Arizona Attorney Magazine


Gallagher & Kennedy associates Hannah Porter and Kimberly Allen pictured with a small selection of the clothing the firm's Professional Women's Group donated to Dress for Success.

Gallagher & Kennedy associates Hannah Porter and Kimberly Allen pictured with a small selection of the clothing the firm’s Professional Women’s Group donated to Dress for Success.

Recently, I was pleased to hear some great news out of a law firm and its Professional Women’s Group. Their efforts represent some of the best elements—and charitable impulses—of the Arizona Bar.

I have written about the Gallagher & Kennedy Professional Women’s Group before. That was when they committed themselves to a year’s worth of reading to school-aged children. You can read about that effort here.

Here is the news from G&K and their work on behalf of Dress for Success. Do you, your law firm or your law office have stories of community contribution? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

“On March 16, 2015, the Gallagher & Kennedy law firm donated more than 300 professional clothing items as well as a monetary donation to the Arizona affiliate of Dress for Success (DFS), an organization that supports women reentering the workforce. Over three weeks in February, the law firm’s Professional Women’s Group collected new and gently used women’s business clothing to donate to the Dress of Success Phoenix boutique. Donations were gathered from others in the Esplanade Complex, vendors and employees of the law firm.”

“The Professional Women’s Group became a new partner for DFS Phoenix in 2014 with members participating in various mentorship opportunities including interview skills and resume writing workshops. ‘Gallagher & Kennedy has been a wonderful partner this year,’ said Pat Torres, boutique coordinator for Dress for Success Phoenix. ‘Their dedication to helping women in the community through their contribution of time, professional expertise and clothing items will have a lasting impact for our clients.’”

“Whether partnering to support the causes of their clients or serving organizations that meet unique personal or professional interests of their employees, hundreds of volunteer service hours are given to hundreds of nonprofit and professional organizations each year by Gallagher & Kennedy employees.”

Kimberly Allen and Hannah Porter, associates with Gallagher & Kennedy, deliver donated items to Dress for Success, Phoenix.

Kimberly Allen and Hannah Porter, associates with Gallagher & Kennedy, deliver donated items to Dress for Success, Phoenix.

 

Attorney Mark Bockel poses in the Larsen Gallery, Scottsdale, as photographer John Hall shoots his picture, March 12, 2015.

Attorney Mark Bockel poses in the Larsen Gallery, Scottsdale, as photographer John Hall shoots his picture, March 12, 2015.

The annual photo shoot for our Creative Arts Competition winners was held last week, and it looks like it was terrific.

I say “looks” because I was out of town and had to miss it. But that makes me doubly happy that Art Director Karen Holub thoughtfully provided me some “behind the camera” shots. (Which is kind of amazing, as she was herding cats, a photographer, and multiple lawyer-winners.)

All of the professionally shot photos will appear in the May issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine—along with the talented artists’ work. In the meantime, click here to see last year’s winning work.

Thank you to the Larsen Gallery in Scottsdale for hosting our shoot. As always, your space and the work you display are remarkable.

Have a great—and artful—weekend.

Here are a few more shots. (Click them to biggify.)

Sandra Day O'Connor, before she was a Justice.

Sandra Day O’Connor, before she was a Justice.

This past week, I finally had the chance to see a historic exhibit that has been on display since September (I mentioned it before). I’m glad I caught the show regarding Sandra Day O’Connor before it closes in May.

Whether or not you’re a cowgirl, or Irish, you’ll enjoy the show at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix.

Some photos I took during my visit are here on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

In the next (April) issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, I write about my visit in my editor’s column. Here it is (spoiler alert):

Honoring a cowgirl–justice

Let’s admit at the outset: Sandra Day O’Connor may not be Irish.

That small fact detracts not a whit from an installation at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix that explores one remarkable woman’s path from cowgirl to jurist.

The show—up since September but which I finally saw in February—comes to Phoenix from Texas—Fort Worth, in particular. That’s where (of course) the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is located, and where they conceived the idea of “The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice.”

Sandra Day O'Connor speaks at her Senate confirmation hearings, her image reflected on the case holding her judicial robe.

