This Saturday, an annual Prison Education Conference will be held at ASU in Tempe.

This Saturday, an annual Prison Education Conference will be held at ASU in Tempe.

This coming Saturday is the fifth annual conference focused on the power of education—including arts education—to better the lives of people who are incarcerated.

Judge Lilia Alvarez, a keynote speaker at the 2016 Prison Education Conference

Judge Lilia Alvarez, a keynote speaker at the 2016 Prison Education Conference

The Prison Education Conference occurs on Saturday, March 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be staged at the Tempe campus of Arizona State University, in the Memorial Union Turquoise Room (MU 220).

More detail about the event, which is open to the public, is here.

You can register for the free event here.

As announced by organizers:

Keynote speakers Judge Lilia Alvarez and attorney Kirstin Eidenbach will discuss how best to deter juveniles from entering the system.

Judge Alvarez is the presiding judge for the Guadalupe Municipal Court and also leads a “teen court” in Guadalupe. Kirstin Eidenbach is an admired attorney who focuses on prisoners’ rights issues.

Attorney Kirstin Eidenbach, a keynote speaker at the 2016 Prison Education Conference

Attorney Kirstin Eidenbach, a keynote speaker at the 2016 Prison Education Conference

Michelle Ribeiro, recently retired from the New Mexico Corrections Department, will speak on the creation of the Pen Project—a class that allows maximum security and other incarcerated writers to receive feedback from ASU interns. Sheldon Thompson, a Pen Project participant who, on his release, was accepted on scholarship to the Institute of American Indian Arts, will speak of his educational experiences (both in and out of prison) and also share some of his creative work.

Click here to watch a video of Michelle Ribeiro’s remarks at last year’s conference.

Michelle Ribeiro speaks at ASU in 2015.

Michelle Ribeiro speaks at ASU in 2015.

And you can read a class description of the Pen Project class here.

For a terrific roundup of last year’s conference, go here.

The conference is hosted by the Prison Education Awareness Club (PEAC) and the Department of English.

A historic Boston cemetery contains the seeds of much of our nation's legacy.

A historic Boston cemetery contains the seeds of much of our nation’s legacy.

A brief pictorial tour today, from Boston, Mass.

No trip to a historic city is complete without a stop in a graveyard or two. Many of you may have dropped into the cemeteries near the city’s North End. A glance at the inscriptions yields a history lesson, and quite a few regarding prominent attorneys.

Some more photos are below. Have a wonderful—and epitaph-free—weekend.

Boston 2014 2 Paul Revere

Boston 2014 3 cemertery gravestone

Boston 2014 4 gravestone cemetery

Volunteers Roger Ferland and Kay Nehring at the 2013 Arizona StandDown. (photo: Alberto Rodriguez)

Volunteers Roger Ferland and Kay Nehring at the 2013 Arizona StandDown. (photo: Alberto Rodriguez)

Some great front-page news: How often can you say that?

But that’s exactly what we had in yesterday’s Arizona Republic, where we learned that attorney Roger Ferland had been honored as the Outstanding Disabled Vet of the Year by the National Disabled Veterans of America.

The story, aptly titled “Phoenix veteran keeps giving back,” is here.

ArmyOneSource logoYou may recall hearing Roger’s name before, often in regard to his massive efforts to assist vets who may need legal assistance.

I wrote about him here, as he played a key role in the Arizona StandDown.

He also was a force for good in the Bar’s participation in the initiative called Army One Source, a national program to recruit volunteer lawyers. Through the leadership of Roger, Arizona yielded the highest number of volunteer lawyers of any participating state. You can read more about that program here.

Congratulations to Roger Ferland, and thank you for your service.

And a hat-tip to John Phelps for alerting me to this great news.

Dianne Barker just wants to cartwheel. Is that so bad?

Dianne Barker just wants to cartwheel. Is that so bad?

OK, that may have been a link-baiting headline if there ever was one. But a recent Arizona news story teaches us one of America’s oldest lessons: Leave it to a lawyer to crush a woman’s cartwheeling dreams.

