lawyer fear aba journal

Managing fear is simply part of a person’s life, experts say.

As we enter the most joyous—and most pressure-filled—time of the year, I hear from a lot of attorneys that their stress levels are reaching peak levels. As the end of the calendar year races toward us, so do obligations and deadlines, professional and personal.

To help counter that, today I share an ABA Journal article titled “How Lawyers Can Turn Fear Into an Ally.”

The piece by Kevin Davis includes these eye-opening sentences:

“Lawyers often are imprisoned by fear. They’re fearful that their cases are out of control. They’re fearful of looking foolish. They’re fearful of negotiating. They’re fearful of appearing weak. Even continuing legal education courses can contribute by making lawyers fear that they are not up to date on current practices or wary of the myriad number of things that can go wrong.”

Among the resources cited by Davis is a piece by John Lande titled “Escaping from Lawyers’ Prison of Fear.” It’s worth a look.

I previously shared a guest post by John, who is a law professor emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Law.

John Lande

John Lande

Here’s hoping these resources, and others, can keep the holiday fears at bay.

The lying-down desk eases your work and smooths our national path to a less-impressive future.

The lying-down desk eases your work and smooths our national path to a less-impressive future.

It’s Change of Venue Friday, so I recline in comfort as I draft this easygoing piece.

Unfortunately, my laptop is perched uncomfortably on my lap, and my heels rest painfully on the sharp edge of a tabletop. While I muse that this may be the very definition of “First World Problems,” furniture engineers (yes, it’s a thing) toil to answer the question, “How can we end this long dark chapter in human history?”

Did someone say “lying down desk”?

Yes, they did, America. In fact, more and more folks are talking about this new product from Altwork. Even the ABA Journal took note of this reclining wonder. Because lawyers need to take a load off.

Lying down is not just for science-fiction heroes, Altwork says. Everyone can recline.

Lying down is not just for science-fiction heroes, Altwork says. Everyone can recline.

But who would use such a thing—and how does it work?

As Mashable tells us,

“This workstation is being marketed towards programmers, designers, writers and anyone else who uses a computer as their primary working tool. The Altwork Station offers four modes, all configurable with buttons on the desk surface; standing, collaboration, regular and focus. Standing and regular are exactly what you’d expect and collaboration is simply turning your monitor on the built in arm to work with others. Focus mode is where it gets interesting though, as that’s where you can recline the chair to be completely horizontal, with the desk and monitor following suit.”

Read more about the $5,900 chair here.

Yes, I say fifty-nine hundred dollars. But the more I read about it, the more I’m horrified and convinced I should have one. O, comfortable efficiency, you are an attractive siren!

At home, this is what I thought a work chair looked like. (And this one was used in the filming of feature film "Durant's Never Closes"!)

At home, this is what I thought a work chair looked like. (And this one was used in the filming of feature film “Durant’s Never Closes”!)

And if you need to know more (as you decide whether I should be gifted a better writing set-up than my current one), here is a video describing the whole dealio.

Have a wonderful—and topsy-turvy—weekend.

Tucson attorney Ann Haralambie (photo by Chris Hinkle)

Tucson attorney Ann Haralambie (photo by Chris Hinkle)

A brief item on this Change of Venue Friday, one that congratulates an Arizona lawyer and that highlights a legal matter that is little noted.

Tucson attorney Ann Haralambie practices in child welfare and custody. That, paired with her experience as a former chair of the ABA Family Law Section’s Juvenile Law and Needs of Children Committee, made her an ideal person to quote in regard to the issue of “re-homing” adopted children: the re-placement of children from their adopted home into another situation.

As the ABA Journal story notes, those new placements may be with complete strangers and have been known to subject the children to abuse. Writes Leslie A. Gordon, “Often those re-homed children report gruesome tales of physical, sexual or emotional abuse by their new guardians.”

You can read the complete article here.

The piece explores the contrasting views of how such a problem should be resolved—and even how widespread the problem is. Should re-homing (outside the auspices of a court or agency) be criminalized? Or could that cause more problems than it solves? And should responses come from state legislatures, or from the U.S. Congress?

Well done on a concise, timely and thought-loaded article. Have a wonderful weekend.

I tend not to say much about the U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools. No offense to the schools that did well (or the opposite), but the rankings are a little goofy. Kind of like an ABA accreditation process that counts the number of hard-copy volumes a law school has, as if that is an important indicator of legal training. (I love books, but I think 1970 is calling, and they want their library back.)

The ranking process is, shall we say, opaque. It reminds me of the vaulted (and vaunted) formula Google uses to calculate news rankings. Somewhere in there is the secret sauce that will move schools up.

As I thought about that, I came across a Department of Defense PowerPoint chart (below) that “explains” pstabilization in Afghanistan. And some small quadrant of that represents the complexity that must occupy the waking hours of law school administrators. No wonder they rub their temples a lot.

complex chart afghanistan law school

It really is this complex to determine who trains lawyers the best?