Sandra Day O’Connor speaks at her Senate confirmation hearings, her image reflected on the case holding her judicial robe. (Click to enlarge.)

The well-chosen exhibition displays offer viewers the opportunity to explore how life on the ranch and in chambers are similar and different. You can’t help but marvel at the distance a young girl traveled, and it’s hard to resist viewing her judicial approach anew, through the lens of the Lazy B Ranch (where, to nobody’s surprise, no one was lazy).

Family photos and a branding iron are concrete and evocative reminders of Justice O’Connor’s heritage. But the portion of the beautiful room given over to her ascension to the Court reminds us of her historic appointment.

As I watched the looping footage of O’Connor’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I was struck by her calm demeanor and kind but firm method of schooling her questioners. Her flickering visage, reflected in the case holding her judicial robe, reminded me how fortunate Arizona is to be home to talented lawyers and jurists like Sandra Day O’Connor.

The show remains open until May 23, 2015. More information is here.

Center for Plain Language logoHere is an annual story I always enjoy: the award for plainness in writing emanating from the federal government.

Thanks to the Center for Plain Language, we now know which government departments wrote cleanly and crisply in the past year—and which ones fell far short.

As reporter Lisa Rein describes the results in the Washington Post, those that did well included Homeland Security (I know; I can’t believe it either), the Social Security Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. But:

“The poor performers landing at the bottom of the 2014 Federal Plain Language Report Card were the Interior, State and Education departments. Interior and State didn’t submit writing samples, and their programs are anemic, the report said, while Education earned passing grades for writing and design but a “D” in compliance with the law.”

The Post story also provides the following example of muddy writing, this one coming from the U.S. Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard's at sea: The opposite of plain writing.

The Coast Guard’s at sea: The opposite of plain writing.

Oy. Maybe I should send the Coast Guard a copy of one of many great writing books I’ve re-read over the years, The Craft of Clarity by Robert Knight.

See the Center’s complete report card here.

The Craft of Clarity by Robert Knight book coverAlways on the hunt for simplification and clarity in our little corner of the world, I just conducted a small experiment on an online “readability calculator,” using our own written copy from Arizona Attorney Magazine.

This website will give you all kinds of data about the writing of you or others. Just paste in a sample of the writing and it will tell you the grade level the piece might best “reach.”

Using content from the upcoming March issue of the magazine, I pasted in exemplars from a few lawyer-written articles. I was pleased to see they came in at the range of 10th grade through 12th grade. (No, you really don’t want your language to reach exactly the grade level most of your readers have achieved. Readers are busy, and a readability score of 19, based on the average years of schooling of an attorney, is simply a recipe for disaster and obfuscation. A modest 10-12 is just fine.)

And then I pasted in my own editor’s column from the same issue. That’s when I saw it yielded a readability score of 7.0. That is 7th grade.

Sounds about right.

The good news: Time-stressed readers will not be overly taxed by giving my column a quick read.

The bad news: It looks like I’ll never get into the Coast Guard.

Have a wonderful—and rigorously disentangled—weekend.

Grant Woods delivers the keynote address at the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel annual dinner, Camelback Inn, Jan. 15, 2015.

Grant Woods delivers the keynote address at the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel annual dinner, Camelback Inn, Jan. 15, 2015.

What makes a lawyer event more enjoyable? When organizers can dial down the lawyerliness. (Yes, I just coined a word. Sue me.)

That ability to create an event dedicated to lawyers but also committed to battling sleepiness is what has made the annual corporate counsel awards dinner such a great ticket.

This year’s event was on January 15, at the Camelback Inn, and I have a few theories as to why they achieve goodness when others may not.

First, it’s put on by a magazine. True, the sponsor is the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. But helping to run the show are magazine types.

No, not Arizona Attorney. (Sigh.) Instead, the folks at AZ Business Magazine have been tapped to steer the evening. And they’ve managed to make the vessel a fleet-bowed skiff rather than a slow-moving ocean liner (or, even worse, a Titanic).

There’s just something—I don’t know—impatient about magazine people. We want to get to the nut of the issue, the meat of the matter. And so the magazine staff (including the emcee–editor-in-chief Michael Gossie) and others from AZBigMedia (note to self: Steal that name) goosed the evening along, never allowing it to come to rest as many legal events do.

