Lawyer kudos


Art With Conviction logo

This Friday an art opening occurs in downtown Phoenix that displays the work of artists who are convicted felons. Art with Conviction is holding its first-ever Phoenix show at {9} The Gallery (1229 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85007).

One of the works to be displayed at the Art with Conviction show at 9 The Gallery, Aug. 28, 2015.

One of the works to be displayed at the Art with Conviction show at 9 The Gallery, Aug. 28, 2015.

Art with Conviction invites people for the event on August 28, which it describes as “a special evening celebrating humanity and the creative spirit of convicted felons, from 6 to 10 pm and August 29 during the gallery’s regular business hours (12 to 5 pm).”

Here is how the organization describes itself:

“Art With Conviction is a community project whose purpose is to allow people who have been labeled as ‘convicted felons’ to demonstrate to the community that they are more than just a criminal conviction. Instead, through their expression of passion and talent in their artwork, they can be viewed as being a contribution to our society, separate form their past. Art With Conviction was born out of a sense that a felony conviction should not mean a lifetime of stigmatization and harsh judgment as it so often does for so many people. The stigmatization too often results in challenges that are very difficult to overcome no matter how much good work an ex-offender puts between him/herself and the crime.”

You can read more about the event here and about the organization here.

I have written before about the power of art within correctional institutions, whether displayed at a Boston museum, via a university prison education-awareness club, or even by way of a convicted man’s imagining a different home.

If you are able to attend the opening at {9} The Gallery and send me your reactions, I’d appreciate it! Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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:

silos how I love them

Silos: How I love them (let me count the ways).

I’ve written previously about our unique initiative called “CLE Snippets,” through which we create and release short videos that are Q&As between a timely author from Arizona Attorney Magazine and their thankful editor, me.

In the current magazine, I wax poetic about how much I appreciate those authors for sharing their time and talents. And I appreciate my Member Services Department colleague Jen Sonier for doing the same, as she brings her substantial videography talents to the endeavor.

Since the issue and my column came out, multiple readers told me they enjoyed seeing our tradition of taking a photo of me and the author. But they wondered about my column’s opening lines:

“O, how I love my silos.”

“I understand that’s not a popular concept. Just saying it out loud might terminate my subscription to Harvard Business Review.”

“But like a lot of people who are equal parts busy and highly committed to quality control, I find broad-scale collaboration … challenging, shall we say. Let me be, live and let live, catch you on the flip side. And don’t touch my cheese.”

“I am aware that different times require different strategies. And so I’ve aimed to take my best cooperative qualities, so visible and valuable in social media, into the realm of real. actual. people.”

“One result of that in the past year has been the launch of CLE Snippets, a pioneering collaboration between two State Bar departments. It brings together those of us who are relatively talented at content creation with those who are expert in online learning. The results? Valuable content for members and increased visibility for magazine articles and our talented authors.”

Specifically, readers wondered how anyone could defend silos. After all, silos have become the bugaboo of the modern office, where collaboration, cooperation, and deference to the short-walled cubicle are supposed to cure all our ills.

Briefly, my experience has been: For some, the demolition of silos has come from a genuine place of organizational improvement. But that’s not the whole picture. So if someone insists you should break down your silos, hold onto to your wallet/budget/resources. For you and your department/magazine/staff may have something the other person wants. For those requestors, silos are a one-way street (just to mangle and confuse some metaphors).

Trust but verify.

In any case, the image at the top of this post is one I created and have posted in my own workspace (talented, right?). It’s a reminder that I may be silly to love silos, but that there’s often something stinky lurking behind requests to tear them down.

And don’t touch my cheese.

What made me rethink my silo-love? Our authors. o'course.

What made me rethink my silo-love? Our authors. o’course.

If they existed for lawyer magazines, rack sales would skyrocket with celebrity covers. (Or celebrity-adjacent.)

If they existed for lawyer magazines, rack sales would skyrocket with celebrity covers. (Or celebrity-adjacent.)

Let’s step back in time, shall we? All the way to December 2013. That’s when California Lawyer Magazine ran a cover story on Jason Beckerman, a TMZ in-house counsel (and on-air commentator).

If any story was made for Change of Venue Friday, this has to be it, am I right? A touch of law, a dash of celebrity, a soupçon of journalism. You are most welcome.

And yes, this has been out there for a bit, but so what? I somehow managed to never write about it, and the story includes some of my favorite things: magazines+attorneys! So quit yer whining and enjoy today’s “content.”

Watching the video (below), I must say, I couldn’t help but chuckle as the TMZ correspondents praise their lawyer colleague while dissing the publication he fronted. The assumption being, of course, that lawyer magazines are likely to be dull, drowsy affairs. Hurtful, that. But how little those televised hipsters know about compelling content, beautifully delivered.

And today’s content comes to you courtesy of the West Coast legal eagles Kallie Donahoe and Sayre Happich Ribera, both at the Bar Association of San Francisco. Knowing my Google Alerts for TMZ–lawyer mashups may have failed, they alerted me to the news, and I wanted to get it out to you as soon as possible. Thank you, Kallie and Sayre, rock stars both in legal culture and the more pop variety!

To make things even easier, here is a brief video on the topic of Beckerman’s being the mag’s cover lawyer.

