Change of Venue


Ideas worth sharing: Just say No.

Ideas worth sharing: Just say No.

How good are we all at saying No to things? Pretty darned good, I’ve discovered—at least when it comes to things that are satisfying and fulfilling. But the other stuff? We let people pile it on.

That was one of my takeaways when I presented on The Power of No. It was this past Friday, and the opportunity came to me from the great folks at the Arizona Society of Association Executives (I know; it’s fun to say).

Here’s my session description:

“Leadership requires making decisions that affect people and resources. But how do we make those important decisions? How do we sustain an ethical workplace and deal with the many pressures to do all things and be all things for our members and the public? Sometimes the best answer lies in resisting the urge to say Yes.”

As well-placed “No” is one of my favorite words evah, So I thought the topic and I were a pretty good fit. The more I dug into it, of course, the more I saw how much I had to learn about No. I mean, our inability to Give Good No—in the workplace or in the wider world—has deep roots.

But with time and practice, I urged the association leaders, every one of us can develop the muscle to say No when necessary. The soundness of our organizations and our own sanity occasionally demand it.

Here are a few photos from the event (click to biggify), held at the beautiful Falls event center in Gilbert, Arizona. And a special thank you to the very funny Jeremy Arp, Executive Director of the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, for his kind introduction.

Philip Levine

Philip Levine

Yes, before you ask: I do know that Labor Day was yesterday. But as you and other smart readers were relaxing, maybe attending a parade—and NOT reading legal blogs—I waited until today to share a post on the topic.

Today, I urge you to read the remarkable poem “What Work Is,” by Philip Levine. To read more of his poetry, go here, and to read the work of many other poets, go to the Poetry Foundation website.

Here is Philip:

 

We stand in the rain in a long line

waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.

You know what work is—if you’re

old enough to read this you know what

work is, although you may not do it.

Forget you. This is about waiting,

shifting from one foot to another.

Feeling the light rain falling like mist

into your hair, blurring your vision

until you think you see your own brother

ahead of you, maybe ten places.

You rub your glasses with your fingers,

and of course it’s someone else’s brother,

narrower across the shoulders than

yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin

that does not hide the stubbornness,

the sad refusal to give in to

rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,

to the knowledge that somewhere ahead

a man is waiting who will say, “No,

we’re not hiring today,” for any

reason he wants. You love your brother,

now suddenly you can hardly stand

the love flooding you for your brother,

who’s not beside you or behind or

ahead because he’s home trying to

sleep off a miserable night shift

at Cadillac so he can get up

before noon to study his German.

What Work Is book cover by Philip LevineWorks eight hours a night so he can sing

Wagner, the opera you hate most,

the worst music ever invented.

How long has it been since you told him

you loved him, held his wide shoulders,

opened your eyes wide and said those words,

and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never

done something so simple, so obvious,

not because you’re too young or too dumb,

not because you’re jealous or even mean

or incapable of crying in

the presence of another man, no,

just because you don’t know what work is.

Philip Levine, “What Work Is” from What Work Is. Copyright © 1992 by Philip Levine

Finis: Our icon for the My Last Word column in Arizona Attorney Magazine

Finis: Our icon for the My Last Word column

On this last day of August, I pause to praise a piece of writing in our July/August issue—and to praise the column it inhabits.

Longtime readers of Arizona Attorney Magazine will know that the name of our occasional back-page column is “The Last Word”—so named when we have one of our three primary columnists writing.

But we also invite any attorney—or non-attorney—to write a single column when the mood strikes them. On those months, we call the column “My Last Word.” And it has become one of my favorite places in the magazine.

I think I enjoy the surprise and discovery, as multiple people inevitably have inevitable viewpoints.

In that space, we have had people write on all sorts of things. And this month, attorney Gary Fry muses on—the act of musing. He wonders—as we should—whether we take enough time to do exactly that. Or are we too caught up in the minutiae of daily life to pause and reflect.

You can read his essay here. And if you want, you then can start at the other end of the issue; here’s the first page. Enjoy.

Gary also reminds me how much I enjoy the incredible photography of Jeff Wall. Here is a story about him and his process.

One piece of his I enjoy very much is called “Picture for Women,” which takes the dialogue about “the male gaze” in a decidedly modern direction. Here it is:

Picture for Women, by Jeff Wall (via Wikimedia Commons)

Picture for Women, by Jeff Wall (via Wikimedia Commons)

Here is a description of the work, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Picture for Women is a 142.5 × 204.5 cm cibachrome transparency mounted on a lightbox. Along with The Destroyed Room, Wall considers Picture for Women to be his first success in challenging photographic tradition. According to Tate Modern, this success allows Wall to reference “both popular culture (the illuminated signs of cinema and advertising hoardings) and the sense of scale he admires in classical painting. As three-dimensional objects, the lightboxes take on a sculptural presence, impacting on the viewer’s physical sense of orientation in relationship to the work.”

There are two figures in the scene, Wall himself, and a woman looking into the camera. In a profile of Wall in the The New Republic, art critic Jed Perl describes Picture for Women as Wall’s signature piece, “since it doubles as a portrait of the late-twentieth-century artist in his studio.” Art historian David Campany calls Picture for Women an important early work for Wall as it establishes central themes and motifs found in much of his later work.

