December 2014

Bob McWhirter explained what it means to think like a lawyer in January 2014.

Bob McWhirter explained what it means to think like a lawyer in January 2014.

A concise post today to share some can’t-miss articles from the past year’s Arizona Attorney Magazine. After all, I know you need to begin putting together your New Year’s Eve celebration!

Remember, these suggestions are just a sampling of what I believe to be superior content. Our publication has been very fortunate over the years to be blessed with the work of terrific authors, and 2014 was no exception.

Without further ado: From January 2014, I recommend Bob McWhirter’s “‘Think Like a Lawyer!’ What the Hell Does That Mean?

In March, we ran the timely “The False Claims Act and Qui Tam Complaints” by Barb Dawson and Dan Huitink.

March 2014 Arizona Attorney Magazine

A great anniversary was recognized in our May issue when we published “Four Decades of Litigation in the Public Interest,” written by Tim Hogan (of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest) and Joy Herr-Cardillo.

June 2014 Arizona Attorney Magazine

Then, in June, we ran one of the year’s most talked-about stories, “Working With Millennials in the Law” by Susan Daicoff.

In the same month, we ran Marjorie Cunningham’s revealing article titled “Anna’s Story: Early Arizona and Women’s Property Rights.”

Finally, I leave you with a few terrific November pieces.

November 2014 Arizona Attorney Magazine

Well, I’m off to plan a bash. I hope you’ll agree we shared some phenomenal stories with you in the past year. The blog and I will be back on Monday, January 5. In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful holiday.

Feb. 2013: How good lawyers don't write like lawyers.

Feb. 2013: How good lawyers don’t write like lawyers.

Yesterday I renewed a holiday tradition of noting great previous work that has appeared recently in Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Today I continue with what I think was some stellar work from 2013.

In February, the inimitable Bob McWhirter gave us another of his illustrated histories, this one titled “Writing Maketh an Exact Man: How Good Lawyers Don’t Write Like Lawyers.

Thanks to the vision of attorney and Editorial Board member Connie Mableson, our March issue contained our diverse coverage of online law issues.

March 2013: Online Law

March 2013: Online Law

Then, in July/August, we had the opportunity to recognize a significant anniversary of the Arizona Bar Foundation—and in the process commission a cake that was beautiful and tasty (and that baffled our Accounting Department).

July/August 2013: A tasty anniversary

July/August 2013: A tasty anniversary

Finally, a Colorado attorney named Steve Kelson contacted me a few years ago about surveying Arizona lawyers about the violence that increasingly faces those in the legal profession. When all was said and done, we had a compelling article to publish in the November issue, which you can read here. And that led to other Bar initiatives and even recognition for the Bar’s engagement on the difficult topic.

Nov. 2013: Violence against the legal profession

Nov. 2013: Violence against the legal profession

That’s enough for today. Tomorrow, I share my picks for work deserving a second glance that we published this year, in 2014.

April 2012 Arizona Attorney: Lawyers Go Green

April 2012 Arizona Attorney: Lawyers Go Green

“Best hits of 2012? Did I hear that right?”

You may be asking yourself that very thing as I kick off this short holiday week with three posts that highlight some of my favorite content from the three past years of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

I had considered hanging a “closed” sign on my blog this week. But then I thought I’d enjoy looking back and spotting some bright spots. And then on this Wednesday—the last day of the year—I’ll round this effort out when I identify some great work from this past year … in case you missed it.

I did something like this back in 2010, and readers told me they enjoyed it (but maybe they were being nice).

In any case, here are my recommendations for 2012 content for your quiet winter evenings:

Turn to our April 2012 coverage of green law offices (for which I am very grateful to attorney Jennifer Mott).

In July/August 2012, we were privileged to run Maureen Kane’s great piece on Justice Michael Ryan. (It is followed by some memories of his then-clerks, which you can read here.)

The July/August 2012 Arizona Attorney included our coverage of Justice Michael Ryan.

The July/August 2012 Arizona Attorney included our coverage of Justice Michael Ryan.

And if you like history:

Sentencing reform showed promise in Arizona in 2012.

Sentencing reform showed promise in Arizona in 2012.

Finally, here is a January 2012 piece I enjoyed reporting and writing myself on the possibilities for sentence reform in Arizona (my work benefited greatly from a Guggenheim Fellowship I won that year that connected me with some very smart sources).

Tomorrow, we turn to 2013.

Arizona Attorney December 2014 cover

Becoming something new, or at least thinking about it?

As we all rush about for the holiday season, I offer up the word transformation, which occupied the minds of a few author-attorneys in the December issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

The two folks—Judge Randall Howe and law professor Susan Rabe—explained what went into their decision to explore deviations from the law practice norm.

You can read Judge Howe here and read Professor Rabe here.

But their perambulations got me thinking that there are probably many stories of Arizona lawyers who took different paths. I’ve already heard from a few, but please write me at to tell me your tale. We may find a way to share those stories in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

In the meantime, I reprint below my Editor’s Letter from December. (And yes, despite the queries I received, the image does depict a butterfly, and not a moth!).

After that, I may be blog-quiet for a bit—maybe even for a week! We’ll see. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Spreading your wings

In an issue that’s dedicated to “becoming,” you may wonder how we illustrate such a thing.

