The Anxious Lawyer by Jeena Cho Karen Gifford book cover

In the current issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, a book review explores what attorneys can learn about themselves and their world via meditation.

If you’re unsure about that idea and cotton toward the tried and true, let’s remember that meditation has been around for millennia. So it should be acceptable, even to your firm’s management committee. Just sayin’.

The review author is attorney Juliet Peters, and you can read the entire review here.

And the book co-authors are Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford—lawyers themselves, in case lawyers are the only ones you trust with your self-improvement.

Happily, Jeena will be a panelist on a program I’m co-producing in just a few weeks. Unhappily, the program will be in Miami, not Phoenix. But if you happen to be at the midyear meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives, drop in! Or if you’re in the environs that week for the ABA meeting, drop me a line at arizona.attorney@azbar.org, or tweet to me @azatty. It’d be great to meet and compare mindfulness strategies! (Spoiler alert: You’ve got me beat, and I don’t even know you.)

Here is a link to the conference. And here is a description of the panel, titled “Mindful Lawyer, Mindful Bar,” which also features Jayne Reardon, Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism:

“Mindfulness has become top-of-mind for many people, including your members. Even as work–life balance, meditation, and increased fulfillment and satisfaction have become a more central part of a professional’s goals, those aspirations may seem harder than ever to achieve. Our panelists have learned through law and life experience how challenging incorporating practices such as self-care and mindfulness can be—but they have discovered the many wonderful benefits of these practices, including more joy and satisfaction. They will talk about the importance of mindfulness for the attorney. They also will offer practical tips and next steps to create robust mindfulness programs at your bar.”

See you in Miami … or wherever thoughtful lawyers gather.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

This is annual Convention week at the State Bar of Arizona. As always, a large selection of educational seminars (and less-educational activities) are packed into the three-day event held at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass.

More detail about the Convention is here.

As always, Arizona Attorney Magazine staff (yes, that’s me) will cover the annual event.

And as in the past, we will not print a once-a-day hard-copy “Convention Daily.” Instead, I’ll cover Convention news closer to real time, via the editor’s blog and social media. We will use multiple channels to communicate what’s going on. But the surest way to be sure you see everything is to follow me on Twitter. In Twitter, I’m @azatty. You can view all the evolving content here (or at http://twitter.com/azatty, to be specific). I will be tagging everything with the hashtag #azbarcon – so be sure to search for that.

Want to participate? Send me brief stories or story suggestions. Or if you have convention photos, we’d be glad to share them with readers.

And don’t forget to tweet from convention. Use the hashtag #azbarcon.

Questions or suggestions? Reach me, the Editor, Tim Eigo, on-site at the Sheraton, at 602-908-6991 or via arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And always feel free to stroll up and say hello. I’ll be hiking all over the hotel to cover the goings-on. Or you may catch me at the Arizona Attorney table in the Exhibitor area. If you miss me there, leave your card or a note.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" may be informative reading in a presidential election year.

Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” may be informative reading in a presidential election year.

I haven’t read the “new” book by Harper Lee titled “Go Set a Watchman.” Should I? Have you? Will you?

If the author’s name doesn’t ring bells, her more prominent book’s title may, for “To Kill a Mockingbird” has moved generations of readers and led to a fabulously successful movie version. (Though it took me quite a while to get around to reading it, as I described here.) The film was impactful enough that the State Bar of Arizona screened it for a fund-raising evening a few years ago.

Maybe the power of “Mockingbird” is most clearly viewed through the upset people have over the possibility of a newly released book that includes the character Atticus Finch. Simply put, they love that character, and anything that sullies or even complicates their view of the lawyer who does good, best as he can, is not something they want to engage with.

I’ll admit, I’ve at least somewhat shared that view. Besides the fact that sequels usually pale in comparison to the original, I also felt that there are few enough portrayals of compassionate lawyers. Can’t we keep Atticus just as he is? Please?

Two things changed my mind. One was a great magazine story (let’s hear it for the power of magazines). And the other was a political town hall.

For the ABA Journal, Deborah Cassens Weiss examines some previous scholarship about “Mockingbird” in light of the release of “Watchman.”

As Weiss ends her article:

“Though Watchman isn’t Harper Lee’s best work, [Harvard Law Professor Randall] Kennedy says, it ‘does reveal more starkly the complexity of Atticus Finch, her most admired character. Go Set a Watchman demands that its readers abandon the immature sentimentality ingrained by middle school lessons about the nobility of the white savior and the mesmerizing performance of Gregory Peck in the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.’”

Ouch. Is sentimentality blocking readers from a fuller and truer understanding of American history? Chagrined, we must admit that such a thing has happened time and again. So am I and others doing that when we seal our “favorite” Atticus in amber?

