Law School


True, the American Museum of Tort Law (and its Unsafe Pinto T-shirt) looks fun. But is that enough reason to advocate a legal career?

True, the American Museum of Tort Law (and its Unsafe Pinto T-shirt) looks fun. But is that enough reason to advocate a legal career?

Just as February begins, I’ve decided to share with you my column from this month’s issue of Arizona Attorney—for a single reason, framed as a question at the end of my column.

Namely, would you encourage someone to go to law school today? If so, what qualities would you stress that they should have or develop to maximize the value of the experience?

Here’s the piece:

 

“Bullish” is typically how I would describe my viewpoint about the future of the legal profession. We certainly face challenges, even big ones, and I do not agree with those who think things will return to “normal”—if normal means bushelfuls of billable hours, clients who don’t scrutinize invoices, the elimination of offshore legal services, and equity partnerships for those who simply put in the time.

Despite the new normal, I remain confident that the field is a worthy one to pursue—even if you accumulate some student debt along the way. In a month featuring Valentine’s Day, the law still deserves our love.

RBG Valentine via Georgetown Law Weekly

RBG Valentine via Georgetown Law Weekly

But what if I have to put my money where my mouth is? What if the lawyerly profession were to darken my own door? Would I be so sanguine?

That occurred to me over the holiday season, when my daughter was home from university. She’s a sophomore, studying a decidedly non-prelaw major. But this past semester, she took an elective on Business Law—and liked it very much. (Except for the way the instructor taught torts, which seemed pretty dull to her. I explained that when you get beyond business torts, you’re into eye-opening and awe-inspiring territory. Maybe we’ll take a field trip to the American Museum of Tort Law in Connecticut!)

For the first time ever, I heard our daughter say that she would consider aiming for a law degree after college.

Gulp. Time to decide if I walk the walk.

And my hesitation to embrace a legal future for someone I care for is not unique. I recently spoke with a partner at a large multistate law firm. He had previously reached positions of national prominence in the realm of criminal and civil law, and now is a shareholder in a respected, white-shoe national firm. The law has been very good to him.

Despite that, he confessed his own hesitation when his son, a recent college graduate, mentioned he may sit for the LSAT. “I wasn’t sure what to tell him,” the attorney admitted to me. “But I certainly didn’t encourage it.”

In a time when job prospects are still sparse and the practice is shifting in numerous ways, how do we encourage future applicants in a LegalZoom era? How do we describe the field, and what core skills do we emphasize as the future of a profession? How do we characterize important elements like fulfillment, service, and meaning in 2016 and beyond?

Your thoughts are welcome at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. The legal field—and at least a few of our kids—would appreciate the input.

Arizona Justice Project logo

Some leadership news from the Arizona Justice Project:

Kathleen Brody is the new Executive Director of the Arizona Justice Project as of Jan. 4, 2016.

Kathleen Brody

The Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon and the nonprofit Arizona Justice Project announced last week that Kathleen Brody, an Osborn Maledon partner, will serve as the executive director of the Project, effective Jan. 4, 2016. Brody also will continue her practice as part of Osborn Maledon’s Investigations and Criminal Defense group, where she focuses on criminal defense, government and internal investigations, and professional discipline proceedings.

The Arizona Justice Project’s current executive director, Katie Puzauskas, will continue to head the Post-Conviction Clinic at the Arizona State University College of Law. She will focus on some of the most difficult cases in the criminal-justice system.

The Arizona Justice Project, established in 1998, seeks to assure that Arizona’s prisons are not housing innocent individuals or those who have suffered manifest injustice through the criminal-justice system. In recent years, the Project has secured the release of 24 individuals, involving cases of wrongful conviction or manifest injustice. The Project has scores of cases under review or in post-conviction court proceedings.

For the last year, Brody has served as the president of the Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice (AACJ), a statewide not-for-profit organization of criminal-defense lawyers, law students and associated professionals dedicated to protecting the rights of the criminally accused and promoting excellence in the practice of criminal law. Brody’s work as president of AACJ has focused on increasing the organization’s visibility among legislators, other policy- and decision-makers, and the broader Arizona community. As executive director of the Arizona Justice Project, she will continue to work on community outreach and policy-reform efforts related to wrongful convictions and fairness in the criminal-justice process, in addition to overseeing all the work of the Project and ensuring its long-term sustainability.

