Law Practice


Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine includes a terrific primer on a new court being piloted in Arizona: a commercial court that aims to bring expertise to bear to resolve business disputes fairly and expeditiously.

The primer was written by attorney Mark Meltzer in the format of a Q&A. As the Supreme Court staff attorney tasked with serving a longtime committee examining the issue—and that eventually recommended creation of this very court—I figured he was the ideal man for the job.

Here is a link to the story.

(I wrote about the committee and the pilot program here.)

But we’re wondering what other questions you may have about the Court. Yes, we thought long and hard on the best questions to get answered—but we may have missed something.

Perhaps you won’t have questions until you see the way the court operates. But it’s also possible you have queries, concerns or suggestions right now. Please write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

An Arizona commercial court pilot program will launch on July 1. Read more in the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

An Arizona commercial court pilot program will launch on July 1. Read more in the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Can I get an "ouch"? Lawyer hourly fees may cause client discomfort.

Can I get an “ouch”? Lawyer hourly fees may cause client discomfort.

This morning, an #azbarcon panel addresses the landscape for alternative fee agreements. Amidst a legal profession largely still wedded to hourly billing, the notion of a fixed fee may still get a tough reception among lawyers.

As attorney Mark Lassiter addressed a standing-room-only crowd, he opened by playing a hilarious video from a U.K. law firm. Riverview has made it part of their mission to blow up the hourly model.

I hope to share more on alternative agreements in the future. In the meantime, enjoy the video:

John Dean was Time Magazine's cover subject more than once. (And the answer: No, Nixon could not survive Dean's testimony.)

John Dean was Time Magazine’s cover subject more than once. (And the answer: No, Nixon could not survive Dean’s testimony.)

Just like politically motivated burglars in 1972, a sad American anniversary furtively passed me by yesterday—for it was on June 17 in that year that “five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex.” (A full timeline of related events and stories, via the Washington Post, is here.)

The break-in at the Watergate and the subsequent executive branch cover-up caused turmoil from coast to coast and eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. (But also a pardon by President Gerald Ford for his secretive predecessor, an event that entirely ruined my 12-year-old birthday on September 8, 1974. I related my own experience of that pardon here.)

If you’d like to hear from someone who was intimately involved with that remarkable moment in American history, head over to San Diego in July, where the State Bar’s CLE By the Sea will feature speaker John Dean, who served as White House Counsel for President Richard Nixon for a thousand days from 1970 until 1973. (He has had other life achievements, but this is the resume line we regularly recall.)

I have never been to CLE By the Sea (I’m as surprised as you are), but this is a speaker who makes me want to break my perfect streak.

You can read more about Dean and his program here.

The pen Gerald Ford used to sign his pardon of Richard Nixon, Sept. 8, 1962. (Wikimedia Commons)

The pen Gerald Ford used to sign his pardon of Richard Nixon, Sept. 8, 1962. (Wikimedia Commons)

When many Americans, including me, think back on the infamy that emerged from the Oval Office, we also recall a few people who stepped up and spoke truth or otherwise acquitted themselves well.

Many people distinguished themselves by doing their jobs well or even going above and beyond the call of duty. Among them were Judge John Sirica, Sen. Sam Ervin, special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus. (And let’s not forget the Washington Post’s own publisher Katharine Graham and reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.)

Political memories linger, and a campaign button in 1976 reminded voters of Ford's first big presidential decision.

Political memories linger, and a campaign button in 1976 reminded voters of Ford’s first big presidential decision.

Other people initially found themselves in a place that appeared ethically challenged or perhaps even illegal. And within that tawdry chapter of U.S. history, a subset of those decided to speak up and try to make things right.

John Dean was one of those people. As I’ve related before, my household and tens of thousands of others were riveted to Senate hearings at which John Dean played a historic role. We gazed in wonder at the laundry list of allegations emanating from the highest reaches of our government. It was hard not to marvel at the resolve Dean exhibited as he offered the Senate an accounting of the administration’s excesses. Others testified, but none riveted the attention as did John Dean.

John Dean when he was a young government lawyer.

John Dean when he was a young government lawyer.

In San Diego in July, Dean and his co-presenter James David Robenalt will offer insights for attorneys who may confront trouble in their own entities. As a description opens:

“As lawyer for the organization, what are the duties and obligations if a report up to the highest authority within an organization has failed and crime or fraud continue? Rule 1.13 of the Code of Professional Conduct (the ‘Model Rules’) provides that the lawyer may ‘report out’ what the lawyer knows, regardless of the duty of confidentiality imposed by Rule 1.6. And the lawyer’s duties become even more complicated if the lawyer has participated, knowingly or not, in the wrongdoing that gives rise to the reporting obligation. How then does the lawyer extricate himself or herself? When is resignation enough? When does a lawyer need to engage in a ‘noisy’ withdrawal?”

