Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a "major university" partner.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a “major university” partner.

Yesterday afternoon, Arizona Summit Law School in downtown Phoenix issued the following press release regarding its goal to affiliate with a university rather than remain a standalone law school. A school spokeswoman said that they expect to complete the affiliation “within the year.” What such an affiliation “with a major university” ultimately means for Summit is unclear; I’ll be reaching out to school officials in coming days to ask about their strategic thinking. At this point, the school has said that the collaboration would “allow lower tuition, improved economies of scale in pursuit of mission to provide legal education to diverse and non-traditional students.”

 I’ll report more when I learn more. And if you are a Summit student or faculty member, feel free to contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

 Here’s the release:

PHOENIX, AZ (August 15, 2016): Arizona Summit Law School (Summit), one of the nation’s few independent law schools, intends to affiliate with a major university within the year.

“The decision to affiliate reflects the strong commitment we have to our students,” said Don Lively, Summit president. “We conducted a survey of our students and learned that 67% of them would prefer attending a law school that is part of a university system. Toward this end, we are in advanced negotiations with a few universities that share our mission and values. The advantages of this transition are multifold. It will strengthen Summit’s reputation, make its program more affordable, reduce tuition dependency, result in stronger academic support systems and improved outcomes, enhance faculty and institutional development opportunities, create interdepartmental synergies, and significantly enhance the ability to achieve our mission of diversifying legal education and the legal profession.”

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoFounded in 2005, Summit was designed and developed by legal educators concerned about the direction of traditional legal education, which has drifted from the realities of the contemporary legal profession. Summit recognizes not only the need for change, but also the opportunity to become a benchmark institution for the 21st Century. Its goals include graduating students who truly are practice-ready and, most importantly, diversifying one of the nation’s least diverse professions.

In its short history, Summit has earned numerous awards for diversity and innovation—including being a two-time winner of the American Bar Association Gambrell Award. Summit students last year logged more than 100,000 public service hours. The school’s career placement rate for JD advantage, bar pass required, and professional positions leads all 50 tier two law schools. It has a student loan default rate of less than 2%, which is one of the best among the nation’s universities and law schools (including many state universities and ivy league schools).

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays notes that, “our mission entails admitting many students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have lower entering credentials but the potential to succeed. Our ability to and record of enabling success is evidenced by an ultimate bar pass rate that complies with ABA standards, our strong career placement rate, and many stories from employers who prefer to hire our graduates because of their preparedness for practice and strong work ethic. Dean Mays added “over the past decade, we have had a profound impact on the legal profession’s diversity in Arizona. In 2004, the state bar’s diversity rate was 8% compared to the overall state population’s diversity rate of ~40%. In 2015, we had a graduate diversity rate of 31% compared with the 15% diversity rate of the state’s other schools.”

Summit’s latest milestone on its mission of diversity is a program offering full scholarships plus $5,000 in living expenses to students with an LSAT score of 150 or above. The program, another market of its innovative mindset, is targeting students who are members of historically or economically disadvantaged groups and is being coordinated in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Legal education traditionally has assumed that schools must choose between high LSAT scores and diversity. The Summit scholarship initiative demonstrates that it can preserve a mission of diversity and, at the same time, increase the entering credentials of its students and ultimately its first-time bar pass rate.

The legal profession has changed dramatically in recent years, but law schools generally have not kept pace. Within this context, new leadership in legal education likely will emerge. Summit is building a school created not only to respond to but lead change and be recognized as an institution of true social utility. For more information, please visit www.azsummitlaw.edu.

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoSome news from the folks at Arizona Summit Law School (please feel free to pass it on to people who could benefit):

Arizona Summit Law School, a private law school located in downtown Phoenix, is hosting a one-day event to provide free legal information and limited-scope legal advice and assistance to people seeking help on matters related to family law, general business, probate and estate planning, and landlord/tenant disputes.

Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law

Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law

Approximately 50 Summit Law students, faculty, and alumni will be providing pro bono legal services; each student will be supervised by faculty or alumni who are practicing attorneys.  The school hopes to assist as many individuals as possible during its first Access to Justice Day.

