Lawyer kudos


On June 5, a panel of four corporate counsel addressed the challenges of diversity and inclusion that are faced by the legal profession.

The event, hosted at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, was sponsored by the Arizona Collaborative Bar, the South Asian Bar Association of Arizona, the Iranian American Bar Association, and the State Bar of Arizona.

The attorney–panelists were:

  • Sharad Desai, Litigation Counsel, Honeywell International Inc.
  • Maacah Scott, Staff Counsel Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Art Lee, Deputy General Counsel, University of Arizona
  • Ashley Kasarjian, Senior Corporate Counsel – Employment, Republic Services

Greg Gautam, a partner in Snell’s Phoenix office, moderated the discussion.

Among the questions posed:

  • How do the employers ensure they are reaching and identifying diverse candidates?
  • Why does your firm value diversity and inclusion? Does it start with your top executive?
  • How do you support lawyers who are parents?
  • How do you address the unconscious biases we all have?
  • What efforts does your firm make to mentor young lawyers?

Surrounded by an audience of more than 50 attorneys who attended this lunch-hour session, panelists warmed to the topics.

Desai described his company’s commitment to providing secondment opportunities – which is how he originally joined Honeywell. And Kasarjian stressed the value of holding multiple panel interviews to ensure that a candidate interacts with a broad swath of current employees.

Scott acknowledged that inclusion is a slow process – which may appear not to be advancing well in the profession. She pointed out that mindfulness about these issues is important. For instance, using non-gender-neutral language, even accidentally, sends a negative signal to listeners and slows progress.

Interactions like that occur far too often, panelists said.

“If you find yourself in a place with a lack of diversity,” Kasarjian said, “it’s not your fault. But it is your problem.”

And unconscious bias puts those on the receiving end at a disadvantage – a “different starting point that you have to explain yourself out of,” said Kasarjian. Desai recommended everyone take one of the many available Implicit Association Tests. “Acceptance [that biases are real] is the critical step. You then can begin to negate them.”

Panelists also spoke about how everyone in an organization can be an ally for diversity.

Art Lee offered advice to diverse lawyers: Reach out widely to a broad group of attorneys for ideas and mentorship. There will be lawyers in that group who may be extremely helpful on your path.

Scott agreed and urged lawyers to “recognize allies who may not be diverse.”

Kasarjian recalled the words of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she visited Arizona in 2017. It may be difficult to do, the Supreme Court jurist said, but we all must work to advance those people who may be different from us. “People who may not be walking your path” may still bring phenomenal value to the profession and to your workplace. And both the profession and your organization suffer if that talent is not nurtured and included.

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State Bar of Arizona Find a Lawyer logo

Imagine a way to assist consumers in locating an attorney – at the widest possible range of price points – and doing so in a way that helps lawyers obtain clients and develop their law practice.

That imaginative effort culminates today in the launch of web portal Find-a-Lawyer by the State Bar of Arizona.

How appropriate that the launch is on Law Day – an annual event that celebrates the role of law in society.

According to the State Bar, more than 8,000 Arizona lawyers have already updated their online profiles – which means they will receive matches with potential clients who post in the new tool that they are seeking legal assistance.

A first of its kind, the Find-a-Lawyer website allows consumers to control the process of finding and hiring an attorney through a safe and reliable platform. Find-a-Lawyer is accessible through smartphones, tablets and desktop computers via azbar.org to find legal help in three easy steps:

  • Summarizing their legal need Consumers will post their legal needs anonymously, quickly and for free. They will also choose what they can afford to pay.
  • Receiving emails from lawyers Lawyers who are interested in working on the consumer’s legal project will contact the consumer via email.
  • Review and Select a Lawyer Consumers will review emails from lawyers and will then select the lawyer who best fits their needs.

What follows is some more background about Find-a-Lawyer.

Facing a legal problem can be intimidating. Hiring a lawyer shouldn’t be. That’s why the State Bar of Arizona has created a new online tool to connect consumers with lawyers that’s free and easy. The new Find-a-Lawyer puts consumers in control.

According to a 2017 legal trends report, the most common way consumers find lawyers is through a referral. A friend or family member may recommend someone. But, what if no one in your circle knows a lawyer? What if that lawyer isn’t practicing in the right area?

The new Find-a-Lawyer gives consumers the ability to find lawyers in a safe and stress-free way.

How does it work?

State Bar of Arizona Find a Lawyer screenshot

Consumers start by going to the State Bar’s website, AZBar.org. Next, they’ll click on the Find-a-Lawyer button. They can then start the process of finding a lawyer. They’ll have the chance to post a brief summary of their problem and choose a practice area like bankruptcy or divorce.

Next, they’ll have the option of saying how much they can afford. They can choose low, medium or high. But the website makes it clear that the amount paid likely affects the amount of experience. As with many other professions, the more the consumer is willing to pay, the greater the level of expertise they’ll receive.