When it comes to a legal magazine, “becoming” may seem like a pretty conceptual side trip (emphasis on trip). Lawyers believe they address nuts, bolts, and the deals that keep them together (or sever them, when needed). So lawyerly career transformation would appear to be a tangent.

But high-concept is often what we must address in the magazine. Flip through back issues and you’ll see what I mean: copyright, free speech, civil practice rules, grandparent visitation, trademark, even “thinking like a lawyer.” Not easy stuff to, y’know, picture. (Go on; you try it.)

That’s why I appreciate how rarely our talented Art Director, Karen Holub, must resort to the dreaded gavel or scales of justice. Among our colleagues nationwide who address the law in print, most agree that those are tools to be kept behind glass, broken only in the case of emergency. But where others break the glass monthly, we rarely do.

So when we considered “becoming,” I kept my mouth shut and my mind open. I didn’t offer Karen the one obvious approach—a butterfly emerging from a pupa—not merely because it’s stereotypical and a little mushy, but because creative people like Karen think best with only a modest amount of guidance but a whole lot of freedom. (The obvious butterfly that graces this page is the only one you’ll see in the issue, and was my idea.)

I hope you like our “becoming” art as much as I do. Well done, Karen.

Some attorneys are remaking themselves. And you? (photo by Michael Apel via Wikimedia Commons)

Some attorneys are remaking themselves. And you? (photo by Michael Apel via Wikimedia Commons)

And well done to those lawyers who have sought out new and affirming paths.

In the section’s introduction, we say that the legal profession is “a home for searchers.” Maybe it doesn’t seem like that on a Friday when you’re scrambling to complete your too-long-neglected timesheets. But many lawyers seek fulfillment, within and without the traditional legal field. And from where we sit, that is happening more and more, across multiple generations.

So consider this month’s issue as a call to the searchers. Today, we cover those who have made their way to be a judge and a teacher. But in the coming months … ?

Other lawyers, I’m sure, have made entirely different choices. Entrepreneurs, chefs, vintners, farmers—all that and more likely dots the experience palette of Arizona’s lawyers.

If you’re becoming—or became—write to us at

The old Phoenix City Hall, still standing, was replaced by a new building in 1994. (Photo: Jarod Opperman for The New York Times)

The old Phoenix City Hall, still standing, was replaced by a new building in 1994. (Photo: Jarod Opperman for The New York Times)

Does Phoenix have any history worth preserving? Over the decades, scores of historic preservation advocates have insisted that Yes, yes it does.

Their tireless work and the fragility of the evocative built environment make a great article in last week’s New York Times all the more appealing. It is titled “Phoenix Rediscovers Historic Face Worth Saving.”

Attorney Mark Briggs is rightly mentioned in it, as he is a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. He is cited along with the civicly-related bond money that supports historic preservation (and which is rapidly running out).

But kudos to the great preservation advocates in Phoenix, some of whom were quoted in the story: Jennifer Boucek (Preserve Phoenix), Alison King (Modern Phoenix) and Will Novak (Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition).

Michelle Dodds, the city’s historic preservation officer, rightly was quoted right at the top.

One speed-bump in the otherwise solid journalism occurs when the passive voice slyly creeps into a paragraph low in the story:

“There have been losses downtown, such as the Hotel St. James, built in 1928, that was demolished, save for its facade and lobby. The boarded-up property is now surrounded by parking spaces.”

It “was demolished,” eh? I’m sure someone mentioned that it was razed pretty recently by the Phoenix Suns, which wanted to make way for (yet) another surface parking lot, this one for its VIP ticketholders. (That demolition and the city’s reaction to it are the source of a lawsuit.)

Hat tip to journalist (and now Harvard student) Eugene Scott for pointing me to the NYT story.

Millennial Lawyers article June 2014 by Susan Daicoff

Do millennial lawyers have needs that are different from other generations?

That is a topic implicitly raised in an article posted online last week. Titled “Law firms prepare Millennials for the business of law,” it shares some tactics that have been developed at Arizona law firms to address a younger generation of attorneys.

Would you like to hear more about any of the strategies mentioned in the article? Let me know and I’ll try to pass on more news.

That article reminded me of a piece we published in Arizona Attorney this past year. It covered the millennial generation and how your law firm may be failing to meet their expectations (and yes; it matters). If you missed it, you can read it here.

infographic - How seaworthy is the information that drives your law firm?

How seaworthy is the information that drives your law firm?

What could be easier—especially on the Friday before a holiday week—than to enjoy a little infographic regarding law practice?

OK, I probably had you until “ … regarding law practice,” but it’s still light lifting for Change of Venue Friday.

The visual art comes our way from U.K. firm InsightBee, which examines the information sources available to law firms. What they have discovered, alas, is that many of those firms and attorneys say that they lack vital information that would better guide their practice decisions.

At the top of this post is just a piece of the graphic. You can see the whole infographic here.

An InsightBee staffer (worker bee?) tells me that 86 percent of U.K. law firms report that they worry they are out of touch with their clients’ needs. And only four percent of law firm partners strongly believe they have the right tools to achieve their business development priorities.

Yes, I know it’s the U.K., not the U.S., but those are still compelling numbers.

In your firm, do you feel you have up-to-date information on what your clients’ needs are? And do you have processes in place to determine those (shifting) needs?

Well, now that I’ve annoyed you with unanswerable questions, I wish you a wonderful—and client-free—weekend!

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