Law Practice


nnaba National Native American Bar Association logo

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure to meet with Mary Smith, lawyer and Immediate Past President of the National Native American Bar Association.

The specific reason we met was to tape a CLE Snippet, “a unique opportunity to hear directly from the author of an article in the upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine.”

The topic of our conversation: a recent groundbreaking survey of Native American lawyers, available here.

Last April, I attended the annual Indian Law Conference of the Federal Bar Association, held in Scottsdale. There were some terrific panels, but I was particularly interested in a report about the first-ever survey of Native attorneys.

Panelists for April 9, 2015, “Strength in Numbers: Native Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice,” L to R: Helen B. Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center, Inc.; Mary L. Smith, Special Counsel and Estate Trust Officer, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver, and then-President, National Native American Bar Association; Dr. Arin Reeves, CEO, President, Nextions; Makalika Naholowaa, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation; and Francine M. Jaramillo, Staff Attorney, American Indian Law Center, Inc. (Photo by Federal Bar Association)

Panelists for April 9, 2015, “Strength in Numbers: Native Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice,” L to R: Helen B. Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center, Inc.; Mary L. Smith, Special Counsel and Estate Trust Officer, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver, and then-President, National Native American Bar Association; Dr. Arin Reeves, CEO, President, Nextions; Makalika Naholowaa, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation; and Francine M. Jaramillo, Staff Attorney, American Indian Law Center, Inc. (Photo by Federal Bar Association)

Mary presented on the survey along with a great panel. The early reports about the survey were that it explored subjects that previously have been shared openly too little. The ultimate survey results more than bore that out. At the conference and afterward, I spoke with Mary about sharing a summary of the results in Arizona Attorney. She kindly agreed, and her article is in the September magazine.

When we met, Mary was kind enough to indulge our tradition of a photo:

Attorney Mary Smith and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo, August 25, 2015.

Attorney Mary Smith and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo, August 25, 2015.

In my videotaped dialogue with Mary Smith, I mentioned how impressed I was with the survey. Not only was the survey smart and the responses candid; the report also folded in numerous personal stories and compelling sidebars. I recommend the survey to anyone interested in improving the legal profession or in launching and reporting on survey results.

The videotape will be available here after September 1. I hope a few of you get to watch it, as well as the article on the topic in the September Arizona Attorney Magazine.

September 2015 Arizona Attorney: JAG lawyers stand in front of F-35 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Photo by Karen Shell)

September 2015 Arizona Attorney: JAG lawyers stand in front of F-35 at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Photo by Karen Shell)

Today I’m pleased to preview an article on lawyers who serve at Luke Air Force Base. It’ll be in the September issue of Arizona Attorney, and it’s quite a feature.

Written by attorney and JAG officer Rodney Glassman, it’s a complete picture of what goes into serving as an attorney in the Air Force. Adding to the story are the amazing photos, shot on location by photographer Karen Shell.

We’re always happy to feature photos of our Arizona lawyers. But equally exciting was the opportunity to include the new and path-breaking F-35 jet. It’s always nice to break news as well as sound barriers.

Our Luke AFB JAG opening spread (photo by Karen Shell)

Our Luke AFB JAG opening spread (photo by Karen Shell)

Thank you to Art Director Karen Holub for shepherding the photo shoot and for the story design. Here are some photos from the shoot. (Click to biggify.)

It was also fun, as always, to write headlines for our cover. As you can see, I ultimately opted for Gotta Jet. But my backup—and still a strong favorite—would have been Legal Zoom.

Get it? Yes, probably not as good and definitely more controversial.

The complete story is in the magazine mailed this week to readers. It will be available online September 1.

Arizona Attorney Magazine July/August 2015 beards and mustaches facial hair

Before I move onto touting our September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine (which is pretty fantastic, if we do say so ourselves), I have to tip my hat to the July/August issue—specifically, our cover story on the wisdom of your witness having facial hair.

As the authors examine, beards and mustaches can be polarizing. And as you’d guess, there are good ways to do beards, and ways not to.

This past week, I strolled into my office’s lunchroom, where there is a small stack of magazines available for reading (even beyond AzAt; I know – I’m as surprised as you are!). That’s when I spotted a Men’s Fitness from this spring.

And what did I see? Facial hair everywhere. (Click to gigantify the bearded celebs.)

Clearly, a touch or more of scruffiness serves their readership. But even the hirsute magazine gave over a small area to muse in a piece titled “Old Growth: A Beard Can Age You Eight Years.”

Facial hair can age you: Hollywood's been warned.

Facial hair can age you: Hollywood’s been warned.

Ouch,” as the old folks say. Well, love facial hair or hate it, read up on this hairy subject in Arizona Attorney here. After all, our authors have combed through a thicket of research to get you answers.

By the way: We’ve had a good amount of fun this month featuring bearded famous folks on the magazine Facebook page. An example is below. Follow us for all the legal fun.