A response to Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère, the Tate Modern wall text for Picture of Women, from the 2005–2006 exhibition Jeff Wall Photographs 1978–2004, outlines the influence of Manet’s painting:

“In Manet’s painting, a barmaid gazes out of frame, observed by a shadowy male figure. The whole scene appears to be reflected in the mirror behind the bar, creating a complex web of viewpoints. Wall borrows the internal structure of the painting, and motifs such as the light bulbs that give it spatial depth. The figures are similarly reflected in a mirror, and the woman has the absorbed gaze and posture of Manet’s barmaid, while the man is the artist himself. Though issues of the male gaze, particularly the power relationship between male artist and female model, and the viewer’s role as onlooker, are implicit in Manet’s painting, Wall updates the theme by positioning the camera at the centre of the work, so that it captures the act of making the image (the scene reflected in the mirror) and, at the same time, looks straight out at us.”

Interesting, right? And because it’s fun to compare, here is Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère:

Un bar aux Folies Bergère, by Edouard Manet (via Wikimedia Commons)

Un bar aux Folies Bergère, by Edouard Manet (via Wikimedia Commons)

If you or someone you know is interested in writing a 700-word column for the magazine, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. It doesn’t have to be on law, exactly, though it should resonate with attorneys—their careers or their wider lives.

blogging-1171731_1920

Benefits to blogging? I’ve seen a few … and so have successful attorneys.

Being a cheerleader for blogging has been an avocation of mine since—well, since I started my own back in 2009. There are multiple reasons to blog, and not everyone has the same goals. For me, blogging lets me develop story ideas and leads, and it allows me to cover news and events in quicker fashion than our hard-copy magazine ever could.

It also has been of incredible assistance in making connections with other people, professionals who want to share news or lawyers who are happy I’m telling their stories.

That’s why I’m happy to share news of a free blogging webinar occurring this Thursday, August 25—register here. Here’s hoping some attorneys take the plunge and discover how differentiation through blogging and other means is one of the best strategic paths to practice success—and satisfaction.

Cordell Parvin blogging webinar

Cordell Parvin

Taught by lawyer and career expert Cordell Parvin (and hosted by practice management software company MyCase), the webinar will be held at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET this Thursday. Here is the description:

Many lawyers who blog become “go-to” authorities in their practice areas. This leads to benefits including; new clients, speaking engagements, and job offers. So, how do you create a blog that you enjoy writing and that others find interesting? Cordell Parvin, attorney and former Practice Group Leader, will show you how to create a legal blog and start building your online audience in this blogging webinar. Here’s some of what will be covered:

  • The benefits of blogging
  • The art of writing a good post
  • Where to find topics
  • Creating a blog strategy
  • Essential ingredients to attract clients
  • Much More!

If you can’t attend the live session, you can receive the webinar recording by registering.

Thank you to the always-on-it folks at Above the Law for sharing the news of this free webinar, and to MyCase for hosting on such an important topic.

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Cecilia Marshall, 88, the widow of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, still lives in Falls Church, Va., where they moved three decades ago. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

What could be better on a Change of Venue Friday than a love story? Plus a little law, of course.

A story in the Washington Post describes the courtship and marriage of Cissy Marshall and her famous husband, Justice Thurgood Marshall. When Cecilia Suyat married Thurgood, she encountered resistance even within her own Filipino family. How ironic and wholly American is their story, therefore—as her husband went on to be the celebrated trial attorney who won the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

Thurgood Marshall, who led the NAACP’s legal team, and his wife, Cecilia, leave the Supreme Court after the high court ordered the Little Rock School Board to proceed with integration at Central High School. (UPI)

And here is a short video of Cissy related to the story of their interracial marriage.

When you’re done reading the Post piece, be sure to read our book review of Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, by Wil Haygood. The review is by Judge George Anagnost.

Have a terrific—and love-is-love-filled—weekend.

Showdown Thurgood Marshall book cover by Wil Haygood

 

Yes, a good performance is expected here. But you may be asked to deliver great, persuasive results in venues of every size.

Yes, a good performance is expected here. But you may be asked to deliver great, persuasive results in venues of every size.

How many of us have had the pleasure to stand on stage and perform?

Pretty much all of us, if we understand that to include appearing in court, before a board or commission—or even before a community organization.

“Perform” may not be a word you’re comfortable using in regard to your own presentation. But thinking of it that way may have a freeing influence on the results you get—and it may lead to more satisfaction in you and your listeners. And maybe in your clients.

I was thinking of this because this Friday, a State Bar educational seminar features Marc Bauman as a faculty member. Among other things, he is an instructor and consultant who heads up Bauman Trial Consulting LLC.

His seminar is titled “Persuasion Arts in Action,” and a few things distinguish it from the mass of learning opportunities.

First, it’s being taught workshop-style—so attendees will participate. Second, the attendee numbers are being kept low deliberately, to maximize everyone’s experience.

Instructor and trial consultant Marc Bauman

Instructor and trial consultant Marc Bauman

Here’s the link to the event, where you also can register. There may still be openings.

