Law Practice


In partnership with the Florence Project, The Rogue Trio will perform February 24 at ASU's Katzin Hall.

In partnership with the Florence Project, The Rogue Trio will perform February 24 at ASU’s Katzin Hall.

This month’s headlines were filled with developments regarding immigration law and significant changes that are proposed for its enforcement.

If you’re seeking a very creative way to be imbued with the immigrant experience, an event this Friday night at ASU may be the (free) ticket—or the boleto, if you’d prefer.

Florence Project logo 25 years

As organizers describe it: For one night only, The Rogue Trio partners with the Florence Project to create a unique musical experience, featuring testimony of Florence Project clients. Making his southwest debut, composer Ralph Lewis takes powerful testimony of immigrants detained in Arizona and combines their accounts with live and electroacoustic music for a moving musical juxtaposition that brings hope amongst fear.

Did you catch that? Migrant testimony in combination with music.

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The performance will be held at Arizona State University’s Katzin Hall on Friday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m., and admission is free. Parking information can be found here. If you have any questions, reach out to Greer Millard at gmillard@firrp.org or 602-795-7407. More information on the The Rogue Trio is here.

And who are The Rogue Trio? They are: Justin Rollefson on saxophones, Kathleen Strahm on violin, and Mary Strobel-Price on piano. They describe their work as “a contemporary chamber ensemble that explores the diverse color palate of an unconventional assortment of instruments.” Color me interested. You can visit their website here, and find them on Facebook here.

Meantime, in other legal news related to the high-profile nature of immigration cases today, here’s an ABA Journal article about a website that connects volunteer lawyers with travelers affected by the immigration ban.

As ABA Journal reporter Debra Cassens Weiss writes, “Airport Lawyer allows users to input information about people targeted by the ban who are traveling to the United States—whether it’s the user, a friend or family member. The information can be shared with lawyers who can be available at the airport to monitor arrivals. … A list of the airports where volunteer lawyers are available through the app is here.”

airport-lawyer-website-connects-volunteer-lawyers-with-travelers-affected-by-immigration-ban

The future of legal search will be embedded in artificial intelligence.

The future of legal search will be embedded in artificial intelligence.

Bob Ambrogi is an experienced and talented journalist who covers the legal profession. And all of that means he has the essential element of skepticism. So when he covers the evolving horse race in legal research, I tend to trust his takeaways.

Oh, you didn’t know there’s a horse race? Well, that could be a problem. Because strategic thinkers are assessing the best and most efficient ways to do legal research. Time was, we’d all sit at tables with mounds of books. And don’t forget your Shepard’s, unless you like malpractice claims.

We’ve advanced, of course, and most all of us know the ins and outs of some legal software, be it Lexis, Westlaw, Fastcase, Casemaker … what have you.

But the world is not standing still while the Lexises of the world (Lexii?) run the board. Instead, ROSS has entered the scene.

You may know ROSS Intelligence as the artificial-intelligence tool that has become adept at beating world-class chess pros. Bored, or something, ROSS has turned its attention to the legal field. I’m guessing there may be a few extra dollars in the legal field rather than in board games.

It was bound to happen, but someone has made a head-to-head (byte-to-byte) comparison of Westlaw, Lexis, and ROSS.

The takeaway: In certain areas, those first two had better get to the gym, because they are being outpaced by their artificial intelligence cohort.

You can read all of Bob’s takeaways here.

Part of the research into ROSS Intelligence included the user experience. (Source: Blue Hill Research)

Part of the research into ROSS Intelligence included the user experience. (Source: Blue Hill Research)

As you’ll see and maybe appreciate, he couches his conclusions with a number of caveats—not the least of which, the test was performed in a practice area—bankruptcy—in which ROSS was initially developed. So maybe that robot intelligence simply is most at home on that playing field.

But its competitors probably should not reside in that comfortable excuse. Clearly, the search landscape is changing.

And of course, in that change may be opportunities for lawyers. Especially those who are forward-thinking and recognize the strategic advantage in better, more efficient search.