Despite my skepticism for the process, a recent ABA Journal news story on the topic caught my eye, for a few reasons.

For one, it included a good Bloomberg video (posted below) on this year’s rankings. Clearly, there is no joy in some Mudvilles.

And second, the following sentence grabbed my attention: “Greater weight is now given for permanent, full-time jobs that require bar passage or for which a J.D. is an advantage.”

Really? I’ve been referred to as “disadvantaged.” But never the reverse. My job as a legal magazine editor has been recognized as more valuable?

I’ll alert my masters. And Accounting.

Hmmm. Maybe I should start to take those rankings more seriously.

You can read the whole news piece here.

Steven Keeva 2005

Steven Keeva, 2005

Yesterday we got the very sad news that esteemed editor and writer Steven Keeva passed away. Keeva was known for many things, but spurring a movement of lawyers with a book and his magazine columns cemented his legacy.

In 1999, he wrote Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life. Through that book and his other writing, he aimed to help lawyers find deeper meaning in a profession in which many had grown disillusioned.

Keeva died from the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s. He was 56.

He formerly served as an editor at the ABA Journal, which ran a heartfelt news story on Keeva by Debra Cassens Weiss yesterday.

Steven Keeva Transforming PracticesWeiss quotes lawyer and blogger J. Kim Wright:

“‘Dozens of people have told me that Steve saved their lives,’ Wright tells the ABA Journal. ‘That they were really all alone and hopeless, and they found his book or they found his column, and literally it saved their lives. He made that huge a difference, and left the planet so early.’”

(You can read more about J. Kim Wright here, and be sure to read her blog, Cutting Edge Law.)

Back in 2001, I had the pleasure to speak with Steve Keeva, as we sought permission to publish excerpts from his book. I found him to be a generous and warm man, one whose work we were privileged to publish in Arizona Attorney.

You can read those excerpts, along with a great story on attorney burnout by Tucson lawyer Peter Axelrod, here. (Peter’s own website can be found here.)

Rest in peace, Steve.

Arizona Attorney covers attorney burnout, July 2001

Arizona Attorney covers attorney burnout, July 2001

Let’s get right to it: I come to you, hat in hand. For those who don’t know that expression, let me explain.

It’s that time of year again when the ABA Journal seeks input on the best legal blogs in the United States. Their list from last year is here, and it includes some top-notch content, in a wide variety of practice areas (or in no practice area at all).

So my awkward moment comes down to this: If any reader wants to submit a brief “amici” (recommendation) in support of this blog, AZ Attorney, I would appreciate it. No pressure: The Journal’s editors make their own determination, and the amici are not counted like “votes,” so the brief submission form is just a way to bring a blog to their attention. No need to get mushy or wax poetic; a few kind words would do. (And no, Kathy, thanks, but spouses cannot nominate their partners!)

I have nominated other blogs myself (because that’s the kind of guy I am), and I can assure you that the process takes about 3 minutes.

The submission form is here. The deadline is this Friday, September 7. (Would it help if I mentioned that’s the day before my birthday? Hmm?)

And even if you don’t nominate this blog, you should consider nominating another of your own favorite legal blogs. Take a look at our rotating roster of bloggers in the Arizona Attorney Blog Network, available at our News Center. And the ABA Journal keeps its own extensive list here; look around and recommend a great blogger or two; they’d appreciate it.

ABA Journal cover preview (via former Journal editor @edadams)

Today, I send out a brief but heartfelt “Congratulations” to an Arizona lawyer who has made national headlines—in a good way!

This week, we learned that attorney Ruth Carter has been named a “Legal Rebel” by the ABA Journal. Although I strive not to spill much ink over other magazines’ competition results, I happily make an exception for Ruth.

You should go to the Journal’s Legal Rebels page (go ahead and give them the page views; they could use it!). There, the editors open by describing the kind of people they sought:

“Lawyers who are helping change the profession in ways both big and small. These are the innovators—the folks who’ve found a different path, some new way to blend the needs of their clients or their practice, or even their own needs of personal expression, into the way they practice the law.”

The editors searched high and low, and they found 11 people worthy of the Legal Rebel moniker. And how many are from Arizona? Just Ruth. And how many have ever been from Arizona, in the ranking’s history? Just Ruth.

Ruth Carter (photo by Don McPhee)

I have known Ruth for a few years, since when she was a law student. I’ve been pleased to see her grow into a confident practicing lawyer, one with her own practice and boisterous approach to the law.

Ruth has also written for us, on blogging. See the good advice she gives to bloggers here.

Well spoken as always, Ruth wrote her own reaction to the Legal Rebels announcement, posted on her firm website. I urge you to read it, and then to bookmark her page. It might come in handy to know a lawyer who has some rebel in her.

(You’ll probably also enjoy Ruth’s blog post describing her photo shoot for the ABA Journal.)

Ruth Carter (photo by Don McPhee)

Congratulations, Ruth—I continue to expect great things!

