April 2015


Deschutes Brewey logo

Did someone say free samples?

Short, sweet, and on tap: A bevy of State Bar lawyer groups are hosting a mixer tonight, Thursday, April 30. The April networking event is titled Draft With Drafts Night.

Where: The Vig Uptown, 6015 N. 16th St., Phoenix 85014

Time: 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm (and later if it’s any good)

Your hosts: State Bar Young Lawyers Division, Tax Law Section, In-House Counsel Committee, and the Arizona Jewish Lawyers

Because?: Networking, happy-houring, free beer sampling from Deschutes Brewery and complimentary appetizers and desserts (that’s called “burying your lead”)

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorCorporate sponsors:

More information about YLD is here.

The number-1 goal of the Arizona courts is access to justice.

The number-1 goal of the Arizona courts is access to justice.

How busy is your average day? How would you assess yourself on the helpfulness scale?

I hope you’re a typically helpful person, but when I saw what Arizona legal aid agencies do in a single day, I realized I’d have to step up to even come close.

The following terrific information came my way from Heather Murphy at the Arizona Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts. She passed on an analysis from the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education (or the Bar Foundation, if you prefer) that shows the activities of those agencies on just one day. As they say, what a difference a day makes.

As they indicate below, the agencies tracked the activity related to individuals seeking assistance for crises that only legal expertise can resolve. The help they offer is remarkable. The gap that remains is huge—and growing.

Heather reminds me that access to justice is one of the five priority areas in Advancing Justice Together: Courts & Communities, the five-year strategic agenda for Arizona’s statewide network of courts. You can read the strategic agenda here.

And more about the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice is here.

And here is the Foundation:

The phones started ringing early at legal aid agencies across Arizona, and kept ringing as people also walked in and requested help via an online portal: 597 Arizona families were calling out for legal help on this one day.

In honor of Governor Doug Ducey’s proclamation declaring April “Access to Justice Month,” Arizona’s three legal aid agencies organized a “What a Difference a Day Makes” campaign to bring attention to the importance of and need for access to legal resources and assistance. For 24 hours, Community Legal Services, DNA People’s Legal Services and Southern Arizona Legal Aid tracked the activity related to individuals seeking assistance for crises that only legal expertise can resolve. On Tuesday, April 14, Arizona’s legal aid organizations made an enormous difference:

  • In the lives of 509 individuals who were offered help in their legal crisis
  • With the 69 people given support in self-help legal clinics
  • With the assistance of 25 volunteer attorneys donating their time and expertise free of charge

Each day, the legal aid agencies across Arizona are making a difference in the lives of those they serve and in the communities where they live.  These unsung heroes should be thanked. But you best send a note, because their phone lines will be busy helping the next person in need.

In 2014:

  • The three Arizona legal aid agencies helped 31,605 Arizonans: 17,663 adults and 13,942 children.
  • Legal assistance was provided to Arizonans in each of the state’s 15 counties and Arizona’s 21 Native American tribes.

Community Legal Services, DNA People’s Legal Services and Southern Arizona Legal Aid provide legal assistance on various areas of law, including: family law with an emphasis on eliminating domestic violence; consumer; employment; housing and mortgage foreclosure; individual rights; health/medical related; and public benefits (access to government benefits such as unemployment insurance and social security disability benefits).

More information about all three agencies is below. Contact them to make a difference yourself:

US Department of Labor logoIt was only back on April 1 that a major dialogue was raised in Arizona about the negative results that flow from employee misclassification. That’s when Dr. David Weil of the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division spoke to audiences in downtown Phoenix and elsewhere.

Dr. Weil spoke about the combination of carrots and sticks that would be brought to bear to face the challenge.

This week, we got to see a little of the stick as we read a press release. It opens:

“A nearly five-year federal investigation of illegal business practices by 16 defendants in Utah and Arizona has yielded $700,000 in back wages, damages, penalties and other guarantees for more than 1,000 construction industry workers in the Southwest, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today.”

“Consent judgments put an end to an effort by the defendants—operating collectively as CSG Workforce Partners, Universal Contracting, LLC and Arizona Tract/Arizona CLA—to claim that their workers were not employees. The defendants required the construction workers to become ‘member/owners’ of limited liability companies, stripping them of federal and state protections that come with employee status. These construction workers were building houses in Utah and Arizona as employees one day and then the next day were performing the same work on the same job sites for the same companies but without the protection of federal and state wage and safety laws. The companies, in turn, avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes.”

