Law School


We may not all mean the same thing when we discuss workplace ethics. I'd like to hear your ideas, and stories too.

We may not all mean the same thing when we discuss workplace ethics. I’d like to hear your ideas, and stories too.

What are we talking about when we talk about ethics in the workplace? Like most important topics, it may be more difficult to define than we typically imagine.

At the end of this month, I have the opportunity to present on the topic of the ethical workplace. The audience will be organization leaders at the National Association of Bar Executives annual meeting, so my focus will go beyond “Please don’t steal the Post-Its” (though they shouldn’t). Instead, I’m aiming to discuss the ethical decision-points that leaders face daily—hidden as they may be among the workaday grind.

My presentation is nearly done, but I’d like to include some other examples of noteworthy leader ethics, so I invite you to write me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. The anecdote may come from your own organization or from one you’ve heard about. And it can be for attribution or entirely anonymous. In fact, feel free to cast your story to me as a hypothetical. That works just fine.

To help you cogitate on this, here is my presentation description:

“Ethical Decision-Making: The Courage to Say No. Leadership requires making decisions that affect people and resources. This session’s speaker prompts us to consider how we make those important decisions, how to sustain an ethical workplace, and how to deal with the many pressures to do all things and be all things for our members and the public.”

Thank you for sharing your ideas and stories; I look forward to connecting with you!

George Bisharat is Big Harp George, and he's a presenter at the 2015 #azbarcon

George Bisharat is Big Harp George, and he’s a presenter at the 2015 #azbarcon

Last week, I wrote about an #azbarcon panel discussion on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. I’ll be there when it starts at 2:00 today.

But in the meantime, you should take a moment to hear from one of the panelists, Professor George Bisharat. (I disclosed before that he was my law school crim-law professor.) Today, he’ll be giving insight on the Palestinian side of the dialogue. But more pertinent for your lunchtime listening? He is Big Harp George, an accomplished harmonica player.

He’s released a CD (maybe more), but here is one of his songs.

Here is news that he was nominated for Best New Artist Album at the Blues Music Awards.

And here is his website and Facebook page.

Here’s hoping you have some chromatic blues in your day!

Should all law-school graduates be this confident? (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Should all law-school graduates be this confident? (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

How bullish are you on the practice of law? Are things getting rosier by the month, or is it too early to tell?

I ask because, well, it’s kind of my job to ask. But I also came across two recent articles that suggest the legal profession is in a watershed moment—not entirely great, but cautiously optimistic.

The first article (sent my way by the great communications pro Katie Mayer) examines the starting salaries of new associates, and it offers a more nuanced gaze than you might expect. Yes, the author admits, those salaries are marginally higher. But that may be due to the fact that more large firms are providing data. And even in those big firms, new lawyers are seeing lower salaries than in the heyday of law. Why? As big firms gobble up regional ones, those “new” lawyers in the smaller cities are not being paid close to the $160,000 that their big-city colleagues get.

As Max Nisen writes, “According to NALP, … many large firms have been buying up smaller, more regional firms outside major urban centers where pay is higher. Those smaller firms often don’t pay their associates $160,000, which lowers the percentage of large law firm salaries that start at that rate.”

See? Nuanced.

The second article, in the ABA Journal, explores the job market for new law grads. But its author honestly admits that while prospects may be up, that may be due to having fewer graduates in the marketplace. As fewer people opt to enter the law, those who remain may see marginally better opportunities.

Mark Hansen writes:

“Nearly 60 percent of all 2014 law school graduates were employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs, requiring bar passage, as of March 15, according to data released Wednesday [on April 29] by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.”

That is up nearly three percent from last year, Hansen say. You can see that data yourself here.

If this all is the new normal, at least it’s a slightly better version of normal.

Do the two articles reflect your experience? Are you cautiously optimistic too?

DRI defense research institute logoLaw students who seek substantial scholarships should consider a great opportunity, but get on it fast: The application for the DRI Law Student Diversity Scholarship is due next Monday, March 30.

So if you are a law student or if you know one who could be a great fit for this award, please pass the news on.

Besides the application, an essay and recommendations are required. (Ask your law professors now and have them work through the weekend on your behalf! Turnabout is fair play.)

The ultimate prizes are two scholarships in the amount of $10,000 each. (Yes; ten thousand.)