Yes, Arizona Attorney can get cheeky on its Facebook page. facial hair Nick Offerman

Yes, Arizona Attorney can get cheeky on its Facebook page.

the-future 2 road sign editorial calendar story ideasAs we head toward the end of August, I confront my annual challenge of writing an editorial calendar, this time for the magazine’s 2016.

Let’s get together, shall we?

As always, I benefit greatly from the insights of readers, who offer me ideas for content. Those ideas typically arise from:

  • New things happening in law practice
  • New niche practices that are growing
  • Crazy-important topics that legal publications have failed to cover in sufficient detail (or at all)

I’ve heard all such ideas, and following that, we really do strive to address those issues in the coming year.

So consider this an open invitation for your ideas, of all kinds. They are welcome anytime, but contacting me in the next few weeks would help ensure those ideas get into our formal editorial calendar. (Curious? You can see our 2015 calendar here.)

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

It’s always good to see an Arizona Justice in the news.

Last week, I mentioned a draft report from an Arizona Supreme Court committee that examines many elements of the State Bar of Arizona. And this week, task force chair and Arizona Justice Rebecca White Berch spoke on the PBS program Horizon about the group’s work.

Justice Berch also invited viewers to read the report and to send their own comments via email to bargovernance@courts.az.gov.

Justice Berch and Horizon provide the email for public comment on the task force report.

Justice Berch and Horizon provide the email for public comment on the task force report.

The task force’s website includes detail about its members, information about its many meetings, and a link to the draft report.

You can link directly to the report here.

On Horizon, Justice Berch discussed why the task force chose to keep a mandatory bar (with one dissent), and how important it is for all attorneys to pay for the various programs whether they use them or not.

I have a link to the Horizon program with the Justice Berch interview, though I hesitate to have you click it. AZPBS is notorious for posting a link that should work but really won’t be ready for days (<buffer> <buffer> <buffer>). Fingers crossed on this link.

Justice Rebecca White Berch speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, Aug. 18, 2015.

Justice Rebecca White Berch speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, Aug. 18, 2015.

Abogados a Su Lado 08-17-15

Today, I share a news story by colleague Alberto Rodriguez.

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted the Abogados a Su Lado public service program on Monday, August 17, 2015. Volunteer lawyers answered calls relating to viewer’s family law issues. The following is a recap of the program.

There were six lawyer volunteers, two of whom were first-time volunteers:

  • W. James Fisher Lopez, William James Fisher Law Offices
  • Mark Hawkins, Hawkins & Hawkins
  • Carlos E. Noel, Arizona Attorney General’s Office
  • Christina Ortecho, Law Office of Christina Ortecho
  • Daniel A. Rodriguez, Diaz Rodriguez & Associates
  • Alejandra Valdez, Arizona Attorney General’s Office

The volunteer attorneys answered an impressive 84 calls during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How do we begin the divorce process? Do we need an attorney?
  • My husband left five years ago, can I file for a divorce without him?
  • Can I sue for back child support if my children are over 18?
  • How do I enforce a child support order? What if the parent doesn’t comply?
  • How do I get grandparent rights?

And I didn’t tell Alberto I was going to do this, but here is a great visual tweet by Gerardo Higginson that shows my co-worker and a lot of the call-in activity:

Judiciary Considers Scrapping 'Ancient Documents' Rule

A question for trial lawyers today: Have you ever used the ancient documents exception to the hearsay rule?

I must say, I’ve never heard someone use it, as there’s usually another way to skin the cat. And if my impression is correct that its use is rare, then maybe having the rule be eliminated may not be a bad thing.

What got me thinking about this was a story this week about an examination of that very exception by some learned folks. Some on the federal judiciary’s evidence rules advisory committee fear that the growing prevalence of electronic documents—which essentially may last forever—may mean the exception swallows the rule.

As the news story reports, “Now that documents can be stored electronically for long periods of time, a committee of federal judges that reviews the evidence rules is worried courts will face a flood of requests to admit documents under the exception.”

One law professor who teaches evidence says she thinks this change is a good idea:

Professor Liesa Richter, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law

Professor Liesa Richter, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law

“Age is no guarantee of reliability,” said the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s Liesa Richter. “Now that we have this flood of electronically stored information that never goes away—it doesn’t disappear ever—[there are] just so many factual assertions out there electronically that will be available for savvy lawyers to dig up and admit. I think it is a real problem and a real concern.”

U.S. District Judge William Sessions III chairs the advisory committee on evidence rules, and he says, “A document does not become reliable just because it is old; and a document does not magically become reliable enough to escape the rule against hearsay on the day it turns 20. The committee concluded that the exception has been tolerated because it has been used so infrequently, and usually because there is no other evidence on point.”

Judges and law professors coming together to agree there’s more to reliability than age? Never thought I’d see the day.

You can read the whole story here.

So what do you think? Tempest in a teapot? Or are there good reasons to scrap the “ancient documents” rule? Who knows? There may be a magazine article or guest blog post in your future!

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