Law Practice


Hollywood and the rest of us all love films featuring lawyers and their ethical dilemmas. To Kill a Mockingbird

Hollywood and the rest of us all love films featuring lawyers and their ethical dilemmas.

If you’re at all like me (and why wouldn’t you be), a full week of work following the short Thanksgiving week seems almost cruel. Perhaps you’re seeking a way to lessen the strain of five days of nonstop labor.

If that’s the case, consider going to the movies.

This Friday, December 2, the State Bar offers a favorite program that examines the intersection of great films and ethical choices that face attorneys.

See how I just used $5 words to describe a theater-screening?

The event is titled “A New Ethical Morning at the Movies,” which would only be improved by being in the evening and having less ethics. But if that were the case, no CLE credit would be available, so I see their point.

All the detail is here.

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Larry Cohen is a great presenter, and he heads a panel of other talented speakers who all know legal ethics inside-out—and who like a great flick.

Here’s hoping they have popcorn.

In the meantime, enjoy yourself a little Jackie Chiles, the great lawyer character from Seinfeld. I know it’s the small screen, not the silver screen, but it speaks loudly to lawyer ethics—and hot coffee.

Blogging (even a wee bit) may help curb your technology fears.

Blogging (even a wee bit) may help curb your technology fears.

We’re midway through November, and I thought I’d share my wish (early New Year’s resolution?) regarding courage and technology.

That’s what I wrote about in the November Arizona Attorney Magazine, and I’ve posted my column below.

You can read the whole terrific issue here.

Someone—or someTHING—at ASU knows my name.

That was my somewhat disconcerting realization as I strolled through the new ASU Beus Center for Law and Society last month. Besides being filled with real, live humans, the building also has impressively sized screens scattered throughout, which offer information—often personalized for those who downloaded a free app.

Seeing your name appear on a screen as you approach falls somewhere on the creepy scale, let’s admit. My first impression was like something out of Blade Runner—Siri with bad attitude. But I had to admit that the ’tude was all mine. In fact, I came to be charmed by the devices, created by New York-based interactive design firm Unified Field.

Remember how odd GPS seemed, and now we can’t live without it? These screens are like that, HAL minus the antisocial personality.

Tomas Rossant, Ennead Architects, and Tom Williams, ASU, demonstrate an interactive screen in the ASU Beus Center for Law & Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

Tomas Rossant, Ennead Architects, and Tom Williams, ASU, demonstrate an interactive screen in the ASU Beus Center for Law & Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

Those screens are one of the things I spoke about at the California Bar Leaders Conference in September. Tasked with discussing communications beyond 2016, I also mentioned wearable technology, cloud services, Big Data, and more. I even snuck in a suggestion to get blogging.

Ultimately, though, I said that what I was really discussing was not tools, great as they can be, but a futurist outlook. Not video options, but experimentation. Not social media, but fearlessness. To convey my point, I shared more than a few photos.

One photo I snapped at Chicago’s Midway Airport. A narrow hallway, more of an alley, could easily be missed in the blink of an eye. The 40-foot dead-end meandered off the concourse, and what it held was an archaeological dig, of sorts—the airport’s land-line phones, a bank of telephone directories, and newspaper dispensers, for good measure.

The alley’s sole occupant sat at a telephone. Based on attire and brief-bag, I’m guessing he was an attorney—the only one who would partake of the mausoleum of ancient technologies. Is anyone surprised?

Advanced thinking is not what draws you into Midway Airport's Mausoleum of Ancient Technologies.

Advanced thinking is not what draws you into Midway Airport’s Mausoleum of Ancient Technologies.

Another photo I shared was snapped by my older daughter Willa when she was 3 or 4. She was so pleased by that picture of me—though she did cut my head off.

Both photos enliven the futurist impulse and remind me of technology advice from UC-Berkeley professor Richard Hernandez: Start even if you feel you’re not ready. And when it comes to cutting off heads in photos—and tech generally—the imperfect but genuine trumps the perfect but robotic—every time. Let’s get fearless.

A sans-head portrait of me by my daughter, circa 1999.

A sans-head portrait of me by my daughter, circa 1999.

