A new book by Arizona lawyers explains divorce in the Grand Canyon State.

A new book by Arizona lawyers explains divorce in the Grand Canyon State.

It’s January, and if statistics are true, you may be considering divorce.

Too abrupt? Sorry. How about this:

According to experts (OK, Findlaw, but still), the number of Americans filing for divorce increases in January each year and typically peaks in March.

A head-scratcher, that. But Dickinson Wright family law attorney Marlene Pontrelli says, “A major factor is people not wanting to file for divorce during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Waiting until after the holidays seems to be easier for couples, especially those with children.”

So it may not be you. But someone in your circle may be about to pop the big D question.

Why do I raise this macabre topic? Because Pontrelli and a fellow Dickinson lawyer Robert Schwartz will be signing copies of their book Divorce in Arizona: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect at the Tempe branch of Changing Hands Bookstore this coming Saturday, January 10. They’ll be there from noon until 2:00 p.m.

Organizers describe the book as “a roadmap for couples obtaining a legal separation or divorce in Arizona. It answers the key questions that may arise during the process as well as questions people may not have thought to ask.”

Read more about the book here.

The bookstore is located at 6428 South McClintock Drive, Tempe. Phone: (480) 730-0205.

The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are headed to Arizona. If you're considering renting your home short-term, there are a few things you should consider.

The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are headed to Arizona. If you’re considering renting your home short-term, there are a few things you should consider.

Today I am pleased to share a guest post written by an Arizona lawyer. Spencer Cashdan (see his bio after the post) offered a piece on an extremely timely topic: renting your home during Super Bowl season (or, really, anytime paying vacationers come to town).

If this question has ever intrigued you—or if you find yourself on the lessee end of the exchange, his leasing tips could be very valuable.

(And if you decide to rent your space, consider whether to tout it as a Super Bowl bargain, or if doing that would unduly rankle the Big Game organizers.)

Without further ado, here’s Spencer:

Each year, the Valley hosts myriad events such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Barrett–Jackson Collector Car Auction that attract out-of-state guests. This season, more visitors than ever will come to town in 2015 for the NFL Pro Bowl and the Big Game.

With more than 1 million people expected to flock to Phoenix, short-term rentals are in high demand. Valley homeowners have turned to renting out their property to capitalize on the influx of activity and money that we will see this upcoming year.

However, short-term or vacation rentals can have their own set of legal issues. That’s why I offer the following “Legal Leasing Tips” for homeowners.

Q: Is it legal in Arizona to rent property for a short-term lease?

A: Some homes are subject to covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that address the issue of whether short-term rentals are permitted. Absent any such recorded restriction affecting a home, renting your home is legal. However, acting as a broker to help rent another person’s home for them is not legal (unless you have a real estate license) because that is acting as a broker without a license.

Q: In creating a short-term rental agreement, are there any statutes or acts that must be included?

A: Any rental agreement must comply with the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This act outlines many of the rights and responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant.

Q: What do homeowners need to have in order to keep their home and valuables protected?

Spencer Cashdan Dickinson Wright

Attorney Spencer Cashdan, Member at Dickinson Wright law firm.

A: As for valuables in the home, they should either be removed prior to the renter’s occupancy, or the homeowner must take a sufficient security deposit to cover the cost of damage/stolen items. To ensure protection to homeowners, a credit check/background check can be performed to see if the renter has any past violations.

Q: From a visitor’s standpoint, what should they look for before entering into a rental agreement?

A: A visitor/renter needs to make sure that the purported owner of the property is, in fact, the owner, and has the authority to rent the property. These issues don’t often present themselves in a short-term one-week rental, but you never know. It’s easy to check ownership of property in Maricopa County—that information is free on the Maricopa County website, so it’s worth checking before signing a rental agreement.


With vacation rental rates ranging anywhere from $50 to $4,000 a night, keeping both parties safe in a rental agreement is ideal for the upcoming season of activity. Educated homeowners who take the necessary precautions before entering into an agreement will have little to worry about in terms of renting out their home.

About the Author: Spencer W. Cashdan is a member of the Arizona law office of Dickinson Wright PLLC. Cashdan is ranked among the Best Lawyers in America list, and represents clients in a broad range of real estate transactions for both unimproved real property and improved real property, including shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, industrial parks, mixed use developments and master planned communities. In addition to Arizona, Dickinson Wright has law offices in Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington D.C. and Toronto. Across over 40 practice areas, their team of 350 lawyers service a range of clients from Fortune 500 companies to small and emerging businesses and government entities, nonprofits and individuals.

Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

On October 21, law firm Dickinson Wright held an open house to showcase their new space in the Viad Corporate Tower in midtown Phoenix. I stopped by to take a look.

Congratulations to the firm and its managing partner, Gary Birnbaum, who made some terrific choices for the new offices (especially in flooring and lighting—nice work!).

The event was impressive, and even included some culture. It was a pleasure and a treat to have live performances by talented young actors from the Valley Youth Theatre. They performed a selection of works from the then-current show Narnia. (Full disclosure: My daughter is in an upcoming VYT show. And as long as I’m disclosing, note that tickets are available here for A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail. If you go, give extra applause to Rabbit; I’d appreciate it.)

Touring law firm offices is a little like assessing gradations of diamond quality through a loupe. I mean, most of these offices rival fine hotel spaces in their sophisticated opulence. Among that class of office, though, I must say that the firm has created interior spaces that would be great to inhabit for 1,900 billable hours per year or so.

What made my tour a real pleasure, though, was the company. Firm partner Fred Cummings and communications pro Andrea Kalmanovitz made sure I saw ever item I desired and were helpful in answering all my intrusive questions.

For example, on the nuts and bolts, in case you’re wondering: According to the firm, the initial Dickinson Wright Arizona office lease agreement is through 2026.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright's Phoenix offices.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright’s Phoenix offices.

Fred’s good humor was especially appreciated. He even showed me his office, which (honestly, Fred) could use a few homey touches.

One thing I was pleased to see is the new space for the firm library. I knew it must be much reduced, and it is. Here is a photo of that new area:

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

As firms make these moves, they must decide whether and how to carry over their voluminous volumes. Most, like Dickinson, must pare down to a select few tomes. For not only are fewer lawyers turning to the print books, but the massive weight of them can make tenant improvement costs prohibitive. For example, in a multi-floor firm, the floor that holds your full-blown library can cost many times your other floors, simply for shoring up that paper weight.

(Another approach I noted last year in Fennemore Craig’s new offices: Subdividing that smaller number of volumes among the floors and spaces to site certain volumes near relevant practice groups of attorneys.)

This library-reduction development is not simply an Arizona one, of course. About a week ago, the New York Times ran article on Kaye Scholer’s new space. It’s titled “So Little Paper to Chase in a Law Firm’s New Library,” and here is a photo of that storied firm’s new library space (Dickinson’s may be nicer):

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Back at Dickinson Wright, the firm used the interior design services of Krause Interior Architects: Brad Krause, Jennifer Consentino and Alexandra Ayres. Andrea Kalmanovitz also tells me that the firm has worked with KIA in connection with its previous relocation and various expansions of its facilities. “The color scheme (largely gray, white, blue and various wood tones) was selected by the architect to convey a modern image and to reflect the youth and vitality of the Firm. The space consists of approximately 45,000 square feet.”

Some more photos from my tour are below (click to biggify). Congratulations again to Dickinson Wright on their beautiful new digs. Here’s to your attorneys, whether they enjoy using print books or not.