Second, the honorees are some of the best corporate counsel around. So when the winner is announced (or even the finalists), the business-attuned audience nods with recognition. These are the companies that weathered storms, established beachheads, reached the summits. And they did all that with excellent legal teams. (The winners’ names and companies will appear in a subsequent post.)

So there’s that. And then there’s the keynote.

When I heard keynote speaker Grant Woods a year ago, I laughed my keister off (like everyone else in the room), and I assumed it would be his last appearance at the annual event. Why is that? Well, Grant pulled no punches in his hilarious political monologue. And legal events—especially among risk-averse corporate counsel, I’m sorry to say—are highly adept at pulling punches. Yes, Grant was a crowd-pleaser. But was he an event-organizer pleaser? I guessed the answer was no.

How pleased I am that I was wrong. Grant again was the speaker, arriving this time in jeans and an unbuttoned blue shirt.

Well, if he comes next year in a robe and slippers, the AAC should still welcome him.

As there is a mixed audience for this blog—some of whom may be a tad thin-skinned—I won’t pass on all of Grant’s gems. But here are a few:

Q: What’s the difference between an Arizona state legislator and God?

A: God doesn’t think he’s an Arizona state legislator.

But no, don’t worry, Grant’s items were not all rim shots. He offered political observations created out of a lifetime of Arizona living, law practice, and public service.

Since he was in high school, he noted, no Arizona governor has entered office and left it “normally.” Whether to head off to a better job or running out the door ahead of impeachment proceedings, our chief execs have been a colorful lot.

Grant focused his time and talents on three noteworthy items: the presidential race, Sen. John McCain, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But along the way, he had skewers available for others. Among them:

  • Newly elected schools chief Diane Douglas (“She hid in her house for the last week and a half of the campaign so she wouldn’t be interviewed. She won!”)
  • Former Maricopa County Sheriff Dick Godbehere, who led a helicopter raid not only outside the county line but into Mexico itself. The retired lawn-mower repairman kept in his office a prized possession of what he claimed to be ancient artifacts—including a sculpture of an automobile (think about it).
  • Sometime- and often presidential candidate Mitt Romney (who mused in amazement that it is possible to FedEx a horse—something never imagined by anyone in my humble neighborhood).

Through it all, the audience—of many political stripes, I would guess—was laughing as they never can do in boardrooms. But ultimately, Grant offered the AAC audience a moment of high seriousness.

“There are smart, compassionate and innovative lawyers in our state,” Woods said, pointing to members of the audience. “I salute you, and I am proud to be part of your profession.”

Grant Woods addresses a packed room at the Camelback Inn for the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel annual dinner, Jan. 15, 2015.

Grant Woods addresses a packed room at the Camelback Inn for the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel annual dinner, Jan. 15, 2015.

“All of you worked really hard to achieve what you have,” he ended. “I’m proud to be a lawyer, and I’m proud of our fellow lawyers.”

Well done, ACC and AZBigMedia. As just one guy who occasionally gets sleepy at lawyer events, I urge you to get Grant to sign on for another year.

What’s Hot and What’s Not In The Legal Profession Hot_tamales

What’s hot and what’s not In the legal profession?

Most of us enjoy gazing into the legal profession’s crystal ball, especially when someone else is doing the heavy lifting.

That’s why I so much appreciate Bob Denney’s annual prognostications about what will be the hot (or not) legal practice areas in the coming year.

Among his leading contenders: intellectual property, federal False Claim Act litigation, labor and employment, and technology. His whole list and analysis are here.

You really need to read all the way to the end. That’s where Bob offers analysis that could assist your practice (or our magazine coverage).

Hot and Not law practice areasThis kind of project is a brave one, because any one of us can armchair-review his predictions from the previous year. (I know you want to; read his notions about 2014 here.)

Finally, I very much appreciate his mentioning the False Claims Act. We’ve covered its growing power in Arizona Attorney Magazine, and commentator JD Supra agrees with Bob.

And who else agrees? Perhaps a Tucson health care network that paid $35 million in a fraud settlement last year. Ouch times 35.

Do Bob’s predictions resonate in your own practice? And which of his assessments are most surprising to you? Write to me at Arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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