When it comes to Internet scams, the criminal minds behind the scenes use a tried-and-true approach: the shotgun approach.

Why develop a strategy to target those who may be most susceptible to scams when you have the ability to send your devious disaster to thousands or tens of thousands of recipients. The law of averages means that a significant number will bite.

And no, lawyers are not immune to clicking through—to a perilous result.

This past month, an email came sailing through our offices. And judging by the email addresses that were visible in the recipient line, a lot of lawyers received it too. I whited out sensitive items, but here’s what we saw (click to make it larger):

And the phone number at the bottom? It probably works. So don’t take it as reassuring that a real person answers the phone; he or she is likely there to take your money, too.

You know who is pretty adept at undermining scams like this? The Internal Revenue Service. Here is how they explain phishing:

“Phishing (as in “fishing for information” and “hooking” victims) is a scam where Internet fraudsters send e-mail messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity. Current scams include phony e-mails which claim to come from the IRS and which lure the victims into the scam by telling them that they are due a tax refund.

“The good news is that you can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS, you can relay that e-mail to a new IRS mailbox, phishing@irs.gov. Follow instructions in the link below for sending the bogus e-mail to ensure that it retains critical elements found in the original e-mail. The IRS can use the information, URLs and links in the suspicious e-mails you send to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites. Unfortunately, due to the expected volume, the IRS will not be able to acknowledge receipt or respond to you.”

For more detailed instructions from the IRS, click here.

At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we’ve covered scams like this before. Here is a column from then-State Bar President Alan Bayham Jr. on a sophisticated pitch that involved a supposedly genuine check for legal services. (It’s also visible below.)

A good story—plus video—just ran in the Capitol Times on the subject of merit selection of judges—if we do say so ourselves.

The back-patting has nothing to do with any work done by me or Arizona Attorney Magazine. It arises from the fact the John Phelps, the State Bar of Arizona CEO, was interviewed and featured prominently in the article. In fact, he was videotaped for an interview. Take a look.

The story and photo are by Cronkite News Service writer Channing Turner. (You can read the story here.)

He reports that a compromise—SCR 1001—was hammered out that would allow the State Bar to continue to have a role—albeit diminished—in the selection of those who would serve on the judicial nominating commissions. Who in turn would recommend names of judicial candidates to the Arizona Governor. Who in turn would make a judge appointment.

The Bar’s role is attenuated, yes, but as John Phelps says, the alternative was that the Bar would have had no role to play in judicial selection. Given that Arizona’s attorneys are the ones who interact most regularly with state court judges, that would have been an unfortunate result.

The compromise will head to the ballot for an up or down vote by Arizonans.

As I said, the Cronkite reporter’s story was a good one. But inquiring viewers have to ask: As he taped and interviewed, did he spy anything out of the ordinary in John Phelps’s office? Did anything surprising just beyond John’s right shoulder catch the reporter’s eye?

Was that … a crown?

Hmmm. As John Phelps was communicating the position that the Bar is not elitist and out of touch, there sat a bejeweled crown on his credenza. (OK, it’s a “cabinet,” but “credenza” sounds more elitist.)

Well, hold up. I am not here to blow the lid off a Bar that is a mini-Versailles in the desert. It is not. There is a perfectly good explanation. Honest.

As the Royal WeddingTM approached last Friday, some unnamed souls thought it would heighten the revelry at the Bar’s Board of Governors meeting held the same day to offer the headgear—temporarily—to the Bar’s own President, Alan Bayham Jr. Kind of Will + Kate + State Bar.

John Phelps, kingmaker, speaks, as Alan Bayham abdicates.

At the appointed moment, John Phelps did indeed offer Alan the crown. He donned it in good spirits, but swept it off his royal head before I was able to snap a photo—though I did manage to catch Alan setting it down on the Board table. Uneasy lies the head, y’know.

And no. No one said, Let them eat cake.

We’ll have more on SCR 1001 as it moves toward the November ballot.

Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch at Law School for Legislators, Jan. 6, 2011

Last Thursday, January 6, the State Bar of Arizona hosted its fifth annual Law School for Legislators. I attended for the first time, and it was an insightful way to kick off a new legislative session, especially for the freshmen who are beginning their first term.

Held every two years at the House of Representatives, the school covers a variety of topics, including federal–state relations, how judges decide cases, and how the path can always be made smoother between branches of government.