Citrix Sharefile logo

Citrix ShareFile wondered how lawyers use the cloud. So they looked into it.

I occasionally share information and tools from member-service providers. Today, let’s think about … the cloud.

Citrix ShareFile was curious about how many lawyers are using the cloud for their work. And being helpful people, they provided their findings in an easy-to-digest infographic.

Being helpful myself, I’ve parsed it out for you down below.

Please note that Citrix understands lawyers and their needs. How do we know that? Well, they’ve even got footnotes—7 of them—in their infographic. How lawyer-friendly is that?

And as long as we’re on the subject, I urge you to read Bob Ambrogi’s insightful article here. It discusses the fact that many lawyers still say they are hesitant to operate their law practice in the cloud. But one of the unique findings is that lawyers may already be operating there and don’t even know it.

As Bob reports:

Lawyers remain conflicted (surprise!) over using the cloud for legal work.

Lawyers remain conflicted (surprise!) over using the cloud for legal work.

“Every year, the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center publishes the Legal Technology Survey Report, a survey of the legal profession’s use of technology. The 2016 survey is now out, and it contains some surprising findings about lawyers and the cloud. (The full survey costs $1,995 and separate volumes cost $350 each.)”

“According to the survey, only 38 percent of lawyers say they have ever used cloud-based software for law-related tasks. That percentage is only a slight budge from the prior three years, during which the percentage hovered around 31 percent. Fifty-three percent say they have never used cloud-based software, and 10 percent have no idea whether they have or not.”

That’s right: 10 percent do not know if they have used the cloud.

Maybe we need to understand what the cloud is before we go dissing it, eh?

Before I forget, here is the great resource Bob Ambrogi named, the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center.

And, finally, here is what Citrix can tell us about our complicated relationship with the cloud. (As always, click to biggify.)

arizona-women-lawyers-association-awla-logo

The annual deadline to nominate someone for the prestigious Sarah Herring Sorin Award is Tuesday, November 15.

Given by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, the award recognizes an AWLA member who has demonstrated support and encouragement for the advancement of women in the legal profession. And because the AWLA has been around for decades and has more than 500 members, it’s quite possible you know a member.

I’m guessing you know a lawyer–leader who will be an ideal pick. (The 2016 recipient was Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall.)

As the AWLA says: “The recipient may not be a current regular member of the AWLA State Board of Directors but may be a former member of the Board. Please submit your nomination on or before November 15, 2016 to AWLA at awla.execadmin@gmail.com.

The Award will be presented at the 2017 Mary Ann Richey Scholarship Breakfast at the State Bar of Arizona Convention at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, on Friday, June 16, 2017.

The nomination form lists previous recipients of the award, and is available to download in Word here.

The Arizona Attorney Facebook page sports a new button on June 21, 2013.

A button shared by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association

Arizona election errors have been making the news ... today, and generations ago. November 2016 Arizona Attorney Magazine

Arizona election errors have been making the news … today, and generations ago.

If you haven’t voted yet, stop reading, put down your device, and get to your polling place. Now.

But if you have, then kick back with your I Voted Sticker (you earned it) and enjoy a tale of election administration errors from 1936. In many ways, the lessons it offers are as fresh as 2016.

Our cover story in the November 2016 issue is a terrific one. As attorney–author Joe Kanefield opens his article:

Attorneys Joe Kanefield and Kelly Schwab present at the State Bar of Arizona Convention, June 2013.

Attorneys Joe Kanefield and Kelly Schwab present at the State Bar of Arizona Convention, June 2013.

“The Arizona Secretary of State faces scrutiny after failing to distribute voter-information pamphlets in advance of an election as required by law. A concerned citizen fears that voters casting ballots for a controversial education proposition will be uninformed and files a complaint to postpone the election. The Secretary responds and urges the election to proceed.”

“No, this story isn’t about Secretary of State Michele Reagan in 2016—it’s about Secretary of State James Kerby, 80 years earlier in 1936. But if the story sounds familiar, that is because history has indeed repeated itself.”

“So, what happens when an election official neglects to perform a mandatory duty required by the Arizona Constitution and state law? What are the consequences? What should they be?”

