Legal events

PEP creators and hosts Hattie Jean Hayes and Matt Storrs, doing a little reading.

PEP creators and hosts Hattie Jean Hayes and Matt Storrs, doing a little reading.

Last night, I had a surreal law-ish experience. And I recommend it to you on this Change of Venue Friday.

As I sat in the backyard of a downtown Phoenix business (and, I admit it, shivered in the Arizona “cold”), I marveled at the enthusiasm and innovation of the people behind Phoenix Educational Programming. Before you yawn, thinking a new CLE provider is in town, I point out that “PEP” is a performance art troupe. An eye-opening one, at that.

As they describe themselves, “Phoenix Educational Programming presents PEP Rally, a weekly show at Lawn Gnome Publishing that combines academia with the performing arts.”

Lawn Gnome Publishing imageYes, the backyard in question was behind Lawn Gnome, a bookstore shoehorned into a vintage bungalow. It’s the real deal.

PEP organizers Hattie Jean Hayes (host) and Matt Storrs (an attorney and the official “fact checker”) continually seek out great topics on which to deliver their PEP spin. Last night was Law, and a parade of speakers (some lawyers) offered their insight on topics such as the Federalist Papers, Jim Crow laws, Tindr, the right to confront your accuser, and the value of paralegals.

It’s law, plus humor, and a heaping dash of holy crap.

All of that is punctuated (like a semi-colon) by the comic riffs of emcees Hayes and Storrs.

Part of their shtick is to insist on an audience sacrifice—an individual who comes on stage and submits to their humorous razzing. They insist that unless someone comes up, they will not proceed with the show.

So, proverbial gun to head, I volunteered. What followed was one of my more fascinating nights in the fascinating place called downtown Phoenix. A cone of silence prevents me from sharing what was said by me or them, but let’s assume it involved recalling juvenile missteps and poor choices of judgment. Maybe I should not have been so forthcoming. But Hattie and Matt give so much, I had to give back.

Y’know. For the kids.

Here are a few photos I took of my inquisitors as I stood onstage (click to biggify).

In any case, though they may not revisit the topic of Law again anytime soon, I encourage you to seek them out whenever they hold a Rally, which they describe as “Phoenix’s best poets, comedians, storytellers, musicians, academics and performance artists exploring themes in a sometimes educational but always entertaining format!”

If that is not enough, the mantra they have selected for PEP comes from Malcolm X: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

Edgy, that.

Follow their antics on Facebook and Instagram (@peppics). And have a terrific—and PEP-filled—weekend.

PEP Rally Law

Ashley Kasarjian Athena Award 2015 1

Snell & Wilmer attorney Ashley Kasarjian accepts her Athena Award, Oct. 29, 2015, Arizona Biltmore Resort.

How do you ensure your own professional success? There are multiple ingredients in that recipe, but a vital one is to surround yourself with talented people.

In that life’s mission, I am pleased to report that attorney Ashley Kasarjian prevailed in the 2015 Athena Awards. The employment and labor attorney from Snell & Wilmer is the honoree in the Young Professional category.

Ashley is terrific in many ways, and we are privileged to have her serve as the Editorial Board Chair for Arizona Attorney. I’ve been lucky to work with great chairs over the years, but … gulp … she is our first Athena!

As the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce describes its award:

“The Athena is bestowed on a small and impressive group of women. Honorees ‘demonstrate inspiring leadership within their industry, have mentored women throughout their career, and have dedicated themselves to the community through various activities and charities.’”

More detail on Ashley’s achievement is here and here.

What? Did you say you’d like to view great video related to the event? The one where she accepts her award and crushes it in addressing the importance of education and education funding? Well, all you had to do was ask!

And in case you didn’t know it, Ashley is also the author of the terrific Employment and the Law Blog. It was named the top Labor and Employment Law Blog in 2011 by LexisNexis. You should bookmark and follow her here.

Congratulations, Ashley, on your honor! So well deserved!