Here’s hoping you get the chance to gain some ethics education just steps from the beaches of Coronado. The complete program and a link to register are here.

Books, we've got books! Book stack book review

Books, we’ve got books!

My editor’s column in the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine offers a few reading suggestions for the long hot summer. Each of the three I mention is compelling in its own way. I’m sure I’ll have some more suggestions as we move into the fall.

One of the books I mention is titled The Widow Wave. If you’d like an excellent and more substantial review of that book, head over to the Tennessee Bar Journal, where lawyer-reviewer David Wade explains what makes the book terrific.

It’s summer, and the reading is easy. Here are a few suggestions.

Yes, you are allowed to read books in the fall too—or any other season. But it’s a magazine mainstay to offer summer-reading choices. So sue me. But first read these books, after which you’ll be able to sue me better.

If you like your legal works legally accurate and insightful, launch into a book written by an Arizona lawyer and former law prof, aptly named Law Prof. Author Kenney Hegland takes us on a jaunty ride.

Law Prof by Kenney Hegland book cover

Hegland may have taught many of our readers when he professed at the UA Law School, and he impresses and intrigues in this novel. The book tells the tale of a retired law professor who re-emerges from retirement to assist his trial-lawyer daughter with a wrongful-death case. And so he plays the role—armchair adviser—that all of us readers play. He is one of us, our navigator.

Hegland may have had law students in mind as he wrote. The “law” parts are carefully explained, and the discursive sidebars make all the issues—even clear ones—more clear.

The ride may not be highly challenging for experienced trial lawyers, but it is rewarding and well written. And if there is a young lawyer in your life, passing on a copy of Law Prof could amuse and educate all in one.

The Rules of Action by Landon Napoleon came out last year but remains a favorite. It’s 1970s Phoenix, and a lawyer doggedly pursues a case regarding terrible neglect in nursing homes. Ripped from the headlines, it will satisfy the reader who wants the legal details correct but imbued with noir pot-boiling.

The Rules of Action by Landon Napolean book cover_opt

Adding to readers’ pleasure is the accurate Arizona legal history and the suspicion that you know the lawyer described within. Muse away.

Finally, The Widow Wave is a nonfiction retelling of a trial following the death of five men on a commercial fishing boat off in the Pacific Ocean off San Francisco. The author is Jay Jacobs, an attorney and former sailor and officer in the merchant marine. He represented the captain’s widow when she was sued by one of the men’s survivors.

No physical evidence, no eyewitnesses, and a three-week jury trial make for great reading. Just as gripping is Jacobs’s willingness to reveal his trial missteps. Experienced lawyers will appreciate tracking the trials’ shifting fortunes. And younger ones will benefit from a true tale of trial tactics, warts and all.

The Widow Wave by Jay Jacobs book cover_opt

What are you reading this year? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

State Bar of Arizona Leadership Institute header

Here is some news from the State Bar of Arizona. The Bar Leadership Institute has been a remarkable program for years now. It may be a great fit for you or another attorney you know.

The Bar Leadership Institute is a nine-month professional development program beginning in September 2015. The goal of the program is to foster the professional growth and enhance the leadership skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers.

Attorneys selected to participate receive:

  • Up to two years of CLE credit.
  • Leadership training and legal practice education in an experiential and mentoring learning environment.
  • Opportunities to foster relationships within the State Bar of Arizona, partner bar associations, government and community leaders.

Complete your application here.

The application deadline is Friday, June 19, 2015.

Wills for Heroes logoLast Thursday, June 4, Wills for Heroes marked its 10th year “providing free estate plans for those who put their lives on the line protecting the people of Arizona.” The Bar reports that those affiliated with the program have assisted more than 8,000 first responders since it began in 2001. “In the ten years that followed, Arizona attorneys have volunteered more than 12,500 hours of time at 175 clinics across 14 counties.”

You can read the Bar’s whole story here.

Here, you can read a 2006 Arizona Attorney story that explained how the Bar recognized Jeff Jacobson, the original Arizona organizing attorney.

“Jacobson also helped to create the Wills for Heroes Foundation in 2007, which now serves first responders across 29 states. Based in Tucson, the Foundation provides both support, services, financial assistance and supplies to the various programs that help eligible emergency first responders and their families in the United States.”

Here are a few statistics describing the program’s reach. From 2005 into 2015, attorneys offered 12,650 hours of their time to the initiative. That resulted in 8,622 wills.

In that time, Arizona lawyers attended and assisted at 175 clinics to create wills for first responders. Ninety-one events were held in Maricopa County, 40 in Pima County, and the remainder were held in 12 counties.