You can read the entire release here. All of the targeted Arizona firms are listed at the bottom, as is the case name and caption number.

Adding to the value of the news to Arizona lawyers and others is a blog post by Labor Secretary Tom Perez himself. In it, he describes the legal action being taken in Utah and Arizona. And he gives valuable insight into the way this nefarious business gets done:

“The state of Utah was a helpful partner in the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation of these defendants, providing information from the state’s Worker Classification Coordinated Enforcement Council, an entity created by the state legislature to combat misclassification. The state ultimately outlawed the defendants’ business model by requiring workers compensation and unemployment insurance for members of LLCs. In response, the companies packed up, headed to Arizona, and set up shop under a new name, but with the same scheme.”

Perez concludes:

“The Utah and Arizona judgments send a strong, clear message: employers can’t hide behind deceptive legal partnerships to cut corners and save money on the backs of their employees. It’s our hope that this and other enforcement actions will serve as a credible deterrent that influences behavior throughout the economy. Especially in the fissured workplace, we will continue to be vigilant about protecting workers, taxpayers and law-abiding employers.”

If you represent clients in related industries, is this a wake-up call? Is misclassification as big a problem as it’s made out to be? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

P.S. Arizona has another close link to the Secretary: Four high-school kids from the Grand Canyon State just won an ABA award for best Magna Carta video. Among the luminaries they met in Washington DC in mid-April was Labor Secretary Perez. Here they all are:

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez meets with Arizona high school students who won first place in the ABA's 2015 Magna Carta video competition, April 2015.

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez meets with Arizona high school students who won first place in the ABA’s 2015 Magna Carta video competition, April 2015. (Full story in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine)

 

AZTurboCourt e-filing logoLast week, we learned from the Arizona Supreme Court that the first phase of mandatory electronic filing into Pima Superior Court had begun (I previously alerted you about it here.). As the Court said, “As a reminder, law firms and attorneys that have names beginning with A-M are currently mandated to e-file civil submissions into Pima Superior Court. The remaining law firms are affected by the mandate beginning May 26.”

As previously reported, AZTurboCourt became available for general use for Pima filings on February 16 following a pilot period. Chief Justice Bales signed A.O. 2015-32, replacing A.O. 2015-11 and providing clarification regarding e-filing exclusions.

More complete information about AZTurboCourt, including training tutorials and manuals, is here.

Former Judge Mark Painter takes legal writing seriously (and you'd be advised to do the same, Counselor!).

Former Judge Mark Painter takes legal writing seriously (and you’d be advised to do the same, Counselor!).

In honor of Change of Venue Friday, how would you like to be beat about the head for your legal writing failures?

I didn’t think so. Writing is hard, and unnecessarily harsh criticism (and a beating) does not make the task any easier.

But a recent story out of Ohio tells me that our approach to better legal writing—cajoling and education, plus a little humor—may be the best course. To see what I mean, read Susie Salmon’s terrific recent column here.

Meanwhile, a former Ohio judge named Mark Painter penned his own legal-writing column in a bar magazine. (Sound familiar?) But things took a turn for the worse. Let me have a Cincinnati paper describe it:

“Former Judge Mark Painter never has been at a loss for words, especially when it comes to singling out lousy writing by his fellow lawyers.”

“But for the first time in years, his criticism has been silenced. Sort of.”

“The Cincinnati Bar Association recently refused to print Painter’s column on legal writing in its monthly magazine, prompting Painter to quit the association and take out a big ad in The Enquirer on Wednesday complaining about the decision. The problem, the association’s leadership told Painter, was that his critiques of local judges sometimes were not all that collegial.”

“In other words, he’s too mean.”

“Painter, who enjoys a good fight almost as much as good writing, said the real problem is censorship and wasted no time Wednesday making his case. He said his columns in the CBA Report were intended to educate, not embarrass, and the bar association went overboard by censoring him.”

“‘You’ve got a bureaucratic mindset, a don’t-rock-the-boat mindset,’ Painter said of the bar association. ‘It’s ridiculous. Mine is an opinion column. It’s amazing how thin-skinned people are.’”

“Officials at the bar association, the region’s largest organization for lawyers, declined comment on their decision, other than to say they appreciate Painter’s contributions over the years and regret his decision to drop his membership.”

You could—and really should—read the whole story here. And thank you to Brad Carr for alerting me to a story about mean judges and the sentences they loathe!

When does a writing-teacher's stern reproof become mean?