Presenting were State Bar President Alan Bayham Jr. Bar CEO/ED John Phelps, Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, and lawyer (and former newsman) Michael Grant. Keeping speakers on track was the Bar’s Chief Communications Officer, Rick DeBruhl. And Kathleen Lundgren, the Bar’s longtime Government Relations guru, put the event together.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (ret.) and Arizona Justice Scott Bales, Law School for Legislators, Jan. 6, 2011

Following the morning session, attendees strolled down the Capitol Mall into the Supreme Court. (Surprisingly but perhaps symbolic, there is no sidewalk that takes you directly between the Legislature and the Court. The path meanders, and more than one walker teetered on a curb, looked for oncoming cars, and dashed across the street. Thus the phrase “checks and balances.”)

At the Court, attendees enjoyed lunch while keynote speaker Sandra Day O’Connor addressed them.

Everyone recalls O’Connor as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. But she reminded those gathered that she had been a legislator herself. Thus, she was able to sympathize with the lawmakers and the hard road that lay ahead of them in regard to the budget.

In that vein, she told them that she was surprised to see that the state’s restrooms were closed for business on the freeways throughout Arizona.

“There must be some way to get those open again.” Justice O’Connor said. “Goodness. Maybe make them pay-as-you-go. Think about that, please.”

She told the legislators that she did not envy them the job of balancing a budget that is reported to be more than $1 billion out of whack.

“Maybe you’ll find a path. I hope so.”

She added her memory of the many affiliated tasks that lawmakers must take up.

“I remember being annoyed that the Legislature had to make the bola tie the official state neckwear. ‘Is that what we’re here for?’ I asked. I guess so.”

O’Connor ended her remarks by talking about her appointment to the Court by President Ronald Reagan. “It was a shock” when Reagan telephoned her, she said, and not an entirely welcome one. Though gratified to be selected, she did not look forward to relocating her family back east.

But when she recently attended oral argument at the Court as a spectator, she found reason to be pleased with the number of women Justices.

U.S. Supreme Court, 2010

“I looked and saw a woman on the far right, and a woman on the far left, and a woman in the middle. It was an amazing sight, and I’m glad that we’ve graduated to that level.”

More photos from the event are here on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

New Leadership Team

Tuesday’s Board of Governors meeting included a short break—for a photo shoot.

While the professional photographer hired by the State Bar worked tirelessly to get some official portraits of the Board and the new officer team, I snapped my own lower-quality shots.

Here is a photo of the full Board for the 2010-11 year.

State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors, 2010-11

And here are some shots of the leadership team.

State Bar 2010-11 leaders: Back, L to R: Secretary-Treasurer Richard T. Platt, President Alan P. Bayham Jr., Second VP Whitney Cunningham. Seated, L to R: President-Elect Joseph A. Kanefield, First VP Amelia Craig Cramer

State Bar 2010-11 leaders (sans jackets): Back, L to R: Secretary-Treasurer Richard T. Platt, President Alan P. Bayham Jr., Second VP Whitney Cunningham. Seated, L to R: President-Elect Joseph A. Kanefield, First VP Amelia Craig Cramer

Thanks

Bar President Ray Hanna and work by Lon McGargy

President Ray Hanna presided over his last meeting of the Board of Governors, and ended that meeting by thanking his colleagues.

He began by thanking Immediate Past President Ed Novak. Hanna said, “Because Ed came before me, it was a far easier stone to roll up the mountain than if had he not done so much work.”

Novak spoke briefly about his years on the Board.

“On any great board, we learn to agree despite our disagreements. I’ve had many opportunities over the years to have disagreements with many of you, but we’ve never taken it personally, and I think the Bar benefits from those disagreements.”

He ended by saying, “I applaud all of you for helping all of the members for the 11 years I’ve been on the board.”

President Hanna also praised Roger Contreras, who leaves the Board after a failed re-election bid. Contreras’ words of advice were few: “Be kind to each other.” He also spoke highly of State Bar staff.

Also thanked by Hanna were outgoing YLD President Sam Saks and public member Emily Johnston.

Johnston recalled last year, when she saw a cell from an animated movie that contained a small mouse pulling a large elephant up a hill. “That mouse is sometimes like life,” she said, “and like life on the Board of Governors. Every one of you has inspired me.”

Finally, soon-to-be Bar President Alan Bayham Jr. thanked Ray Hanna for his service.

Of Hanna Bayham said, “I have never met anyone as able to appreciate hard issues and to do it with great humor and perspective. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

Among the gifts presented to Ray Hanna was a print of an old-west work by artist Lon McGargy, considered by some as the father of Arizona Western art (and the “Lon” of “Lon’s at the Hermosa”).

L to R: Ray Hanna, Ed Novak
Ed Novak