Meantime, if you want an even deeper dive, here is the report from Blue Hill Research, the company that did the comparison tests, and detail from the ROSS folks themselves.

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state-bar-of-arizona-dementia-program

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.

That stunning fact—and its impact on our personal and professional lives—drove the creation of a special State Bar of Arizona program on dementia and its impact on lawyers and judges.

The free live webinar will be screened one week from today, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 10 am to 11:15 am.

More information and free registration are here.

The program is being produced by the State Bar and the Arizona Supreme Court, in cooperation with InReach.

As organizers say, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is rapidly growing in part due to the aging baby-boomer population and increased life expectancy. Currently, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease.

The Bar’s hope for the program is to:

  • share information about the signs of dementia
  • provide links to help navigate the available resources
  • highlight the responsibilities and opportunities for lawyers and judges.

The program is not intended to offer CLE credit as it has not been developed with MCLE rules in mind. Instead, it is available as a service for members of the bench and the bar.

(The Bar will offer a follow-up three-hour CLE program in April that addresses Arizona-specific duties and opportunities.)

State Bar of Arizona logo 

Winding canal of the Central Arizona Project (Wikimedia Commons)

Winding canal of the Central Arizona Project (Wikimedia Commons)

If you live in the American West and are a person who uses water, or if your body is approximately 70 percent water, you may need to be interested in the state of water resources.

Fortunately, a program this Thursday provides a clear-eyed view of the issues.

This Thursday, February 9, a panel discussion will examine the “Arizona Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan: Arizona Water Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty.” All the detail is here.

It begins at 1:00 p.m., and will also be available via live simulcast.

Here is more background about the program from its organizers:

The State Bar of Arizona CLE Department, Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section, and Environmental & Natural Resources Sections are sponsoring a water program on February 9, 2017.

Of the 7 million acre-feet of water Arizona uses annually, 40 percent is Colorado River water. Arizona water managers predict Colorado River water shortages for Arizona may be as early as 2018 with the water in Lake Mead and Lake Powell now at historic low levels.

Bill Ralls, former federal water regulator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of this water program, says, “With documented significant imbalances between future demands and water supply in Arizona, the time for action is now to find state and regional solutions to realize growth potential. The solution will likely be regional. The first chapter in this historic effort is now focused in the current negotiations to develop a regional drought contingency plan in the lower basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona.”

A distinguished panel of regulatory and water experts will analyze the current status of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency; Plan and Contingency Plan Plus of the Central Arizona Project.

The Colorado River cuts a pathway of 1,450 miles from the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming to Mexico, providing a water supply to nearly 40 million people in seven states. The Central Arizona Project currently transports Colorado River water several hundred miles to Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties, since 1986 to Phoenix, and 1994 to Tucson.

Map of the Central Arizona Project

Map of the Central Arizona Project

In addition, the panel of legal and hydrogeology experts will analyze the Arizona water regulatory framework:

  • The Arizona Corporation Commission regulation of water utilities
  • The Arizona Department of Water Resources regulation of groundwater
  • Pending Arizona wastewater reuse rule-making of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • Recent important water court decisions

Chair and Moderator:

  • William R. Ralls

Faculty:

  • Jay M. Johnson, General Counsel, Central Arizona Project
  • Kenneth C. Slowinski, Chief Counsel, Arizona Department of Water Resources
  • Timothy J. Sabo, Snell & Wilmer LLP
  • Charles S. Graf, R.G. Principal Hydrogeologist, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

The Anxious Lawyer by Jeena Cho Karen Gifford book cover

In the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, a book review explores what attorneys can learn about themselves and their world via meditation.

If you’re unsure about that idea and cotton toward the tried and true, let’s remember that meditation has been around for millennia. So it should be acceptable, even to your firm’s management committee. Just sayin’.

The review author is attorney Juliet Peters, and you can read the entire review here.

And the book co-authors are Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford—lawyers themselves, in case lawyers are the only ones you trust with your self-improvement.

