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Should robots be granted a limited legal personhood? It might be good for all of us, says one lawyer-commentator. (photo: Wikimedia Commons).

Should robots be granted a limited legal personhood? It might be good for all of us, says one lawyer-commentator. (photo: Wikimedia Commons).

This Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council takes up suggested changes to the City code that would regulate the use of unmanned aerial systems—drones—in city parks. Based on some public debate I’ve heard about the issue, anything adopted is likely to be based little on science and much on stalling technology we don’t yet understand. But whatever. Somewhere, the FAA chuckles.

(I also have to wonder about the role drone restrictions will play in the STEM gap that already affects urban neighborhoods more than suburban ones. Commentary I’ve heard suggested that urban areas are simply “too congested” for recreational or other drone use, and they should be allowed only in the suburbs. So here would be another cutting-edge technology kept far away from urban schoolkids. I’m guessing future college freshmen will be less than competitive touting their kite-flying skills.)

This morning I read an interesting essay that explores humans’ convoluted relationship with machines. It may go some way toward explaining our often knee-jerk reaction against these strange contraptions that can do so much that we cannot.

Written by a Boston lawyer, the essay is part of a nationwide project called Future Tense that includes Arizona State University—it’s worth keeping track of. (As they describe it, “Future Tense [is] a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate.”)

Attorney John Frank Weaver analogizes humans’ evolving view of animal protections and suggests a similar approach would benefit us in regard to machines. Like animals, machines and how we treat them say a lot about us, and those interactions have moral implications. And it’s not just the “cute” animals that need legal protections, he argues. We also need to safeguard the more ugly machines. As he writes:

“[I]n focusing on laws that protect how we socialize with anthropomorphized robots, we need to make sure not to ignore plainer robots. They need legal protections, too. In fact, I have gone so far as to recommend that we should grant them limited legal personhood. It’s not because we should empathize with them—it’s because laws governing interactions with ugly bots could improve their utility and benefit to humans.”

Did someone say drone?

Read the whole piece here.

Ugly robots deserve protection and maybe some love too

Ugly robots (even drones) deserve protection and maybe some love too.

Arizona Corporate Counsel Awaards logo

Next Thursday, an annual awards banquet will honor exemplary corporate counsel. In a calendar year filled with awards dinners, this one is always a great ticket.

Former Arizona Attorney General will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 14, 2016, banquet honoring the winners of the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

Former Arizona Attorney General will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 14, 2016, banquet honoring the winners of the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

I’ve written before about the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards, notable for great venues, short speeches, and a keynote by former Attorney General Grant Woods that kicks ass and takes names. Get there if you can, or hear the jokes secondhand the next day by your colleagues who know where to spend their free time.

The event details are posted here, and as of today, it says the event is sold out. But keep checking (or call in a favor if you’ve got one). It’s worth the effort.

Among the event’s aspects that intrigue me is its new location, for it will be held at the Camby Hotel in Phoenix. If you don’t know the Camby, that’s because it’s brand new and a relaunch of the longtime Ritz-Carlton in the Biltmore area. I’m curious to see what kind of modern and urbane touches the “Autograph Collection Hotel” group brings to the property.

My curiosity led me to click on images of the hotel rooms. And there, on a bathroom wall, is an image that may be a subtle ploy to help attorneys feel at home: a toy shark aloft and clipped to a clothesline. Against the gray sky, the shark soars, unrepentant and free.

Fly, corporate counsel. Fly!

Camby_Accomodations_Bathroom shark 2

Shark gracing the walls of a Camby bathroom.

Anyway, I hope to see you there. Have a great—and predator-free—weekend.

pass the torch succession planning for lawyers

“Effective January 1, 2016, Arizona lawyers must have a succession plan. Yes, that’s must.”

And so opens a helpful blog post written by Arizona ethics expert Patricia Sallen. Yes, you should read the rest, here. And then set up your own succession plan. And don’t forget to follow her blog for valuable tips and updates.

Meanwhile, bookmark and read another article by Pat on recent law-practice rule changes, which we published in the January issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

pass the torch lawyer succession planning wrestling pdO0XZE

Succession planning for lawyers requires careful thought, and it’s all in the hand-off.

No, it's not Trump Tower, but close. Welcome to Orlando, site of the 2015 meeting of the NABE Communications Section.

No, it’s not Trump Tower, but close. Welcome to Orlando, site of the 2015 meeting of the NABE Communications Section.

In early October, a few of us from Arizona Attorney Magazine had the opportunity to present at a national conference. Today, I’m happy to share great recaps of those two presentations.

Karen Holub, our Art Director, and I spoke at the annual conference of the National Association of Bar Executives Communications Section. It was held in Orlando, which is a (head) trip of its own.

My plenary presentation was on the topic of “the art of presenting.” It was a blast, and I was privileged to share the podium with the talented and long-suffering Catherine Sanders Reach of the Chicago Bar Association. She provided invaluable content to the banquet room of communicators. And I provided … well, why don’t you read the terrific coverage we got from the talented and generous writer Marilyn Cavicchia.

Attendees gather to hear us talk about the art of presenting.

Attendees gather to hear us talk about the art of presenting.

True professional Catherine Sanders Reach exudes patience while Communications Section Chair Russell Rawlings and I trade picture-taking.

True professional Catherine Sanders Reach exudes patience while Communications Section Chair Russell Rawlings and I trade picture-taking.

The day before, Karen presented with terrific colleagues from San Francisco and Nashville on design for the non-designer. Her presentation was funny and valuable, and she simply crushed it. Here’s how Marilyn described that session.

And here is a photo of Karen presenting.

Karen Holub explains design for a roomful of non-designers. She spoke slowly.