Katie Puzauskas

Katie Puzauskas

“We are excited about the increased focus that having both Kathy and Katie working in these key roles will bring to the Arizona Justice Project,” said Larry Hammond, an Osborn Maledon partner and founder of the Arizona Justice Project. “As the Justice Project works to assure that individuals are treated fairly by the system, we also continue to identify many difficult systemic issues. Among those are increased life sentences for juvenile offenders and the lessening impact of the Arizona Clemency Board’s recommendations with Arizona governors.”

“It’s amazingly great timing that, as Katie wanted to spend more time working with cases, Kathy was eager to take on this new leadership role.”

Before joining Osborn Maledon in 2008, Brody clerked for Justice Andrew D. Hurwitz of the Arizona Supreme Court. She is a member of the Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Arizona and has served as the web editor for the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section, Criminal Litigation Committee. She is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Brody also distinguished herself as a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Osborn Maledon P.A. is a 50-attorney leading Arizona law firm that provides litigation, business, and general counsel solutions for its clients.  More information is available here.

http://www.omlaw.com/

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

We all have our guilty pleasures, and I confess one of mine is legal predictions.

Based on the number of folks who share with me their thoughts on which firms will next merge or go belly up, I cannot be the only one.

But among the less painful predictions are those related to what will happen to legal practice areas: Which will grow—and which will shrink—in the coming year.

Among those accomplished at the prognostication task is Bob Denney. His posts with his previews are much anticipated—and shared.

So that’s what I do today. Here are his best estimates for practice area changes in 2016.

For those in too big a hurry to click, here are a few of his predicted areas of growth: cybersecurity, white-collar crime, mergers & acquisitions, and employment & labor. Keep reading here.

Do you agree? Are you seeing the same thing? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.orgmaybe there’s a story in it.

What’s Hot and What’s Not In The Legal Profession Hot_tamales

OK, I give in to the “hotness” analogy: What’s hot and what’s not In the legal profession?

And here are a few other fascinating bits from Bob Denney:

Social media. Except for Facebook, it continues to be hot. Firm websites and blogs are still among the most effective online means for reaching in-houHot and Not law practice areasse counsel and potential clients, but some marketing experts say they may be surpassed by …

Content syndicators and aggregators. Platforms like JDSupra, Mondaq and even LinkedIn enable a firm to push its content to other sites and services.

Advertising. Whether online, print, TV, radio, billboards or even bus exteriors, advertising continues to be the principal marketing strategy for personal injury lawyers as well as others.

Millennials. Hiring, training and retaining them, as staff as well as lawyers, will continue to be a challenge because many of them chafe against the traditional law firm culture. Yet they are the future of the legal profession.

Departures. Although lateral hiring continues to be a hot growth strategy for many firms, most is at the partner level because firms want the book of business laterals can bring with them. However, fueled to a great degree by the expansion of corporate legal departments, law firm associates and even partners without a large book of business are departing to join legal departments. Why? The workload and the compensation are generally more consistent, without the pressure to record high billable hours and originate business. Translation: The quality of life is better.

Mindfulness movement. There are now reportedly at least two dozen law schools that offer for-credit courses in this Zen-inspired blend of meditation, breathing exercises and focus techniques, which are supported by companies such as Google and General Mills. At least one law firm and the legal department of a major corporation retain a mindfulness coach.

Bar exam scores. The average score on the 2015 summer bar exams reached its lowest level since 1988. Some law school deans have said the test was unfair and that a software glitch made it harder to submit test results. The president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which created the multiple-choice section of the test, replied that law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who may encounter difficulty in taking the exam. And, of course, applications to law schools have been declining.

Richard Fried

Richard Fried

“How A Plaintiff’s Lawyer Can Improve the Lives of Victims” is the subject of a public lecture tomorrow at the University of Arizona law school. Attorney Richard Fried will deliver the lecture, which is part of the school’s Civil Justice Initiative.

Here is more detail from the school:

“As part of our annual Civil Justice lecture series, University of Arizona Law welcomes Richard Fried for a community presentation on trial practice and plaintiff’s representation. He will be speaking on How A Plaintiff’s Lawyer Can Improve the Lives of Victims. Reception to follow.

When: Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, 5-6:30 p.m.

Where: University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Room 160, 1201 E. Speedway Blvd.

Who may attend: This event is free and open to the public.

Please RSVP here.

“L. Richard Fried, Jr. is one of the founding members of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks and has practiced law for over 40 years. Rick has a national reputation in the fields of medical malpractice—having obtained 50 verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million—and aviation law. He served as President of the Hawaii Association for Justice (formerly the Consumer Lawyers of Hawaii) in 1984 and 2001, and was the recipient of their first trial lawyer of the year award in 1994.”

