the-future 2 road sign editorial calendar story ideasAs we head toward the end of August, I confront my annual challenge of writing an editorial calendar, this time for the magazine’s 2016.

Let’s get together, shall we?

As always, I benefit greatly from the insights of readers, who offer me ideas for content. Those ideas typically arise from:

  • New things happening in law practice
  • New niche practices that are growing
  • Crazy-important topics that legal publications have failed to cover in sufficient detail (or at all)

I’ve heard all such ideas, and following that, we really do strive to address those issues in the coming year.

So consider this an open invitation for your ideas, of all kinds. They are welcome anytime, but contacting me in the next few weeks would help ensure those ideas get into our formal editorial calendar. (Curious? You can see our 2015 calendar here.)

Write to me at

A sampling of all NABE's creatures, great and small. Pet Dog Cat

A sampling of all NABE’s creatures, great and small.

Gather enough battle-weary association communicators, and who knows what you’ll get?

Actually, we now know: #PetsofNABE (A link to the entire story via Storify is here.)

The hashtag idea arose at the annual meeting of the National Association of Bar Executives. At a luncheon banquet in the Chicago Hyatt Regency, more than a dozen folks shoehorned themselves around a table to discuss the NABE website—which we as a committee were charged to do.

Over the hour, we also chatted about the other NABE channels, including Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.

It was the Twitter that got us sidetracked. It’s always the Twitter.

I can’t (won’t) recall who first came up with the idea—though it would surprise no one if it turned out to be Kallie Donahoe and Sayre Happich of the Bar Association of San Francisco (just sayin’).

“What about a contest hashtag to engage people?” the chat began innocently enough. “Or what about just urging, I don’t know, pictures of your pets?”

Seminar-addled, the committee rapidly agreed to the experiment. We have the Twitter, we have the dogs (etc.), let’s get jiggy with it. Done. A hotel dessert has never tasted so sweet.

After that, I conveyed this hashtag notion to the NABE’s Web Editor, Brad Carr. Brad has been a legal association executive for decades, and therefore he: (1) has seen it all, and (2) is unflappable. Still, I thought he might be a tetch … flapped.

But no. He just listened and nodded (at least I think he nodded during our Arizona-Alabama phone call). On Friday morning, I awoke to the following tweet:

Would folks respond? Would they tear themselves away from their Friday duties to post their pets and to gaze lovingly at those of their colleagues?

I’m totally kidding right there. Of course they would.

As I mention in my Storify of the hashtag, #PetsofNABE may not have broken the Internet, but it did sneak onto its couch for a little bit.

The story exists here, but the hashtag lives. More animals are added all the time—and with it, the growing engagement of busy and talented people.

A serious tip of the hat to the pioneering Brad Carr and to the website committee that can’t stop ‘til it gets enough.

Have a wonderful—and pet-filled—weekend.

It’s always good to see an Arizona Justice in the news.

Last week, I mentioned a draft report from an Arizona Supreme Court committee that examines many elements of the State Bar of Arizona. And this week, task force chair and Arizona Justice Rebecca White Berch spoke on the PBS program Horizon about the group’s work.

Justice Berch also invited viewers to read the report and to send their own comments via email to

Justice Berch and Horizon provide the email for public comment on the task force report.

Justice Berch and Horizon provide the email for public comment on the task force report.

The task force’s website includes detail about its members, information about its many meetings, and a link to the draft report.

You can link directly to the report here.

On Horizon, Justice Berch discussed why the task force chose to keep a mandatory bar (with one dissent), and how important it is for all attorneys to pay for the various programs whether they use them or not.

I have a link to the Horizon program with the Justice Berch interview, though I hesitate to have you click it. AZPBS is notorious for posting a link that should work but really won’t be ready for days (<buffer> <buffer> <buffer>). Fingers crossed on this link.

Justice Rebecca White Berch speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, Aug. 18, 2015.

Justice Rebecca White Berch speaks with Horizon host Ted Simons, Aug. 18, 2015.

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:

Judiciary Considers Scrapping 'Ancient Documents' Rule

A question for trial lawyers today: Have you ever used the ancient documents exception to the hearsay rule?

I must say, I’ve never heard someone use it, as there’s usually another way to skin the cat. And if my impression is correct that its use is rare, then maybe having the rule be eliminated may not be a bad thing.

What got me thinking about this was a story this week about an examination of that very exception by some learned folks. Some on the federal judiciary’s evidence rules advisory committee fear that the growing prevalence of electronic documents—which essentially may last forever—may mean the exception swallows the rule.

As the news story reports, “Now that documents can be stored electronically for long periods of time, a committee of federal judges that reviews the evidence rules is worried courts will face a flood of requests to admit documents under the exception.”

One law professor who teaches evidence says she thinks this change is a good idea:

Professor Liesa Richter, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law

Professor Liesa Richter, Univ. of Oklahoma College of Law

“Age is no guarantee of reliability,” said the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s Liesa Richter. “Now that we have this flood of electronically stored information that never goes away—it doesn’t disappear ever—[there are] just so many factual assertions out there electronically that will be available for savvy lawyers to dig up and admit. I think it is a real problem and a real concern.”

U.S. District Judge William Sessions III chairs the advisory committee on evidence rules, and he says, “A document does not become reliable just because it is old; and a document does not magically become reliable enough to escape the rule against hearsay on the day it turns 20. The committee concluded that the exception has been tolerated because it has been used so infrequently, and usually because there is no other evidence on point.”