Friday, November 6, is the day to reach out and show some love to the lawyers in your circle.

Friday, November 6, is the day to reach out and show some love to the lawyers in your circle.

Knock it off with the lawyer jokes, already.

That is an ineloquent way to wish you a Happy Love Your Lawyer Day, to be celebrated this Friday, November 6. This will be the 15th year that the American Lawyers Public Image Association has urged America—nay, the world—to set aside anti-lawyer antipathy and to thank JDs for all the good that they do. (Spread the hashtag: #LoveYourLawyerDay)

Pucker up, SCOTUS: America’s coming in for a kiss.

Intl #LoveYourLawyerDay

Here’s how ALPIA describes the event:

“Since 2001, ALPIA has designated the first Friday of every November as a day to show love, appreciation and thanks to lawyers and judges everywhere. We encourage the American public to shower their favorite legal eagles with sincere affection: a phone call, a card, or even flowers or a gift. That also means no lawyer jokes and no lawyer bashing on that day! In return, we ask all attorneys to perform one hour of pro bono work or donate one billable hour to a charity like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”

(The organization was oddly silent on whether your favorite legal magazine staff members should benefit from your sincere affection. An oversight, I’m sure.)

The organization and its executive director, Nader Anise, are—let’s admit it—charming in their earnestness. I mean, there may be no bigger fan of lawyers and their work than I, but it had not occurred to me to shower fellow attorneys I know with affection, let alone a flower or a gift.

Intl #LoveYourLawyerDay

The steady determination of ALPIA has paid off, though—at least if you call making inroads into the ABA a success. As the organization says in one of the odder ABA-related press releases I’ve ever come across:

“‘National Love Your Lawyer Day has officially reached a tipping point,’ proclaims Nader Anise, Executive Director of the American Lawyers Public Image Association. ‘We are absolutely delighted that the American Bar Association Law Practice Division has passed a resolution to adopt National Love Your Lawyer Day as an occasion worth embracing and celebrating.’ Anise believes this is a game-changer: ‘Having such an influential backer gives this annual lawyer celebration—our entire mission, in fact—a huge boost. Things are about to get very interesting.’”

(You can read the proclamation from the ABA Law Practice Division here.)

But this 15-year effort goes beyond mere affection, for the pacifist organization ALPIA has declared war on the lawyer joke. Or, as their website puts it, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers (jokes).”

ALPIA has a plan in that regard. For in that same press release, ALPIA explains how it will strike a death blow against lawyer jokes:

“Don’t forget—no lawyer bashing on November 6th. Tell a lawyer joke that crosses the line and you’ll have to pay a $20 fine per violation. Asked whether the ‘fine’ should be paid to ALPIA, Anise responds, ‘Absolutely not. The money should go to the person’s charity of choice.’”


Congratulations and best of luck to Nader on November 6—and on all days throughout the year when people should appreciate the hard work of lawyers.

But because this is a full-service blog, I do offer a fallback plan.

So what if you hear someone boorishly mutter a lawyer joke in your presence on Friday? Step 1 is to remind them what day it is, and to suggest they make amends by ponying up a 20 to a great charity.

But what if … I don’t know … they’re a total knob and are not swayed by the wisdom of your approach?

That’s where Malcolm Kushner comes in, with what I call Step 2. Malcolm is the author of “Comebacks for Lawyer Jokes: The Restatement of Retorts” (Museum of Press, 2015).

Comebacks for Lawyer Jokes by Malcolm Kushner book coverYes, there is such a book. Its 191 pages offer you quick ripostes for those who think lawyer-bashing is a fun sport. Or, as Malcolm describes it, “It’s a couple hundred lawyer jokes and the perfect lines for the lawyer who wants to intercept them in a very intelligent way.”

Find the book here.

Here are a few examples (in the spirit of #LoveYourLawyerDay, I will omit the actual punchlines; contact me if you’d like them. But have some class; don’t ask me on November 6!):

  • The boor says: How many law professors does it take to change a light bulb?
  • You intercede before he voices his oh-so-witty bon mot and answer: None. That’s a job for a research assistant.

