Books


A new book by Arizona lawyers explains divorce in the Grand Canyon State.

A new book by Arizona lawyers explains divorce in the Grand Canyon State.

It’s January, and if statistics are true, you may be considering divorce.

Too abrupt? Sorry. How about this:

According to experts (OK, Findlaw, but still), the number of Americans filing for divorce increases in January each year and typically peaks in March.

A head-scratcher, that. But Dickinson Wright family law attorney Marlene Pontrelli says, “A major factor is people not wanting to file for divorce during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Waiting until after the holidays seems to be easier for couples, especially those with children.”

So it may not be you. But someone in your circle may be about to pop the big D question.

Why do I raise this macabre topic? Because Pontrelli and a fellow Dickinson lawyer Robert Schwartz will be signing copies of their book Divorce in Arizona: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect at the Tempe branch of Changing Hands Bookstore this coming Saturday, January 10. They’ll be there from noon until 2:00 p.m.

Organizers describe the book as “a roadmap for couples obtaining a legal separation or divorce in Arizona. It answers the key questions that may arise during the process as well as questions people may not have thought to ask.”

Read more about the book here.

The bookstore is located at 6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe. Phone: (480) 730-0205.

The last word in the many chapters regarding the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio have clearly not been written. Cue the ASU Journalism School.

The last word in the many chapters regarding the office of Sheriff Joe Arpaio have clearly not been written. Cue the ASU Journalism School.

Phoenix New Times co-founder Michael Lacey (photo: Patrick Breen/Ariz. Republic)

Phoenix New Times co-founder Michael Lacey (photo: Patrick Breen/Ariz. Republic)

For those friends around the country who gaze in amazement at the State of Arizona (not always for wonderful reasons), an announcement yesterday must have had them lighting up the twitterverse.

The story out of ASU’s journalism school is that a new endowed professorship, entirely focused on border issues, will be funded with a $2 million gift drawn from a legal settlement awarded following a lawsuit over policing practices at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, led by Joe Arpaio.

The donors are none other than Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, longtime journalists and publishers who were arrested by the office as they worked on stories related to it.

I leave you to muse on alternate lyrics for “I fought the law …

I don’t know if the lobbying has begun for an excellent borders prof, but I certainly hope they consider journalist Terry Greene Sterling. You can read more about her and her work here.

The ASU press release opens:

“Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, longtime owners of the national chain of Village Voice alternative weeklies, will use proceeds from a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to establish a Chair in Borderlands Issues at the WalterCronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.”

Terry Greene Sterling

Terry Greene Sterling

“The $2 million gift will support an endowed chair who will lead a new program at the Cronkite School in which students will cover immigration and border issues in the U.S. and Mexico in both Spanish and English. The Lacey-Larkin Chair will be the only endowed chair in the country focused exclusively on Latino and borderlands coverage.”

“The Chair will direct advanced student journalists in a professional immersion program in which they will report, write and produce cutting-edge stories that will be distributed in English and Spanish to professional media outlets and will be prominently featured on the Cronkite News website and Arizona PBS newscasts. Additionally, the Lacey-Larkin Chair will comment on and write about border and immigration reporting nationally, promoting public scrutiny and serving as a national voice on coverage of issues affecting the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.”

Illegal, by Terry Greene Sterling

Illegal, by Terry Greene Sterling

“The new Chair will be the cornerstone of a Cronkite specialization that will include three full-time professors. The Lacey-Larkin Chair and a second, university-funded, professor to be added next year will join Cronkite Professor Rick Rodriguez, former editor of the Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors, as Southwest Borderlands Professors.”

“Lacey and Larkin are drawing on proceeds from a $3.75 million settlement from Maricopa County in a widely publicized case that tested First Amendment rights as well as Arpaio’s policing practices. They said their gift to ASU grew out of their outrage at the way Mexican immigrants, in particular, have been treated by the sheriff’s office.”

Want more? (Sure, you do.) Read the Arizona Republic article here.

Erwin Chemerinsky Supreme Court book coverBefore November runs its course, I wanted to point out one item in this month’s Arizona Attorney you may have missed—a book review.

My fondness for book reviews—when well done—is unabashed. And this month, attorney Roxie Bacon examines a new book by Erwin Chemerinsky that dissects the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chemerinsky is Dean of the UC-Irvine law school, as well as an accomplished scholar and SCOTUS litigant. And his assessment of the Court’s standing is damning. He argues that the Court has fallen down on the job in regard to its most important missions.

You can read Roxie’s excellent review here.

Meantime, for those who think Chemerinsky and Bacon are being too hard on the High Court, consider the current thinking of someone who knows that tribunal well. Linda Greenhouse covered the Supreme Court for years for the New York Times (and I spoke with her once myself, here). Now, she merely shakes her head in dismay at the tortuous legal paths the Court’s majority have taken in significant cases.

Linda Greenhouse

Linda Greenhouse

You should read Greenhouse’s op-ed, and feel free to let me know if the assembled thinkers have overstated their case, or if you agree.

A grateful hat-tip to Kristen Senz of the New Hampshire Bar Association for mentioning Greenhouse’s essay.

Five years ago, this law blog started as a novel. Thanks and I'm sorry.

Five years ago, this law blog started as a novel. Thanks and I’m sorry. (Photo by mpclemens)

Five years is a long time to do anything—especially write a daily legal blog. But it was November 2009 when I launched this blog. How to celebrate?

Well, I won’t urge you to go back in blog time and to read old posts. But I will note this blog’s literary roots.

In case you don’t know, I started this blog as a method to publish a legal novel—written all in one month, November 2009, as part of a national novel-writing effort.

