Legal events

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:

Judiciary Considers Scrapping 'Ancient Documents' Rule

A question for trial lawyers today: Have you ever used the ancient documents exception to the hearsay rule?

I must say, I’ve never heard someone use it, as there’s usually another way to skin the cat. And if my impression is correct that its use is rare, then maybe having the rule be eliminated may not be a bad thing.

What got me thinking about this was a story this week about an examination of that very exception by some learned folks. Some on the federal judiciary’s evidence rules advisory committee fear that the growing prevalence of electronic documents—which essentially may last forever—may mean the exception swallows the rule.

As the news story reports, “Now that documents can be stored electronically for long periods of time, a committee of federal judges that reviews the evidence rules is worried courts will face a flood of requests to admit documents under the exception.”

One law professor who teaches evidence says she thinks this change is a good idea:

Professor Liesa Richter, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law

Professor Liesa Richter, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law

“Age is no guarantee of reliability,” said the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s Liesa Richter. “Now that we have this flood of electronically stored information that never goes away—it doesn’t disappear ever—[there are] just so many factual assertions out there electronically that will be available for savvy lawyers to dig up and admit. I think it is a real problem and a real concern.”

U.S. District Judge William Sessions III chairs the advisory committee on evidence rules, and he says, “A document does not become reliable just because it is old; and a document does not magically become reliable enough to escape the rule against hearsay on the day it turns 20. The committee concluded that the exception has been tolerated because it has been used so infrequently, and usually because there is no other evidence on point.”

Judges and law professors coming together to agree there’s more to reliability than age? Never thought I’d see the day.

You can read the whole story here.

So what do you think? Tempest in a teapot? Or are there good reasons to scrap the “ancient documents” rule? Who knows? There may be a magazine article or guest blog post in your future!

grit-get-some-quote-1Update 8/17/15, 9:45 am: State Bar colleagues inform me that they have reached capacity for this event and are no longer accepting reservations. But I would like to hear feedback after the event from this who attend. Write to me at And I look forward to seeing you there.

This Thursday, there’s an event occurring that I’m happy to share (and attend). It’s titled “Finding Your True Grit: A Discussion on the Secrets of Success for Women Lawyers.”

Here is how the organizers describe it:

“How does your mindset impact your success in the workplace? Studies have shown that highly successful women lawyers have ‘grit’—the perseverance and passion for long term goals—and that an individual can learn to develop more grit. In this interactive session you will learn from distinguished and accomplished women lawyers what grit is and how to implement a grit approach in your career.”

This is a free event, but registration is requested by Wednesday, August 19.

Here is the detail about the discussion and dialogue among experts and audience members:

When: Thursday, August 20; program 1:00 – 4:00 pm; reception 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Where: National Bank of Arizona, 6001 N. 24th Street, Building 2, Phoenix 85016

Register here.

True Grit movie gif 1


  • Julie Arvo MacKenzie, Arizona Health Facilities Authority
  • Shawdy Banihashemi, Jaburg Wilk
  • Sonia Martinez, Law Office of Sonia Martinez
  • Lisa Maxie-Mullins, Office of the Attorney General
  • Hon. Patricia Orozco, Arizona Court of Appeals Div. One
  • Rosemarie Pena-Lynch, Office of the Legal Advocate
  • Alexia Peterson, DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC
  • Roberta Tepper, State Bar of Arizona
  • Moderator: Elena Nethers, State Bar of Arizona

True Grit movie gif 2

This program is presented by the State Bar of Arizona Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law and Young Lawyers Division and the Arizona Women Lawyers Association. This program is based on the Grit Project, created by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

It is sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and the Native American Bar Association of Arizona; and co-sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, the State Bar’s Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law and Young Lawyers Division and National Bank of Arizona.

Questions: Elena Nethers, Diversity and Outreach Advisor, State Bar of Arizona, (602) 340-7393.

Free is something anyone can support. Fastcase is free for State Bar members, and discounts are available for other services.

Free is something anyone can support. Fastcase is free for State Bar members, and discounts are available for other services.

You may have noticed that the July/August issue of Arizona Attorney had more heft than usual.

No, that’s not due to our awesome cover story on the wisdom of having a beard on your witness. (Spoiler alert: It’s complicated.) Instead, it is due to the inclusion of a great booklet filled with State Bar of Arizona member discounts.

Normally, that’s not my neck of the woods. But a colleague, Michael Peel, designed the book this year, and when I got my hands on it, I was very impressed.

So much so that I made a Vine (a short video that has nothing to do with vines … just roll with it). You can watch it here (though they do even better if you watch them on your cellphone!).

The State Bar of Arizona 2015 Member Discounts booklet

The State Bar of Arizona 2015 Member Discounts booklet

And because you may be in need not just of a stunning piece of videography, but of discounts themselves, here is where you can find all of them on the State Bar website.

Congratulations to Michael Peel on a job well done!

Member discounts booklet 2 2015

A Supreme Court task force report on the State Bar of Arizona is described by Justice Rebecca Berch, via video available on the Court's website.

A Supreme Court task force report on the State Bar of Arizona is described by Justice Rebecca Berch, via video available on the Court’s website.

In July 2014, Chief Justice Scott Bales signed an administrative order creating a task force to examine “the mission and governance of the State Bar.” The new group was charged with drafting its report by September 1, 2015. That draft report is now available, and the Court is seeking comment.

The task force’s website includes detail about its members, information about its many meetings, and a link to the draft report.

You can link directly to the report here.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealAlso on the website is an introductory video by Justice Rebecca White Berch, who chaired the task force.

Among multiple recommendations, the task force recommends: a reduction in the size of the State Bar Board of Governors (from 30 to between 15 and 18); and clarification of the Bar’s primary mission, which is to serve and protect the public.

One of the elements discussed by the task force was whether the Bar should be maintained as an integrated (mandatory) organization. The task force recommended that it should (though the decision was not unanimous among task force members).

After reading the report, public comment on it can be submitted by email to

You can read Chief Justice Bales’ original Administrative Order here.

More information about the report (and maybe some coverage in Arizona Attorney Magazine) will follow as we head into the fall.

mcle_affidavit screen shot

September 15 is the deadline to file MCLE compliance affidavits. But that may lead you to have numerous questions.

Fortunately, smarter Bar colleagues than I have anticipated your needs. So head to this page to read some useful FAQs about the process.

The page explains how you must complete your CLE tracking page before completing the affidavit. Once you’ve finished entering your tracking information, you can click to reach your affidavit—which now will be pre-populated with the information you provided.

If you prefer the hardcopy approach, you may be happy to discover that a blank copy of the affidavit can be found in the September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, right there between pages 14 and 15. That issue should be in your mailbox soon after August 21.

More questions about the process? Call the Member Resource Center at 602-340-7322.

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.

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