OK, let me try again:

  • The boor says: What’s the difference between a lawyer and an onion?
  • You answer: Lawyers don’t have thin skins.

Hmmm. How about:

  • The boor says: Why did the lawyer go to heaven?
  • You answer: He wanted to live in a gated community.

By now you may have decided you need a Plan C to address those wielding lawyer-jokes. I’m obligated to remind you that physical violence is never OK. So be sure to develop that thicker skin.

You can hear more directly from Malcolm Kushner here.

In any case, best of luck to ALPIA, Nader Anise, Malcolm Kushner, and all the lawyers they embrace! And even if you don’t spread your own love, spread the hashtag: #LoveYourLawyerDay

Tim Hogan speaks at the University Club, Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2015.

Tim Hogan speaks at the University Club, Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2015.

Last week, an organization that does great legal work took a moment—as it does every year—to honor a lawyer for work that goes above and beyond.

Congratulations to the William E. Morris Institute for Justice for taking that moment on Thursday, October 29, to honor Tim Hogan, Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest.

The event at the University Club was the Morris Institute’s annual Phoenix fundraiser, but it was also an opportunity to hear from some of our legal community’s smartest folks as they weighed in on Tim and his impressive legal career.

Among those who spoke was the Sierra Club’s Sandy Bahr, who recounted numerous times Hogan had collaborated with others on important litigation.

You probably couldn’t put it better than Bahr did as she said, “Tim is a friend to Arizona.”

Sandy Bahr, University Club, Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2015.

Sandy Bahr, University Club, Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2015.

Paul Eckstein spoke warmly about Tim Hogan, “the legal polymath.” Eckstein said there’s hardly an area of law Hogan hasn’t touched, including education, finance, school funding, consumer protection, utility rates, environmental protection, the constitutionality of laws (I stopped writing after a while!).

Eckstein reminded attendees that “60 Minutes is in the waiting room” were once the words most feared by powerful people. Smiling, Eckstein said that dreaded sentence has been replaced by “Tim Hogan has just sued us.”

Paul Eckstein, University Club, Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2015.

Paul Eckstein, University Club, Phoenix, Oct. 29, 2015.

When Hogan rose to offer his obligatory remarks, the typically taciturn attorney would have none of it. He reminded listeners that, “We’re all in this together, and we all contribute to each others’ successes.”

Virtually every lawsuit named that evening, Hogan said, was a collaboration between organizations and multiple lawyers. In particular, Hogan praised the Morris Institute’s Ellen Katz, who has advanced so many cases and causes in Arizona.

William E. Morris Institute for Justice logoHogan’s wry sense of humor was on display, though, when he admitted it was sometimes necessary for him to be absent from settlement discussions, as “Some other folks just self-incinerate when they see me.”

He also reminded the group that he routinely gives Ellen Katz a hard time for not charging for this annual event. (Her response, as always: a smile.)

The experienced Hogan used his remarks to tell attendees that they needed to contribute however they could, and to step up to help communities with little: “Next to English-language learners,” Hogan said, “poor people are probably those who are most despised at the Arizona Legislature.”

In the same week, Tim Hogan was inducted into the Maricopa County Bar Association Hall of Fame. Congratulations again to Tim and the many communities his work benefits.

The Tucson City Court is the recipient of a nearly half-million-dollar grant.

The Tucson City Court is the recipient of a nearly half-million-dollar grant.

As we come to the end of October and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I share some news from the Tucson City Court and the Arizona Supreme Court:

“Tucson City Court this month received a three-year $497,000 Justice for Families grant. The grant is from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women and is the second such grant that Tucson City Court has earned. The grant will be used to continue the specialty domestic violence court program.”