A 2014 research project done by the Texas A&M University School of Law found that providing legal services for people with lower incomes is an area of great concern. It pointed out that while more than 81 million households earned less than the median income of $51,017 in 2012, many of these individuals made too much to qualify for free legal services. The new Find-a-Lawyer will give people in lower incomes the ability to find the right lawyer at the right price.

Once the legal project is posted, Arizona lawyers who practice in that area of law will get an email about the case. They can respond to the consumer with information about how they can help, including information about price. If the consumer gets multiple responses, they can choose which lawyer will meet their needs.

People who have limited financial means can also post cases. They’ll be asked to provide information about their income and the number of people in their home. Lawyers willing to help can contact the individuals directly, although it’s important to point out there are only a limited number of free cases handled each year.

While lawyers will pay an annual fee to respond to cases, there is no charge per case and no fee splitting. That potentially means lower costs to the consumer.

Find-a-Lawyer can be easily accessed by smartphones, tablets and desktop computers, making it a next-generation tool. It makes the process of hiring an attorney painless and puts the consumer in control.

To learn more just go to AZBar.org and click Find-a-Lawyer.

ASU Arizona State Law Journal logo USE THIS

The Arizona State Law Journal hosts its annual banquet on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Jennings Strouss general counsel Scott Rhodes will be honored at the annual Arizona State Law Journal 2018 Awards Banquet. It will be held on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, from 5:30 to 9:00 pm. The banquet will be held in Room 544 of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix, 111. E. Taylor Street.

Rhodes will receive the 2018 John S. Lancy Distinguished Alumni Award. Other outstanding members, as well as Executive Board members, also will be recognized.

John S. Lancy was the Law Journal’s first Editor-in-Chief in 1969–1970, selected by the Faculty Board of Editors. He also was a member of the founding class of what was then the ASU College of Law. He had a successful legal career that included a Ninth Circuit clerkship, service as an airline in-house counsel, and private practice at Quarles Brady Streich Lang. In 2001, he died at age 56 after battling brain cancer for 20 months.

The award named for Lancy is presented to “Journal alumni who have demonstrated a standard of selfless integrity, humility, and charity in the legal field that warrants the recognition and acclaim of their peers.” (More detail here.)

Tickets to the event – and sponsorship opportunities – are available here.

Currently, event sponsors are: Jennings Strouss; Dickinson Wright PLLC; Gammage & Burnham; JDA Software, Inc.; Quarles & Brady LLP; Ryley Carlock & Applewhite; Bowman and Brooke LLP; Fennemore Craig; Gammage & Burnham; Lubin & Enoch PC; Perkins Coie; Polsinelli; and Snell & Wilmer LLP.

Attorney Scott Rhodes accepting the 2010 State Bar Member of the Year Award.

Attorney Scott Rhodes accepting the 2010 State Bar Member of the Year Award.

You can read more about Scott Rhodes here. The State Bar of Arizona selected the attorney – AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell – as a 2010 Member of the Year.

The Arizona State Law Journal is the law school’s primary scholarly publication. It is student-run, comprised of 35 Staff Writers (2Ls) and 31 Editors (3Ls).

 

News from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez, Public Relations Manager at the State Bar of Arizona:

sba_logo_color State Bar of ArizonaThe State Bar of Arizona and ABC15 held the year’s first Let Joe Know, Ask a Lawyer Phone Bank on Wednesday, January 10. This new partnership between the Bar and ABC15 is proving to be a valuable resource for our community as volunteer lawyers answered an impressive 166 calls during the two-hour phone bank focused on family law.

The Bar’s role as a partner and organizer of the phone bank is to help connect ABC15 viewers, and the community at large, with licensed attorneys for sound legal advice.

ABC15 logo

The following is a brief recap of the phone bank:

 Nine attorneys volunteered at the 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. event:

  • Angela Duhon, Duhon Law
  • Rachel Frazier Johnson, Rachel Frazier Johnson Law
  • Paul A. Jozef, Center for Complete Communication
  • Diana K. March, Law Offices of March & March
  • Robert A. March, Law Offices of March & March
  • Sonia Martinez, Law Office of Sonia Martinez
  • Ashley B. Rahaman, Stewart Law Group
  • Daniel A. Rodriguez, Law Office of Daniel A. Rodriguez
  • Billie Tarascio, Modern Law
Joe Ducey of ABC15's Let Joe Know program

Joe Ducey of ABC15’s Let Joe Know program

ABC15’s Joe Ducey used his Let Joe Know Facebook page to promote the phone bank and encouraged social media enthusiasts to ask their questions during his live broadcast. He also had lawyers answer their questions during the newscast. An additional 14 consumers were helped via social media.