The facts are simple: A woman expressed herself at a public hearing not simply through her words, but also through a cartwheel. Cue the irked board, which had its attorney send a “please knock it off” letter.

What, were all the lemonade stands already boarded up thanks to covenants not to compete?

I joke, of course (as this is Change of Venue Friday). The anti-cartwheeling letter that attorney Fredda Bisman sent this week was entirely understandable—though the sentiment behind it has become the butt of quite a few jokey news stories.

Here’s what happened, as reported by Arizona Republic reporter Dustin Gardiner. (Dustin covers all kinds of serious, City Hall-type stuff, too. But this story is the gift that keeps on giving.)

Dianne Barker is a community activist and what acid-reflux-affected public officials call (through clenched teeth) a “gadfly.” I know Dianne, and she speaks often and whole-heartedly at many public meetings.

The 65-year-old woman also takes a shine to cheerleading outfits. And she has developed a reputation as someone who will offer a cartwheel—along with her words—during public comment periods.

Most recently, she offered the alley-oop at a meeting of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). As the topic was transportation, and as she is a bicyclist and wellness advocate, she may have been merely expressing the value of getting out of our cars.

You should read the whole story here.

It’s happened before, apparently. For more background, here is an excerpt from minutes of a March 28, 2012, MAG meeting (found via this news story). As you’ll see, Dianne cites to a higher authority—now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“Chair Hallman recognized public comment from Dianne Barker, who stated that multimodal feels good. She said that she used to do cartwheels, but the doctors and lawyers stopped that. Ms. Barker said that she saw Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the Arizona Centennial celebration and she asked Justice O’Connor what might happen if Ms. Barker were to do a cartwheel in her courthouse to which Justice O’Connor replied to just do it and see what they say. She did the cartwheel and the guards liked it.”

Back to the current legal tumble and the letter sent to Dianne. This blog’s legal audience yearns (I know) to read the letter itself, so here it is:

Diane Barker cartwheeling letter

I know what you’re thinking: What part of Citizens United does this lawyer not understand? If money is speech, how could a cartwheel be anything less? (Yes, I joke.)

Time, place and manner restrictions? Can cheerleaders shout “Go, Phoenix!” in a crowded boardroom? Perhaps Dianne should foreswear the cartwheel and shift to a vocal offering: “Two, four, six, eight, what do we appreciate? A little humor! Sheesh!”

Of course, anyone who has ever had a client can picture the conversation between the MAG leadership and the MAG general counsel: “You want me to send her a letter that orders her to stop cartwheeling? Really? You do know this will end up on the late-night comedy shows, and be confused with an Onion story—right?”

But the client proposes, and the counselor disposes.

Finally, I can’t top the way a newspaper reporter concluded his coverage (and got “tyranny” in the headline): “Give her gymnastics, or give her death.” (Writer Larry O’Connor goes on to muse what George Washington would have thought of cartwheels. ‘Nuff said.)

Have an exhilarating—and legally aerobic—weekend.

Let's start the lawyer-love by foreswearing attorney jokes, for one day at least. Be Kind to Lawyers Day no jokes. Snoopy Peanuts cartoon.

Let’s start the lawyer-love by forswearing attorney jokes, for one day at least

Yesterday, I am slightly bemused to note, was Be Kind to Lawyers Day.

Understand, I am not in favor of the opposite. I tend to like lawyers in the aggregate, and many in particular. But there are a few reasons I’m a day late (and a dollar short, as my dad used to say) with my attorney affection.

1. I’m in a vortex in which I miss significant dates by exactly one day. For example, April Fools’ Day came a day late in my mind (and blog). I’m sure it’s some kind of cry for help, but let’s move on.

2. Upon hearing of this “holiday,” my first thought was that the day exists for one reason only: To help blog writers. After all, we have a news hole to fill. And how many of us are willing to muse on the nexus between lawyers and kindness? (OK, not that many.) (And did I just use “nexus” and “kindness” in the same sentence? Someone cite me for contempt.)