“As we enter our tenth year, Arizona Summit Law School is excited to expand its work within our community,” said Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law. “While our clinics have helped many clients over the years, from family law to our work at the Human Services Campus, this free day of legal assistance allows more of us to come together as a law school, to serve more people in our community who may not be able to afford legal advice.”

When: Friday, March 13, 2015, 10 am – 2 pm

Where: Arizona Summit Law School, 1 North Central Ave. in downtown Phoenix

Check-in will be held in the school’s lobby area where a pre-screening occurs. Individuals will then be guided to the appropriate station.

Spanish-speaking translators will be available.

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Individuals seeking assistance with complex issues requiring more than a short consultation will be referred to appropriate lawyers and organizations, including legal services agencies (community organizations who offer free or reduced-cost legal assistance), local attorneys, and Summit Law alumni.

“One of the pillars of our mission here at Summit Law is to serve the underserved,” said Arizona Summit Law Dean Shirley Mays. “For us, that means more than our efforts to diversify the legal profession by creating more opportunities for women and people of color to obtain a high quality legal education. That also means expanding our efforts to provide high quality legal information and advice to those in the community who might not otherwise have the financial circumstances to meet with a legal professional.”

For questions related to parking, directions or how the event will be structured, email Probono@azsummitlaw.edu. Note: No legal advice will be provided through this email address, and no information or legal matters will be reviewed in advance.

Millennial Lawyers article June 2014 by Susan Daicoff

A few months ago, I was in conversation with a law school communications pro. She mentioned that a professor may be able to write an article on millennial lawyers. Would we be interested?

An article about younger lawyers, who are facing a nearly unprecedented bad economy? Who grew up and were schooled in ways distinctly different than their more-senior colleagues? Who will be inheriting and transforming the legal profession?

Hmmm …. Absolutely. Send it over and let’s talk.

She did, and we did. After some back and forth, we had what I suspected would be an extremely a valuable article for readers.

That article is in our June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can read it here.

Susan Daicoff

Susan Daicoff

The talented author is Professor Susan Daicoff; read more about her here.

Susan’s story is great reading for a few reasons, but what I especially appreciate are the specific takeaways she offers about a generation of professionals. But she is no cold-eyed anthropologist, examining these folks under a microscope. Instead, she displays her affection for them and her optimism for the profession under their evolving leadership.

Apparently, others see what we saw: We’re now up to two other magazines around the country that asked to reprint Susan’s article. It’s terrific to see good stuff get “out there.”

A realist, I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop—a little one, anyway. What I wonder is this: Are there any millennial attorneys who resist being described and pigeonholed, who feel less identical to their own generation than to another that preceded it?

After all, even among generational waves of lawyers, we’re all individuals. So if your millennial experience varies from Susan’s description, I’d like to know.

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

[This article was edited 4/8/14 to reflect the fact that the dancers represented a lion, not a dragon. There is a traditional lion dance and a traditional dragon dance. Here is some information on the lion dance, performed at the APALSA event.]

Yes, that is a dragon at a legal event. Why do you ask? APALSA banquet dragon 1 04-05-14

Yes, that is a lion at a legal event. Why do you ask?

It never fails to amaze how often those new to a profession lead the way.

That’s what occurred to me last Saturday evening, as I attended the first-ever banquet of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) of Arizona Summit Law School.

Out of the box, the talented law students took to heart a few of the most important lessons of professional event planning. Experienced (long in the tooth) planners, take note.

Here are three of those lessons, gleaned from Saturday’s gathering:

1. Food: Good, easy, relevant

Your legal event need not have food and drink. But if you go down that road, bring it, would you, please?

APALSA Asian Pacific American Law Students Assn logoAPALSA brought it, indulging its guests with terrific dishes from the Curry Corner. (Would it kill you to Like them on Facebook?)

This is how terrific their combination of various Asian foods was: I had planned to snack lightly at the event, as I had promised my younger daughter that we would get a bite together afterward. As I strolled the buffet line, though, that plan went out the window. Yes, I did get my daughter dinner later; but all my senses insisted that I eat a full meal at the APALSA banquet. And so I did.

A special shout out to law student Mary Tran, who hand-crafted a Thai iced tea that was the perfect complement to the meal. As I sit here Tuesday, I know my morning would be improved mightily by a glass of that!