“He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court to serve on the Judicial Evaluation Committee for the State of Hawaii and the Chief Judge of the Hawaii Federal District Court to serve as a delegate to the federal district judges conference.”

“In July 2015, he was named as Chairman of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, where he has served on the Board of Directors since 2012. He has also served on the boards of local organizations such as the Honolulu Symphony, Hawaii Theatre, and the American Civil Liberties Union.”

“The Civil Justice Initiative aims to help Arizona Law elevate the American civil justice system and become the premier destination for educating trial lawyers. A hallmark of the CJI is the annual Civil Justice lecture series, showcasing leading advocates to the student body and the legal community. Past distinguished lecturers include Tom Girardi and Pat McGroder.”

A recent Phoenix conference examined difficult questions about concussions and what should be done about them.

A recent Phoenix conference examined difficult questions about concussions and what should be done about them.

What are the legal and ethical implications that face society as we learn more about the brain and the corrosive effects of concussions?

On Friday, I had the good fortune to catch the final hour of an all-day conference committed to that and other important questions. That hour was the conference’s capstone and featured a panel Q&A moderated by legal star Arthur R. Miller, a law professor at NYU. I may write about that panel in an upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine.

safeguarding brains ASU conference 11-13-15

In the meantime, I share an editorial that ran in Friday’s Arizona Republic. In “Ending the Concussion Epidemic,” conference organizers Betsy Grey and Gary Marchant, both professors with the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at ASU Law, offer valuable insight. Let’s hope conferences and articles like this help legal and government leaders make good choices.

(And it’s worth noting that Gary Marchant wrote for us before, on personalized medicine and the law.)

Heather Mac Donald

Heather Mac Donald

Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 12, conservative commenter Heather Mac Donald will visit ASU to deliver a talk titled “Is the American Great Crime Decline Sustainable?

The free public lecture will be delivered at 6:30 pm on the ASU Tempe campus, ISTB4, Marston Theater.

According to event organizers, Mac Donald’s work has largely focused on crime rates and race. She “pushes back against common arguments of racism in policing and the criminal justice system as a whole to argue for preventative policing that she believes contributed to the 20-year decline of crime in America.”

Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Her work covers a range of topics, including homeland security, immigration, policing and racial profiling, homelessness and homeless advocacy, and educational policy.

You can see more of what the speaker advocates here, via C-SPAN:

Heather Mac Donald book cover policing racismIntroducing Mac Donald will be Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Following Mac Donald’s talk, the former director of the Office for Victims of Crime, John W. Gillis, will give a brief talk about his career and experiences. He is a founding member of Justice for Homicide Victims and the Coalition of Victims Equal Rights.

More information and a Q&A with Montgomery and Gillis are here.

The event is free. RSVP here.

Parking is available (for a fee) in the Rural Road Parking Structure.

University of Arizona Law School

The University of Arizona Law School will be the location of Arizona Supreme Court oral arguments on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2015.

Today, I share some news from the Arizona Supreme Court about its holding oral arguments in Tucson tomorrow, Tuesday, November 10, 2015:

“The justices have identified two cases to be presented, and attorneys representing each side will be given 20 minutes to present their arguments. After the second case, the justices will take questions from the audience, as long as those questions do not pertain to the case or cases they just heard.”

When: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, 2-4 p.m. Guests must arrive no later than 1:10 p.m. in order to go through security screening.

Where: Ares Auditorium, Room 164, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway Blvd.

Who may attend: Seating is limited and available to those who have preregistered here. Members of the public are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis as remaining space allows. Note that food and beverages are not permitted past security.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe Court will hear appellate arguments in two cases (click the case name for more detail):

2-2:40 p.m.: State v. Joseph Javier Romero, CR-15-0039-PR (issue regards the Daubert standard for expert witnesses)

3-3:50 p.m.: Jackie Abbott et al. v Banner Health Network et al., CV-15-0013-PR (issue regards a patient class-action against Arizona hospitals in which patients claim hospitals engaged in “balance billing” in liens, precluded by federal law)

The Supreme Court oral arguments will be live-streamed/simulcast and archived for later viewing here. The Court’s Tucson visit is hosted by the William H. Rehnquist Center at the James E. Rogers College of Law.

Event questions may be directed to Bernadette Wilkinson, senior program coordinator, UA College of Law, bwilkins@email.arizona.edu, 520-626-1629.

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