And because all legal education requires a written component (rules or something), here is the story itself in which Beckerman discusses the daily grind of lawyerly infotainment.

All kidding aside, the story was a very good one, and Beckerman’s insights and observations are worth reading. They include a discussion of media, the First Amendment, anti-SLAPP laws, and fair use.

I also appreciated getting some insight into the workplace and the job of a lawyer at TMZ. Here’s how show host and co-founder (and former journalist and lawyer) Harvey Levin describes the task set before their attorneys:

“Pondering doesn’t work,” Levin says. “You gotta have good instincts and if you don’t, there are consequences. It’s kind of a ten-second rule—someone hands you documents, and you have ten seconds to get to the heart of the matter.”

Sound like your law office? Probably not.

Here’s wishing you a great—and celebrity-filled—weekend.

Part of the opening spread in the profile of Bar President Bryan Chambers, Arizona Attorney Magazine, Sept. 2015.

Part of the opening spread in the profile of Bar President Bryan Chambers, Arizona Attorney Magazine, Sept. 2015.

Some organizational moves at the State Bar of Arizona:

As you probably know, the new President of the Bar took his leadership position at the close of the June Convention. At that time, we offered congratulations to Bryan Chambers, from Globe.

While all that was going on, Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill announced his retirement, mid-term, from the Gila County Superior Court. Bryan applied for the judgeship.

Recently, we learned that Bryan had, indeed, been appointed to the bench by Gov. Doug Ducey. You can read about that here.

Of course, that meant Bryan could not serve as a Bar officer, per State Bar bylaws. So at a meeting last week, the Board of Governors elected a new President, Geoff Trachtenberg, of Phoenix. Detail on that is here.

In that press release, we also learn that the board elected: Jeffrey Willis to fill the second vice president post vacated by Trachtenberg; and Steven Hirsch, to fill the secretary/treasurer seat vacated by Willis.

Meantime, I was working on the annual profile of new President Chambers. And he will have served for about 60 days by the time her steps down on August 31, so of course he deserves a profile. That’ll be in the September issue of Arizona Attorney. But now I suppose I’ll gear up to write one on Geoff Trachtenberg too. (That’s OK; it’s one of the perks of the job!)

fastcase logoYesterday, I was pleased to see the announcement of some high legal honors. The occasion was the naming of this year’s Fastcase 50.

Not sure what that is? Here’s how the company describes the honor:

“The Fastcase 50 for 2015 highlights entrepreneurs, innovators, and trailblazers—people who have charted a new course for the delivery of legal services. In law firms—including some of the nation’s largest—with new delivery models, legal tech startups, legal publishers, academia, and the judiciary, these pioneers are giving the world a first look at what’s next for law and technology.”

The complete list is here (and how helpful that it includes links to the honorees’ Twitter accounts, where applicable!):

It would be easy to assume that such an honor is part of the legal research company’s marketing outreach. Because, of course it is that.

But Fastcase clearly puts substantial thought into locating folks who are on the forward edge of legal innovation. The “winners” do not occupy one narrow niche of the legal profession that might benefit the Fastcase bottom line. As I read about this year’s Fastcase 50 honorees, I could see that they are thinkers and doers who run the gamut in our profession. Many are practicing lawyers, while others are judges, law professors, entrepreneurs, and general rabble-rousers. Because, holy crap, the profession needs its rabble roused.

So I have three suggestions:

  1. Look now at the list of this year’s recognized folks. I was pleased to see how many I have previously spotted (and followed) in past years as cool thinkers worth knowing. And then there are the others, whom I look forward to learning more about.
  2. Then click the links at the top of that page to read about the Fastcase winners going back to 2011. I think you’d agree that, troubled as it may be, the legal profession has a deep bench of talented people who are committed to making it flourish.
  3. Choose at least five of those innovators to begin following, on Twitter and anywhere you can. (I followed more than five, but my capacity to engage with awesomeness may be greater than yours. Just sayin’.)

And if you have suggestions for other legal innovators I should be following, tell me at @azatty or at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. Let’s build that deep bench, and a farm system, to boot.

Congrats and thank you to everyone at Fastcase, including its innovative CEO Ed Walters and its President, Phil Rosenthal.

Fastcase 50 header logo

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

I’m happy to report out the following news I received about an annual lawyer-comedy competition. (No, not comedy about lawyers; comedy by lawyers.)

In the past I’ve written about this annual competition. You can read my coverage here and here.

Congratulations to Jodi Weisberg, Bob Howard, and Matt Storrs.

Jodi Weisberg won the 2015 annual John O’Connor Comedy Competition. She is the only two-time winner of this contest, which began in 2011. She has been performing stand-up comedy for more than a decade.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and the Rotary 100 Club, began this competition in honor of John O’Connor, who had a wonderful sense of humor, and was a past President of the Rotary 100 Club.

“It is always such an honor and a thrill to perform for Justice O’Connor and her family,” said Weisberg. “It is a wonderful feeling to make her laugh!”

Weisberg won the competition in 2011, was a judge in 2012, and not allowed to compete in 2013-14. She was invited to perform this year. Bob Howard placed second, and Matt Storrs took third place.

First place prize was $2,500, and Rotary donated $2,000 to the University of Arizona, where Weisberg received her M.S. and J.D. degrees.

John and Sandra Day O'Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

John and Sandra Day O’Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

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