Happily, Jeena will be a panelist on a program I’m co-producing in just a few weeks. Unhappily, the program will be in Miami, not Phoenix. But if you happen to be at the midyear meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives, drop in! Or if you’re in the environs that week for the ABA meeting, drop me a line at arizona.attorney@azbar.org, or tweet to me @azatty. It’d be great to meet and compare mindfulness strategies! (Spoiler alert: You’ve got me beat, and I don’t even know you.)

Here is a link to the conference. And here is a description of the panel, titled “Mindful Lawyer, Mindful Bar,” which also features Jayne Reardon, Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism:

“Mindfulness has become top-of-mind for many people, including your members. Even as work–life balance, meditation, and increased fulfillment and satisfaction have become a more central part of a professional’s goals, those aspirations may seem harder than ever to achieve. Our panelists have learned through law and life experience how challenging incorporating practices such as self-care and mindfulness can be—but they have discovered the many wonderful benefits of these practices, including more joy and satisfaction. They will talk about the importance of mindfulness for the attorney. They also will offer practical tips and next steps to create robust mindfulness programs at your bar.”

See you in Miami … or wherever thoughtful lawyers gather.

what's hot and not in law practice

On a regular basis, Bob Denney puts himself and his judgment out there and predicts what will be the coming year’s hot—and cold—law practice areas.

He recently did so again, and I encourage you to read his prognostications.

In the meantime, here are a few he mentioned that made me pause and wonder how lawyers and law firms are responding to these new pushes and pulls. As Bob says:

Social media. Continues to be far more effective for building individual lawyer reputations than for firms.

Competition. It’s no longer just from other law firms. It’s now coming from two other directions: Non-legal business entities like LegalZoom and, for large firms, more and more from the clients themselves who are using their legal departments as well as alternate service providers.

Cybersecurity. While many firms have developed plans for reacting to a cyberattack, many more have still not developed or implemented cybersecurity plans to prevent such attacks. One overlooked factor is what actually constitutes a breach. Some firms regard any unsanctioned access of a firm system as a breach, while others do not regard it as a breach until something — data, files or money — has been taken.

Scamblogging. A category of online writing by debt-burdened law school graduates who are convinced their law schools misled them about their opportunities for employment.

What’s growing in your law practice? If it’s a niche or topic that surprises you, please write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

modern law practice technology tools niche

AZCourtHelp logo

Here is some important news from the Arizona Supreme Court. This information may be helpful to you, but it may be even more vital to friends, neighbors, and family members.

PHOENIX – A new website launched on January 12 to offer basic assistance to people of all walks of life who have legal questions or need assistance in resolving disputes in court. AzCourtHelp.org is organized by topic and geographical location to help people find the court locations, forms, and other information they may need.

Geographical information includes court locations, maps, hours, payment terms, parking, and accessibility information. The site also features live chat forums to assist with legal information, legal talk clinics on popular topics, and other information helpful to self-represented individuals. Frequently asked questions are arranged by topic so users can quickly find the information that is most helpful to their situation. The site will also include video tutorials, webinars, and a calendar of free legal workshops around Arizona.

AZCourtHelp.org has a presence on Facebook as a way to expand its reach.

The backbone of the website’s video and interactive component is the Coconino County Superior Court’s Virtual Resource Center, which will be hosting the video outreach for statewide viewing.

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Gary Krcmarik, Coconino County Superior Court Administrator

“The Chief Justice challenged us to work together to improve access to justice,” said Coconino County Superior Court Administrator Gary Krcmarik. “We took up that challenge by developing this website in conjunction with our Virtual Resource Center to provide this valuable information statewide. We are grateful to the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education, which graciously partnered with us to design the website and curate the information on it.”

Krcmarik said that today’s public launch is a beginning of a larger effort and more information, including Spanish-language content, will be added to the site on a daily and weekly basis.

Like AzCourtHelp.org on Facebook.

AZFLSE Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education logo

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