson Collector Car Auction that attract out-of-state guests. This season, more visitors than ever will come to town in 2015 for the NFL Pro Bowl and the Big Game.

With more than 1 million people expected to flock to Phoenix, short-term rentals are in high demand. Valley homeowners have turned to renting out their property to capitalize on the influx of activity and money that we will see this upcoming year.

However, short-term or vacation rentals can have their own set of legal issues. That’s why I offer the following “Legal Leasing Tips” for homeowners.

Q: Is it legal in Arizona to rent property for a short-term lease?

A: Some homes are subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that address the issue of whether short-term rentals are permitted. Absent any such recorded restriction affecting a home, renting your home is legal. However, acting as a broker to help rent another person’s home for them is not legal (unless you have a real estate license) because that is acting as a broker without a license.

Q: In creating a short-term rental agreement, are there any statutes or acts that must be included?

A: Any rental agreement must comply with the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This act outlines many of the rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant.

Q: What do homeowners need to have in order to keep their home and valuables protected?

Spencer Cashdan Dickinson Wright

Attorney Spencer Cashdan, Member at Dickinson Wright law firm.

A: As for valuables in the home, they should either be removed prior to the renter’s occupancy, or the homeowner must take a sufficient security deposit to cover the cost of damage/stolen items. To ensure protection to homeowners, a credit check/background check can be performed to see if the renter has any past violations.

Q: From a visitor’s standpoint, what should they look for before entering into a rental agreement?

A: A visitor/renter needs to make sure that the purported owner of the property is, in fact, the owner, and has the authority to rent the property. These issues don’t often present themselves in a short-term one-week rental, but you never know. It’s easy to check ownership of property in Maricopa County—that information is free on the Maricopa County website, so it’s worth checking before signing a rental agreement.

Conclusion

With vacation rental rates ranging anywhere from $50 to $4,000 a night, keeping both parties safe in a rental agreement is ideal for the upcoming season of activity. Educated homeowners who take the necessary precautions before entering into an agreement will have little to worry about in terms of renting out their home.

About the Author: Spencer W. Cashdan is a member of the Arizona law office of Dickinson Wright PLLC. Cashdan is ranked among the Best Lawyers in America list, and represents clients in a broad range of real estate transactions for both unimproved real property and improved real property, including shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, industrial parks, mixed use developments and master planned communities. In addition to Arizona, Dickinson Wright has law offices in Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington D.C. and Toronto. Across over 40 practice areas, their team of 350 lawyers service a range of clients from Fortune 500 companies to small and emerging businesses and government entities, nonprofits and individuals.

Idea Lightbulb

Yes, your ideas would be helpful here!

The title “What don’t bar associations know?” is more than just an invitation to easy humor. It is my way of considering how such associations can serve multiple constituencies well.

My day job is putting out a monthly magazine aimed at lawyers. But today’s inquiry is related to a future presentation, one in which solid lessons must be imparted to some folks who lead bars.

This may surprise some of you, but most all of those people are extremely bright. And they also maintain their own practices, so they typically have a good handle on what’s up (and down) in the legal economy.

But still, it’s worth asking. So let me put it this way: Would it be helpful for bar leaders to become adept at topics covered in seminars that promised to teach “10 Things You and Your Bar Should Know About

  • Reaching your younger members
  • What senior members want from your bar
  • Why law practice succession planning matters to your bar
  • Why poor access to justice is your bar’s problem
  • Technology that is transforming law practice
  • Modern challenges facing small firms and solos (and how to support them)
  • Modern challenges facing large law firms (and how to support them)
  • Modern challenges facing your law schools (and how to support them)
  • Modern challenges facing your courts (and how to support them)

I could go on, but you may get the idea. Useful? Yes? No? Maybe?

Even if these topics are OK, what would you add to the list?

What should bar leaders know? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Arizona Attorney ideas

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

Veterans Day 2014 1

Many of you, I expect, are nowhere near a computer today. Instead, you may be out honoring Veterans Day. Here’s hoping.

If you do happen to be scanning the blogosphere today, though, I offer just a few links … to Veterans Day activities.

First, right here in Phoenix is quite a large parade. It starts at 11 am, so get hopping.

Starting at the same time is the Tucson parade.

If you cannot attend either, or simply want something to do afterward, enjoy the detailed coverage that the Arizona Republic lent to the holiday.

And if you never saw it, you really should watch as Linus from the Peanuts recites “In Flanders Fields.”

Finally, here is an excellent video describing the creation and history of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, DC.

Vietnam Memorial DC Veterans Day

Major medical health insurance is now available through the State Bar of Arizona.

Major medical health insurance is now available through the State Bar of Arizona.

Recently, the State Bar of Arizona entered into an agreement with a company that helps members locate and secure health insurance. I’ve heard from many attorneys over the years who are insurance-insecure, so I hope this is a helpful program.

Open enrollment comes on November 15. So take some time now to explore this program and get your questions answered.

Here is more detail on the program:

“This Health Insurance Exchange can help provide members, their employees, and families with comprehensive major medical insurance coverage. The program is brought to you by AHIX, a division of JLBG Health, the largest health insurance provider to associations in the US.”

ahix_blue health insurance azbar“To learn more about the options available to lower your health insurance costs and maintain comprehensive coverage, visit here for an INSTANT online rate or contact JLBG Health at 866.708.6578  for more details, member rates, and a 15-minute phone enrollment.”

Among the multiple features are these:

  • Shop multiple quality carriers like: Blue Cross, Aetna, Assurant, Cigna, Humana and many others.
  • Apply online or over the phone.
  • No medical questions asked.

Read more about it here.

For a set of questions and answers regarding the exchange, click here.

Finally, to get started on or after November 15, go here.

Doctors_stethoscope_1

State Bar of Arizona Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vessella interviewed by KPHO reporter Dave Cherry

State Bar of Arizona Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vessella interviewed by KPHO reporter Dave Cherry

If you’re a lawyer, you may not make it a habit to hire other lawyers (but who knows?). However, a recent news story sheds light on the topic. I found it fascinating, and I encourage you to share it with anyone who’s engaged in an attorney search.

In the story, titled “Research lawyers just like you would contractors,” reporter KPHO Dave Cherry interviews Chief Bar Counsel Maret Vessella. She discusses the importance of checking for a lawyer’s discipline history before you retain someone.

So far so good.

But then she relates a story about a lawyer who got into discipline trouble after a client had already retained him. How many of us think about checking whether our attorney is still admitted to practice after he has already done work for us?

Not often, I’m sure. But I can see how it could be vital.

Go here to see the whole video.

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