Apps do a lot, but have you read their terms of use?

Apps do a lot, but have you read their terms of use?

This past weekend, when I had a few spare moments, I was perusing the terms of use of my Snapchat account.

What, doesn’t everyone do that?

Probably not. But we occasionally should wonder a little more about the legal side of those app-tastic tools.

For instance, I was struck by the open approach at the very top of those terms. In fact, they highlight a binding arbitration provision you may be agreeing to. The ALL-CAPS are theirs:

“ARBITRATION NOTICE: WE WANT TO LET YOU KNOW UP FRONT THAT THESE TERMS CONTAIN AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE A LITTLE LATER ON. EXCEPT FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF DISPUTES MENTIONED IN THAT ARBITRATION CLAUSE, YOU AND SNAPCHAT AGREE THAT DISPUTES BETWEEN US WILL BE RESOLVED BY MANDATORY BINDING ARBITRATION, AND YOU AND SNAPCHAT WAIVE ANY RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT OR CLASS-WIDE ARBITRATION.”

Charming, in a way—though certainly driven by courts that have looked askance at such provisions when they are hidden away, deep down in legalese. But no one who glanced at even the top sentence of Snap’s term could miss that blunt warning.

Turns out, I could have opted out of the requirement of mandatory binding arbitration, simply by sending a letter to that effect to their snail-mail address (within 30 days of these changed terms).

Did I? No, though I considered it simply as a fun exercise (and a second blog post!). I passed on the legal Bartleby moment partly through laziness. But partly also because I’m just conspiracy-theory-amenable enough that I would fear they’d take the six, or eight, or 10 decline-letters they receive every month and “accidentally” close our accounts.

Irrational? I get it. Whatevs.

And apparently, I’m not the only one fascinated by terms of service. Just this morning, the lead question in the ABA Journal’s legal-news quiz focused on PokemonGo’s TofS. So there:

PokemonGo terms of service was a subject in an ABA Journal news quiz this week. Do you know the answer? I did.

PokemonGo terms of service was a subject in an ABA Journal news quiz this week. Do you know the answer? I did.

Meantime, to add to our social media joy, how many of us are aware that social media clauses in prenuptial agreements are now a thing?

Plastic bride and groom with gavel, on white - divorce conceptIt’s true. Not only might you want to keep grandma’s stocks and grandpa’s bullion out of the hands of your formerly betrothed. Now, you want them to keep their hands off your social media assets.

Romantic, I know.

Read the essay by Jaburg Wilk attorney Jason Castle here. And follow him on Twitter @CastleAzlaw @Jaburg_Wilk

As Jason tells us:

“For example, the clause would address what and how information is shared whether it is positive, negative, insulting, embarrassing or includes flattering photos, images, or other content. I recommend keeping the clause as broad as possible to accommodate the rapidly growing technology because the technology of today will be outdated within 10 years. I also believe prior to marriage it is important for the parties to clearly understand what they each define as private and what is acceptable to be shared with others. Another component of a social media clause can include the ability to monitor the other spouse’s social media activities.”

And that’s even before he gets to the awfulness of revenge porn. I mean, people are the worst.

What new technology–law–love mashups have you come across recently? (And do you also read terms of use of your apps? Please say you do.)

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition. love technology law

Very scientific Venn diagram catalogs the human condition.

To make the whole thing more legally accessible, I’ve created the Venn diagram above. You’re welcome. (And for all my law school professors who wondered about my legal acumen: Boom!)

Comment below or write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

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.

pro bono gavelFans of lawyers and the service they provide (count me in) always look forward to Law Day. Traditionally close to early May, Law Day helps cement the important connection between members of the public, attorneys, judges and the rule of law.

Searching for “law day” in my blog leads to a surprising number of hits over the years. Clearly, I am taken by the pro bono value attorneys provide (here is last year’s post). And this year is no exception.

Like last year, the State Bar of Arizona’s approach will be to offer free legal advice clinics, in the Valley and in Tucson. The clinics will cover a wide variety of legal topics, including landlord and tenant; bankruptcy and foreclosure; immigration; and divorce, child support and paternity.

Volunteer lawyers will conduct the 90-minute “information sessions.”

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color“Guests can participate in one or more sessions at one of the five partner locations.”

The events will be held on Saturday, April 26. Please spread the word and share this post with anyone you think might benefit from some free legal advice.

All the detail, including times and specific locations, can be found here.

Later this week I will share another Law Day event, hosted by an independent legal organization. The more the merrier.

State Bar of Arizona Lawyers on Call 11-7-13

Some news from my State Bar of Arizona colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona and 12 News hosted the November Lawyers on Call on Thursday, November 7. The topic of the public service program that evening was family law.

The following lawyers, some first-time volunteers, offered their time and experience for the consumer call-in program:

  • Jennifer Brown
  • Mark Candioto
  • Craig Cherney
  • David Enevoldsen
  • Larry G. Haddy
  • Ryan Hardy
  • Heidi Lukaskik
  • Jennifer Moshier

State Bar of Arizona logoThey answered an impressive 146 calls on divorce, child support and paternity issues. An additional nine consumers were assisted via social media.

Sample of consumer questions:

  • How can I get child support modified?
  • How do I resolve parenting time conflicts?
  • How do I prove paternity?
  • How can I terminate father’s/parenting rights?
  • What are my rights as a grandparent?
  • What is the difference between a legal separation and divorce?
  • Who pays for medical expenses after a divorce?
  • How do I qualify for spousal maintenance?

