Hon. Ann Scott Timmer

Hon. Ann Scott Timmer

I was out of town last week, and so I missed sharing the news (old now) that a new Justice was named to the Arizona Supreme Court. As the days passed, I thought I would let the event go unremarked, and simply move on to other topics.

Ultimately, though, it’s difficult to leave aside an ascension to the state’s highest Court. Therefore, I share the opening from Chief Justice Berch’s remarks:

“We are pleased to welcome Ann Scott Timmer as the 43rd Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. She will be only the fourth woman ever to have served in that capacity since statehood. The Governor selected Judge Timmer from among a group of truly outstanding candidates.

“I know Judge Timmer’s background as a court of appeals judge, her excellent writing and analytical skills, and her innate sense of fairness will well serve the justice system of Arizona.”

That and more are on the Court’s own website. And you can read Gov. Jan Brewer’s remarks there too. The Governor’s press release is here.

All of that, of course, is praiseworthy. Closer to law practice, I have to recognize Justice (nee Judge) Timmer for another honor: Her Arizona Attorney article on proper dress and demeanor in the law office garnered some of my nastiest reader remarks ever. Now, that’s praiseworthy!

Arizona Attorney, Feb. 2008

Arizona Attorney, Feb. 2008

Her February 2008 article was our cover story, and it was titled, Working Class: What Seasoned Attorneys Will Never Tell You.”

Her article explored modes and methods that could lead to law office success—or its opposite. But what I had found to be a helpful and candid article was deemed less than that by some of our vocal readers—two of whom sent letters, and another (loud) few who phoned me on the topic.

When I heard last week’s Justice news, I hauled out the 2008 article and re-read it. Ultimately, I was pleased that I still enjoyed it and that it continues to provide valuable guidance. Avoiding boorish behavior and dressing well are both important, and neither necessarily leads to being uptight and stuffy.

But, I must admit, I did find myself cinching up my tie as I turned the pages.

Congratulations, Justice Timmer. Here’s hoping your writing continues to inspire democratic debate.

(For some more insight into the historical significance of selecting Judge Timmer, read this blog post at the Mandel Young Appellate Lawyers website.)

Night before a seminar, I consider some ties. Hmmm. Professional enough?

What should lawyers wear? And are attorneys succumbing to a more-casual time, to the detriment of the profession?

No surprise, I guess, that I can’t answer those questions. But a State Bar seminar today urges lawyers to consider them.

And my role in the morning’s events – Panelist? Moderator? Scribe?

How about … model. (No joke.)

In what will be a first for me, I’ve been asked by seminar organizers to attend for one reason: to demonstrate lawyerly dress. Paired with me will be a lawyer whose sartorial choices would be considered inappropriate for such an august profession. (Much to my chagrin, our selection was based not on my own stellar dressing abilities; I suspect it was more random than that.)

I’m hoping I can carry off my modeling tasks well. I bet I’ll be able to walk in, turn, and walk out. Wish me luck.

More curious is the question of how attendees will receive the lesson in professional dress. My own experience with the topics reminds me that it can be a powderkeg. I mean, not everyone enjoys being told how to dress.

Back in 2008, our cover story in Arizona Attorney Magazine was titled “Working Class: Being a Pleasure in Practice.” Written by Court of Appeals Judge Ann Scott Timmer, it examined a variety of situations in which the new-ish lawyer might find himself. She explored occurrences like office politics, accepting or declining work from a partner, and work ethic. But she also examined how lawyers dress.

I’ve included a few images from our content on clothing. Looking back today, they seem pretty mild-mannered.

That’s more than I can say for some of our readers. I heard early and often from Arizona lawyers who were offended that we dared to critique their clothing choices. More than three years later, I still hear every few months from an attorney who mentions being irked by that advice.

Here’s hoping today’s attendees at the Bar Leadership Institute take the lesson more cheerfully. Have a great weekend.