All of the food and drink (plus the open bar) contributed to an evening of celebration and cultural identity. Nicely done.

2. Speaker: Smart, funny, brief

Let me be the first to say it: More Jared Leung, please.

Jared Leung

Jared Leung

The evening’s keynote was the Fennemore Craig lawyer, and he caught our attention in two ways.

First, he opened by admiring and critiquing the bathrooms in Fennemore Craig’s new-ish space. Restroom-talk is not the typical go-to intro for legal keynotes, but it got our attention as he described the difficulty some have mastering the motion-activated sinks. Leung’s message was about the importance of finding the sweet spot in our professional lives.

And that’s why Leung carried a tennis racquet (his second unique approach) up to the microphone.

“What are you comfortable doing as a lawyer?” he asked the assembled law students. “What is your thing?”

“If we just all stick with what we’re comfortable with,” he continued, “our growth will be limited.”

Punctuating his point with a tennis swing, he offered a story about a Queen Creek high school football player, Carson Jones, who, with some teammates, opted to stand up for a bullied special-needs classmate. (Read the story here.)

“Here we have a 16-year-old showing us how it should be done,” Leung said, explaining how Jones’s actions required courage. He reminded the students that law school and the legal profession offer ongoing opportunities to decide how and when to do the right thing.

Jared Leung delivers the keynote address (with tennis racquet) at the APALSA banquet, April 5, 2014.

Jared Leung delivers the keynote address (with tennis racquet) at the APALSA banquet, April 5, 2014.

“Get out of your comfort zone, and find the sweet spot. Someday I’ll learn from you.”

With a smile, Leung noted that he (like the rest of us) already was doing just that.

3. Lions: Yes, please

No, I suppose you’re right. Every legal event need not have a Chinese lion and a traditional lion dance. It might be odd to spring that on Bar Convention attendees.

But the APALSA banquet had one, and the articulated, two-man operation teaches us volumes about connecting with your audience.

First, it had obvious relevance to the association, and its presence was certainly evocative for many at the banquet.

APALSA President Vic Reid speaks at annual banquet, April 5, 2014.

APALSA President Vic Reid speaks at annual banquet, April 5, 2014.

But more important, it provided a lift in spirits—aurally and visually—that far too many bar events overlook. I’ve heard for too many years that legal affairs must be serious business—and then watched as attendees nodded off or checked their email during sonorous speeches.

No one checked email as the dragon marched about the room, demanding attention and collecting donations to the ASU Asian LEAD Academy. No one nodded off as the terrific DJ filled the room with music.

After all, the spirit is not fed only by footnotes and legal speeches. For your next event, consider a lion. Or maybe learn from TED talks. Or at least (please!) have some Thai iced tea.

Congratulations to APALSA and its president, Vicente Reid Y Lugto, and the whole board. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

Spot the lawyer: I also got the oportunity to pose with Asian community leaders and a talented Chinese dragon.

Spot the lawyer: I also got the opportunity to pose with Asian American community leaders and a talented Chinese lion.

APALSA Asian Pacific American Law Students Assn logoMark your calendars for this Saturday, April 5, when the first annual banquet of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA) of Arizona Summit Law School will be held.

The event is open to all, and proceeds will go toward scholarships for the ASU Asian LEAD Academy.

Here are some details:

  • Location: Arizona Summit Law School, 20th Floor- 1 North Central Phoenix, Arizona 85004
  • Time: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
  • Tickets: $15 pre-sale, $20 door

To purchase a ticket, email Larry Noyvong here: llnoyvong@student.azsummitlaw.edu

Here is a link to the ASU Asian Pacific Lead Academy. I have written about the great program and its results here.

There is a Facebook page for the event. And be sure to follow the Summit Law School’s APALSA organization here.

Thanks, to Vicente Reid Y Lugto, APALSA President, Arizona Summit Law School, for the detail and the invite.

APALSA banquet date 2014

Standing out: Not bad advice for a law school, your law practice -- or a legal magazine.

Standing out: Not bad advice for a law school, your law practice — or a legal magazine.

