Pro Bono

Quarles & Brady folks at Capitol School, Oct. 30, 2015.

Quarles & Brady folks at Capitol School, Oct. 30, 2015.

News from the Phoenix office of Quarles & Brady:

On Friday, Oct. 30, nearly two dozen members of Quarles & Brady’s Phoenix office joined together to volunteer their time as “homeroom parents” at the Capitol School’s annual Fall Celebration. This was the first of three events during the 2015–2016 school year in which attorneys and staff will volunteer their team to the Capitol School, just west of downtown Phoenix, providing both treats and interactive activities to engage students from Kindergarten to sixth grade.

“Capitol Elementary School strives to create a healthy learning environment where students are given a quality education that includes the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens—we respect that and want to do everything we can to help,” said Scott Jenkins, a partner in the Phoenix office who even brought his own children to volunteer with the team. “In addition to rolling up our sleeves with the kids, the firm also fundraises to support and put on special school events, including field trips to Boston and Washington, D.C.”

According to Jenkins, partnership between Quarles & Brady and the Capitol School dates back a quarter century.

“In 1990, Quarles & Brady set out to find a community project that would provide sustainable, ongoing volunteerism to bring their firm members together with purpose beyond business,” said Jenkins. “With so many parents and grandparents working at the firm, focusing on children and education was a priority.”

While the Capitol School program kicked off with the attorneys and staff putting on homeroom class parties, the partnership quickly evolved into one that included reading and writing assistance, mentorship, fundraising, financial support to students’ families when in crisis, and even a donation to help remodel the school’s media center.

This effort is one of many the local office takes part in through its Quarles Cares community relations program, which is focused on connecting directly with local communities to understand the residents’ needs. Through the volunteer initiatives, attorneys and staff commit themselves personally to civic and charitable efforts, and their personal growth is reflected in the workplace. More information is here.

Tile mural dedicated by Capitol School to Quarles & Brady.

Tile mural dedicated by Capitol School to Quarles & Brady.

State Bar of Arizona lawyers answer family-law questions, Nov. 10, 2015.

State Bar of Arizona lawyers answer family-law questions, Nov. 10, 2015.

On Tuesday, November 10, the State Bar of Arizona and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program. There, eight attorneys volunteered their time and expertise to answer viewers’ questions on family law issues.

The following update comes from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorEight attorneys volunteered their time:

  • Taylor Anderson, Anderson & Cabrera Law Group
  • Ryan Borges, The Borges Law Firm
  • Rebecca Browning, Browning Law Office
  • Tabitha Cabrera, Anderson & Cabrera Law Group
  • Craig Cherny, Canterbury Law Group
  • Kina Harding, The Harding Firm
  • Daniel Rodriguez, Diaz, Rodriguez & Associates
  • Jennifer Shick, Shick Law Offices

12 News logoThe lawyers answered 156 calls during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How do I file for a divorce? Do I need an attorney?
  • Can I stop paying alimony/spousal support?
  • How long do I have to be married to get alimony/spousal support?
  • How do I enforce court-ordered child support? Can I modify child support?
  • How do I modify a parenting plan/parenting time?
  • Do I have any rights as a grandparent?

Four of the eight attorneys were first-time volunteers. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated.

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.

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

Consumer assistance SBA 10-08-15

For this Monday morning, here is some heartening news from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona was one of many organizations who participated in ABC15’s “On the Road with Let Joe Know,” a consumer assistance event held on Thursday, October 8, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Tempe Marketplace. The Bar recruited volunteer lawyers who answered participants’ questions regarding consumer issues.

Topics covered included family law, employment law, construction law, and products liability.

There were five volunteer attorneys:

  • Denise Blommel, Denise M. Blommel PLLC
  • Dave Degnan, Degnan Law
  • Robert L. Greer, Baird Williams & Greer LLP
  • Maya Milovic, Law Office of Maya Milovic PLC
  • Javier Sobampo, The Sobampo Law Firm PLLC

The volunteer attorneys provided 52 one-on-one consultations during the two-and-a-half-hour phone bank.

Sample consumer questions:

  • Do I qualify for worker’s comp? How do I file for it?
  • What can I do for nonpayment of wages earned?
  • How do I enforce child support?
  • Do I qualify for spousal maintenance?
  • What do I do when a contractor abandons a job?
  • What can I do when a contractor provides defective workmanship?
  • My vehicle’s warranty isn’t being honored; what can I do?
  • Dealer won’t repair my vehicle although it is covered through an extended warranty; what can I do?

Joe Ducey, consumer reporter for ABC15, reported that more than 300 consumers were seen by more than 35 providers.

We thank ABC15 for including the State Bar of Arizona in this invaluable consumer event.

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:

An April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event at the Arizona Supreme Court gathered advocates and legal experts to addr4ess access to justice issues.

An April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event at the Arizona Supreme Court gathered advocates and legal experts to addr4ess access to justice issues.

Our offices will be closed for the Fourth of July holiday on Friday, July 3. But before I head for the hills, I’ll share one more post for this week, this one written by my prolific colleague Alberto Rodriguez.

His piece is in regard to a noteworthy event held earlier this spring. Arizona Forward was a gathering of people and organizations committed to access to justice. Held at the Arizona Supreme Court on April 3, 2015, speakers included American Bar Association President William C. Hubbard.

Now, the event organizers have released their report, which Alberto summarizes for us here (more event photos are at the end of this post; click to enlarge and to view them in a slideshow):

Speakers at the April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event included (L to R) State Bar CEO John Phelps; ABA President William Hubbard; Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales; State Bar Governor Jeff Willis; and State Bar President Richard Platt.

Speakers at the April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event included (L to R) State Bar CEO John Phelps; ABA President William Hubbard; Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales; State Bar Governor Jeff Willis; and State Bar President Richard Platt.

Legal professionals and community leaders are one step closer to solving the shortage of accessible legal services in Arizona. Arizona Forward, a day-long conference held in April that focused on finding new and better ways to deliver legal services, has released its findings, which included the following.

To move Arizona forward in the future delivery of legal services to its citizens, the significant changes in demographics, economies and technology must be considered by leaders from all sectors of the community-at-large.

  • (We) need to consider further augmentation of the legal services profession, beyond licensed document preparers, to include greater use of non-lawyers and paraprofessionals.
  • (We) need to communicate more effectively to those who need legal services about access to the legal system and recognize when legal advice is needed.
  • (We) must harness technology in every imaginable way to reach and assist those in need of legal services.

The underlying theme in the report was the need for increased communication. Advancements in technology will help to tackle this communication barrier. As technology continues to advance, it will play a key role in ensuring that it provides the gateway in linking those who need legal services to those who can provide it. Mobile and virtual technology are two elements being considered.

As Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales has said, “Having meaningful access to legal services is vital to fulfilling the promise of justice for all. The goal of Arizona Forward is to find new, innovative solutions that advance justice for all Arizonans.” That first step was taken, and the first goal met by the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, the American Bar Association and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, who co-sponsored the event, along with community leaders from across the state, was to identify the issues and offer attainable solutions.

For more information on Arizona Forward and to read the report, click here or contact Carrie Sherman at 602-340-7201. To learn more about the nationwide initiative led by the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, click here.

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