When does a writing-teacher’s stern reproof become mean?

And, so you can get the whole picture, why don’t you read the judge’s column here.

I have to admit I’m conflicted about this. Sure, columnists should have a tone that is unique to them. But is a writing column truly an opinion column? Well, it definitely should be opinionated. But if the opinion of the author is that other people are morons, is that an opinion we’d publish?

But I honestly have a hard time thinking of a column that could grate so badly that I would decline to publish. Compelling (even if stern) analysis might put asses in the seats. And engagement is (ideally) part if every publication’s strategy.

Just seeing a bar association irked that a writer was “too mean” is worth the price of admission, either way!

But maybe saying it was "mean" is malarkey. After all, there's no crying in baseball or legal writing. Time to put on your big-writer pantaloons.

But maybe saying it was “mean” is malarkey. After all, there’s no crying in baseball … or legal writing. Time to put on your big-writer pantaloons.

However you feel, try to have a great—and grammatically correct—weekend. And try not to be overly judgmental of others.

Arizona Attorney Magazine, March 2015 Dark Money cover

The way elections are funded may be one of the more contentious features of our republic in 2015. In fact, even use of the term “Dark Money” upsets some partisans, who believe it casts a negative inference over those who believe campaign speech-supporters need not be identified.

(We covered the topic in three articles published in the March issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.)

On Tuesday, April 28, the Goldwater Institute is hosting a debate on the topic. It will be held at the downtown Phoenix Cronkite School of Journalism from 7 to 9 pm.

The debate will be free and open to the public. But you also can watch it streamed live here.

The debaters will be:

  • Kurt Altman, national policy adviser and general counsel, Goldwater Institute
  • Allen Dickerson, Legal Director, Center for Competitive Politics
  • Tom Irvine, legal expert on election law, ASU Alumni Law Group
  • Daniel Barr, First Amendment expert, Perkins Coie law firm

It will be moderated by Robert Robb, a columnist and editorial board member at the Arizona Republic.

The specific question they will address in the Dark Money debate? Is anonymous political speech protected by the First Amendment?

The hashtag for the event will be #DarkMoneyDebate.

And here is more background from the organizers (can you tell where they stand on the issue?):

“Anonymous political speech has been a cherished principle since the earliest days of the American republic. The ability to speak anonymously—and to privately support others who speak on your behalf—has played a central role in historical milestones from the ratification of the U.S. Constitution to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.”

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizen United, there has been a new outcry from some critics that the public deserves to know who seeks to influence elections by giving money to private political groups. Describing anonymous giving as “dark money,” these critics want new laws that compel independent groups to give the names and addresses of their donors to the government.”

“On Tuesday, April 28, four legal experts will debate whether this campaign against anonymous giving benefits or harms free speech and democratic participation.”

A Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race RelationsThe topic of a major annual talk could not have been more opportunely selected to engage audiences and communities. Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses” is part of the issue to be addressed by a UCLA professor when he delivers ASU’s A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

The 20th annual lecture named for Dr. Smith will be delivered by Dr. Walter R. Allen, the Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education and Distinguished Professor of Education and Sociology at UCLA.

His entire title is worth remembering: “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses.”

The free public presentation will be on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7:00 pm, at the ASU Memorial Union, Memorial Ballroom.

Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis, and doors will open at 6:30 pm.

Given the university’s own high-profile relationship with the intersection of Black lives and policing (and which has made news nationwide), I’m surprised the school has not touted this speech from the rooftops. There may be no local audience more primed to hear this dialogue than the one in Tempe, Arizona, right now.

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

On the other hand, the school probably wishes the whole topic would just go away. A high-profile talk by an esteemed scholar on this very issue may be a bit of salt in the recent wounds.

In any case, below I have included more background on the event. If you plan to attend and would like to provide some photos and perhaps a guest blog post, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Background:

Dr. Walter R. Allen, distinguished professor of education and sociology at UCLA, will discuss the policing of African-American men on college campuses at the 20th annual A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

Allen’s lecture, “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses,” will touch on the social science of incidents involving police security and black men. Allen said he chose this topic because of national news like Ferguson, Mo., even if it didn’t happen on a college campus.

Allen earned his doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Chicago in sociology and his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Allen has done extensive research on higher education, race and ethnicity, family patterns, social inequality and the African diaspora.

Keep reading here.

Past A. Wade Smith keynotes have included Lani Guinier and Kimberlé Crenshaw, among many others.

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