Legal events

A State Bar of Arizona seminar on Thursday, June 25, will focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Arab Middle East

A State Bar of Arizona seminar on Thursday, June 25, will focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Fair warning: Next week will largely be all State Bar Convention news/all the time. I alert you to that to ensure you’re ready and well hydrated.

The hashtag is #azbarcon

But in advance of that great annual event, I share news about a program I’ve heard much about. Amidst what may be the bread-and-butter of lawyer conferences—updates and nuts-and-bolts sessions on developments in practice and substantive-law areas—a few programs are harder to categorize but sometimes offer a unique and valuable view.

One of those seminars promises to be a robust dialogue about legal pitfalls and possible solutions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has continued for more than a generation. Its description is in the image below and described online (though the online version has a faculty list that has been altered since press time). The program is presented by the Bar’s World Peace Through Law Section.

Excerpt from the State Bar of Arizona Convention brochure, World Peace Through Law Section seminar on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Excerpt from the State Bar of Arizona Convention brochure, World Peace Through Law Section seminar on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

More information on the Convention is here.

And the full Convention brochure is here.

In what may be a preview of the complexity of a topic on which strong advocates argue, its (overlong) title is “The Israeli–Palestinian Conflict Moves From the Battlefield and the Conference Room to National and International Legislative, Diplomatic and Judicial Bodies.”

Tony Zimbalist, the Vice Chair of the WPTL Section, described the seminar for me:

Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams

“Its subject is the new forms that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken in recent months. It features speakers representing the full spectrum of perspectives on the conflict, including those of the ‘pro-Israel, pro-peace’ advocacy group J Street and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

“The J Street representative will be Dylan J. Williams, Vice President of Government Affairs. A member of the New York Bar, he served as Counsel for Foreign Relations, Trade and Immigration to former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME).”

According to seminar materials, J Street “advocates for American leadership to end the Arab–Israeli and Palestinian–Israeli conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. … Williams is responsible for developing and executing the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement’s legislative strategy in Washington.”

David Schoen

David Schoen

Also on the panel is lawyer David Schoen, a member of the national board of the Zionist Organization of America. He also is “a founding member of the Center for Law and Justice, a member of a committee formed under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations to defend Israel’s security fence, and Co-Chair of the Middle East and Africa Subcommittee of the ABA’s International Litigation Committee.”

Offering the Palestinian view will be George Bisharat, a Professor of Law at the University of California–Hastings College of Law. He is a frequent commentator on law and politics in the Middle East. He has also “worked with the Palestinian Legislative Council to develop and reform its judiciary system and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Palestine Studies.” In 1989, the University of Texas Press published his book Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West Bank.

George Bisharat

George Bisharat

Bisharat came to law professoring after serving as a deputy public defender in San Francisco and having earned a J.D. and a Ph.D. (anthropology and Middle East studies) from Harvard. He was born in Topeka, Kansas but says he came to better understand his Palestinian identity in the 1967 war.

Daniel Rothenberg

Daniel Rothenberg

Full disclosure: Bisharat was my law school criminal-law professor (and yes, I did well in the class). I also came to know him well as he was a faculty adviser on a team trip to Rhode Island (in 1992 or so) for a trial-advocacy competition with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Perhaps that background suggests why I’m happy to also note that Bisharat is an accomplished blues singer and harmonica player. I will point you toward his musical chops in another blog post … promise!

As Tony Zimbalist adds, “Moderating what sparks these panelists will be ASU Professor Daniel Rothenberg, Professor of Practice at the School of Politics and Global Studies and Lincoln Fellow in Ethics and Human Rights Law.” (I’ve written about Dan Rothenberg numerous times, including here.)

In what promises to be a week packed with great legal programs, I’m looking forward to how this compelling topic can be addressed in a timely and revealing way.

John Dean was Time Magazine's cover subject more than once. (And the answer: No, Nixon could not survive Dean's testimony.)

John Dean was Time Magazine’s cover subject more than once. (And the answer: No, Nixon could not survive Dean’s testimony.)