At the bottom of this post, I’ll share some links to a few chapters of the book. But before I do, here is how I previously described the adventure:

“Originally, in November 2009, this blog launched as a portal for my novel-in-progress titled ‘The Supremes’. It is a tale of a firm comprised mainly of retired state supreme court justices. They thought working together would be a great idea. Oy.”

“The novel effort was part of a national write-a-novel-in-a-month event. See here for more information on that crazy venture.”

nanowrimo novel writing postcard“Since then, I have blogged about law and law practice in one of the most, um, colorful states in the Union. Day in and day out, fascinating people and topics come to the fore, almost yearning to be transformed into blog posts. And so I oblige.”

“My novel was in memory of lawyer-author Peter Baird, who was a great friend and influence to many others, whether they were lawyers or writers. He died suddenly in late August 2009, and he will be missed.”

“Each novel chapter opens with a quotation from the respective portion of the United States Code. There are 50 ‘titles’ (chapters) in the Code, but we’ll see if there are 50 chapters. Time will tell.”

Here are the first few chapters. If you want to read more … I bet you can figure it out.

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Attorney Rodney Glassman speaks to educators at the Madison Elementary District offices, Sept. 15, 2014.

Attorney Rodney Glassman speaks to educators at the Madison Elementary District offices, Sept. 15, 2014.

On Monday, educators gathered at a school district office to hear about an initiative that aids literacy—environmental and otherwise.

Attorney Rodney Glassman spoke to the group at the Madison School District offices about the series of books featuring Jeremy Jackrabbit—a creation of his and his wife Sasha Glassman (also a lawyer, as well as a school board member in Madison).

Glassman Jeremy Jackrabbit 4 book character

Jeremy Jackrabbit

An upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine will describe the book project—the fourth in the series. When the student illustration contest is complete and the book is done next spring, almost 60,000 kindergartners around the state will be treated to a free copy of this year’s “Jeremy Jackrabbit Saves Every Drop.”

For more information (for you or the youth artists in your life):

Once the story in our October issue is live, I’ll share that here too. And then, come spring, we’ll tell you how the initiative is hip-hopping along.

Royal Mail Coach, photo by DanieVDM, via Wikimedia Commons

What does a Royal Mail Coach have to do with the law? Our book reviewer tells all!
(Photo by DanieVDM, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

I was considering what takes a book review to a whole other level recently when an email arrived from Judge George Anagnost. And I was all, “Now I remember.”

Do Great Cases Make Bad Law? book by Leland Bllom Jr. The great book that was our reviewer's launching-pad.

The great book that was our reviewer’s launching-pad.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for book reviews (and of books). But too many reviewers think of their task as the same that confronted them in grade-school book reports: Tell what the book is about, in order, and then say if you’d recommend it (or not).

Drafted that way, the grade-school report is far superior, for at least it came with a hand-drawn cover.

Judge Anagnost’s approach is far more—and less—than that. He explains what the book is about, but not in enervating detail. More important, he sets the book in a context of others, and he sets the book’s subject in the context of its times, whether it is present day or the Revolutionary War.

Add to that his need to think discursively, wonderfully so. It is that narrative arc that yields magazine pages that are not a forced march from A to Z. No, his article is dotted with sidebars that illuminate and entertain (and give our Art Director the fun and sometimes difficult task of locating appropriate images that are high resolution and either in the public domain or reasonably priced!).

I post the pages below simply so you can see how his approach enlivens our magazine issues (though you can click to make them larger). But to read the Judge’s latest great review, go here.

And on Wednesday, September 17, Judge Anagnost again moderates one of his successful updates of the past Supreme Court Term. More detail is here. I plan to be there, and I hope you can make it, too.

 

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Every market has a vacuum that agile providers seek to fill. So if there has been a giant sucking sound in the presentation industry, eagerly filled by upstarts and platforms like Keynote, Prezi and Emaze (among others), that sucking must be attributed to one lethargic giant: PowerPoint.

I wrote yesterday about what comprises a great presentation, and I said I would offer some additional thoughts about PowerPoint.

My rule of thumb regarding PowerPoints is illustrated by the opening image of this post, and it falls along these lines: If your PowerPoint is entirely understandable to an uninformed audience simply by looking at your slides, and without any additional explanation, you’re probably doing it wrong. Just. Stop.

If, however, viewers were to gaze at your slides alone, without your explanatory presence, and as a result they experience some psychic discord and confusion, and if they begin to mutter “wtf” and scratch their collective head, you may (MAY!) be on the right track.

So, again, that opening image of the bottom of my shoes. A wtf moment.

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President's columns? (wtf?)

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President’s columns? (wtf?)

Why would that be? How can I claim that ready comprehension and ease of reading are markers for a sucky presentation?

Why? Because:

  • Because you are not charged with creating a shopping list. You are charged with informing and inspiring.
  • Because a presentation is not about reading. (It so pains me to point this out in 2014.)
  • Because you (the presenter) are supposed to bring something to the whole presentation deal-io.
  • Because if I can view your slide deck and master the subject easily, you probably have packed it with too many words (a premier suckiness marker).

But … if your presence enriches and illuminates your points, that tells me you have value, and it tells me that you are not simply using your PP as cue cards to be read to snoring people.

My title mentions “tone.” Know your audience, which may even include sober-minded (and perhaps sober) lawyers. But know that even serious folk are swayed (just like real people) by brevity, wit and humor. Your takeaways may be recalled better if they are encapsulated in an image rather than in 7,000 words.

Well, I complained about too many words and then proceeded to give you a 420-word blog post. But I’ll end with a few slides I have offered before on the topic of providing stellar content and even better social media engagement. In each instance, I made the point as the presenter; the image merely got the assist.

Don't work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Don’t work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

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