Law Practice


The current issue of San Diego Lawyer asks attorneys how they view differences between the legal generations.

The current issue of San Diego Lawyer asks attorneys how they view differences between the legal generations.

Last week, I was happy to be in San Diego, where I was attending some legal-related meetings. And as you may know, when I travel, I like to see what local legal organizations have on offer in the area of publications.

So that took me to the pages of the San Diego County Bar Association’s San Diego Lawyer. And much to my pleasure, their current issue features a panel discussion related to differences between generations, perceived and real. As the panel of lawyers was asked, Are lawyers from different generations really all that different?

The whole issue opens here. (The Q&A begins on page 7 and jumps to page 24.)

Or you can click into the whole issue below.

 

 

That great feature article reminded me of a Q&A on a related topic we did back in 2008. Our September 2008 roundtable gathered the youngest and oldest Arizona lawyers in a room and asked them to talk about their challenges.

Attorney Tony Jones speaks at our 2008 roundtable that gathered Arizona's youngest and oldest lawyers.

Attorney Tony Jones speaks at our 2008 roundtable that gathered Arizona’s youngest and oldest lawyers.

I haven’t hosted a roundtable in a while. If I did plan one or more in the coming year, what topics would you like to see covered? In the past, I’ve covered, among others, topics like digital courts, solo lawyers, public lawyers, attorneys with disabilities, lawyer advertising, and lawyers in media/news.

The world’s your oyster! Let me know at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Civil discovery rule changes described by @swlaw attorney

“No (More) Fishing” may be one way to describe changes to federal discovery rules.

­­As you likely know, important changes were recently made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including changes in the discovery realm, captured in Rule 26.

In late January, Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein wrote about the amendments, particularly in regard to environmental and natural resource litigation.

He is some of what he said in his well-written blog post:

“Previously, parties were entitled to conduct discovery regarding anything that might be ‘reasonably calculated’ to lead to relevant and admissible evidence. In practice, this led to some parties deposing witnesses and subpoenaing documents with only a tenuous relationship to the real issues of the case. This kind of behavior caused significant costs and delays in litigation.”

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

“In environmental and national resource litigation, abusive discovery conduct typically results from parties without any real evidence looking for some (fishing expeditions), deep-pocketed parties trying to overwhelm their adversaries under a pile of documents and/or multiple and lengthy depositions, or parties who have no real idea what they were doing and are trying to figure it out along the way.”

“The new rule now requires an analysis of ‘proportionality.’ Rather than seeking everything but the kitchen sink, a party conducting discovery has an obligation to show why the discovery is reasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case.”

You should read the whole thing here.

Of course, I’ve been around long enough to know there’s more than one way to look at rule changes. And when I see phrases like “abusive discovery,” “fishing expeditions,” and “everything but the kitchen sink,” I would guess at least a few lawyers would want to characterize things differently.

So today I wonder:

  1. Should we cover this topic in Arizona Attorney Magazine? and
  2. How would you describe the discovery rule changes? As Mitch did, or otherwise?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Pile of documents stack up high waiting to be managed

Needles and haystacks are often a metaphor for civil discovery.

caller ID spoofing scam

Today I share news from the State Bar of Arizona about a new spoofing scam that is afoot.

If that sentence sounds funky to you, it’s because it’s simply a new and different way to “exploit the attorney/client relationship and defraud consumers of their money.”

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorYou can read all the information here.

And if your outlook was not fraught enough, turn to this helpful piece on additional cybersecurity tech tips to avoid getting “the willies.” The risks include ransomware, pfishing, and even the threat your own employees may represent.

Finally, here is my previous coverage of a panel discussion last summer that managed to cause quite a few willies. Live and learn.

scam alert roadsign sign

True, the American Museum of Tort Law (and its Unsafe Pinto T-shirt) looks fun. But is that enough reason to advocate a legal career?

True, the American Museum of Tort Law (and its Unsafe Pinto T-shirt) looks fun. But is that enough reason to advocate a legal career?

Just as February begins, I’ve decided to share with you my column from this month’s issue of Arizona Attorney—for a single reason, framed as a question at the end of my column.

Namely, would you encourage someone to go to law school today? If so, what qualities would you stress that they should have or develop to maximize the value of the experience?

Here’s the piece:

 

“Bullish” is typically how I would describe my viewpoint about the future of the legal profession. We certainly face challenges, even big ones, and I do not agree with those who think things will return to “normal”—if normal means bushelfuls of billable hours, clients who don’t scrutinize invoices, the elimination of offshore legal services, and equity partnerships for those who simply put in the time.

Despite the new normal, I remain confident that the field is a worthy one to pursue—even if you accumulate some student debt along the way. In a month featuring Valentine’s Day, the law still deserves our love.

RBG Valentine via Georgetown Law Weekly

RBG Valentine via Georgetown Law Weekly

But what if I have to put my money where my mouth is? What if the lawyerly profession were to darken my own door? Would I be so sanguine?

