The newly reimagined Copper Blues in downtown Phoenix is the site for a State Bar networking event.

The newly reimagined Copper Blues in downtown Phoenix is the site for a State Bar networking event.

News from the State Bar of Arizona about a networking event TONIGHT. I’ll be there, and I hope you can make it too.

It will be held at Copper Blues in downtown Phoenix. If you follow the awesome @DowntownPhoenix on Instagram (full disclosure: I’m proud to be on its board), you’ve already learned that the venue was just redesigned and includes shuffleboard, live plant walls, an expanded patio and more. Stop in to have great conversation and to “celebrate their reopening with a cold one from one of the 60 craft brew taps.”

The October networking event is presented by the State Bar of Arizona Young Lawyers Division, Real Property Section, and Public Lawyers Section – exclusively for State Bar members.

Join us for food (complimentary appetizers and desserts), drinks, and fun.

When: TONIGHT: Thursday, October 12, 2017 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Copper Blues in Downtown Phoenix, 50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix

Click here for directions (parking validated for underground garage).

You're invited state bar of arizona

Thank you to our generous sponsors:

Attorney Terry Goddard leads a tour of the Monroe Abbey, April 21, 2016.

Attorney Terry Goddard leads a tour of the Monroe Abbey, April 21, 2016.

Before the June issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine moves off our digital landing page, I share my editor’s letter from that issue, about a remarkable transformation occurring in downtown Phoenix, and the lawyer driving the change.

Here is a video of Terry Goddard describing the resurrection of the historic First Baptist Church:

 As my column opens:

Do you ever hear from new lawyers wondering what your “best case” was? Or your favorite legal memory?

Monroe Abbey column detail

Monroe Abbey column detail

That may be a hard question, but I’m guessing it doesn’t involve your biggest financial windfall. Or even the one that got written up in your law office’s client newsletter.

Instead, it may have been the case that allowed you to devise a great solution out of what had been a pile of rubble. Perhaps one that made a transformative difference for someone.

I’ve thought about that question a lot as I passed a beautiful hulking mass of a building in downtown Phoenix for more than 10 years. After many trials and tribulations—and even a blistering fire—the historic First Baptist Church is on its way back to making a useful community contribution.

To me, there’s no surprise that an attorney has been driving that preservation effort.

 Terry Goddard served as Phoenix Mayor from 1984 to 1990, and as Arizona Attorney General from 2003 to 2011. But it took more than good lawyering to see the potential in the 1929 building, which was ravaged by fire in 1984. Gazing in dismay at the empty shell, Goddard decided to take action. He founded a nonprofit—called Housing Opportunities Center—that purchased the church and saved it from what was almost certain demolition in 1992.

Today called the Monroe Abbey, the structure sat, safe but fragile, for 22 years—the amount of time needed to raise renovation funds. Finally, in 2014 and 2015, work began to better stabilize the building and make adaptive reuse possible.

Read the complete column here.

Follow the Abbey itself here.

PEP creators and hosts Hattie Jean Hayes and Matt Storrs, doing a little reading.

PEP creators and hosts Hattie Jean Hayes and Matt Storrs, doing a little reading.

Last night, I had a surreal law-ish experience. And I recommend it to you on this Change of Venue Friday.

As I sat in the backyard of a downtown Phoenix business (and, I admit it, shivered in the Arizona “cold”), I marveled at the enthusiasm and innovation of the people behind Phoenix Educational Programming. Before you yawn, thinking a new CLE provider is in town, I point out that “PEP” is a performance art troupe. An eye-opening one, at that.

As they describe themselves, “Phoenix Educational Programming presents PEP Rally, a weekly show at Lawn Gnome Publishing that combines academia with the performing arts.”

Lawn Gnome Publishing imageYes, the backyard in question was behind Lawn Gnome, a bookstore shoehorned into a vintage bungalow. It’s the real deal.

PEP organizers Hattie Jean Hayes (host) and Matt Storrs (an attorney and the official “fact checker”) continually seek out great topics on which to deliver their PEP spin. Last night was Law, and a parade of speakers (some lawyers) offered their insight on topics such as the Federalist Papers, Jim Crow laws, Tindr, the right to confront your accuser, and the value of paralegals.

It’s law, plus humor, and a heaping dash of holy crap.

All of that is punctuated (like a semi-colon) by the comic riffs of emcees Hayes and Storrs.

Part of their shtick is to insist on an audience sacrifice—an individual who comes on stage and submits to their humorous razzing. They insist that unless someone comes up, they will not proceed with the show.

So, proverbial gun to head, I volunteered. What followed was one of my more fascinating nights in the fascinating place called downtown Phoenix. A cone of silence prevents me from sharing what was said by me or them, but let’s assume it involved recalling juvenile missteps and poor choices of judgment. Maybe I should not have been so forthcoming. But Hattie and Matt give so much, I had to give back.

Y’know. For the kids.