3. Finally, yesterday was also Equal Pay Day. Before you start telling me it’s not official or nationally sanctioned, let’s remember that (a) you’re reading a blog and not the Federal Register and (b) you’re rising up in defense of something called Be Kind to Lawyers Day. We really must get over ourselves, mustn’t we?

So yes, it irked just a bit to advocate embracing advocates as others were advocating for equal pay for women and men. As a woman I respect stated, “Annoyed that we even have to have a day about this, so I’ll defer to Queen Bey: ‘smart enough to make the millions, strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.’ Yep, we run the world.”

But today is another day, and the more I think about it, the more the idea grows on me.

So I’m (semi)officially extending the festivities another day. (And won’t attorneys be surprised to be hugged the day after the holiday!? Brilliant, right?)

In case you missed it, here’s how the State Bar’s CLE Department reminded us on Facebook. Good job!

Be Kind to Lawyers Day hug

Bring it in here, buddy.

And if you’d like a reminder of how others celebrate a joyous lawyer holiday, read how I described the festivities surrounding World Intellectual Property Day. As I recall, I recommended you all hug a patent lawyer that day. How many did that? Uh-huh, I thought so.

To encourage the lawyer love, I will happily post a photo of you hugging a lawyer you love (or at least like quite a bit), plus a brief (100 words, tops) explanation of the non-billing-based foundation for your affection.

Let’s get this hugapalooza started.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

Here is some great news about a monthly State Bar event in which lawyers volunteer their time. Thanks for the news to Alberto Rodriguez.

The State Bar of Arizona, azcentral.com and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, March 11. Volunteers answered viewers’ calls regarding their employment and labor issues.

Eight volunteer attorneys participated:

  • Denise Blommel
  • Richard Galvan
  • Richard Klauer
  • Stephanie Leach
  • Leah Lewandowski
  • Dawn Sauer
  • Paul Sheston
  • Sandra Shoupe-Gorga

The attorneys answered 83 calls on employment and labor law. An additional 34 consumers were assisted via social media, which means a total of 117 people were helped.

Here is a sample of the consumer questions:

  • Since Arizona is a right-to-work state, what does that mean to me and my issue?
  • Can employers harass and discriminate against its employees?
  • When are you covered by workers’ compensation?
  • I haven’t been paid overtime wages. How do I go about getting them paid?
  • I was fired for reasons I believe to be unfair; what can I do?

Several questions regarding employment discrimination were asked, including in the areas of age, pregnancy, ethnicity and disabilities.

AZBAR labor and employment lawyers on call 03-11-14

Volunteer Arizona labor and employment lawyers answer consumer questions, March 11, 2014.

The azcentral.com and 12 News teams were successful in adding a social media component to the phone bank. Thirty-four consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Stephanie Leach responded with her recommendations/advice.

Four of the eight attorneys were first-time volunteers.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ family law questions on Tuesday, April 8.

Would I take professional advice from this woman? Um, yup, in a heartbeat. The smart and hilarious Roxie Bacon (on right) with a friend in New Zealand.

Would I take professional advice from this woman? Um, yup, in a heartbeat. The smart and hilarious Roxie Bacon (on right) with a friend in New Zealand.

What equals success? Do old measures of success still apply, especially in a tradition-bound profession like the law?

Those were a few of the questions raised recently in a brief book review by the so-very-talented Roxie Bacon.

Roxie is a great lawyer, as well as a former President of the State Bar of Arizona. She climbed the ladder of big-firm partner success, so when I spotted a book about women lawyer leaders, I thought immediately that she should review it.