That occurred to me over the holiday season, when my daughter was home from university. She’s a sophomore, studying a decidedly non-prelaw major. But this past semester, she took an elective on Business Law—and liked it very much. (Except for the way the instructor taught torts, which seemed pretty dull to her. I explained that when you get beyond business torts, you’re into eye-opening and awe-inspiring territory. Maybe we’ll take a field trip to the American Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut!)

For the first time ever, I heard our daughter say that she would consider aiming for a law degree after college.

Gulp. Time to decide if I walk the walk.

And my hesitation to embrace a legal future for someone I care for is not unique. I recently spoke with a partner at a large multistate law firm. He had previously reached positions of national prominence in the realm of criminal and civil law, and now is a shareholder in a respected, white-shoe national firm. The law has been very good to him.

Despite that, he confessed his own hesitation when his son, a recent college graduate, mentioned he may sit for the LSAT. “I wasn’t sure what to tell him,” the attorney admitted to me. “But I certainly didn’t encourage it.”

In a time when job prospects are still sparse and the practice is shifting in numerous ways, how do we encourage future applicants in a LegalZoom era? How do we describe the field, and what core skills do we emphasize as the future of a profession? How do we characterize important elements like fulfillment, service, and meaning in 2016 and beyond?

Your thoughts are welcome at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. The legal field—and at least a few of our kids—would appreciate the input.

A new Phoenix Compliance Assistance Program aims to assist residents whose civil fines have led to the loss of a driver's license or worse.

A new Phoenix Compliance Assistance Program aims to assist residents whose civil fines have led to the loss of a driver’s license or worse.

This week, the City of Phoenix and its Municipal Court announced a new program that aims to counter situations that have too often have led people into financial straits and even into the justice system.

The new “Compliance Assistance Program” is “designed to give residents with past-due traffic fines a path to repay the debts and work towards restoring driving privileges.”

The past year has provided numerous examples from around the country in which residents faced financial ruin and increased interaction with police because of an accumulation of unpaid tickets, fines, and penalties. But these issues didn’t just face residents of Ferguson, Missouri, or other newsworthy places; they face residents of Arizona cities too. The Phoenix program is a salutary effort to address those problems; you can read more about it here.

As Megan Cassidy reports:

“The Compliance Assistance Program is designed to break what can become a crippling cycle of fines and subsequent driving penalties: Unpaid fines can lead to a suspended license. And driving on a suspended license can lead to criminal charges and jail time for the working poor. As of Dec. 31, Phoenix was owed more than $283 million in overdue municipal fines, fees and restitution dating back decades. As many as 6,000 people currently have their licenses suspended because of delinquent Phoenix fines.”

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego

Quoted in the story and a key driver of the change is Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego.

“We want people to be able to pay their fines in a sustainable way,” she said. “If you push people to the brink of their financial ability, the consequences are more negative.”

New Chief Presiding Municipal Judge B. Don Taylor came into the job via a contentious process, but his advocacy for these changes is a welcome sign for a progressive court, one that has substantial daily interactions with residents. Though the program is just a first step, residents should be heartened by the actions of Judge Taylor and Councilwoman Gallego, who “said she made reforming the Municipal Court system a priority in her decision-making when the City Council selected a new presiding municipal judge last year.”

As Judge Taylor says in the Arizona Republic story, “It’s really providing a mechanism that people haven’t really had before. I think creating something that will allow them to be compliant, get the license back, really helps them be in a good place.”

If the name Don Taylor sounds familiar, it may be because he’s a longtime lawyer, former prosecutor, and even a story-subject in Arizona Attorney Magazine. In 2007, we spoke with him as he worked at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague.

Congratulations on the new program.

Attorney B. Don Taylor in the February 2007 Arizona Attorney, describing his work at The Hague.

Attorney B. Don Taylor in the February 2007 Arizona Attorney, describing his work at The Hague.

lawyers on call

Next Tuesday, February 2, the State Bar and 12News are co-sponsoring a lawyer call-in program that may benefit someone you know—or it may even benefit you!

12 News logoThe topic for Lawyers on Call that night will be estate planning, wills and trusts. It runs from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. that evening, and the call-in number is 602-258-1212. More detail is here.

After the event, I’ll share the names of the lawyers who generously gave of their time at the event.

State Bar of Arizona dues are due on or before Feb. 1, 2016.

State Bar of Arizona dues are due on or before Feb. 1, 2016.

On the very top of the front cover of Arizona Attorney Magazine’s January issue (the space we call an eyebrow), we reminded Arizona Bar members of an important deadline: February 1 is when the annual statement and dues are required to be filed.

Because everyone can stand another reminder (and because I suddenly remembered my own California Bar dues this past Friday!), I share the news with you again.

All the detail, and a place to get started online, are here.

Our January magazine 'eyebrow' shares the dues news.

Our January magazine ‘eyebrow’ shares the dues news.

Paying dues may be the least-enjoyable part of any membership. But it sure makes February 2 feel better.

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