Legal events


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An Instagram employee takes a video using Instagram’s new video function at Facebook’s corporate headquarters during a media event in Menlo Park, Calif. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

If you had to guess what documents are most central to your daily life and to your future possibilities, I’d wager many Americans would point to works like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Probably because they think that’s how they should answer.

I am the biggest fan of those documents, but that answer might not be entirely correct. Instead, I’d point you to those below-the-radar Terms of Service that populate the legal life of every app you use. And that means they populate your life too, like it or not.

I’ve written about terms of service before, and I find these tiny little, unassuming adhesion contracts to be fascinating. I wrote here about a change to the Snapchat ToS.

And for good measure, let me re-share a Venn diagram that explains the intersection of law and love. (Spoiler alert: It’s complicated.)

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition. love technology law

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition.

This past week I read a terrific article (by the similarly terrific Amy Wang) about efforts to make terms of service more understandable, especially to youngsters. (Hat-tip to Wayne Rainey for the lead on the article.)

The Washington Post story was driven by the January 4 release of a report called “Growing Up Digital,” which examined young people’s interactions with those ever-present tech marvels that transform—and complicate—our lives.

And where good things happen, I’m never surprised to see a lawyer in the mix. The story tells how one of the task force members was charged with trying to redraft the Instagram terms of service to make them understandable to teens and other humans.

So that’s what London-based privacy lawyer Jenny Afia did.

Here’s a bit from the story:

Lawyer Jenny Afia rewrote the Instagram terms of service so kids would know their privacy rights.

Lawyer Jenny Afia rewrote the Instagram terms of service so kids would know their privacy rights.

“Afia was a member of a ‘Growing Up Digital’ task force group convened by the Children’s Commissioner for England to study Internet use among teens and the concerns children might face as they grow up in the digital age. The group found more than a third of Internet users are younger than 18, with 12- to 15-year-olds spending more than 20 hours a week online. Most of those children have no idea what their privacy rights are, despite all of them agreeing to terms and conditions before starting their social media accounts, Afia said. The task force, which included experts from the public and private sector, worked for a year and released its report Wednesday [Jan. 4].”

If you’ve ever read terms of service (and I hope you do), the next statement won’t surprise you: “The group ran Instagram’s terms and conditions through a readability study and found that it registered at a postgraduate reading level, Afia said.”

Fascinating and important stuff. Though Instagram wouldn’t comment for the story (probably upon advice of the same lawyers who drafted their ToS), here’s hoping efforts like this make a dent in the way these important, meaning-laden documents are drafted.

Once again, here’s a link to the complete Post story.

And you can read the complete “Growing Up Digital” report here.

Clio logo

Data + lawyering? Yes, say Clio.

Was it way back in December that I wrote about the new Clio law practice report? And promised you more?

Sorry about that.

Yes, it was in the December issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine that I chatted about the Clio Legal Trends Report. You can read the column here.

Because I’m super-helpful, I’ve pasted in below what I wrote, so you don’t even have to click.

And tomorrow, I’ll offer some more thoughts on what we can learn from the Clio report—and reports like it. Here’s my column (plus an image):

We thought we understood the way the world worked—and then the Cubs won the World Series.

I suppose it’s good we’re still capable of being surprised. It probably says something nice about our capacity for joy. Or something.

Of course, surprises are not always happy, which occurred to me as I read a new report on law practice trends.

Via their “Legal Trends Report,” the people at Clio—the cloud-based practice management people—want you to know two things about your law practice.

First, your practice is a funnel—one that may be malfunctioning.

And second, consider using data—actual facts based in reality—to drive your practice decisions.

Clio will likely say I’m oversimplifying a vast array of takeaways from the report released in late October. But those takeaways—and the underlying facts—are pretty stunning.

dec-2016-editors-column-on-clio-report

Here is a link to the complete report. Read it yourself and let me know what you think.

And here are two insights compiled by Clio:

  • The average rate billed by lawyers across the United States is $232 per hour.
  • The total utilization rate (billable hours as a proportion of hours available in a working day) for lawyers in 2015 was just 28 percent. For solo lawyers, that number drops to just 22 percent.

What makes this noteworthy?

First—and maybe less interesting to you—is the newfound power of data to provide insight. I’ll write more about this in the future (probably in my blog https://azatty.wordpress.com/), but it’s incredible that via our own real-time software choices, companies like Clio can assess the state of law practice—all within the agreed-upon terms of use.

They can see, moment by moment, how many new matters are opened, how many invoices are generated, how many remain unpaid.

Does this spell the end of surveys based on self-reported data? We’ll see.

The second takeaway is related to the unprofitability of many attorneys’ law practices. When we look at just two of Clio’s many charts—Arizona’s average hourly rate, and its (gulp) average collection rate, the situation appears dire.

There’s definitely more to the picture. But as we head into 2017, we will seek ways to tell the true story of law practice challenges.

Until then: Go Cubs.

A week and a half. That’s all that’s left before our drop-dead deadline for the Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition. That’s our annual endeavor we’ve been doing for almost 15 years now. And we need your submissions sent to the contest email by the end of Friday, January 13, 2017. You can see one of our great call-for-submissions ads below.

arts-competition-ad-2017

We welcome entries in the following categories:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Humor
  • Music
  • Visual Arts: Painting, Photography, Drawing, Sculpture

We will publish the winners in Spring 2017.

Send submissions to ArtsContest@azbar.org and queries to the editor at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And do you like reading rules? We’ve got ’em; click here.

For inspiration, here is last year’s issue with the 2016 winners.

Remember: The submission deadline is January 13, 2017.

The Creative Arts Competition deadline approaches!

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.

sba-cle-ethical-morning-at-the-movies-12-02-16

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.

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.

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