So before February passes into history, I wanted to be sure you saw her review in our February issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

The book she was charged with reviewing is a publication of the American Bar Association titled Learning To Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law.

learning to lead book cover v2

Maybe it was the title’s “really” that initially set Roxie off. But she ultimately offered her not-entirely-salutary view of the book’s messages. Yes, she said that the suggestions were good, as far as they went—if you still buy in to the success measures adopted a generation ago. But Roxie points out that huge numbers of lawyers—men and women—are voting on those measure with their feet, as they decide to tread hallways other than those covered in the most expensive hand-knotted rugs.

You can read Roxie’s whole essay here.

I’m sure the review did not please the ABA. But since publication, I’ve heard from a number of people who enjoyed her view very much. They also compare the ABA book to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which some also believe sends dated messages to young women professionals.

What are your thoughts on how women (especially) may best succeed in law firms? Do the old measures of success still apply? Should they?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Do you have an opinion on a possible dues increase by the State Bar of Arizona?

I will pause here, as I am sure you’re laughing at my simple-minded question.

pause buttonMy point is that everyone seems to have an opinion on the possibility of an increase, which would be the first since 2005.

If you’re curious to hear contrary views on the topic staked out, this Wednesday afternoon will be a good opportunity.

Maricopa County Bar Association MCBA logoAt 5:00 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Maricopa County Bar Association is hosting what it calls an “informational session” (let’s hope that means more light than heat). It is free, but they would prefer that you RSVP here.

I spoke with Allen Kimbrough, the MCBA Executive Director, and I’m happy to report that Arizona Attorney content will be part of the dialogue. Attendees will receive copies of our February issue FAQs, as well as our published pro and con.

The Wednesday event will feature two speakers who were our same authors—State Bar President Whitney Cunningham on the pro side, and Bar Governor Sam Saks taking up the con gauntlet.

I look forward to seeing you there. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me about a possible increase; I may include them in an upcoming blog post.

possible dues increase calculator

AzAt magazine turned to beads 1

Arizona Attorney Magazine provides value coming and going! Here we are living the bead life.

“Remind me to tell you about the great, new upcycling project that involves Arizona Attorney Magazine.”

And so began a dialogue with a driven attorney who decided to get off the bench and offer some legal advice to people who needed it. The work Lora Sanders does is certainly admirable; I’ll get to that.

But I must admit that I was intrigued by her mention of the magazine and upcycling in the same sentence.

I wrote about Lora in my October Editor’s Letter in Arizona Attorney Magazine (see image below). There, I described how she meets in a coffee shop—Songbird Coffee & Tea House in downtown Phoenix—to answer what questions she can and refer those she can’t.

AzAt October 2013 Editor's Letter

In a minute, I will share with you my Q&A with Lora. I hope it inspires a few other attorneys to get a coffee and offer some advice.

But first, let me explain the magazine upcycling.

In a labor-intensive process, Sanders said that the magazine pages are removed (after being read first, she assured me!) and rolled tightly into jewelry beads. They then could be fashioned into bracelets and sold to assist parents who must set life and job aside to accompany children during long hospitalizations.

I’ve never been so pleased to hear that people had ripped up the magazine. Arizona Attorney—that’s how we roll.

Cafe O Law Lora Sanders 1 Niba delCastillo

Lora Sanders, right, consults at Songbird Coffee & Tea, Phoenix (photo by Niba delCastillo).

Here, finally, is my conversation with attorney Lora Sanders:

Me: What is the general timeline of Café O’Law? When was your first “seating,” and how many have you had?

Lora: I began Café O’Law several years ago, in 2010, and we would meet irregularly, every few months, often at a friend’s former restaurant. I was trying to develop an appropriate format (speakers? breakout sessions? networking?), but also spending the summers in Sweden, so it was an evolving project. The name came from my meeting clients and potential clients all over the Valley at coffee shops, usually because it was more convenient than meeting at my office, or they required a meeting time outside of conventional business hours. So there I was with my cafe au lait at Café O’Law.

Summer 2013, I was gradually preparing to resume a more active family law practice, as my husband was finishing his book. I was already meeting people at the Songbird, so I asked Jonathan & Erin [Carroll, the owners] whether I could plan a regular meeting there. I decided to make it a casual one-on-one question & answer meeting, just like any other brief consultation. We have met perhaps a dozen times, but just resumed at the Songbird in June 2013.

On a broader, more personal note, all four of my grandparents were immigrants and I often think how astonished and amazed they would be (especially my grandmothers) to see the life I lead and to know that I graduated from law school. My father, who would have been 100 this year (he died at age 94), put himself through college, graduate school, and law school (eventually amassing more than 300 college credits) as the child of non-English-speaking immigrants—the real American success story. I am always mindful that, no matter how many complaints we have about our country, its government, or bad people, this is an amazing nation and it is still the land of opportunity.

Me: When are your next few seatings scheduled?

Lora: We always meet on the first Mondays of each month, from 4-7 pm at the Songbird. So, Monday, October 7, November 4 and December 2.

Cafe O Law and Songbird logosMe: How many people do you estimate you’ve served?

Lora: I have met with, exchanged emails and Facebook messages with dozens of people, just this summer.

Me: Have other lawyers been involved?

Lora: Yes, I have had several attorneys, some of whom are friends, or have introduced themselves to me, meet with me, and chat or meet with some people who have questions more specific to their practice. I would rather not mention anyone, without naming all, but I am happy for any attorney to join me; I am always glad to know more attorneys for referral of potential clients and questions.

Me: And those paper beads! Do you craft them yourself? What do you do with the beads, how are they sold, and what organizations benefit?

Lora: My friend, Julie Vu, and I were discussing volunteer projects last spring. She told me that her young daughter wanted to get involved in volunteering, but was too young for most of the projects that could be found at handsonphoenix.org and volunteermatch.org. I told her about In2books.com, which I participate in every school year. You are paired as a mentor with an elementary-school reader, the child selects the books and you read them together and exchange emails through the teacher. E-volunteering at its best! Julie has young twins, one of whom had a lengthy hospitalization after birth. She told me about spending many long, lonely hours at the hospital, and that she would like to raise money to help those parents who are similarly situated and provide them with some company and things to do.

So I came up with the Arizona Attorney paper beads project, to be crafted into bracelets. To date, I have crafted the beads. We are just getting under way and Julie and I will host some bead-making/bracelet parties and we will work on how they will be sold, funds raised, etc.

Me: What made you decide to launch Café O’Law? Why do you enjoy doing this?

Lora: My original inspiration was an attorney in the San Fernando Valley, CA, named Kim Pearman, who operated a hot dog stand called “Law Dogs” for 25 years, selling Plaintiff Dogs, Police Dogs, etc. I lived in L.A. in the 1970s and 1980s, and everyone knew about Mr. Pearman, who would dispense free legal advice with a hot dog. (Here is an article on Pearman from a 1984 People magazine.)

Cafe O Law Lora Sanders headshot

Lora Sanders

He was out there every week, without benefit of email or smart phones. He even took on the pro bono representation of certain clients. I thought that what this man did was absolutely heroic.

As an attorney, it is easy to forget how difficult it is for people who have not been to law school to negotiate their way through the endless stream of forms, statutes, procedures, regulations, applications, leases, contracts that are a regular part of our lives. On one difficult case I was working on, after spending two hours on the phone trying to get some guidance from public officials, one very nice woman said to me, “I’m sorry; I can’t help you. You will have to hire an attorney.”

I am happiest when I can put someone’s mind at ease, and offer them that small bit of reassurance, or send them to a resource that can take care of a problem. 

Me: What benefit do you think questioners get from the conversations?

AzAt magazine turned to beads 3

Arizona Attorney Magazine, transformed into beads.

Lora: It is a very casual and comfortable way to ask questions in a non-threatening environment, without the cost and uncertainty of seeking out and hiring a lawyer. The true benefit is that an individual does not have to determine what type of lawyer or professional can guide them, or worry whether it is worth the investment of their time and money to ask for advice or guidance. I believe that the most common legal mistake made by people, that I see, is waiting too long to ask for advice. I understand completely that people do not want to spend money unnecessarily, but it always hurts me when potential clients come to me in a panic with a disaster that has been forming for a period of years, or tell me that they are due in court next week or next month, and they have never even consulted with an attorney.