Just like politically motivated burglars in 1972, a sad American anniversary furtively passed me by yesterday—for it was on June 17 in that year that “five men, one of whom says he used to work for the CIA, are arrested at 2:30 a.m. trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate hotel and office complex.” (A full timeline of related events and stories, via the Washington Post, is here.)

The break-in at the Watergate and the subsequent executive branch cover-up caused turmoil from coast to coast and eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. (But also a pardon by President Gerald Ford for his secretive predecessor, an event that entirely ruined my 12-year-old birthday on September 8, 1974. I related my own experience of that pardon here.)

If you’d like to hear from someone who was intimately involved with that remarkable moment in American history, head over to San Diego in July, where the State Bar’s CLE By the Sea will feature speaker John Dean, who served as White House Counsel for President Richard Nixon for a thousand days from 1970 until 1973. (He has had other life achievements, but this is the resume line we regularly recall.)

I have never been to CLE By the Sea (I’m as surprised as you are), but this is a speaker who makes me want to break my perfect streak.

You can read more about Dean and his program here.

The pen Gerald Ford used to sign his pardon of Richard Nixon, Sept. 8, 1962. (Wikimedia Commons)

The pen Gerald Ford used to sign his pardon of Richard Nixon, Sept. 8, 1962. (Wikimedia Commons)

When many Americans, including me, think back on the infamy that emerged from the Oval Office, we also recall a few people who stepped up and spoke truth or otherwise acquitted themselves well.

Many people distinguished themselves by doing their jobs well or even going above and beyond the call of duty. Among them were Judge John Sirica, Sen. Sam Ervin, special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus. (And let’s not forget the Washington Post’s own publisher Katharine Graham and reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.)

Political memories linger, and a campaign button in 1976 reminded voters of Ford's first big presidential decision.

Political memories linger, and a campaign button in 1976 reminded voters of Ford’s first big presidential decision.

Other people initially found themselves in a place that appeared ethically challenged or perhaps even illegal. And within that tawdry chapter of U.S. history, a subset of those decided to speak up and try to make things right.

John Dean was one of those people. As I’ve related before, my household and tens of thousands of others were riveted to Senate hearings at which John Dean played a historic role. We gazed in wonder at the laundry list of allegations emanating from the highest reaches of our government. It was hard not to marvel at the resolve Dean exhibited as he offered the Senate an accounting of the administration’s excesses. Others testified, but none riveted the attention as did John Dean.

John Dean when he was a young government lawyer.

John Dean when he was a young government lawyer.

In San Diego in July, Dean and his co-presenter James David Robenalt will offer insights for attorneys who may confront trouble in their own entities. As a description opens:

“As lawyer for the organization, what are the duties and obligations if a report up to the highest authority within an organization has failed and crime or fraud continue? Rule 1.13 of the Code of Professional Conduct (the ‘Model Rules’) provides that the lawyer may ‘report out’ what the lawyer knows, regardless of the duty of confidentiality imposed by Rule 1.6. And the lawyer’s duties become even more complicated if the lawyer has participated, knowingly or not, in the wrongdoing that gives rise to the reporting obligation. How then does the lawyer extricate himself or herself? When is resignation enough? When does a lawyer need to engage in a ‘noisy’ withdrawal?”

Here’s hoping you get the chance to gain some ethics education just steps from the beaches of Coronado. The complete program and a link to register are here.

Books, we've got books! Book stack book review

Books, we’ve got books!

My editor’s column in the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine offers a few reading suggestions for the long hot summer. Each of the three I mention is compelling in its own way. I’m sure I’ll have some more suggestions as we move into the fall.

One of the books I mention is titled The Widow Wave. If you’d like an excellent and more substantial review of that book, head over to the Tennessee Bar Journal, where lawyer-reviewer David Wade explains what makes the book terrific.

It’s summer, and the reading is easy. Here are a few suggestions.