It’s that time of year again when the ABA Journal seeks input on the best legal blogs in the United States. Their list from last year is here, and it includes some terrific content.

Awkward moment: If any of you readers wants to submit a brief “amici”  (recommendation) in support of AZ Attorney, I would appreciate it. The Journal’s editors make their own determination (and the amici are not counted like “votes”), so the brief submission form is just a way to bring a blog to their attention. So no need to get mushy or wax poetic; a few kind words would do.

The submission form is here. The submission deadline is Friday, September 9.

And even if you are not inclined to name this blog, please consider submitting a recommendation for your own favorite legal blogs. We run a rotating roster of bloggers in the Arizona Attorney Blog Network, available at our News Center. And the ABA Journal keeps its own extensive list here; look around and recommend a great blogger or two; they’d appreciate it.

The winners from last year’s ABA Journal issue are here. Enjoy.

If there is a code of honor among blawgers (and I’m sure there is, for there is a code involved in all things law), then I am sure it requires this of me: to spread the news that finalists have been named in the ABA’s Blawg 100.

These, as you might have surmised, are the “best” law bloggers, as determined by the ABA Journal’s legion of editors. Now people far and wee (you, me, the finalists’ families and pets) get to winnow the field to the best of the best.

I have to admit that I am as surprised as you are that this very blog — AZ Attorney — was not selected. But gnashing our teeth and crying in our beer will get us nowhere (though the second path sounds appealing). Instead, we’ll forge ahead, read some blogs and cast some votes. And that is what you should do too. Do not dwell on the injustice heaped on our Grand Canyon State, or rend your garments in dismay. We shall be the better advocate for quality blogging by simply carrying on, focused outward, as always.

Oh, yes, the voting. You can go here to register and then cast your ballots.

No write-ins allowed (I already checked).

Happy reading.

Hon. Ron Reinstein (ret.) speaks at ASU Law School, Nov. 16, 2010

Yesterday, a program at ASU Law School turned a light on what may be one of the most important issues in law today.

“The White House Subcommittee on Forensic Science: Policies and Issues” was the title, and it covered developments—or the lack of them—that have followed on the nearly two years since the National Academy of Sciences issued a compelling report about the state of forensic science today.

(We covered the report’s release in Arizona Attorney in April 2009. You can read it here.)

The speaker was Ron Reinstein, former Maricopa County Superior Court Judge who now works at the Administrative Office of the Courts. His experience in the area is broad and deep, and he currently chairs the state’s Forensic Science Advisory Committee.

ASU’s Law & Science Student Association was the host, and it gave Reinstein 50 minutes to explain “what’s happening in the world of forensic science.” He did quite a job in his allotted time.

He admitted, though, that the White House Subcommittee is pretty stringent on what can and cannot be said about the group’s workings, at least until it issues its report. As he landed on his last slide, he said, “We’re only allowed to do that PowerPoint.”

Of course, he was able to explain far more than that about the world outside the subcommittee.

The takeaway message was that much work had been accomplished over the past year at the federal, state and local level. Unfortunately, that work has translated very little into changes in approach and operations in forensic labs. “To be honest,” he said, “I am not that encouraged about state government responses around the country.”

Even in terms of education, Reinstein admitted that few judges have read the NAS report, and many others are even unaware that it exists. A survey of Texas judges showed that only 22 percent knew anything about it. “That’s kind of scary,” Reinstein said.

Much that was proposed in the NAS Report is unlikely to come to pass, he said. That includes an effort to require that all forensic labs be independent of law enforcement agencies. “That was dead on arrival,” he said.

(For insight into why that is important, read an article in the November issue of the ABA Journal, titled “CSI Breakdown.” As it says, “Some police and prosecutors tend to view government-employed forensic scientists, including medical examiners, not as independent experts but as members of the prosecution’s ‘team.’” The article is here.)

Courts, too, have not taken a leadership position on forcing changes in the forensic science regimen. “Judges don’t feel comfortable taking the lead on this,” he explained, adding that there have been few challenges by defense counsel based on the NAS findings that would allow judges to rule on admissibility. (One exception he mentioned is Nancy Gertner, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. You can read more about her here.)

The speaker showed some silver lining in terms of education. He’s been pleased at the focus on the topic at Arizona Judicial Council conferences, and at the State Bar Convention. He said that people interested in the topic are watching to see what if anything the state’s new Attorney General, Tom Horne, and the Legislature adopt in regard to forensic science. And he is confident that “The Supreme Court wants to see change occur”; he mentioned Justices Hurwitz and Bales, and former Justice Ryan, as three who have indicated a strong desire to see positive change happen soon.

In the same vein, his Forensic Science Advisory Committee has developed a six-month course that will educate prosecutors and defense attorneys—25 of each—on all aspects of forensic science. It will meet weekly from January through May.

Look for more coverage in Arizona Attorney in 2011.

Here are more photos from the event.

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