Me: If other lawyers are interested in doing this kind of thing, what advice would you give them?

Lora: Utilize social media and let your clients, former clients and friends know that you are willing to offer this service or something like it. Volunteer your time and energy to any kind of volunteer project that interests you, not just as an attorney. Be grateful. As an attorney, in spite of hardship or hard work, remember that you occupy a position of great privilege, so use your talents and gifts where you can, for good, not just for profit. Finally, take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself so seriously.

Me: Could other lawyers participate with you, or start their own Café O’Law, or both?

Lora: Yes, and yes! I am happy to hear from any attorneys who would like to attend a Café O’Law meeting, or start their own. I do not have a designated website and I do not anticipate getting involved in any large scheduling or organizing project; however, I am always open to suggestions. I have lived in Arizona since 1987, and I love the downtown Phoenix energy and long-awaited, growing sense of community. If any attorneys have ideas for a similar event or variation in their neighborhoods, they should contact me. If they would like to host Café O’Law sessions at the Songbird, but on a different date or time, that would probably work as well.

Cafe O'Law signup sheet (coffee not included with consultation!).

Cafe O’Law signup sheet (coffee not included with consultation!).

State Bar of Arizona logoHere is some great news I pass on from the State Bar of Arizona. Congratulations to all the lawyer–leaders of the Bar Leadership Institute.

Sixteen attorneys from across the state have been selected to participate in the State Bar of Arizona’s 2013-14 Bar Leadership Institute (BLI).

For the seventh year in a row, the BLI will provide its participants with a nine-month leadership program that will foster their professional growth and enhance their leadership skills.

2013-14 Participants:

  • Jason Barraza, Veridus, LLC
  • Brandon Brown, Pima County Attorney’s Office
  • Patrick Camunez, Solo Practitioner
  • Thomas Chiang, Maricopa Public Defender’s Office
  • Charity A. Collins, Goodyear City Prosecutor’s Office
  • Joni Lawrence, Thermo Fluids Inc.
  • Francesca Montenegro, Wood Smith Henning & Berman LLP
  • Nora Nuñez, Federal Public Defender’s Office
  • Javier Puig, Schiffman Law Office PC
  • Andrew Reilly, Office of the Attorney General
  • Denise Ryan, Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community
  • Brenda Sandoval, Federal Public Defender’s Office
  • Laura Schiesl, Farhang & Medcoff
  • Natalya Ter-Grigoryan, Tiffany & Bosco PA
  • Michael Valenzuela, Office of the Attorney General
  • Janina Walters, Pinal County Attorney’s Office

Bar Leadership sessions cover topics ranging from leadership, ethics and career development to conversations with judges, government attorneys, in-house counsel and executives. Participants can receive up to two years of CLE credit.

The participants were selected based on their legal and non-legal community contributions, as well as their statements of interest and qualifications. All participants must be active Bar members in good standing. The participants represent a diverse range of racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious communities, among others.

Upon completion, the BLI participants must commit to a full year of active involvement with the State Bar and/or the community.

More information on the Bar Leadership Institute is here. For more detail, contact Elena Nethers at 602-340-7393.

Here is a photo of the BLI’s recent graduates from the 2012-13 class, whom I reported on here.

State Bar of Arizona BLI graduates 2013

2013 BLI Graduates—Back row, L to R: Brad Martin, Blair Moses, Elizabeth Kruschek, Buck Rocker, Doreen McPaul, Ray Ybarra Maldonado. Front row, L to R: Chris Tozzo, Tabatha LaVoie, Nicole Ong, Laura Huff, Annamarie Frank, Cid Kallen, Jessica Sanchez. Not pictured: Heather Baker.