Yes, you are allowed to read books in the fall too—or any other season. But it’s a magazine mainstay to offer summer-reading choices. So sue me. But first read these books, after which you’ll be able to sue me better.

If you like your legal works legally accurate and insightful, launch into a book written by an Arizona lawyer and former law prof, aptly named Law Prof. Author Kenney Hegland takes us on a jaunty ride.

Law Prof by Kenney Hegland book cover

Hegland may have taught many of our readers when he professed at the UA Law School, and he impresses and intrigues in this novel. The book tells the tale of a retired law professor who re-emerges from retirement to assist his trial-lawyer daughter with a wrongful-death case. And so he plays the role—armchair adviser—that all of us readers play. He is one of us, our navigator.

Hegland may have had law students in mind as he wrote. The “law” parts are carefully explained, and the discursive sidebars make all the issues—even clear ones—more clear.

The ride may not be highly challenging for experienced trial lawyers, but it is rewarding and well written. And if there is a young lawyer in your life, passing on a copy of Law Prof could amuse and educate all in one.

The Rules of Action by Landon Napoleon came out last year but remains a favorite. It’s 1970s Phoenix, and a lawyer doggedly pursues a case regarding terrible neglect in nursing homes. Ripped from the headlines, it will satisfy the reader who wants the legal details correct but imbued with noir pot-boiling.

The Rules of Action by Landon Napolean book cover_opt

Adding to readers’ pleasure is the accurate Arizona legal history and the suspicion that you know the lawyer described within. Muse away.

Finally, The Widow Wave is a nonfiction retelling of a trial following the death of five men on a commercial fishing boat off in the Pacific Ocean off San Francisco. The author is Jay Jacobs, an attorney and former sailor and officer in the merchant marine. He represented the captain’s widow when she was sued by one of the men’s survivors.

No physical evidence, no eyewitnesses, and a three-week jury trial make for great reading. Just as gripping is Jacobs’s willingness to reveal his trial missteps. Experienced lawyers will appreciate tracking the trials’ shifting fortunes. And younger ones will benefit from a true tale of trial tactics, warts and all.

The Widow Wave by Jay Jacobs book cover_opt

What are you reading this year? Write to me at

A photo of a 1297 version of Magna Carta (Sotheby's, via Associated Press)

A photo of a 1297 version of Magna Carta (Sotheby’s, via Associated Press)

I was going to let the Magna Carta’s 800th birthday go unremarked on this blog. After all, that marvelous document s getting quite a bit of ink.

In fact, we at Arizona Attorney Magazine covered the June 15 event in our June issue, with a terrific book review and with a news story about talented high school filmmakers.

So enough already, right?

That’s how I felt, until I read yesterday’s blog post of the NW Sidebar, the blog of the Washington State Bar Association. It opens:

“June 15, 1215: King John of England sealed–not signed–Magna Carta, placing limits on the powers of the crown for the first time. On the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, it’s widely known that the U.S. constitution and legal system has roots in the historic document. Here are five facts about Magna Carta you might not know …”

Read the whole post here.

But I must—even a day late—add two worthy elements to your knowledge of this historic event. One is local, and one is in regard to a skirmish among legal historians.

  1. The local: The Arizona Bar’s own Trish Refo participated in the festivities in England that spanned this past week. She is the Chair of the ABA House of Delegates, as well as a partner with Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix. As the American Bar Association reported:
Trish Refo, left, chair of the ABA House of Delegates, introduces Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, during the June 11 opening of the ABA London Sessions. In the center is ABA President William C. Hubbard.

Trish Refo, left, chair of the ABA House of Delegates, introduces Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, during the June 11 opening of the ABA London Sessions. In the center is ABA President William C. Hubbard. (Credit: Professional Images)

Refo … introduced Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, during the June 11 opening of the ABA London Sessions at Westminster Central Hall.

“We are honored that President Caplen has joined us to mark this momentous occasion, the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta,” Refo said.

The London Sessions, which ran from June 11-15, were the culmination of a yearlong celebration of the historic charter. The celebration featured preeminent speakers and 16 continuing legal education programs that focused on the Great Charter’s impact and relevance on the rule of law today.