And what kinds of students does the Defense Research Institute want to reward? Those who best meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated academic excellence
  • Service to the profession
  • Service to the community
  • Service to the cause of diversity

The essay question is one of the more intriguing I have come across. I’m guessing that talented law students could have a good and creative time with their answers.

More information and the application are here.

Prison Education conference 2015-page0001

It’s beginning to look like my Friday morning will be corrections-focused.

Yesterday, I mentioned a school-to-prison pipeline symposium focused on that topic. But on the same day—Friday, March 27—an ASU student group addresses the issue of what we do with individuals once they are incarcerated. Specifically, they are focused on prison education.

(I wrote before about this annual conference on prison education.)

This Friday’s event marks the fourth annual Prison Education Conference and will be held in the Turquoise room of the Memorial Union at ASU from 10am to 4pm (with complimentary lunch included).

ASU Prison Education Awareness Club logo-page0001Below is some detail about Friday’s free conference. You can register here.

“The Prison Education Awareness Club (PEAC) presents the 4th Annual Prison Education Conference, featuring Kyes Stevens from the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project and Judith Tannenbaum, teaching artist and author of Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin and By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives. Alongside them, representatives from the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rio Salado Distance Learning Program, and ASU prison teaching will speak.”

I spoke with Jess Fletcher, who heads up ASU’s Prison Education Awareness Club. She indicated that given the large attendance at last year’s event, this week’s conference will be in a larger space (in the ASU Memorial Union). There are still some spots left, so RSVP here soon.

You also can follow (and Like) them on Facebook and Twitter.

ASU Law school-to-prison-pipeline town hall

I have written about the school-to-prison pipeline before, which is why I am especially pleased to see an upcoming symposium dedicated to the topic—this time focused on the pipeline’s effects in Indian Country.

The event will be this Friday, March 27, at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. More information is here.

Here is more background from the organizers:

The “School-To-Prison Pipeline” has been a crucial concern of parents, educators, tribal leaders, ministers, civil rights activists, lawyers and youth advocates for a number of years. Recently, it has become a major concern of the general public across our country due in large part to the spiraling statistics and the negative impact on children of color. Some advocates have defined the problem as a systematic way of syphoning children out of public schools and funneling them into the juvenile and criminal justice system. In fact, many civil rights lawyers regard the journey from “School-To-Prison Pipeline,” as the most critical civil rights issue facing our country today.

The one day event will feature panel discussions, a keynote speaker, and a town hall. The symposium and town hall will bring together individuals to discuss pipeline concerns, experts who have developed successful programs and projects across the country to address pipeline issues, and individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds who are working toward solutions to this issue.  This symposium and town hall is currently the only American Bar Association sponsored event to focus exclusively on the “School-To-Prison Pipeline” in Indian Country.

And here are the previous stories I mentioned (here and here) that address this compelling issue.

judge roxanne song ong headshot

Judge Roxanne Song Ong (ret.)

This Thursday, the annual event called Spring Training for Lawyers will be held. (I mentioned it yesterday, here.)

There is quite a bit of content worth seeing at the event this Thursday and Friday. Topics include (in no particular order) stereotyping, the Hobby Lobby decision, representing clients with disabilities, mindfulness in practice, and immigration law.

Every one of those (plus others) look like great panels helmed by talented lawyers.

But the opening panel on Thursday is the one I really am disappointed to miss. The title is “Perspectives on Diversity in the Legal Profession in Arizona, and it runs from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The speakers have walked the walk:

  • George Chen, partner at Bryan Cave
  • Booker Evans, shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy
  • Sonia Martinez, solo practitioner and past President of NABA
  • Ed Maldonado, solo practitioner and past President of Los Abogados
  • Hon. Roxanne Song Ong, retired Presiding Judge of the Phoenix Municipal Court

Topics will include:

  • Challenges facing minority attorneys in the workplace
  • Issues of majority attorneys working with minority lawyers
  • Importance of developing business for minority lawyers

As organizers say, “A full hour is also dedicated for the panelists to interact with the audience, who are encouraged to ask the ‘tough questions’ about minority issues. The panelists will do their best to provide their candid answers.”

More information is here, including the full program, fees (regular, late, and student discount), additional registration and CLE information.

Register here.

Spring Training for Lawyers Minority Bar Convention 2015-page0001

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