June 2015

Hon. Don Kessler receives the 2015 Sarah Herring Sorin Award from Barbara Burke, center, and 2015 AWLA President Lisa Bossard Funk, June 26, 2015, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix.

Hon. Don Kessler receives the 2015 Sarah Herring Sorin Award from Barbara Burke, center, and 2015 AWLA President Lisa Bossard Funk, June 26, 2015, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix.

An hour after the Supreme Court released its historic opinion legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, the AWLA made historic news of their own, honoring a man for the first time with its Sarah Herring Sorin Award.

On Friday, June 26, the highest award of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association went to Judge Donn Kessler of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The Biltmore Resort room was packed with a capacity crowd of members and others. Attorney Barbara Burke introduced the honoree, known for his support (and employment) of largely female clerks. He also has chaired or co-chaired the AWLA’s monthly luncheon for years, and has been tireless in mentoring judicial candidates.

Well respected as a mentor, Judge Kessler is “one who lifts up women and men attorneys,” said Burke.

Barbara conveyed kind words about Donn expressed by others: “When Donn is in your life, you are so lucky.” And “He is awesome, a leader and mentor.”

Judge Kessler sounded a theme of mindfulness in his acceptance remarks. A longtime advocate of meditation and balance in life and law practice, he said, “Mindfulness has made me grateful for things.”

For example, to loud applause, he said, “I am grateful for the United States Supreme Court this morning.”

But more needs to be done for marginalized individuals, he urged.

“A half century after 50 percent of law school classes were composed of women, now only 17 percent of law firm equity partners are women.”

Generous to a fault, Judge Kessler praised his many clerks, past and present, who have drafted the first versions of his opinions. While other appellate judges shifted uncomfortably in their seats, Kessler said that many drafts he’s received have been essentially ready for publication the moment they were written by the clerks.

“So I always try to add ‘the Kessler paragraph or sentence,’” he said. That way, when he later engages in dialogue with his fellow panel judges, they can focus on that portion. “‘We can take that out,’ they say,” likely unaware that it’s the judge-drafted portion. The self-effacing Kessler told his story to warm laughs—and some uneasy grimaces.

Judge Kessler said he will probably retire in two years, and hopes young lawyers and clerks always understand that he is a supporter and a sounding board. Urging a successful life and practice, he said, “I want you to run with it.”

Finally, he reminded the audience that appellate judge is the second-best job he’s ever had. For the best position, he recalled his work as a deputy attorney general in Hawaii, where he learned important lessons.

The Hawaiian-shirted Kessler described making his oral argument before a judge. As he went “toe to toe” on an important issue, “the judge was just not buying my argument.” Finally, a colleague tugged on his jacket and muttered, “Move on to your next argument!”

He did, and the judge exclaimed, “You win on that one!”

Your next argument, or your next chapter—and helping others with theirs—may be a recipe for a mindful life, Judge Kessler suggested.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine includes a terrific primer on a new court being piloted in Arizona: a commercial court that aims to bring expertise to bear to resolve business disputes fairly and expeditiously.

The primer was written by attorney Mark Meltzer in the format of a Q&A. As the Supreme Court staff attorney tasked with serving a longtime committee examining the issue—and that eventually recommended creation of this very court—I figured he was the ideal man for the job.

Here is a link to the story.

(I wrote about the committee and the pilot program here.)

But we’re wondering what other questions you may have about the Court. Yes, we thought long and hard on the best questions to get answered—but we may have missed something.

Perhaps you won’t have questions until you see the way the court operates. But it’s also possible you have queries, concerns or suggestions right now. Please write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

An Arizona commercial court pilot program will launch on July 1. Read more in the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

An Arizona commercial court pilot program will launch on July 1. Read more in the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Hon. Patricia Norris and President-Elect Lisa Loo share a decisive moment, June 26, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz.

Hon. Patricia Norris and President-Elect Lisa Loo share a decisive moment, June 26, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz.

More news from the Convention will be in this space Monday. But as #azbarcon 2015 draws toward a close, I share a great photo snapped by the Bar’s Rick DeBruhl. Above you’ll see a historic moment: When Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Norris (L) acquiesced to the urging of President-Elect Lisa Loo to … serve as a Convention Co-Chair for next year’s Convention!

Thank you in advance, Judge Norris, for giving of your time and talents in the coming year!

Can I get an "ouch"? Lawyer hourly fees may cause client discomfort.

Can I get an “ouch”? Lawyer hourly fees may cause client discomfort.

This morning, an #azbarcon panel addresses the landscape for alternative fee agreements. Amidst a legal profession largely still wedded to hourly billing, the notion of a fixed fee may still get a tough reception among lawyers.

As attorney Mark Lassiter addressed a standing-room-only crowd, he opened by playing a hilarious video from a U.K. law firm. Riverview has made it part of their mission to blow up the hourly model.

I hope to share more on alternative agreements in the future. In the meantime, enjoy the video:

George Bisharat is Big Harp George, and he's a presenter at the 2015 #azbarcon

George Bisharat is Big Harp George, and he’s a presenter at the 2015 #azbarcon

Last week, I wrote about an #azbarcon panel discussion on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. I’ll be there when it starts at 2:00 today.

But in the meantime, you should take a moment to hear from one of the panelists, Professor George Bisharat. (I disclosed before that he was my law school crim-law professor.) Today, he’ll be giving insight on the Palestinian side of the dialogue. But more pertinent for your lunchtime listening? He is Big Harp George, an accomplished harmonica player.

He’s released a CD (maybe more), but here is one of his songs.

Here is news that he was nominated for Best New Artist Album at the Blues Music Awards.