“This article addresses these questions by reviewing the respective situations in which Secretaries Kerby and Reagan found themselves when they neglected to deliver pamphlets to voters prior to the November 3, 1936, general election and the May 17, 2016, special election.”

You can read the whole story here.

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Thank you to Joe Kanefield for conceiving of and writing such a relevant story of ballot woe!

And … Happy Election Day!

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Today's the day to broadcast your lawyer-love. national-love-your-lawyer-day1

Today’s the day to broadcast your lawyer-love.

Regular readers of this blog may wonder why today’s edition is appearing at 11:00 a.m.—it usually drops at 9:30.

But I wanted to alert you to an opportunity to participate in Love Your Lawyer Day. Or, more usefully, #LoveYourLawyerDay

I wrote about the event last year, and I cannot believe it’s already time again to fan the flames of attorney ardor.

You can read about this year’s event here. As you can see, organizers are hoping people take to social media at 11:04 in their own time zone to share the #LoveYourLawyerDay news (November 4, get it?). So here I am, doing just that.

love-your-lawyer-day-logo

It wouldn’t be a real day without a logo, right?

Missed the 11:04 thing, because you were reading this blog? Sorry. But I think your tweet-storm will be appreciated throughout the day. So get to it.

Meantime, for complete disclosure, I am obligated to point out that the smart folks over at Above the Law still hate #LoveYourLawyerDay – you should read the depth of their well-written scorn here. (True, this is a 2015 essay, but ATL just re-shared it today, so I’m guessing their ardor for LYLD is as cool as ever.)

Now, author Joe Patrice is a terrific journalist–attorney, and when you read his much-shared ATL piece, you’ll see that his scorn is leavened with understanding about the appeal of such a day (though he’ll have none of it). But my own challenge is manifold: I find #LoveYourLawyerDay to be a helpful and pretty funny annual reminder for our republic. But I also find ATL and Joe himself pretty fantastic.

So maybe the complexity of my feeling for this day is underscored by the fact that I respect and #LoveMeSomeAboveTheLaw – and in fact, I even think we should get #LoveJoePatriceDay trending. When you send Joe your digital hug, be sure to tag him at @JosephPatrice @atlblog

How conflicted can we make ATL and Joe feel that our deep love for lawyers gathers them in our embrace too? There’s a lot of love to go around, Joe. Bring it in, buddy!

On Friday, November 4, reach out and show some love to the lawyers in your circle. And be sure to include lawyer-journalists in your embrace!

On Friday, November 4, reach out and show some love to the lawyers in your circle. And be sure to include lawyer-journalists in your embrace!

Here’s hoping we fill the hearts—and Twitter streams—of lawyers, including Joe, with a little compassion and affection this day.

Tomorrow, we can revert to form.

Have a great—and legally-loving—weekend.

David French reaches out to readers on the difficult topic of succession planning in the October 2016 issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

David French reaches out to readers on the difficult topic of succession planning in the October 2016 issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

If you know of a more moving and compelling way to write about business succession planning than the way David French did recently, please let me know. I don’t think a more moving recitation exists.

Before October leaves us, I urge you to read—if you haven’t already—David’s piece in the October Arizona Attorney Magazine. That is where he describes steps professionals should take to safeguard their firm, protect their clients, follow the Ethical Rules, and maybe even burnish their legacy. Happily, David takes a personal rather than a stiff approach to the topic.

David French

David French

(In a previous issue, I also covered a David French-moderated roundtable, here.)

Once you’ve read David’s story about his own dad, read about the national picture, in which a rising tide of many retirees is causing challenges for law firms.

Finally, it’s been out for a while now, but I’ve appreciated a documentary called “Period. New Paragraph.” In it, as the American Bar Association says, filmmaker “Sarah Kramer documents the experience of her father, Herbert Kramer, as he closes his law practice after 60 years.” Here is an excerpt.

You can buy the documentary here. Again from the ABA: “The film is accompanied by a discussion guide for bar associations or law firms that intend to use the film to explore the topic of lawyers’ transition into retirement.”

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