One clue that the scholars are on the right track is visible when you read the comments following the ABA Journal story. As the saying goes, Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

The second element that leads me to get over my bromance with Atticus Finch occurred this past Saturday, at a town hall featuring two presidential candidates.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Phoenix, Ariz., July 16 2015.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Phoenix, Ariz., July 16 2015.

I attended portions of the Netroots Nation annual conference mainly to cover the three or so “legalish” panel discussions they scheduled, featuring topics like redistricting and Supreme Court jurisprudence. But in the process, I managed to get into the Phoenix Convention Center room where journalist Jose Antonio Vargas would interview U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, each vying for the Democratic nomination.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Phoenix, Ariz., July 18, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Phoenix, Ariz., July 18, 2015

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Phoenix, Ariz., July 18, 2015

Gov. Martin O’Malley, Phoenix, Ariz., July 18, 2015

What I and 3,000 of my new friends expected was a moderated discussion. What we got was a highly effective staged protest by “Black Lives Matter” activists. About five minutes into the dialogue with O’Malley, activists rose from their seats or came from the back of the room, demanding to be heard.

You may have read about the event in the national news, for example, here and here.

Black Lives Matter activist Tia Oso confronts Gov. Martin O'Malley, July 18, 2015

Black Lives Matter activist Tia Oso confronts Gov. Martin O’Malley, July 18, 2015

What surprised was not that there was a protest—after all, this has been a year marked by flash-points in the intersection of policing and race. What surprised were the insufficient responses of the candidates. And that was followed by the irritation of many in the audience that the protestors spoke up at all, or for so long, or so stridently. And I heard from many audience members who professed to be pleased with their candidates’ responses, “given the circumstances.”

(For an insightful analysis of the Saturday event, read attorney Bob Lord, who managed to speak with a protest organizer.)

But in the era of Ferguson—and of Sandra Bland and Tamir Rice and Eric Garner and Freddie Gray and Michael Brown—it takes a special kind of denial to insist that the view of your candidate not be disturbed, distorted or made more complex by Saturday’s events. Both candidates may have had smart and compassionate things to say about race, the justice system, and people’s lives. But neither said those things. That is worth noting. They had the past tumultuous year-plus to think over their response to these tragedies. They did not take that opportunity. That is worth noting.

One thing that tells me is that the candidates and their staffs should immediately read the report issued just last week on the topic from the ABA and the NAACP. I covered it here.

So for those reasons and more, I’ll get a copy of “Go Set a Watchman.” Sure, the later years of Atticus may show a man who is not a shining beacon of enlightened views. But, sometime between now and a presidential election, we all should grow a little more open to complexity—in our novels, in our history, and in our public policy.

Let me know if you’re reading the book, and what you think. Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

In the meantime, here are some of my tweets from the town hall. You can follow me and read more of my coverage at @azatty.

Legal Marketing Association logoThis Friday, I have the pleasure of moderating a great annual event: a panel of corporate counsel at a lunchtime gathering of the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association.

Before I get to the meat of the matter, be sure to read and register here (the speaker names are at this end of this post).

And now, 3 reasons you should be there on Friday:

1. Your question could be asked.

That’s right. I am seeking (here and via Twitter) great questions to put to attorneys who are in-house counsel at companies and nonprofits. What do you want to know about their work life? Curious how to get hired, in-house or as outside counsel? Secretly yearn to know how not to get fired in either of those two roles? Send me your question(s) to arizona.attorney@azbar.org (or tweet it to me @azatty).

2. These people are canaries.

No, I am not insulting them with a bird reference. I merely analogize them to the proverbial canary in a coal mine. There, the little birds could spot trouble before humans could—and communicated it in a disconcerting way.

AzAt 2011 GC panel headline corporate counsel legal marketing associationCorporate counsel are likewise on the leading edge—of the legal profession’s economy. As purchasers of outside legal services, they are extremely well informed about the state of things. As a result, they hire more, hire less, and examine bills with a fine-tooth comb (or whatever the opposite of that is). They also can gauge our profession by the number of others gunning for their positions. So if you’re looking for guidance on how the legal profession is emerging (or not) from a bad recession, listening to a corporate counsel is a pretty good strategy.

3. They may talk about you.

Well, OK, not exactly you. But I have asked the panelists to consider some anecdotes (omitting names, of course) that explore some of the great things outside counsel have done. But I also asked for their cautionary tales, those that arise out of law firm fails. Nervous-making and exciting all at once, right? That’s our goal.

So, once more with the registration link. I hope to see you there.

And here are the great speakers on tap:

Panelists:

  • Karim Adatia – Insight, Associate General Counsel & Director, Legal (Global Sales, Corporate and IP)
  • Steve Beaver – Aspect, Senior Vice President & General Counsel
  • Lukas Grabiec – Microchip Technology Inc., Senior Corporate Counsel
  • Carmen Neuberger – Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel