Joe Feller in 2010 (photo by Joseph Holmes)

Joe Feller in 2010 (photo by Joseph Holmes)

I told you before about the chance to sign on and run with the Bar Flys. That’s the State Bar team that’s been fielded to run in this weekend’s PF Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.

Of course, it’s likely too late to get onto that esteemed team. But I wanted to remind you again that the team is running on behalf of a great professor’s memory. ASU Law School Professor Joe Feller died last April, and the team has picked up his health-conscious gauntlet.

More detail is on the law school’s website. And whether or not you’re on the team, you can find a gift form there.

Good luck to a great team. I’m looking forward to receiving (and sharing) news and photos from the marathon.

Have a great weekend.

Bud Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner

Bud Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner

Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball, will be the keynote speaker at this Saturday’s Conference on Sports and Entertainment Law—the fourth such annual event at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

The yearly panel-filled occasion is hosted by the school’s Sports and Entertainment Law Journal.

(I’ve mentioned past events here and here.)

ASU Sports and Entertainment Law Journal 2013 logoHere are the details for the “day of discussion on critical issues in sports and entertainment law”:

  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013
  • Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, followed by a reception for attendees and speakers
  • Location: Arizona State University Memorial Union, Arizona Ballroom 221 (2nd Floor), 1290 S. Normal Ave., Tempe, AZ, 85287

The full agenda (with registration page) is here.

Given the breaking news involving the MLB and Alex Rodriguez, I’m thinking attendees may have some interesting legal questions for the Commissioner.

If an attorney or law student (one who is not an event organizer) would like to pen a follow-up guest blog post about the conference, contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. And yes, I like photos too.

asu bonn un climate change negotiations polar bear

The climate is changing, along with the increasing impressiveness of law students.

Well done to law student bloggers. You are engaging in an activity that will distinguish you as you move into a challenging profession.

That’s what I thought as I read the blog posts of ASU students fortunate enough to attend a climate change conference in Europe. They covered the events and their participation well and with wit (e.g., “The first [] plenary was surprisingly dramatic, the hotel wifi is atrocious for an international event, the hotel buffet reminded one student of Reno, NV”). And apparently their posts received more than 1,500 visits.

As I reported previously, the students presented research on international legal regimes at the gathering in Bonn, Germany. Their involvement grew out of research they did with Professors Daniel Bodansky and Daniel Rothenberg.

You can read all the student posts here.

Here’s hoping that the blogging skill is one they continue to hone as they return and move toward law practice. As a wise man once said, strategy is nothing more than the ability to differentiate yourself from your peers (more on strategy next week).

blog_word_imageIn the blogging realm, there may be a handful of bloggers committed to the topic of climate change and law. And when you restrict the pool to one state only, there may be no one covering that increasingly important territory. Now that’s differentiation.

The days of waiting silently for your “turn” to exhibit your skill in a niche are long gone. Today, a law student or new lawyer may—should—develop blog content along with a voice that conveys knowledge and commands attention.

Keep blogging, exhibit your knowledge and your passion, and folks will notice.

Have a great weekend. And if you haven’t started a blog, give it some thought.

law-schoolThe tribulations of law schools continue.

Yesterday, a story from the ABA Journal reported that the McGeorge School of Law had cut its enrollment by 40 percent. That massive sea change was accompanied by staff layoffs at the California school.

Of course, no one course of treatment will be adopted by all the law school patients. A local response to the economic downturn is for an Arizona law school to create its own law firm.

Previously we’ve read about ASU Law School’s plans to launch a firm populated with recent law school graduates. You can read more about it here.

I had mentioned ASU’s initiative back in April. As the law firm gets closer to openings its doors, I’m still wondering what Arizona lawyers think of it.

ASU Law School logoThis past week, one lawyer penned his support for the project in the Arizona Republic. As Mark Briggs opens:

“Something in the legal world is broken. Law schools are creating more lawyers than there are good jobs, and many of these new lawyers have over $100,000 in student-loan debt. It is a tough problem, but ASU is about to try an innovative solution.”

“Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law plans to create an “Alumni Law Group,” which will employ 30 new graduates and will cost approximately $5 million a year to launch. ASU believes it will be self-sufficient in five years.”

“While some have criticized ASU’s plan as merely a ploy to improve the law school’s rankings by boosting its graduates’ employment rates, I think it is a concept well worth trying for several reasons.”

Briggs then offers three reasons he thinks the effort will succeed. And no, it’s not a softball piece; he also critiques what he believes was the law school’s error in being “overly optimistic in admitting far more students than there are jobs in this market.”

You should read his complete op-ed here. And then sound off below with your own viewpoint on the law firm project.

Joseph Feller

Joe Feller

This month, we received the sad news that esteemed law professor Joe Feller had died. He had been struck by a car.

The life of the professor from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University will be honored at a public memorial service on this coming Saturday, May 4. It will be held in the Great Hall/Armstrong Hall on the Tempe campus.

In his honor, the College of Law has established a memorial scholarship to provide financial support to students who are interested in natural resources and environmental law.

To contribute to the scholarship fund, visit here.

More information about the service and the scholarship is available here.

Finally, you should read the touching tribute to Professor Feller, written by attorney Robert Glicksman, here. He kindly provides links to other tributes, as well as an aggregation of Feller’s own photography.

law-schoolIf you want to examine responses to a crisis, you really need to look at law schools. They are facing what will be, for some of them, an existential calamity.

In recent months, the three Arizona law schools have issued announcements that bolster their offerings. The approaches vary, and they are aimed at two significant subsets of their products’ consumers: potential law school applicants, and soon-to-be and recent graduates.

Both of those categories are increasingly skeptical of the ability of law schools to provide a degree with value commensurate to the purchasers’ outlay.

I am curious what you think about the three most recent announcements. As you consider them, view them through the eyes of those two categories of people, and ask: Would this changed policy or additional program have been a deal-maker in my choice of schools? Does this new initiative make me look differently at the law school?

Here are the approaches and initiatives:

And then, just to make your choice more complex, is the elephant in the room: an Arizona pilot program that would allow certain law students to take the Bar exam during the third year of law school.

Which of these, if any, would have affected your decision to attend a school (or attend law school at all)?

Does pricing trump all? Or does saving a few thousand dollars mean not that much when amortized over a career? Would having a schedule that allows students to work (and maybe graduate sooner) help attract them? Or does the possibility of the school itself employing you as a lawyer sweeten the pot sufficiently?

Let me know what you think. Who, if anyone, is on the right track?

Phoenix School of Law - ©Kevin_Korczyk

Phoenix School of Law (©Kevin_Korczyk)

This week, it seems that all the news is coming out of the law schools.

No, I’m not going to cover the revelation of this year’s US News & World Report law school rankings (otherwise known as the one element that keeps people reading US News & World Report). Instead, I point to another effort of a law school to transform itself to meet the shifting demands of possible students.

The story is a mild one, referring to the Phoenix School of Law’s alteration of its semester structure. As the article opens:

“Phoenix School of Law (PSL) announced that it is expanding its current schedule from two academic terms to three academic terms beginning in the fall of 2013. The academic terms will start in the fall, spring and summer. Students have the option of attending either two or three terms during the academic year. The new structure offers significant advantages to students and is responsive to challenges currently facing legal education and the legal industry.”

The whole story is here.

In an economic downturn, every change—even a “mild” one—is a potential game-changer. As more and more college graduates nationwide decide to forego a legal education that appears to be only tangentially related to the possibility of landing an actual law job, maybe changes like the semester structure could be persuasive.

What do you think?

In an upcoming post, I’ll examine the newest (and boldest) effort of the ASU College of Law to enhance its offerings—by opening a for-profit law firm to employ some of its grads.

ASU EDiscovery conference image 2013At the end of this week, a conference on eDiscovery issues will provide insights and national speakers.

I wrote about last year’s conference, here and here. I’d expect more great content this week.

As the ASU Law School describes it:

ediscovery Judge John Facciola

Judge John Facciola

“The Second Annual ASU–Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference will focus on the practical and cutting-edge issues affecting the discovery and admission of electronic information. The annual conference is hosted by the Center for Law, Science & Innovation, in collaboration with Michael Arkfeld, Director of the ASU–Arkfeld eDiscovery Program.”

You may register here.

It’s looking like I will be unable to attend any of the events at this year’s conference. But I’d enjoy hearing from someone who does attend. If you’d like to write a follow-up post, long-ish or short-ish, just let me know. It could be an overview of the entire conference, or a briefer post on a single panel or on the keynote address, delivered by Judge John Facciola. And photos are always welcome.

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

On Monday and Tuesday this week, a horde of extremely smart people (and I) will gather to discuss solar power. More specifically: “The Southwest’s future as a solar superpower.”

The speaker lineup is impressive, and many are hoping that it yields a practical way forward on a topic that shines almost every day of the year in Arizona.

Mostly, though, I’m curious about its impact on lawyers and law practice.

Below, I have included a terrific press release (actually, it’s a full-blown article) by ASU’s Janie Magruder. She explains who’ll be there and what they plan to achieve.

It’s in the last graf of Janie’s article, though, that I found what I was interested in. It was bound up in a quote from ASU scholar (and former Corporation Commissioner) Kris Mayes. She said that the conference is a good opportunity for anyone interested in practicing in renewable energy law. “When solar energy takes off, this will become a significant practice area for a lot of attorneys in Arizona and other states in the Southwest,” she said.

(We covered Kris Mayes and some her work at ASU here for Arizona Attorney Magazine.)

Do you agree with her? Are there opportunities here? And more important, will you attend the conference?

If you can’t be there, tell me what you’d like to know; I’d be happy to ask your questions.

The Summit’s website is here. And more detail is here.

Here’s the article from ASU:

The Southwest’s future as a solar superpower to be explored at national policy summit in Phoenix

By Janie Magruder

The legal and policy structures necessary to foster solar energy development in the Southwest and propel Arizona to national prominence in the field is the focus of a conference to be hosted March 26-27 by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

“Arizona Solar Summit 2012: Breaking through the Barriers to a Solar Future in the Southwest” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, March 26, and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, March 27, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. Registration is $75 for general audiences and $125 for attorneys seeking CLE; visit law.asu.edu/solarsummit2012 for more information and to register.

“Arizona has the natural resources, the human capital and the legal structure to make this happen,” said Kris Mayes, Faculty Director of the College of Law’s Program on Law and Sustainability, housed in the Center for Law, Science & Innovation. “This conference is about making sure we advance the legal infrastructure in Arizona to create conditions that will allow us to really expand our solar energy capacity.”

Mayes, a Senior Sustainability Scholar in ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, is a lead organizer of the conference, along with ASU LightWorks, ASU SkySong and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). ASU’s first Solar Summit, in August 2011, drew dozens of participants from government, academia, industry and technology to launch a network designed to address specific challenges that, if met, will move Arizona forward. The first conference established four working groups whose members will report on their recommendations during Solar Summit 2012. (For information about the first summit, go here.)

“When you talk to Arizonans, you quickly realize that this is a state that believes solar energy is its economic destiny,” said Mayes, former chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission and co-author of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard. “This conference is the next step in making that a reality, and we’re doing that by bringing together some of the best thinkers to continue what ASU started last August.”

Arizona Solar Summit 2012 will offer five panels during Monday’s schedule. Todd Hardy, ASU’s Associate Vice President for Economic Affairs and a participant in the 2011 summit, will moderate a panel of representatives from the Solar Summit working groups.

“Four working groups were formed at the 2011 Arizona Solar Summit to address the primary challenges we face in developing Arizona’s solar industry: Supply Chain and Workforce Development, Applied Research Collaborations and Pilot Projects, Policy and Finance, and Building and Strengthening the Narrative,” Hardy said. “Each of these working groups is actively engaged in identifying strategies that will be implemented to foster growth and development of the solar energy industry, on a national and regional scale.”

Gary Dirks, Director of ASU LightWorks, who also participated in the first summit, will moderate the panel, “A solar super hub in the Southwest: Imagining Arizona and surrounding states as the exporters of solar energy to the rest of the nation.”

Dirks said the topic is critical because “this discussion will explore opportunity for a solar super hub in the Southwest. We will cover both the challenges and the benefits of becoming a state and region that can be the leader in producing and exporting solar energy. We hope to identify goals and next steps that will allow us to collectively reach our potential as a solar energy center.”

Mayes said the summit will be a standout for a number of reasons:

  • Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday, March 27. Wellinghoff is expected to discuss how the federal government is helping the Southwest develop its solar potential.
  • Five CEOs of solar energy firms will sit on a roundtable panel, following Wellinghoff’s remarks, to talk about the challenges facing their industry in 2012 and beyond.
  • Public utilities commissioners from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada will sit on the panel, “Getting along?: Imagining a strong regional future for solar, and the build-out of regional transmission needed to get us there.”

“Transmission is a big theme of this conference, and it’s a huge issue as we try to expand, so having these commissioners coming to Arizona to talk about these issues is a very big deal,” Mayes said. “By the same token, it’s critical to have these CEOs here to discuss where they see their industry going and also to delve into what they believe are the regulatory needs. This is an industry at a pivotal point and where we go from the legal and policy standpoints is going to be critical for them.”

The panel of solar CEOs will be moderated by Barry Broome, CEO and President of GPEC, another returning participant from the first summit.

“Arizona is indeed a solar leader,” Broome said. “However, the solar industry has seen dynamic changes over the past year, so understanding the corporate challenges facing these CEOs will be critical to not only maintaining our position as the ‘Solar Energy King,’ but also expanding into other areas of the clean economy.”

Conference organizers have tapped for consideration these three distinct scenarios for a bright solar future in the Southwest:

  • A robust distributed generation future in which rooftop solar takes off, aided by a smarter grid and the development if micro-grids in cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Denver.
  • A solar future driven by strong interregional cooperation among the states on transmission, leading to regional solar development.
  • A transformational solar future in which the Southwest becomes the solar hub of the nation, drive by interregional development of transmission and generation or the creation of a national Renewable Energy Corporation

Mayes will moderate the first panel of the day, “Is solar temporarily stuck: Immediate challenges to the development of solar energy in the Southwest and what I necessary to break through the logjam.”

“There’s a feeling out there that we are a little bit stuck in first gear and we need to do something from a legal standpoint to get out of it and get moving,” said Mayes, noting that tax credits, the build-out of transmission grids and support for state Renewable Portfolio Standards will be on the table for discussion.

The conference also will debut a 10-minute documentary film about solar energy development in Arizona, including a segment about the great progress in Gila Bend, a town about 70 miles southwest of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Town Manager Frederick Buss will join the panel of public utilities commissioners discussing the creation of a Southwestern market for renewable energy.

“Gila Bend is the little solar town that could,” Mayes said. “It’s a great story about a part of Arizona that’s’ been overlooked. You can walk into any restaurant in town and the waitresses are conversant in solar energy, and they have come to believe that solar is their future. We can learn a lot from them.”

A fifth panel is “Distributed generation goes the distance: Imagining a robust future for distributed generation in the Southwest,” moderated by Bud Annan, ASU’s Senior Advisor for Solar Energy.

Attorneys will be able to obtain up to 10 credits of Continuing Legal Education at the conference, said Mayes, noting it’s a good opportunity for anyone interested in practicing in renewable energy law. “When solar energy takes off, this will become a significant practice area for a lot of attorneys in Arizona and other states in the Southwest,” she said.

In our house, a lecture scheduled for tonight—on human trafficking—is getting a lot of attention. In fact, 75 percent of our household plans to attend; will you be there?

Speaking at the ASU College of Law will be ASU’s Professor Charles Katz. His topic is documenting and analyzing human trafficking. The school says he will “talk about his research on human trafficking and its policy implications, including his research in Central America and the Caribbean and his experiences posing as a client to gather firsthand information on trafficking practices in the Philippines.”

The event is tonight, Wednesday March 14, with a reception at 6:00 p.m. and a presentation followed by questions from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. in the Faculty Center at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

For more information or to RSVP, email cflaga@asu.edu.

I have covered human trafficking before; in fact, ASU Law School put on a great conference on the topic last March.

But at home this spring, we’ve been privileged to watch our daughter Willa put together a paper and presentation on the topic of “Prostitution in Ancient Rome and India” (kids, these days). She’s a high school sophomore, and her work and what she found were both amazing (permit me a little gushing).

One of the facts she discussed was the relationship of prostitution to human trafficking. For example, during the heyday of the British East India Company, prostitution was actively supported, almost as a foreign policy. The large numbers of British nationals in India wanted to partake, but many preferred lighter-skinned women. Their interests were obliged by the massive transport of women to the country from as far abroad as England and Japan.

Deep-seated history such as that makes today’s problem a global and intractable challenge. I’m curious to hear about Professor Katz’s own experiences, especially undercover, to examine the problem.

Charles M. Katz

Katz is the Watts Family Director of the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety at ASU.

More information on the Center is here.

And here is more on Professor Katz and his work:

“Much of Charles M. Katz’s work focuses on police and prosecutorial transformation and strategic responses to crime. From 2004-10, Katz worked under contract with the Ministry of nation al Security of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to address the nation’s gang problem, including the creation and training of a police gang unit, homicide unit and crime analysis unit. He also worked with the organization of American States to understand the crime problem in the Caribbean and develop a regionally-based response to gangs. From 2006-10, Katz served on the field team and methodological development team to evaluate human trafficking in Cebu, Philippines. He is currently involved in three projects in Central America and the Caribbean—examining the trafficking of persons by El Salvadorian gangs to the united States, assessing citizen insecurity throughout the Caribbean, including an assessment of police and prosecutorial capacity to respond to crime, and diagnosing the gang problem in seven Eastern Caribbean nations.”

Willa, Kathy and I hope to see you tonight.