The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

The Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass will be the site for the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

Today, another in a series of posts describing legal seminars at the upcoming State Bar Convention. (All the detail is here.)

I contacted seminar chairs seeking their response to four questions about their upcoming panel. Here are the questions I sent:

  • Who should attend this seminar?
  • What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?
  • How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)
  • What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

Today, I share the responses of those whose seminars are calendared for the first afternoon of Convention, Wednesday, June 15. (Note: Not all seminar chairs responded.) Click on the seminar title to read more detail as published in the Convention brochure.

Wednesday, June 15, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

W-11: ADA Employment Law Trends and Issues

Co-chairs: Charity Collins, Daniel Thulin

Who should attend this seminar?

According to the EEOC’s complaint statistics, in 2015, ADAA complaints constitute 30 percent of discrimination complaints filed and that number is on an upward trend. Any attorney, paralegal or law student that has an interest or works in discrimination or employment law would greatly benefit.

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

One main takeaway for attendees: After 25 years, the Americans with Disabilities Act is here to stay and that having a cursory knowledge of the law can lead to malpractice.

How is this seminar timely? (That is: Why do attorneys need to learn more about this topic right now? What’s going on now in the world or in law practice that makes this topic important?)

The ADAA is celebrating its 25th anniversary but employment for persons with disabilities remain anemic. At the same time, disability complaints by employees to the EEOC continue to rise. Lawyers need to know the following to avoid giving poor advice to employers and properly advising and representing employees:

  1. When a job applicant/employee and employer should disclose a disability
  2. The “interactive process” when considering reasonable accommodations
  3. Understand types of reasonable accommodations
  4. To what extent employers must provide reasonable accommodations
  5. The Arizona Attorney General’s complaint and resolution process.

What is the most common misconception about this issue? In other words, what do lawyers think they know, but don’t?

Many believe the ADAA is overly burdensome on employers and requires expensive accommodations. The seminar will dispel this misconception.

W-13: Conflict Considerations in Estate Planning and Trust & Estate Administration and Litigation

Co-chairs: John R. Fitzpatrick, Kathryn A. Munro

Who should attend this seminar?

Any lawyer that represents individuals and families. Our clients are aging or their parents are aging and challenges associated with aging and disability affect all areas legal representation. Criminal, family, juvenile, elder and probate law and special needs and estate planning attorneys would benefit from the seminar.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

A record-number of legal seminars are on offer at the 2016 State Bar of Arizona Convention.

What is the one main takeaway a lawyer will gain by attending this seminar?

The clientele we serve is aging and more likely to be disabled or experience a period of incapacity. Attorneys need to adapt and understand the implications of aging and disability in their legal representation to better serve clients and to protect their practice.

How is this seminar timely?

The number of Americans ages 65 and older will double over the next 30 years to 80 million.  A significant number of our aging population will suffer from some form of Dementia. One-quarter of all U.S. divorces involve people over 50. And Arizona has a larger aging population than most states. As people live longer they are more likely to experience periods of incapacity and need a guardian or have someone acting as their power of attorney. This creates challenging ethical issues for attorneys and this seminar is focused on preparing attorneys to handle those issues.

What is the most common misconception about this issue?

Attorneys often do not consider the issues of aging and disability. They aren’t informed about Dementia and financial exploitation so they may not recognize it in their office. The attorney may unwittingly be assisting the exploiter if they can’t assess client’s capacity or if they don’t know how, when or where to obtain assessment.

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

Yes, mindfulness is making a dent in the legal profession, among other simmering trends.

We all have our guilty pleasures, and I confess one of mine is legal predictions.

Based on the number of folks who share with me their thoughts on which firms will next merge or go belly up, I cannot be the only one.

But among the less painful predictions are those related to what will happen to legal practice areas: Which will grow—and which will shrink—in the coming year.

Among those accomplished at the prognostication task is Bob Denney. His posts with his previews are much anticipated—and shared.

So that’s what I do today. Here are his best estimates for practice area changes in 2016.

For those in too big a hurry to click, here are a few of his predicted areas of growth: cybersecurity, white-collar crime, mergers & acquisitions, and employment & labor. Keep reading here.

Do you agree? Are you seeing the same thing? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.orgmaybe there’s a story in it.

What’s Hot and What’s Not In The Legal Profession Hot_tamales

OK, I give in to the “hotness” analogy: What’s hot and what’s not In the legal profession?

And here are a few other fascinating bits from Bob Denney:

Social media. Except for Facebook, it continues to be hot. Firm websites and blogs are still among the most effective online means for reaching in-houHot and Not law practice areasse counsel and potential clients, but some marketing experts say they may be surpassed by …

Content syndicators and aggregators. Platforms like JDSupra, Mondaq and even LinkedIn enable a firm to push its content to other sites and services.

Advertising. Whether online, print, TV, radio, billboards or even bus exteriors, advertising continues to be the principal marketing strategy for personal injury lawyers as well as others.

Millennials. Hiring, training and retaining them, as staff as well as lawyers, will continue to be a challenge because many of them chafe against the traditional law firm culture. Yet they are the future of the legal profession.

Departures. Although lateral hiring continues to be a hot growth strategy for many firms, most is at the partner level because firms want the book of business laterals can bring with them. However, fueled to a great degree by the expansion of corporate legal departments, law firm associates and even partners without a large book of business are departing to join legal departments. Why? The workload and the compensation are generally more consistent, without the pressure to record high billable hours and originate business. Translation: The quality of life is better.

