ASU Center for Law and Society, Phoenix (Courtesy ASU)

ASU Center for Law and Society, Phoenix (Courtesy ASU)

This evening, ASU opens its newest venture in downtown Phoenix, the $129 million Center for Law and Society.

The new six-story building will house multiple uses, including the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, which has moved to Phoenix from the Tempe campus.

I went on a preview tour last week, and the building is impressive in many ways. Here is the Arizona Republic’s article on the building.

Reading room, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Reading room, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

At the preview, architect Tomas Rossant of Ennead Architects described the “thesis of the building” as connecting the citizens of Arizona to the law. He said the structure, sited in the block southeast of the corner of First Street and Taylor, will be a focal point for the downtown campus.

Rossant said the goal was to make the building “completely open, free, and democratic. This will be the most publicly accessible law school in the nation.”

“We want this place to supplement City Hall as the location people come to gather, redress grievances, and engage as citizens.”

Through the architecture and its accessibility, Rossant said, we are “trying to tell the public that the law belongs to you.”

ASU's Tom Williams speaks during a media tour of the Center for Law and Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

ASU’s Tom Williams speaks during a media tour of the Center for Law and Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

At the tour, ASU’s Thomas Williams, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and the institution, said, “We will never have more marble than Yale or more Ivy than Harvard. But that’s not who we are. We’re looking to the future, and we’re ready to experience new things, and pivot and try again when we have to.”

Architect Tomas Rossant (left) and ASU's Tom Williams lead a media tour of the new Center for Law and Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

Architect Tomas Rossant (left) and ASU’s Tom Williams lead a media tour of the new Center for Law and Society, Aug. 10, 2016.

One of the driving forces of the new building will be to connect people through technology. In fact, the building has a dedicated app created by the company Unified Field. When in operation and once a user downloads it, it communicates your location to the building, and multiple screens scattered throughout the structure offer you customized information to assist your visit. The app will be available through all the usual online stores.

ASU's Tom Williams demonstrates touchscreen technology that will interact with a dedicated building app.

ASU’s Tom Williams demonstrates touchscreen technology that will interact with a dedicated building app.

The app was not live at the media tour, but it is this morning, so I’ve downloaded it. I look forward to seeing how it works. In the meantime, here are a few app screenshots (click images to enlarge).

After the media tour, I dropped by the law school’s teaching law firm, the ASU Alumni Law Group. Managing partner Marty Harper showed me around. The two-story firm includes spaces for its attorneys, staff, and an area dedicated to triaging potential clients’ legal matters.

Be sure to see the university’s new website dedicated to the building.

A few of us on the magazine staff will be attending the grand opening tonight. We’ll report back, in Arizona Attorney Magazine and online.

The day's overcast, but this is a pretty sunny spot for a Venice Beach law firm.

The day’s overcast, but this is a pretty sunny spot for a Venice Beach law firm.

Strolling along the Venice Beach boardwalk in California, the last thing I expected to see was a law office. Sure, T-shirt shops, wild murals, henna stands. But a law office?

That led me to think our Change of Venue Friday should be just a few photos. What’s a better fit for the end of the week?

The law firm, by the way, is not one I’m familiar with, so please don’t take this as an advertisement for Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris Hoffman & Harrison, LLP.

But imagine your own law office situated like this: The Pacific Ocean immediately west of you. And a continent of possible clients behind you. Pretty sweet.

I wrote the other day about Venice Beach’s founder, named Abbott Kinney. So esteemed is that fellow that he managed to be muralized only a block away from the boardwalk.

Venice Beach Abbott Kinney mural

Venice Beach Abbott Kinney mural

Finally, I take you off the boardwalk and high up into the air—into the LAX Theme Building, “the distinctive white building resembl[ing] a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs.”

LAX Theme Building (via Wikimedia Commons)

LAX Theme Building (via Wikimedia Commons)

With a longer-than-preferred layover, I decided to finally stroll over and head up to the building’s Encounter Restaurant and Bar. I’ve seen the mid-century modern iconic building for decades and always wondered about the view.

Here are a few photos of the view inside the funky building and its elevator panel, along with the traffic-control tower to the west.

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Have a great weekend—mid-century modern or not.

This week, I am strolling the muggy streets of Chicago, where I am attending a portion of the annual NABE–ABA annual meetings.

My role is in NABE’s Communications Section, where representatives from bars around the country examine the best way to, y’know, communicate.

Today I’m talking not about NABE, though, but about—law firm libraries. For personal reasons, Chicago always reminds me of the musty stacks of legal materials. And that makes me wonder: Who still uses those things?

My own recollections go back to the years I worked at a large national firm—then called Mayer, Brown & Platt. Their Chicago office on 190 South LaSalle was their biggest (the Windy City office is still their largest, I’ve learned), and I headed up a staff of proofreaders (that was the go-go ‘80s, so they not only were hiring lawyers left and right, but they also had three shifts of proofreaders; we were the day shift).

Don’t get me started on proofreading legal documents by hand, when “redlining” guaranteed your fingers would be Sharpie-red before lunch. In fact, when I look back at the masses of material I plowed through, I am rather shocked that I later decided to go to law school.

In any case, the library.

Library at 190 S. LaSalle, Chicago. Through the window you can see the Chicago Board of Trade to the south, with the Roman goddess Ceres atop a golden pyramid.

Mayer Brown’s library was on the top floors of its 40-story building. It was quiet, beautiful and, even in the 1980s, rarely used. So that was the perfect spot to perch for a young proofreader in the hours before work as he wrote his English Ph.D. dissertation. (No, I did not become a professor; the charms of the English writer Matthew Arnold eventually waned in my soul, and off to law school I went.)

You can read more about the building here.

Despite the fact that the spirit of my stalled dissertation remains in that library space, I still recall it with much affection. But that ardor led to a surprise.

Thinking I might stroll into the building on this trip and try to wheedle my way upstairs sans keycard, I discovered that the firm had moved northeast to another beautiful (and less postmodern) skyscraper. But the library? Whatever happened to that?

A little searching shows that it remains where the lawyers deserted it. Unupdated and lacking years’ worth of pocket parts, the library stacks stand as a testament to an earlier time. And now they serve as clubby background to a chichi bar.

Not only that. The space is viewed as a terrific venue for events, including seminars, speeches and weddings.

Here are a few images of the library as engagement photography backdrop. I want to go on record (in case this beautiful young couple stumbles across this post) that the photos are gorgeous and the young people themselves stunning. But I have to say …

… I’m not sure anything cools the heat of love more quickly than leaning against a stack of South Western Reporters, or Tax Law Updates. But to each their own.

Here are more of Greg and Kathleen’s engagement photos (with library).

Do you too have fond memories of libraries? Like me, do you find a close connection to those stacks where you performed some of the hardest work of your life?

And in your law practice, do you still turn to the books? Or are those days entirely in the past?

And to Kathleen and Greg, wherever you are: Best wishes!

190 S. LaSalle, Chicago. The library is up beneath the gabled roof.