Wills for Heroes event at Arizona Cardinals Stadium

Wills for Heroes event at Arizona Cardinals Stadium

To learn more about Wills for Heroes, visit the organization’s website.

A gift from a previous delegation from Moldova was this beautiful booklet of pictures from the country. Scroll to the bottom to see how you can become the proud owner of it (and to see it open and extended).

A gift from a previous delegation from Moldova was this beautiful booklet of pictures from the country. Scroll to the bottom to see how you can become the proud owner of it (and to see it open and extended).

This spring brought a variety of international delegations to Arizona. These groups of lawyers and judges offer the opportunity to exchange ideas and to learn how justice is rendered around the world.

On April 27, a delegation from Moldova came to the State Bar of Arizona. There, they heard about U.S. and Arizona processes regarding litigation, professional ethics, and lawyer discipline. Here is a photo of Bar Counsel Amy Rehm speaking with the Moldovan delegation.

State Bar of Arizona Bar Counsel Amy Rehm addresses a delegation of Moldovan judges and lawyers, April 27, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz.

State Bar of Arizona Bar Counsel Amy Rehm addresses a delegation of Moldovan judges and lawyers, April 27, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz.

On April 21, the Peoria Municipal Court and Tulane Law School hosted 35 judges from China in a cultural education forum. According to organizers, “The Court hosted a four-person panelist discussion addressing Access to Justice, both on a larger scale and also with a focus on limited jurisdiction courts. The panelists were led by the Hon. Presiding Judge George T. Anagnost and also included Dr. (attorney) Catherine Jiang, Mr. Patrick Scott (AOC / AZ Supreme Court), and Attorney / Judge Pro Tem Debbie Weecks.”

Finally, the Arizona Supreme Court in March met with eight members of Nepal’s judiciary. It was part of an initiative launched by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the government of Nepal. At the Arizona event, Senior Justice Kalyan Shrestha worked with the UNDP’s Rule of Law and Human Rights Program to plan a series of discussions with Arizona’s court professionals.

Arizona Office of the Courts Director David Byers (rear) with the delegates from Nepal, March 2015. Nepal Supreme Court Senior Justice Kalyan Shrestha is in the light-gray three-button suit in front of Mr. Byers.

Arizona Office of the Courts Director David Byers (rear) with the delegates from Nepal, March 2015. Nepal Supreme Court Senior Justice Kalyan Shrestha is in the light-gray three-button suit in front of Mr. Byers.

Here is more news from the Supreme Court on the Nepal visit. Congratulations to all Arizona participants on your local ambassadorship.

“Nepal has a three-tiered court system similar to American courts in which there are trial courts, appellate courts and a Supreme Court.  Subject matter experts and Arizona’s five justices met with the delegates to answer their questions and provide information about Arizona’s progress in key areas. The delegates were particularly interested in how the courts address the needs of the poor and disadvantaged as well as victims of crime.”

“‘Senior Supreme Court Justice Shrestha and the UN representative selected Arizona because Nepal faces some of the same issues we are working to address successfully,’ said Chief Justice Scott Bales. ‘We noted the importance of seeking input and support from the community broadly, including leaders from outside the judicial branch. Some of our best innovations have come by including non-judicial members from the public, private, and non-profit sectors in various court initiatives.’”

“Justice Shrestha and seven colleagues from the Nepal judiciary spent a day and a half last week meeting with state court subject matter specialists before also visiting the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse and the Superior Court in Maricopa County. Later in the week, the delegates met with Nepalese students from Arizona State University and representatives from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. They departed on March 5 for stops in Washington, DC and New York City before returning to Kathmandu, Nepal.”

“The representatives from Nepal included:

  • Senior Justice Kalyan Shrestha, Supreme Court
  • Honorable Judge Mr. Til Prasad Shrestha, Appellate Court, Hetauda
  • Honorable Judge Mr. Hemraj Pant, Appellate Court, Patan
  • Honorable Judge Mr. Radha Krishna Upreti, District Court, Rautahat
  • Mr. Lal Bahadur Kunwar, Joint Registrar, Supreme Court
  • Mr. Bhadrakali Pokharel, Bench Officer, Supreme  Court
  • Mr. Ratna Kaji Shrestha, Justice Sector Coordinator for the on Rule of Law and Human Rights Program, United Nations Development Program
  • Mr. D. Christopher Decker, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law and Human Rights Program, United Nations Development Program”

Back to that Moldova booklet. Here it is extended:

Moldova postcards extended

The postcard booklet extended: That’s a lot of feet of a beautiful country.

To claim it as your own, just write to me with a few paragraphs about your (a) visit to Moldova or (b) your desire to travel there. Fair warning: Your submission may be used as a guest blog post! I’m at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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