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

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

Keep up with what’s happening at the State Bar Annual Convention by following the editor on Twitter! Get short, timely messages (including photos, speaker presentations and more) from Arizona Attorney Magazine’s staff. If you, your firm or employer are active on Twitter, just insert the hashtag #azbarcon into all of your Convention tweets to allow them to be read and searched by fellow attendees and the entire legal community.

The Twitter links will take you to updates in our Convention Daily—news items and photos that will appear on the magazine blog, Facebook and Tumblr pages, and in our News Center:

And feel free to stop by the Arizona Attorney booth in the Frank Lloyd Wright building, or contact the editor, who is wandering about the Biltmore attending sessions.

He’s at 602-908-6991 and

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Remember, the Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Convention app social media screenshot

Good news: The State Bar of Arizona has launched an app to help you navigate the annual Convention. Well, it’s more of a mobile-friendly web page than an app, but I won’t quibble. It is totes better than flipping through reams of paper as you wander the Arizona Biltmore hallways.

You can read more about it here.

Or, even easier: With your cellphone, just navigate to this page. Here are some screen shots of what I found (there’s a lot more than the few I show).

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

The Arizona Attorney booth is circled in red (Booth # 10!).

Click to biggify!

And just to show you how helpful the site is, I’ve highlighted on the map exactly where the Arizona Attorney booth is located. We’re in the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom, booth 10. When you enter the building, turn right, and we’re next to the Ladies bathroom. (I know, I tried to think of an elegant way to put that.) We’re not far from the Cyber Café. So after you check your email, stop by to say hi!

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

The Arizona Attorney Convention booth

Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Earlier this month, I mentioned a remarkable story told in the May Arizona Attorney. In it, Judge Randall Howe relates his mother’s advocacy for his quality education—though his school deemed him unfit for such due to a disability.

The 6-year-old Howe had a remarkable champion in his corner in 1969. Since then, he has been a champion for others, which led to his being named the recipient of an esteemed Vision Award from the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

AZ Center for Disability Law logoOn May 15, the Center celebrated its 20th anniversary. In a terrific evening, awards were given, including Judge Howe’s and a Disability Justice Award given to the law firm Perkins Coie.

You can see my aggregated tweets from the evening here. They includes links to the Judge’s story and other helpful information.

Congratulations to Judge Howe. He is a champion and an advocate—as well as a terrific former Chair of the magazine’s Editorial Board!

Have a great weekend.

Center for Plain Language logoHere is an annual story I always enjoy: the award for plainness in writing emanating from the federal government.

Thanks to the Center for Plain Language, we now know which government departments wrote cleanly and crisply in the past year—and which ones fell far short.

As reporter Lisa Rein describes the results in the Washington Post, those that did well included Homeland Security (I know; I can’t believe it either), the Social Security Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. But:

“The poor performers landing at the bottom of the 2014 Federal Plain Language Report Card were the Interior, State and Education departments. Interior and State didn’t submit writing samples, and their programs are anemic, the report said, while Education earned passing grades for writing and design but a “D” in compliance with the law.”

The Post story also provides the following example of muddy writing, this one coming from the U.S. Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard's at sea: The opposite of plain writing.

The Coast Guard’s at sea: The opposite of plain writing.

Oy. Maybe I should send the Coast Guard a copy of one of many great writing books I’ve re-read over the years, The Craft of Clarity by Robert Knight.

See the Center’s complete report card here.

The Craft of Clarity by Robert Knight book coverAlways on the hunt for simplification and clarity in our little corner of the world, I just conducted a small experiment on an online “readability calculator,” using our own written copy from Arizona Attorney Magazine.

This website will give you all kinds of data about the writing of you or others. Just paste in a sample of the writing and it will tell you the grade level the piece might best “reach.”

Using content from the upcoming March issue of the magazine, I pasted in exemplars from a few lawyer-written articles. I was pleased to see they came in at the range of 10th grade through 12th grade. (No, you really don’t want your language to reach exactly the grade level most of your readers have achieved. Readers are busy, and a readability score of 19, based on the average years of schooling of an attorney, is simply a recipe for disaster and obfuscation. A modest 10-12 is just fine.)

And then I pasted in my own editor’s column from the same issue. That’s when I saw it yielded a readability score of 7.0. That is 7th grade.

Sounds about right.

The good news: Time-stressed readers will not be overly taxed by giving my column a quick read.

The bad news: It looks like I’ll never get into the Coast Guard.

Have a wonderful—and rigorously disentangled—weekend.

cle snippets teaser logo. This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.How enjoyable a snippet can be.

No need to be mysterious. I’m talking about CLE Snippets, those brief-ish video conversations I’ve been having with Arizona Attorney authors. (Read more about them here.)

Last month, I interviewed Ken Motolenich-Salas about his topic: the Washington Redskins trademark cancellations. (You can read his article here.) Fascinating and timely.

Just as fascinating and timely, though, was my dialogue with Anthony Tsontakis yesterday. Fascinating – OK. But timely? That seems surprising, considering Anthony’s topic: a battle over the 1912 judicial nomination of Judge Richard Sloan.

Indeed, our dialogue was timely. Anthony’s article and our conversation focused on how the nomination battle could lead a commentator to say, “No uglier fight was ever made against a man.” Our dialogue reveals just how little we’ve changed in a century. Not a bad lesson to learn in a bruising election season.

I’ll provide links to the videos with Ken and Anthony as soon as I have them.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Anthony Tsontakis (right) and I take a moment before videotaping our conversation about a 1912 nomination battle.

Arizona civil verdicts 2013 gavel

Are you curious to hear the stories behind the top Arizona civil verdicts of the past year? At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we covered the topic in our June cover story written, as always, by attorney Kelly MacHenry. But as they say, there’s always more to the story.

This Wednesday, August 27, you can hear Kelly explain what lay behind those significant jury verdicts; she’ll also cover punitive awards, defense verdicts and trends. I have seen her presentation over the years, and it offers helpful insight into what the jurors (and the lawyers) were thinking.

The event will be at The University Club, 39 E. Monte Vista Road, Phoenix, AZ 85004. The Arizona Women Lawyers Association event is $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers.

More information and registration are here.


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