And here is his website and Facebook page.

Here’s hoping you have some chromatic blues in your day!

Swaggy P by Chris Edser via ronartist.tumblr.com

Swaggy P by Chris Edser via ronartist.tumblr.com

Here is my annual slideshow of select swag (OK, promotional items) provided by exhibitors at the Bar Convention, this year at the Arizona Biltmore.

A caveat: This is not all there is. What is shown here is an extremely subjective, personal selection made by me. I tend to only occasionally pick up pens (they’re nice, but meh).

Thanks again to the exhibitors for helping make the Convention more affordable. Let’s get swaggy. (Click an image to view them in a slideshow.)

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

Keep up with what’s happening at the State Bar Annual Convention by following the editor on Twitter! Get short, timely messages (including photos, speaker presentations and more) from Arizona Attorney Magazine’s staff. If you, your firm or employer are active on Twitter, just insert the hashtag #azbarcon into all of your Convention tweets to allow them to be read and searched by fellow attendees and the entire legal community.

The Twitter links will take you to updates in our Convention Daily—news items and photos that will appear on the magazine blog, Facebook and Tumblr pages, and in our News Center:

And feel free to stop by the Arizona Attorney booth in the Frank Lloyd Wright building, or contact the editor, who is wandering about the Biltmore attending sessions.

He’s at 602-908-6991 and arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Remember, the Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Convention app social media screenshot

Good news: The State Bar of Arizona has launched an app to help you navigate the annual Convention. Well, it’s more of a mobile-friendly web page than an app, but I won’t quibble. It is totes better than flipping through reams of paper as you wander the Arizona Biltmore hallways.

You can read more about it here.

Or, even easier: With your cellphone, just navigate to this page. Here are some screen shots of what I found (there’s a lot more than the few I show).

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Click to biggify!

And just to show you how helpful the site is, I’ve highlighted on the map exactly where the Arizona Attorney booth is located. We’re in the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom, booth 10. When you enter the building, turn right, and we’re next to the Ladies bathroom. (I know, I tried to think of an elegant way to put that.) We’re not far from the Cyber Café. So after you check your email, stop by to say hi!

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

Convention news from the State Bar of Arizona:

While you’re at the State Bar Convention, take advantage of our free mini-seminars. You can squeeze them in between the other programs. No RSVP is required.

All seminars are at the Arizona Biltmore, in the McDowell Room – above the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom.

Wednesday, June 24, 1:30 – 1:45 p.m.

logo ricohCurrent Trends in eDiscovery – Speaker: Bryan Stubbs, Senior eDiscovery Consultant

This session will review the current trends in electronic discovery, including what changes in the new year and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will affect law firms and corporations. How BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), social media, and the Cloud are affecting information governance, corporate security, and litigation will also be covered.

Presented by RICOH USA, INC.

Thursday, June 25, 8:15 – 8:30 a.m. 

logo-total-networksHow to Protect Against Cyber Attacks – 7 Things You Need to Know – Speaker: Dave Kinsey

Recent studies indicate that the primary tactics used by cyber-criminals to infiltrate business networks remain highly successful. Are you willing to pay the high cost of an intrusion that could result in hefty fines, damaged reputation, or lost data? Join this seminar for tips on how to identify threats and ways to protect your firm’s most valuable asset.

Presented by Total Networks

Thursday, June 25, 1:30 – 1:45 p.m.

logo Thomson ReutersPRACTICAL LAW – Practical Legal Know-How to give lawyers a better starting point – Speaker: Reza Mansouri, Esq.

Introduction to a wide range of practical resources that go beyond and complement primary law and research by providing the resources and knowledge needed to practice more efficiently. Resources discussed include “What’s Market,” practice notes, standard documents and clauses, checklists, legal updates, state Q&As, brief bank tools, cross-border guidance and more. Presented by Thomson Reuters

Friday, June 26, 8:15 – 8:30 a.m.

logo National Bank of ArizonaLawyers and Trust Accounts – How to Avoid Fraud Speaker: Tracy L. Ward

Lawyers and their trust accounts continue to be the target of fraud. These scams are growing more sophisticated. Learn about the types of fraud targeting lawyers, red flag warnings, and how to avoid these traps.

Presented by National Bank of Arizona

Friday, June 26, 1:30 – 1:45 p.m.

logo LawPayHow to Accept Credit Cards in Your Firm – Speaker: Keith Kauffman

Spend more time practicing law and less time focusing on your accounts receivable! Join LawPay for a presentation at the State Bar of Arizona’s Annual Convention to learn the ins and outs of accepting credit cards in your firm.

Presented by LawPay


New State Bar of Arizona officers, L to R: Jeff Willis (Secretary/Treasurer; Bryan Chambers, President; Lisa Loo, First Vice President; and Alex Vakula, Second Vice President, June 23, 2015, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix.

New State Bar of Arizona officers, L to R: Jeff Willis, Secretary/Treasurer; Bryan Chambers, President; Lisa Loo, President-Elect; Alex Vakula, First Vice President, June 23, 2015, Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix. (Not pictured: Geoffrey Trachtenberg, Second Vice President.)

At its regular annual meeting at the State Bar Convention this afternoon, the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors confirmed its slate of officers for the coming year. The new roster includes the newest officer, Secretary/Treasurer Jeff Willis, elected today:

  • President: Bryan B. Chambers
  • President-Elect: Lisa Loo
  • First Vice President: Alex Vakula
  • Second Vice President: Geoffrey Trachtenberg
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Jeff Willis

Following board bylaws, the new slate of officers assume their positions at the close of the annual meeting.

Follow more news via this Convention Daily and on Twitter, hashtag #azbarcon

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