You don’t often hear magazine editors tout the advertising side of the business. After all, there is a cherished and sensible “wall” between the edit and the ad side of publications, a distinction that serves each side well.

But the existence of that wall doesn’t mean editorial staff are blind to the value ads provide. At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we understand which side our bread is buttered on. And a robust ad side—made possible, we believe, by having a robust edit side—has helped the magazine stay in the black for a good number of years now. That has been a benefit to State Bar of Arizona members and the magazine itself, both in costs and in expanded “real estate” in which we may provide valuable articles.

Why do I raise the topic today? Well, I’m pretty pleased with a new ad feature we were able to provide readers (and advertisers) in our January and February issues—a gatefold ad in the “front of the book.”

That ad—a first for us—allows our cover to fold out, giving the advertiser three pages to convey its message. That space is especially valuable for an organization rolling out a rebranding—which is exactly what the Arizona Summit Law School did in the ad.

You can see the whole ad here and here. But really, you should pick up the print magazine to appreciate the entire effect.

(I should point out that I have nothing to do with ad sales in the magazine. I work alongside terrific advertising colleagues, but someone buying an ad—whether a three-page gatefold or a tiny classified—has zero effect on whether we accept and publish their article on the edit side. Just sayin’.)

I routinely ask readers for story ideas or other content they would like to see in the magazine. But today, I wonder about ad products and tools you’ve viewed in other magazines. Whether they were in a national consumer publication or in a much smaller local publication, what ad types have caught your eye? What ads have led to improvements in your law practice?

Your insights have been a great help to me on the edit side. But a magazine is a complex organism, and we believe the ads should serve your purposes, too. How can we improve?

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logo

A new logo and name for what was Phoenix School of Law.

Today, we read a news story announcing the renaming of Arizona’s only private law school. Phoenix School of Law officially became Arizona Summit Law School.

That change was in the works for awhile, and it may have been the best-known secret in the state (or is that the worst-kept secret?). Despite that, you never really know what’s true until the big reveal, so it appears to be a fact.

Here’s a late October photo of the school’s entrance doors tweeted by Associate Professor Ilya Iussa:

Entrance at @phxlaw downtown Phoenix campus introduces school’s name change. Welcome Arizona Summit Law School. pic.twitter.com/PwsI7N7Odc

— Ilya Iussa (@IlyaIussa) October 28, 2013

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law entrance

Good luck on the school’s rebranding. Those marketing-and-mission efforts are complex affairs that may spring from many causes. But one of them, I’ve been told by many at the school, is that they were concerned that their name led to confusion with another private entity of higher learning—the University of Phoenix.

The law school knows better than I if that was true. But I’ve never heard anyone else say that. And I’ve got to say I tend to like the city name Phoenix, even as others flee from it.

One of the most striking absences of the city’s name is visible in our professional sports teams. The Diamondbacks, the Cardinals—even the soon-to-be-rebranded Coyotes—opt for “Arizona” rather than the evocative bird name.

But OK, people tend to run from what I think is one of the more memorable names in the country (nobody’s paying me for rebranding services). And yes, I’m from New York, where everything and their mother have the words “New York” in it, and confusion still does not reign. But besides selecting the general rather than the particular, this law school renaming also endangers a prime piece of real estate—a supercool Twitter handle.

Phoenix School of Law logo

The school’s original name and logo

In the ongoing battle for name recognition and short, smart Twitter names, the Phoenix School of Law had them all beat. I leave bigger questions to U.S. News & World Reports and the many other ranking agencies. But look at the names @ArizonaLaw and @ArizonaCollegeofLaw—character-sucking handles eating up 10 and 19 precious spaces, respectively. And then turn to the simple and concise @phxlaw. A six-character breath of fresh air. The school’s distinct three “pillars,” I always thought, could add a fourth—social media spunk.

When I sought that handle on Twitter this morning, though, I was told it didn’t exist. Tell me it won’t be a 22-character @ArizonaSummitLawSchool.

And though the old website (and its old logo of a bird in flight) is still up, it may not be for long. A new page—clearly still in development—is revealed via Google search.

The name of the game in strategy is to distinguish yourself, and the law school has always done that well. They’ve entered a new endeavor with a new name. I wish them great (continued) success.