Trish Refo, right, greets Queen Elizabeth II.

Trish Refo, right, greets Queen Elizabeth II. (Credit: Professional Images)

Refo was present at Monday’s morning-long Magna Carta anniversary celebration, where she met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The morning’s events, attended by more than 4,000 guests, were followed by a rededication ceremony of the newly refurbished ABA Memorial, which was erected in 1957 to honor the legacy of Magna Carta and the principles of justice it represents.

ABA President William C. Hubbard led the rededication ceremony, which was attended by dignitaries including Princess Anne, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, and Matthew Barzun, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

  1. The legally hisorical: I urge you to read this article in the New York Times that describes an ongoing disagreement among scholars as to how significant—really—the Magna Carta was and how compelling to our imagination it should remain.

As the reporter writes:

“In the United States, Magna Carta—it means Great Charter in Latin—is treated with a reverence bordering on worship by many legislators, scholars and judges. It is considered the basis for many of the principles that form the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

As the story says, a significant number of folks do not agree with that assessment. Here’s the whole story.

Happy birthday anyway, Great Charter!

Thomas Jefferson Center 1st Amendment container indiegogo

Combining art and the First Amendment may be a natural match. But making it mobile? That may ensure the amendment of first in people’s minds.

I just came across a new crowdfunding venture, and this one creates a mobile and democratic monument to the First Amendment.

That could be a worthy follow-up to the installation of Arizona’s Bill of Rights monument near the state Capitol. This new effort would put the monument in a shipping container, which could be re-sited at will. It also would allow and encourage input by passers-by, who could add their own messages to the structure.

Thomas Jefferson Center 1st Amendment container indiegogo logoYou can read more about the campaign here. And here is a video from the organizers.

Board members for this initiative include journalist Dahlia Lithwick and UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh.

There are 36 days left in the effort. And if you’ve never viewed a crowdfunding site, take a look. It’s a process that provides some payback—large or small—to funders.

State Bar of Arizona Leadership Institute header

Here is some news from the State Bar of Arizona. The Bar Leadership Institute has been a remarkable program for years now. It may be a great fit for you or another attorney you know.

The Bar Leadership Institute is a nine-month professional development program beginning in September 2015. The goal of the program is to foster the professional growth and enhance the leadership skills of a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers.

Attorneys selected to participate receive:

  • Up to two years of CLE credit.
  • Leadership training and legal practice education in an experiential and mentoring learning environment.
  • Opportunities to foster relationships within the State Bar of Arizona, partner bar associations, government and community leaders.

Complete your application here.

The application deadline is Friday, June 19, 2015.

Wills for Heroes logoLast Thursday, June 4, Wills for Heroes marked its 10th year “providing free estate plans for those who put their lives on the line protecting the people of Arizona.” The Bar reports that those affiliated with the program have assisted more than 8,000 first responders since it began in 2001. “In the ten years that followed, Arizona attorneys have volunteered more than 12,500 hours of time at 175 clinics across 14 counties.”

You can read the Bar’s whole story here.

Here, you can read a 2006 Arizona Attorney story that explained how the Bar recognized Jeff Jacobson, the original Arizona organizing attorney.

“Jacobson also helped to create the Wills for Heroes Foundation in 2007, which now serves first responders across 29 states. Based in Tucson, the Foundation provides both support, services, financial assistance and supplies to the various programs that help eligible emergency first responders and their families in the United States.”

Here are a few statistics describing the program’s reach. From 2005 into 2015, attorneys offered 12,650 hours of their time to the initiative. That resulted in 8,622 wills.

In that time, Arizona lawyers attended and assisted at 175 clinics to create wills for first responders. Ninety-one events were held in Maricopa County, 40 in Pima County, and the remainder were held in 12 counties.

Wills for Heroes event at Arizona Cardinals Stadium

Wills for Heroes event at Arizona Cardinals Stadium

To learn more about Wills for Heroes, visit the organization’s website.

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