The Bar thanks the attorney volunteers for committing their time and expertise to consumers through this access to justice program. And it thanks ABC15 for its continued partnership with the Bar, which provides this valuable program to its viewers.

Click here for quick video recap.

Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank 06-15-17 pro bono State Bar of Arizona lawyers and UnivisionAZ

A small but mighty band of Arizona lawyers offered free family law advice at a June 15 phone bank.

News from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez, Public Information and Community Outreach at the State Bar of Arizona:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted an Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) phone bank Thursday, June 15, 2017. This access-to-justice program was held to connect the Spanish-speaking community with volunteer attorneys who could help address their family law issues in their language.

sba_logo_color State Bar of ArizonaThe event, held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., focused on family law. Here are the attorneys who volunteered their time and abilities:

  • Sylvina Cotto, Cotto Law Firm
  • Carlos Mendez, Slack-Mendez Law Firm
  • Daniel Rodriguez, Diaz Rodriguez & Associates
  • Javier Sobampo, Sobampo Law Firm

These volunteer attorneys answered 25 calls regarding family law issues during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample questions included:

  • How do I file for divorce? Do I need an attorney?
  • Does my spouse have to agree to a divorce? Can I file if my spouse is in Mexico?
  • I would like to give my mother guardianship of my children in case of emergency, how do I do that?
  • How do I petition for parenting time?

The State Bar thanks them for committing their time and experience to consumers through this access to justice program. It also thanks Univision Arizona for its continued partnership in providing this valuable program for the Spanish-speaking community.

Univision-Arizona logo cropped

Westin La Paloma 1

So would you like to know who won the State Bar of Arizona annual awards? Or would you rather be surprised when you settle into your luncheon seat at the annual Convention? (Don’t forget to register.)

Just in case: Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you’re in the second group.

The State Bar of Arizona has announced the winners of its prestigious annual awards. Here is the news from the State Bar:

sba_logo_color State Bar of Arizona
The State Bar of Arizona will recognize 9 individuals and one legal program for their contributions to the legal profession at the 2017 State Bar of Arizona Annual Convention at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, June 14-16.

  • Member of the Year Award: Jo Ellen McBride, City of Phoenix
  • James A. Walsh Outstanding Jurist Award: Hon. Patricia K. Norris, Arizona Court of Appeals, Div. One
  • Tom Karas Criminal Justice Award: Stephen M. Weiss, Karp & Weiss PC
  • Michael C. Cudahy Criminal Justice Award: Hon. John S. Leonardo, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Sharon A. Fullmer Legal Aid Attorney of the Year Award: Golden E. McCarthy, Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project
  • Award of Appreciation: Meredith Peabody
  • Award of Special Merit: Hon. Robert L. Gottsfield (Ret.)
  • Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award: Arizona Collaborative Bar
  • Hon. John R. Sticht Excellence in Disabilities Accessibility Award: William R. Jones, Jr., Jones Skelton & Hochuli PLC (posthumous)
  • Outstanding In-House Counsel of the Year Award: Michael J. O’Connor, Salt River Project

The only award presented at convention that is not decided by the Board of Governors is the President’s Award. The president chooses someone who has made significant contributions to the Arizona legal community. This year, two recipients will receive this recognition:

President’s Award:

  • Sheena S. Chiang, Maricopa Legal Defender’s Office
  • Thom L. Hudson, Osborn Maledon PA

For a complete list of 2017 award descriptions and recipient bios click here.

 

The April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine covered the 10th anniversary of the Bar Leadership Institute and recounted its noteworthy history

The April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine covered the 10th anniversary of the Bar Leadership Institute and recounted its noteworthy history

News from the Bar and one of its premier programs:

The State Bar of Arizona Bar Leadership Institute is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 class. Is this your year? Find out for yourself how the BLI can foster your professional growth and enhance your leadership skills.

Now in its 11th year, BLI graduates have gone on to assume important leadership positions, including three graduates who were recently elected to State Bar of Arizona’s Board of Governors.

The deadline to apply is June 23. Information and application are here.

The application is easy to complete, but a letter of recommendation is required—so don’t delay!

You may recall we covered the 10th anniversary of the BLI in Arizona Attorney Magazine. Read all about it here.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s what graduates say about the BLI:

“This program was an incredible opportunity to meet a wide variety of leaders in the Arizona legal community. What other program can offer you the leadership training and opportunity to network with Supreme Court Justices, general counsels and prosecutors in an intimate setting.”

“There is nothing else like it. It expands our vision beyond our immediate work to remind/inspire us to consider ourselves not just as attorneys but as community leaders.”

“The information and experience was invaluable. I have had many leadership doors opened because of this experience.”

The 2017 State Bar of Arizona BLI class

The 2017 State Bar of Arizona BLI class

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