Judges and law professors coming together to agree there’s more to reliability than age? Never thought I’d see the day.

You can read the whole story here.

So what do you think? Tempest in a teapot? Or are there good reasons to scrap the “ancient documents” rule? Who knows? There may be a magazine article or guest blog post in your future!

grit-get-some-quote-1Update 8/17/15, 9:45 am: State Bar colleagues inform me that they have reached capacity for this event and are no longer accepting reservations. But I would like to hear feedback after the event from this who attend. Write to me at And I look forward to seeing you there.

This Thursday, there’s an event occurring that I’m happy to share (and attend). It’s titled “Finding Your True Grit: A Discussion on the Secrets of Success for Women Lawyers.”

Here is how the organizers describe it:

“How does your mindset impact your success in the workplace? Studies have shown that highly successful women lawyers have ‘grit’—the perseverance and passion for long term goals—and that an individual can learn to develop more grit. In this interactive session you will learn from distinguished and accomplished women lawyers what grit is and how to implement a grit approach in your career.”

This is a free event, but registration is requested by Wednesday, August 19.

Here is the detail about the discussion and dialogue among experts and audience members:

When: Thursday, August 20; program 1:00 – 4:00 pm; reception 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Where: National Bank of Arizona, 6001 N. 24th Street, Building 2, Phoenix 85016

Register here.

True Grit movie gif 1


  • Julie Arvo MacKenzie, Arizona Health Facilities Authority
  • Shawdy Banihashemi, Jaburg Wilk
  • Sonia Martinez, Law Office of Sonia Martinez
  • Lisa Maxie-Mullins, Office of the Attorney General
  • Hon. Patricia Orozco, Arizona Court of Appeals Div. One
  • Rosemarie Pena-Lynch, Office of the Legal Advocate
  • Alexia Peterson, DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC
  • Roberta Tepper, State Bar of Arizona
  • Moderator: Elena Nethers, State Bar of Arizona

True Grit movie gif 2

This program is presented by the State Bar of Arizona Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law and Young Lawyers Division and the Arizona Women Lawyers Association. This program is based on the Grit Project, created by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

It is sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and the Native American Bar Association of Arizona; and co-sponsored by the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, the State Bar’s Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law and Young Lawyers Division and National Bank of Arizona.

Questions: Elena Nethers, Diversity and Outreach Advisor, State Bar of Arizona, (602) 340-7393.

Tom Brady courtroom artist, panned online, apologizes

A Tom Brady courtroom artist was panned online and has apologized. Because priorities.

It takes a lot to get large media outfits interested on a deep level with the justice system. Despite how central our courts and laws are to every area of life, it usually takes a special element—like a notorious murderess or, say, a football player—to garner serious coverage.

Well, if you combine a famous baller with what’s widely perceived to be a visual fail, you’ve got a story the press wants to cover.

That’s what happened as New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady sat in a courtroom. And the story that emerged was about the lack of artistic justice he received from a New York Times sketch artist.

You can see the artwork above. While the Patriots fans among my readers cry deep and abiding Tom Brady tears, I’ll simply say, first … I have always been a big fan of the courtroom sketch artist, and I’ve covered their exploits before. Whether you’re drawing John Gotti, Tom Brady, or some other dissembler (sorry to bring on more tears, Pats fans), the job of the courtroom artist is a tough one.

Obergefell v. Hodges sketch by Arthur Lien.

Obergefell v. Hodges sketch by Arthur Lien.

So evocative can a courtroom sketch be that we’ll be running one (by Arthur Lien) in the next Arizona Attorney Magazine. It depicts the Supreme Court as the ruling in the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges was announced. (And yes, we paid Art for his work!)

That’s why the NYT story irked as much as it informed. Brady was in federal court appealing his four-game suspension (The injustice! The horror!), and artist Jane Rosenberg did her best to quickly capture the essence of the sullied QB.

And, O the anger her work wrought, as people emerged to impugn her skill and wax poetic about Brady’s baby-faced visage.

Ultimately, the twittersphere would have its justice, as Rosenberg offered an apology of sorts:

“I’m getting bad criticism that I made him look like Lurch,” she said, referring to the Addams Family character. “And obviously I apologize to Tom Brady for not making him as good-looking as he is.”

Hey, Ms. Rosenberg, I’ve got a suggestion: Apologize for nothing. NOTHING.

After all, we have to be open to a deeper possibility. As an artist, Rosenberg was tapping a deep well of resonance. Maybe she drew not what was precisely before her, but what lay beneath.

Oliver Wilde offers an analogue in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Who’s to say what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Oliver Wilde's Dorian Gray is a pretty-boy, but the painting reveals a deeper story.

Oliver Wilde’s Dorian Gray is a pretty-boy, but the painting reveals a deeper story.

And I reached deep within and tried my own hand at drawing a likeness of Tom Brady, but this is the best I could do.

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Cue the ire of the Patriots’ fans and Brady defenders (some of whom—men and women both—have told me, “He’s too cute to be guilty,” reminding me the jury system—and the human race—is a crap shoot).

I offer a hat-tip to Tim Chester of Mashable for the story link.

Here’s wishing you a great—and fully inflated—weekend.


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