But third: I’ve had the pleasure to speak at length with Marc a few times (this last time at the grand opening of the ASU Beus Center for Law and Society), and I am confident he can help your presentation mojo. He is a great listener, and he knows how to offer compassionate and constructive feedback. His goal is not to make all speakers the same—or to make them him—but to help you become the best advocate for your client.

As Marc describes Friday’s offering:

“Existing somewhere between science and art, effective courtroom communication is a craft. The best trial attorneys realize this. As an experienced attorney, you may know how to make a perfect record and you may have prepared your case fact pattern. However, making a perfect record and presenting the facts of your case to a jury is not enough. Your client’s story needs to be crafted and presented with precision and investment.”

And here is a description of the seminar’s goals:

  1. Be more comfortable in front of a jury while standing, speaking, moving, gesturing, demonstrating exhibits and presenting graphics.
  2. Clarify your client’s case narrative and key themes.
  3. Strengthen your presentation skills while developing clear, meaningful connections with members of the jury, empowering them to deliberate on behalf of your client.
  4. Gain an important edge in the courtroom increasing your chances of a positive verdict for your client.
  5. Prepare for depositions and jury trials with the confidence you, your witnesses and most importantly, your clients deserve.

As the link indicates, he’d like you to arrive Friday with an opening statement about one minute in length. Easy squeezy, right?

This kind of learning is probably best conveyed as Marc will do it—in person. But I’m still thinking on how a print magazine like Arizona Attorney can transmit this kind of trial practice insight. If you have ideas, or your own experience with how acting and the dramatic arts have helped your own law practice, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a "major university" partner.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a “major university” partner.

Yesterday afternoon, Arizona Summit Law School in downtown Phoenix issued the following press release regarding its goal to affiliate with a university rather than remain a standalone law school. A school spokeswoman said that they expect to complete the affiliation “within the year.” What such an affiliation “with a major university” ultimately means for Summit is unclear; I’ll be reaching out to school officials in coming days to ask about their strategic thinking. At this point, the school has said that the collaboration would “allow lower tuition, improved economies of scale in pursuit of mission to provide legal education to diverse and non-traditional students.”

 I’ll report more when I learn more. And if you are a Summit student or faculty member, feel free to contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

 Here’s the release:

PHOENIX, AZ (August 15, 2016): Arizona Summit Law School (Summit), one of the nation’s few independent law schools, intends to affiliate with a major university within the year.

“The decision to affiliate reflects the strong commitment we have to our students,” said Don Lively, Summit president. “We conducted a survey of our students and learned that 67% of them would prefer attending a law school that is part of a university system. Toward this end, we are in advanced negotiations with a few universities that share our mission and values. The advantages of this transition are multifold. It will strengthen Summit’s reputation, make its program more affordable, reduce tuition dependency, result in stronger academic support systems and improved outcomes, enhance faculty and institutional development opportunities, create interdepartmental synergies, and significantly enhance the ability to achieve our mission of diversifying legal education and the legal profession.”

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoFounded in 2005, Summit was designed and developed by legal educators concerned about the direction of traditional legal education, which has drifted from the realities of the contemporary legal profession. Summit recognizes not only the need for change, but also the opportunity to become a benchmark institution for the 21st Century. Its goals include graduating students who truly are practice-ready and, most importantly, diversifying one of the nation’s least diverse professions.

In its short history, Summit has earned numerous awards for diversity and innovation—including being a two-time winner of the American Bar Association Gambrell Award. Summit students last year logged more than 100,000 public service hours. The school’s career placement rate for JD advantage, bar pass required, and professional positions leads all 50 tier two law schools. It has a student loan default rate of less than 2%, which is one of the best among the nation’s universities and law schools (including many state universities and ivy league schools).

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays notes that, “our mission entails admitting many students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have lower entering credentials but the potential to succeed. Our ability to and record of enabling success is evidenced by an ultimate bar pass rate that complies with ABA standards, our strong career placement rate, and many stories from employers who prefer to hire our graduates because of their preparedness for practice and strong work ethic. Dean Mays added “over the past decade, we have had a profound impact on the legal profession’s diversity in Arizona. In 2004, the state bar’s diversity rate was 8% compared to the overall state population’s diversity rate of ~40%. In 2015, we had a graduate diversity rate of 31% compared with the 15% diversity rate of the state’s other schools.”

Summit’s latest milestone on its mission of diversity is a program offering full scholarships plus $5,000 in living expenses to students with an LSAT score of 150 or above. The program, another market of its innovative mindset, is targeting students who are members of historically or economically disadvantaged groups and is being coordinated in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Legal education traditionally has assumed that schools must choose between high LSAT scores and diversity. The Summit scholarship initiative demonstrates that it can preserve a mission of diversity and, at the same time, increase the entering credentials of its students and ultimately its first-time bar pass rate.

The legal profession has changed dramatically in recent years, but law schools generally have not kept pace. Within this context, new leadership in legal education likely will emerge. Summit is building a school created not only to respond to but lead change and be recognized as an institution of true social utility. For more information, please visit www.azsummitlaw.edu.

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