“Judge Wendy Million launched a specialty court to handle domestic violence cases in 2013. Domestic Violence Court is not a separate building, rather it is a program that bundles all serious domestic violence cases on one judge’s calendar. Instead of spreading these cases among several judges, Judge Million hears all of these cases and works with advocacy groups to provide services to victims of domestic violence.”

City of Tucson-logo“‘The idea is to be able to provide a social and community safety net to families and individuals touched by domestic violence,’ Judge Million explained. ‘This new grant allows me to continue having a dedicated domestic violence court. The money will be used to help with extra security in the courtroom and for continuing education programs for judges, court staff, and attorneys who handle these cases. It also funds two victim advocates from Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse who will work at City Court.’”

“According to its website, the Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse is a Tucson-based charitable organization that is the largest provider of domestic abuse prevention services in Southern Arizona. Judge Million said the two victim advocates will float between the court’s protective order office and the courtroom to provide direct aid to victims.”

“The grant will also allow Judge Million to continue doing outreach to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing. National studies have shown that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals experience a greater incidence of domestic violence, which often goes unreported. Judge Million plans to use some funds to pay for American Sign Language interpreters when domestic violence victims with a hearing impairment need court services.”

Read the entire news release here.

Nonprofit boards generally don't look like this anymore. But if they did, can you spot the attorney?

Nonprofit boards generally don’t look like this anymore (if they ever did). But if they did, can you spot the attorney?

As far back as I can recall (and that recall gets shorter every day), lawyers have played a valuable role on the boards of nonprofits. They could lend a hand—hopefully not opining beyond their skill-level—while getting better known in the community. Win–win.

It seems to me that as law practice has gotten tougher and more challenge-filled, those attorneys who seek out board positions has decreased. If I’m right, that would be unfortunate, as nonprofit organizations do more and more of the heavy lifting in our society, and they need more and more specialized services. Lawyers can still be of service.

That challenge was in mind when I came across a meeting notice (from the ever-informative Arizona Asian American Bar Association) about a “nonprofit board speed networking event.”

Here’s their description: “Typically it is very hard to just jump on an organization board, but there are hundreds of nonprofits in the Valley seeking innovators and professionals like you to help them build their organizational capacity.”

Foundation for Senior Living FSL-logoSo true, so why not attend the event tomorrow?

Hosted by Polsinelli Law Firm, the event occurs Thursday, October 29, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The special-guest moderator is Tom Egan, President and CEO of the Foundation for Senior Living, who “will share how organizations and board members can build strong partnerships to help grow the organization and your professional skills and network.”

And when event organizers say “speed,” they mean it. Attendees will spend three to five minutes learning about each of the nonprofit’s programs and services. Who knows? You may feel a deep connection that you’ll want to act upon.

Where: Polsinelli Law Firm (at Cityscape in downtown Phoenix), 1 E. Washington St. #1200, Phoenix, AZ 85004

For additional information, email attorney Nicole Ong at

Arizona Supreme Court building

A new Arizona Justice will be appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey. Comments on applicants are due by Nov. 18, 2015.

News from the Arizona Supreme Court:

The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is asking for public comment on nine candidates for an opening on the Arizona Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Rebecca White Berch. The candidates are:

  • Clint D. Bolick, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute
  • Michael J. Brown, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Kent E. Cattani, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Daisy J. Flores, of Flores & Clark LLC
  • Andrew W. Gould, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Maurice Portley, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Timothy J. Thomason, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
  • Samuel A. Thumma, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I
  • Lawrence F. Winthrop, an Arizona Court of Appeals Judge – Division I

The agenda and applications for the office can be viewed online at the Commission’s website.

Arizona_Supreme_Court_SealThe Commission will meet at 8:00 a.m. on November 20, 2015 to hear public comment and interview the candidates. Written comments can be sent to 1501 W. Washington, Suite 221, Phoenix, AZ 85007 or by e-mail to Comments should be received no later than November 18 to be considered. Anonymous comments cannot be considered.

After the interviews the Commission will recommend at least three nominees for the opening to Governor Doug Ducey, who will appoint the new justice.


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