The 12 News team was again successful in adding a social media component to the phone bank. Consumers could ask their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Jennifer Brown responded with her recommendations and legal advice.

Lincoln_by John Holcomb

Abraham Lincoln would want you to share news of the State Bar’s great Law Day event. (painting by John Holcomb)

The State Bar of Arizona has a rich tradition of participating in Law Day, that annual national event reminding all of us how valuable the rule of law can be. And this year, they continue that commitment.

I have been privileged to moderate the Bar’s Law Day event a few times. In 2008, our topic was judicial merit selection, and we had a blast with a talented panel of speakers who are lawyers and judges. When I moderated, I had the chance to ask challenging questions that (I hope) led panelists to explore the topic fully.

I recall being offered a deep scowl when I devil’s-advocated a former Bar President panelist with the question, “So why not sign on to Senate confirmation of judges? Our current system came from Missouri, not from Moses.”

The next year, I was the moderator of our program centered on the screening of competing Law Day videos created by high school students. Much of it is a blur, but I do recall that I wore a beard and stovepipe hat to honor Abraham Lincoln. (Good times. No photo survives.)

So my Law Day affection is deep and abiding, and that’s why I am looking forward to this year’s offering by the Bar (no moderating required).

The Bar’s events will occur on Saturday, April 27, and they aim to provide the highest possible testimony to the value of our legal system—by providing actual legal information to those who need it most.

State Bar of Arizona logoThe very ambitious programming will cover four-plus legal topics, and the information will be provided at five locations around the Valley and in Tucson. There will be no charge.

More information on the clinics is here, or contact my colleague Alberto Rodriguez at 602-340-7293 or alberto.rodriguez@staff.azbar.org.

And if any lawyer-readers want to participate by offering her or his services, for one session, a half-day or (dare I ask it?) a full day, also contact Alberto. He is seeking lawyers who can provide information in the following focus areas: landlord/tenant; immigration (there will be sessions in both Spanish and English); divorce, child support and paternity; and bankruptcy and foreclosure. 

Abe Lincoln would have been proud.

And for those who join me in being pleased at the Bar’s commitment to legal services and the value of lawyers and law, let me share one anecdote that I read at my Law Day moderator gig in 2008:

“During the Suez Invasion of 1956, the British Prime Minister was careful to exclude opinions that disagreed with his approach. He specifically instructed that Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, the very distinguished Legal Advisor to the Foreign Office, and who had strongly and consistently advised that the British action was unlawful, should not be informed of developments: ‘Fitz is the last person I want consulted. The lawyers are always against our doing anything. For God’s sake, keep them out of it. This is a political affair.’”

That quality—of independent and honest counsel—is more valuable and more in need than ever before. Remember to share around the Bar’s Law Day agenda and encourage participation.

From the State Bar of Arizona, 12 News and the Arizona Republic, news about some Arizona lawyers who are offering their services pro bono this afternoon (links to attorney websites are provided where available):

The State Bar of Arizona and 12 News will team up today to help answer legal questions about divorce and child-support issues, for free.

Arizonans who have divorce and child-custody questions can call 602-258-1212 from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Bar association will provide eight volunteer attorneys who are trained in family-law issues.

Callers are asked to limit questions to that area of law.

The volunteer attorneys are Kiilu Davis, Jan M. Buescher, Jennifer Moshier, Falynn S. Baum, Gilbert B. Weiner, Laura Gillis, Nancy L. Khiel and Paul C. Riggs.

On Thursday, a similar panel of attorneys will answer divorce and child-support questions from Spanish-speaking residents on Univision 33 from 5 to 7 p.m. Spanish-speaking residents can call 602-232-3535.

The complete story (to share with those who could benefit most) is here.

The State Bar of Arizona hosts another in its series of successful lawyer-volunteer events this evening. “Lawyers on Call,” the successful longtime partnership with Phoenix’s 12 News KPNX TV, will focus tonight on divorce and child support. Read the Arizona Republic story here.

The event is held the first Tuesday of every month. As always, people with questions may call 602-258-1212 from 5 to 7 p.m.

I wrote before about the event and its remarkable track record of service to the public. That story includes the Bar’s upcoming roster of topics through the end of the year.

Congratulations and thanks to tonight’s volunteer lawyers (click on their names for more information):

    (The news story spelled one lawyer’s name wrong; it’s not Heidi Kukascik, but Lukacsik.)

Two un-family law stories for your perusal on this Change of Venue Friday. What do they say about the state of (marital) affairs, and about Arizona?

The first item revealed the Top 50 cities with the worst divorce rates. You should take a look; Arizona was well represented in the list.

City Number 2 was Sierra Vista, Ariz. Any attorneys in that city want to chime in on why the ranking is so high? The most recent State Bar Directory shows just over 50 lawyers in Sierra Vista. Come on, all: Inquiring minds want to know.

(It’s also worth your time to read the comments posted after the story. Arizona gets some pretty harsh criticism from readers.)

A second story examined the increase in requests for prenuptial agreements, even among the middle class. Apparently in a bad economy, everyone wants to hang on to what’s theirs.

Have a good weekend, whether you’re at work or—preferably—at home with loved ones.