Mindfulness movement. There are now reportedly at least two dozen law schools that offer for-credit courses in this Zen-inspired blend of meditation, breathing exercises and focus techniques, which are supported by companies such as Google and General Mills. At least one law firm and the legal department of a major corporation retain a mindfulness coach.

Bar exam scores. The average score on the 2015 summer bar exams reached its lowest level since 1988. Some law school deans have said the test was unfair and that a software glitch made it harder to submit test results. The president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which created the multiple-choice section of the test, replied that law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who may encounter difficulty in taking the exam. And, of course, applications to law schools have been declining.

State Bar of Arizona logoHere is some news from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona and 12 News hosted the July Lawyers on Call on Tuesday, July 9, focused on employment and labor law issues. The following is a recap of the public service program.

There were nine attorney volunteers: Denise M. Blommel, Dawn Farrison, Trey Dayes, Richard Galvan, Don P. Johnsen, Leah Lewandowski, Michelle Matheson, Shari C. Mauney and Jessica L. Post. Seven of the nine attorneys were first-time volunteers.

The volunteer attorneys answered an impressive 124 calls on employment and labor law issues.

Here is a sample of the consumer questions:

  • 12 News Phoenix logoExempt vs. Non-Exempt: Should I be getting paid for excessive/overtime hours?
  • Do I qualify for worker’s compensation? What is the process?
  • I believe I’m being sexually harassed at work. What can I do?
  • I am the fifth person over fifty years of age to be fired recently. Is this age discrimination?
  • Can I be fired without knowing the reason?
  • How do I collect unpaid wages?
  • How do I know if I qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act?

The overarching topics were wrongful termination, unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation, wage disputes, and age/race discrimination.

The 12 News team was successful in adding a social media component to the phone bank. Consumers were able to ask their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Trey Dayes responded with his recommendations/advice.

This morning, I am staring at a dollar bill on my desk, trying to decipher what it “says.”

Legally speaking, it’s quite likely that it’s saying something, since the U.S. Supreme Court held that in the campaign-contribution context, that dollar is speech.

So if a greenback can talk up a storm, how is it possible that a Facebook “Like” holds no communicative value?

That was the ruling at a federal district court that had to determine whether employees were fired for exercising their free-speech rights. As the Washington Post tells the tale: 

“Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He ‘liked’ a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.

“That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?”

Read the whole article here.

Risky behavior, certainly, especially given how tetchy elected sheriffs can be. But the court ruled that a simple click of “Like,” without commenting, is not speech.

The sheriff’s office is likely ecstatic. But the ruling puts that office in a strange conceptual box: The office fired people for taking a speech position contrary to the top official’s position. And the court sustained that employment decision because there was no speech involved.

Confused yet?

Oddly enough, would the court have had to rule otherwise if the employees had dropped dollar bills off at the opponent’s campaign headquarters without a note attached, rather than signal support via a digital thumbs-up?

Now, of course, the appeals roll in. As this article explains, Facebook, the ACLU and a number of amici have briefed the issue of how a Like certainly is speech.

It all makes me wonder how much the court understands social media. I wrote on Friday about a promising survey that shows judges are growing warmer to social media. But anyone who has ever worked hard for a “Like” for their business’s Facebook page understands inherently that a Like is speech. And among all the difficult-to-grasp concepts in technology, “Like” is just what it sounds.

Feel free to Like this post; I’ll know it means something.

This month, I was pleased to see that a great Arizona blawg has been honored by the ABA Journal. The Journal’s annual Blawg 100 recognizes excellence in a wide variety of areas. It’s nice to see Arizona on the radar.

The blog is called Arizoneout, and it’s written by Dinita James at Ford & Harrison LLP. Here’s how she describes the cutting-edge focus of herself and her site:

Dinita James

“Dinita James is a partner with Ford & Harrison LLP and a former newspaper reporter and editor whose journalism instincts tell her that medical marijuana is going to be one of the hottest workplace issues for Arizona employers for the foreseeable future. Through Arizoneout, she hopes to inform, educate, and raise awareness about the myriad issues the legal use of marijuana present for workplaces in the Grand Canyon State.”

You may read more about Dinita here.

I came across the blog quite awhile ago, and I have been charmed by her detailed yet accessible coverage of marijuana and employment issues. In fact, this past year we added Arizoneout to the Blog Network on the Arizona Attorney News Center—and I’m glad we did.

Remember, this ABA Journal thing is a competition, and the top blogs are chosen by vote. So if you’re so inclined, follow the link on Dinita’s page to indicate your support. Or just click here.

In the meantime, were any other Arizona bloggers named? Please let me know by posting below.

Ashley Kasarjian

Hats off and hands together today for a lawyer, blogger and colleague who’s been honored for her blogging prowess.

Ashley Kasarjian is a lawyer at Snell & Wilmer whose blog—Employment and the Law—was just named the top labor and employment law blog for 2011.

Appropriately, Ashley announced the news on her blog.

The honor comes from Lexis Nexis, which knows quite a bit about lawyers and communications tools. Here is their announcement. That page also lists the top 25 labor and employment blogs.

Besides her busy day job and shoehorning in an award-winning blog, Ashley is also a valuable member of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board. So that doubles my admiration.

The badge earned by Ashley

You’ll see this week that I’ve listed Ashley’s blog as the lead item in the magazine Blog Network. You can find it at the bottom of the AzAt News Center.

Now that you’ve bookmarked and/or subscribed to Ashley’s blog, you might choose to do the same with the News Center. It provides good stuff throughout the day, and it’s all curated right here at my desk.

And here’s one more step: If you want your blog listed, send me an email at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll get your content up there tout de suite. Or if you don’t blog yourself, feel free to suggest a blog for us to list. The more, the merrier.