Arizona Attorney Magazine


Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Earlier this month, I mentioned a remarkable story told in the May Arizona Attorney. In it, Judge Randall Howe relates his mother’s advocacy for his quality education—though his school deemed him unfit for such due to a disability.

The 6-year-old Howe had a remarkable champion in his corner in 1969. Since then, he has been a champion for others, which led to his being named the recipient of an esteemed Vision Award from the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

AZ Center for Disability Law logoOn May 15, the Center celebrated its 20th anniversary. In a terrific evening, awards were given, including Judge Howe’s and a Disability Justice Award given to the law firm Perkins Coie.

You can see my aggregated tweets from the evening here. They includes links to the Judge’s story and other helpful information.

Congratulations to Judge Howe. He is a champion and an advocate—as well as a terrific former Chair of the magazine’s Editorial Board!

Have a great weekend.

The 'G' on the mountainside means you're in Globe, Ariz.The 'G' on the mountainside means you're in Globe, Ariz.

The ‘G’ on the mountainside means you’re in Globe, Ariz.

On Monday, I traveled to Globe, Ariz., to work on a magazine story. And as it was my very first trip to the Cobre Valley, I’m pleased to report that it was a pleasure, beginning to end.

My only previous experience of Globe came via an article in Arizona Attorney Magazine. There, in 2004, (Judge) Sally Simmons wrote about the historic mining town and one lawyer’s impact on it.

Tommy Thompson in Globe, Ariz., by photographer Cassandra Tomei

Tommy Thompson in Globe, Ariz., by photographer Cassandra Tomei

As she said, Tommy Thompson has been committed to the restoration and preservation of the town’s history for decades.

You can read her story here. It’s titled “Lawyering at Street Level: Tom Thompson’s Highest Service.”

While I was in southeastern Arizona, I also visited one of those preserved buildings—the one that formerly housed the Gila County Superior Court. Now it’s home to the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts. (I wrote about it here.)

I also was privileged to get a one-person tour of the old county jail. It was as filled with history—and maybe poltergeists—as you would guess.

Less than two hours from Phoenix, the area offered many enjoyable sites to the traveler. Clearly, a longer, more leisurely trip is demanded!

Later this week, I’ll share a few photos from my visit.

It was Bar events like this one in March that made me wonder: Should we publish more member photos?

It was Bar events like this one in March that made me wonder: Should we publish more member photos?

In my work life, I receive a lot of magazines in the mail. A lot.

Most of them come from other bar associations. Between many other tasks, I strive to at least flip through each one, seeking ideas that spur my own thinking and, perhaps, my own stealing.

One idea I routinely see in others’ magazines is the use of member photos from events. Folks mill about, smile (or not), and the publication is able to capture numerous lawyers every month enjoying and engaging.

Arizona Attorney has never done too much of that—with one exception. When I first started as editor almost 15 years ago, our annual Convention coverage included pages of those party shots. I paged through them, grimaced, and deep-sixed them. No one (and I mean no one) complained.

But as I read other bars’ magazines, I wondered if I was too hasty. Maybe those that publish these photos are on to something. After all, if statistics are right, fewer and fewer people want to belong to associations (or participate if they are in a mandatory organization). Would seeing their own faces or the faces of their colleagues turn that frown upside-down?

Lawyers gather at The Duce Phoenix, on March 26, 2015.

Lawyers gather at The Duce Phoenix, on March 26, 2015.

I asked that question in my May Editor’s Letter. I’m awaiting some feedback from readers to my musings: “If lawyers want to gather and nosh and talk and listen, would they like to see those moments captured in photos? Maybe they would. Perhaps it would be useful and entertaining to find a way to publish some event photos in the magazine, in print and online.”

You can read the whole column here.

I can tip my hand about one thing: At our most recent meeting, the Editorial Board offered a resounding blecccchhh at the idea. They reside firmly in the camp that I have occupied for a decade, believing that seeing what may be the same recurring faces month after month won’t do much for readership.

Hmmm. Well, as I say in my column, it does not have to be a feature of the print magazine; we have an online presence too. Maybe those faces of mingling lawyers would do better in the cloud.

Let me know what you think about member photos (especially if you belong to multiple bars and associations that take varying approaches to the issue). Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Reviewed in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine: Magna Carta by Dan Jones

Reviewed in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine: Magna Carta by Dan Jones

Yesterday, I got to CLE Snippet.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know what I mean. I got to have a taped conversation with the author of an upcoming Arizona Attorney article.

The result is a brief-ish video for sale by the CLE Department. I say brief-ish because, though we’ve been told we may speak for as little as 15 minutes, our past dialogues have rambled two to four times beyond that.

What can I say? Our authors are fascinating people, and I get to select the authors and topics I want to sit down with.

Yesterday’s Snippet was with Judge George Anagnost. He is the Presiding Judge of the Peoria Municipal Court. And at the magazine, he’s one of our resident historians and a book-reviewer par excellence.

I have written about his approach to book reviews here.

Our topic this week was Magna Carta. Our jumping-off point was a book the judge reviewed, by Dan Jones. But the conversation ranged farther than that.

Continuing our sort-of tradition, a selfie with the author was a pleasure, snapped this month by my Bar colleague Jenn Sonier. (Thanks!)

Judge George Anagnost (left) and his shorter interlocutor.

Judge George Anagnost (left) and his shorter interlocutor.

When the video and June article are available, I hope you read and watch in tandem. More information, as always, will be on the Bar’s website.

Mother's Day banner

The following information may be bad news to you: Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

If you find yourself in the awkward bind of realizing that fact a day late, here’s what I recommend: Read Randy Howe’s touching article in Arizona Attorney Magazine. Then contact your loved one and apologize—more than once. And make amends by sharing the story’s link with her.

Randy’s story and his mother’s evocative and surprising letter of advocacy for her son may heal all wounds.

The heart of the story of Randall Howe—now an Arizona Court of Appeals judge—revolves around his mother’s position in regard to her son’s education, and a letter she sent to the district on his behalf. As he writes:

“Six years old was when children in Colorado started first grade, and my mother believed that I should begin school. The fact that I had cerebral palsy, walked with walker, and had a speech impediment—all of these things she deemed irrelevant to my need—my right—to go to school. Consequently, she enrolled me in the elementary school down the street from our house. School officials had never encountered children with a severe disability before and put her off, requiring that I be mentally and psychologically tested to determine if I was intellectually capable of attending school.”

“Undaunted, she did just that. And from reading the letter, you can see what happened. I went to first grade for four days, until school officials decided that they were unable to give a child with a disability the physical assistance necessary so that he could attend school. My mother—again undaunted—proceeded to petition, cajole and argue with the school officials, and to threaten legal action against the school board to get me the public education that was provided to every nondisabled child in the State of Colorado.”

Here is Randy’s whole story, which I (seriously) suggest you share with friends and family.

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)

 

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.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,877 other followers