Here are a few photos I took of my inquisitors as I stood onstage (click to biggify).

In any case, though they may not revisit the topic of Law again anytime soon, I encourage you to seek them out whenever they hold a Rally, which they describe as “Phoenix’s best poets, comedians, storytellers, musicians, academics and performance artists exploring themes in a sometimes educational but always entertaining format!”

If that is not enough, the mantra they have selected for PEP comes from Malcolm X: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

Edgy, that.

Follow their antics on Facebook and Instagram (@peppics). And have a terrific—and PEP-filled—weekend.

PEP Rally Law

Art With Conviction logo

This Friday an art opening occurs in downtown Phoenix that displays the work of artists who are convicted felons. Art with Conviction is holding its first-ever Phoenix show at {9} The Gallery (1229 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85007).

One of the works to be displayed at the Art with Conviction show at 9 The Gallery, Aug. 28, 2015.

One of the works to be displayed at the Art with Conviction show at 9 The Gallery, Aug. 28, 2015.

Art with Conviction invites people for the event on August 28, which it describes as “a special evening celebrating humanity and the creative spirit of convicted felons, from 6 to 10 pm and August 29 during the gallery’s regular business hours (12 to 5 pm).”

Here is how the organization describes itself:

“Art With Conviction is a community project whose purpose is to allow people who have been labeled as ‘convicted felons’ to demonstrate to the community that they are more than just a criminal conviction. Instead, through their expression of passion and talent in their artwork, they can be viewed as being a contribution to our society, separate form their past. Art With Conviction was born out of a sense that a felony conviction should not mean a lifetime of stigmatization and harsh judgment as it so often does for so many people. The stigmatization too often results in challenges that are very difficult to overcome no matter how much good work an ex-offender puts between him/herself and the crime.”

You can read more about the event here and about the organization here.

I have written before about the power of art within correctional institutions, whether displayed at a Boston museum, via a university prison education-awareness club, or even by way of a convicted man’s imagining a different home.

If you are able to attend the opening at {9} The Gallery and send me your reactions, I’d appreciate it! Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Drone unmanned aerial device These little devices are increasingly airborne. But what questions do they raise?

These little devices are increasingly airborne. But what questions do they raise?

We have covered drones before, in print and online. And a recent event I attended in which the skies above contained a whirring sound renewed my interest in them.

I was attending the groundbreaking for a condo project called Portland on the Park near downtown Phoenix. A downtown booster, I was there to applaud the creation of what looks to be a terrific structure.

Soon after the speeches were done, though, I gazed upward at what sounded like a lawnmower above our heads. But what I saw was a drone, hovering, zigging, and zagging. I realized we were being taped.

Just yesterday, via Facebook and Youtube, I got to view the fruits of the drone’s labors. You can see it below.

The view is great (even if the song choice is odd). I have to admit it gives you a new way to see things. But I wondered: Were there permits? Flight plans? Local or regional officials alerted?

Don’t misunderstand: I don’t insist all of that should be required if someone wants to view a simple groundbreaking or their kid’s T-ball game. But I had to wonder.

And so I wonder again, do any of our readers’ practice area involve the laws surrounding unmanned aerial devices? Do drones affect your day job? If so, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org

True DTPHX

The event-rich month that surrounds the Super Bowl reaches quite a high crest this weekend, as the Pro Bowl nears kickoff. And even if football is not your bag (inflated balls or not), downtown Phoenix has quite a variety of festivities planned that may please most all comers.

The happenings, spanning today and tomorrow, are described by Fara Illich here. As she describes trueDTPHX, it includes shopping, concerts and more.

More detail and links are on the trueDTPHX Facebook page.

Here’s wishing you a community-filled weekend, whether you make it downtown or not.

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!).

VYT Water Writes Mural 1

In downtown Phoenix, a new mural on the south wall of Valley Youth Theatre is bringing attention to water issues in Arizona and around the world. The mural is one of 10 in a global series called Water Writes.

I admit to being a little pleased when I spotted the most recent new mural in downtown Phoenix. Sited just off First Street and Fillmore, it recognizes the centrality of water to the success and prosperity of Arizona.

And only a few months after we put out the call for water-related topics in Arizona Attorney Magazine. How generous of the artists to erect a complementary mural that calls attention to our call for authors.

Unlikely, eh?

OK, maybe. But in any case, enjoy Change of Venue Friday with a few images of the remarkable artwork.

Valley Youth Theatre downtown Phoenix

The wall before artists arrived …

The mural (painted on the side of Arizona gem Valley Youth Theatre) is part of an initiative of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership called “The Space Between,” which urges residents to consider what they’d hope to see on the empty lots that dot downtown. More about the project is here and here.

Valley Youth Theatre downtown Phoenix with mural

… and the wall after they left.

The city of Phoenix was fortunate to get one of these murals, which is one of 10 collaborative mural projects” internationally.

Here are some close-up images of the building-long mural. Have a great—and well-hydrated—weekend.

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