Karen Holub explains design for a roomful of non-designers. She spoke slowly.

Her slides were eye-opening (which is what you want in slides). Among my favorites was this one, which chastised all of us in legal publications for our often too-easy use of images like gavels (and scales of justice, omigod the scales) to illustrate complex concepts. Try harder, she suggested, and you’ll be surprised what can happen.

Enough with the gavels in legal journalism, ok?

Enough with the gavels in legal journalism, ok?

Finally, at the Friday closing luncheon, those of us in the State Bar of Arizona were recognized for professional achievement. My terrific colleague Alberto Rodriguez accepted an award for the Bar’s “Finish the Ballot” campaign. And I got an award for leadership.

Alberto Rodriguez and I with awards from the National Association of Bar Executives, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 2, 2015.

Alberto Rodriguez and I with awards from the National Association of Bar Executives, Orlando, Fla., Oct. 2, 2015.

You can read more about the honors here.

Alberto Rodriguez, State Bar of Arizona, right, and fellow honorees at the National Association Of Bar Executives Communications Section workshop, Oct. 2, 2015.

Alberto Rodriguez, State Bar of Arizona, right, and fellow honorees at the National Association Of Bar Executives Communications Section workshop, Oct. 2, 2015.

Over time, I’ve learned that presenting and participating in professional service yield great benefits, and that the considerable time we put in garners much in return. I hope you agree.

Congratulations to my great fellow-workers on your achievements and willingness to lead.

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

We all have our guilty pleasures, and I confess one of mine is legal predictions.

Based on the number of folks who share with me their thoughts on which firms will next merge or go belly up, I cannot be the only one.

But among the less painful predictions are those related to what will happen to legal practice areas: Which will grow—and which will shrink—in the coming year.

Among those accomplished at the prognostication task is Bob Denney. His posts with his previews are much anticipated—and shared.

So that’s what I do today. Here are his best estimates for practice area changes in 2016.

For those in too big a hurry to click, here are a few of his predicted areas of growth: cybersecurity, white-collar crime, mergers & acquisitions, and employment & labor. Keep reading here.

Do you agree? Are you seeing the same thing? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.orgmaybe there’s a story in it.

What’s Hot and What’s Not In The Legal Profession Hot_tamales

OK, I give in to the “hotness” analogy: What’s hot and what’s not In the legal profession?

And here are a few other fascinating bits from Bob Denney:

Social media. Except for Facebook, it continues to be hot. Firm websites and blogs are still among the most effective online means for reaching in-houHot and Not law practice areasse counsel and potential clients, but some marketing experts say they may be surpassed by …

Content syndicators and aggregators. Platforms like JDSupra, Mondaq and even LinkedIn enable a firm to push its content to other sites and services.

Advertising. Whether online, print, TV, radio, billboards or even bus exteriors, advertising continues to be the principal marketing strategy for personal injury lawyers as well as others.

Millennials. Hiring, training and retaining them, as staff as well as lawyers, will continue to be a challenge because many of them chafe against the traditional law firm culture. Yet they are the future of the legal profession.

Departures. Although lateral hiring continues to be a hot growth strategy for many firms, most is at the partner level because firms want the book of business laterals can bring with them. However, fueled to a great degree by the expansion of corporate legal departments, law firm associates and even partners without a large book of business are departing to join legal departments. Why? The workload and the compensation are generally more consistent, without the pressure to record high billable hours and originate business. Translation: The quality of life is better.

Mindfulness movement. There are now reportedly at least two dozen law schools that offer for-credit courses in this Zen-inspired blend of meditation, breathing exercises and focus techniques, which are supported by companies such as Google and General Mills. At least one law firm and the legal department of a major corporation retain a mindfulness coach.

Bar exam scores. The average score on the 2015 summer bar exams reached its lowest level since 1988. Some law school deans have said the test was unfair and that a software glitch made it harder to submit test results. The president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which created the multiple-choice section of the test, replied that law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who may encounter difficulty in taking the exam. And, of course, applications to law schools have been declining.

Central American migrants in southern Mexico, 2008 (Photo: Peter Haden, Wikimedia Commons).

Central American migrants in southern Mexico, 2008 (Photo: Peter Haden, Wikimedia Commons).

About a month ago, I was pleased to share some research that examines “the lived experiences of undocumented immigrants.” Written by Dr. Emily Bashah and colleagues, it yielded a view into a topic that is too little addressed—the challenges faced by Latinas in their legal and geographic journey.

I am happy to share a second post with you today, also by Dr. Bashah, who lives and works here in Arizona. It is a follow-up to her previous coverage, and it examines “the immigrant women’s core narrative” in Psychology Today.

You’ll see that what these researchers seek to do is to make visible the migrants’ own stories, which rarely factor into public policy dialogues. Here is how the post opens (citations omitted here):

Dr. Emily Bashah

Dr. Emily Bashah

“Undocumented Latinas who cross the Southwestern border into the United States face a myriad of challenges. Among the risks psychological research has identified: trauma, abuse, violence, xenophobia, acculturative stress …, oppression, and lack of legal protection. With that in mind, we wanted to understand the lived experiences of undocumented Latinas who were detained and deported, with particular focus on the challenges they faced and the resiliency that facilitated their survival. The Kino Border Initiative, an organization that provides humanitarian aid in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, supplied a randomized sample … of testimonials from deported Latinas living in a women’s shelter within 2010-2011.”

“The following passages are a compilation of major themes generated from the women’s stories. Identifying information has been redacted to protect respondents’ confidentiality, while also maintaining the richness of qualitative testimonials in original narrative form.”

Read the whole post here.

If you have thoughts on how we could cover the legal aspects of immigration in a thoughtful and compelling way, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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!

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