Abogados a Su Lado Phone Bank 06-15-17 pro bono State Bar of Arizona lawyers and UnivisionAZ

A small but mighty band of Arizona lawyers offered free family law advice at a June 15 phone bank.

News from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez, Public Information and Community Outreach at the State Bar of Arizona:

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted an Abogados a Su Lado (attorneys on your side) phone bank Thursday, June 15, 2017. This access-to-justice program was held to connect the Spanish-speaking community with volunteer attorneys who could help address their family law issues in their language.

sba_logo_color State Bar of ArizonaThe event, held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., focused on family law. Here are the attorneys who volunteered their time and abilities:

  • Sylvina Cotto, Cotto Law Firm
  • Carlos Mendez, Slack-Mendez Law Firm
  • Daniel Rodriguez, Diaz Rodriguez & Associates
  • Javier Sobampo, Sobampo Law Firm

These volunteer attorneys answered 25 calls regarding family law issues during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample questions included:

  • How do I file for divorce? Do I need an attorney?
  • Does my spouse have to agree to a divorce? Can I file if my spouse is in Mexico?
  • I would like to give my mother guardianship of my children in case of emergency, how do I do that?
  • How do I petition for parenting time?

The State Bar thanks them for committing their time and experience to consumers through this access to justice program. It also thanks Univision Arizona for its continued partnership in providing this valuable program for the Spanish-speaking community.

Univision-Arizona logo cropped

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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.

In advance of the Bar Convention, 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 morning 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, 8:45 a.m. – noon

W-1 Securities: Tackling Future Issues Today

Co-chairs: Stephen Boatwright, Todd Lenczycki

Who should attend this seminar?

Business attorneys with large or small, public or private clients who want to know the latest regarding raising capital and what shareholder activism is all about.

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

Shareholder activism is a concern for public and private companies. Knowing the building blocks and how they fit together can enable the Arizona business lawyer to be ahead of the curve if something like this becomes an issue for your client.

State Bar Conventions often draw outstanding speakers from their local bar but not often one of national standing who regularly speaks at the National Securities Convention in San Diego. The timely topic and compelling speaker make this a must attend event.

It is a great privilege to have John Huber who may be the first former director of corporate finance at the SEC to speak in Arizona as these caliber people are very hard to get here! John literally wrote many of the rules of the Securities Act and has an incredible knowledge of how important financial statements are in conjunction with legal analysis.

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?)

Shareholder activism is no longer an exceptional event. It is affecting the largest public companies as well as the smallest. Private companies contemplating going public should be aware of how activists operate, who supports them, and what to do to prepare for and react when an activist appears. The building blocks used for handling shareholder activism are equally applicable to advising clients who aren’t confronting activists. The building blocks help companies with raising money in Arizona by providing the latest, ever-changing guidelines and best practices for business lawyers in Arizona.

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

Lawyers may believe that it takes special expertise to address shareholder activists when the building blocks to do so are already known and understood by business lawyers. The building blocks are supplemented by having specialized advisers such as forensic accountants who can review and analyze financial and business data as impartial third parties. The same building blocks and outside advisers are important to a lawyer advising either a public or private company on raising capital. Continuous education on the latest issues, laws, and regulations faced by business attorneys on the topic is invaluable.

Hearing the comments of former SEC Director John Huber, who has frequently been the keynote speaker at national bar conventions, and having the knowledgeable panel available for your questions is a must attend event.

W-3 Representation Considerations for a Growing Population of Vulnerable and Disabled Adults

Co-chairs: Jennifer Kupiszewski, Bridget O’Brien Swartz

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.

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.

W-4 Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Game-Show Approach to Implicit Bias

Co-chairs: Javier Grajeda, Hon. Laura Lowery, K Royal

Who should attend this seminar?

All attorneys should attend, along with any legal staff. This issue impacts us professionally and personally.

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

The main takeaway is that we all have implicit biases, but may not realize we do. We should be aware of these subconscious thoughts and work consciously to reduce them. Implicit biases are unknown to the individual because they are implicit by their very definition.  One of the main goals of our seminar is to make the implicit explicit.

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?)

Relationships are critically important especially as we meet the incoming generation of lawyers and business owners. We live in a mobile and technology-based world, where written communication is the norm – people read emotions and attitudes into words based on what they know of the person. Therefore, it is critical that individuals be aware of how they are perceived.

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

The most common misconception about implicit biases is that we think we don’t have them – or if we do, that they don’t influence our actions.

W-6: A Discussion of the Complete Family Violence Dynamic

Co-chairs: Joan Bundy, Lydia Peirce Linsmeier

Who should attend this seminar?

Anyone, attorney or not, who is interested in protecting and assisting domestic violence victims—including human and non-human victims—or ever gets inquiries from prospective clients regarding legal situations that involve domestic violence or otherwise must deal with it in their practice.

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

How to incorporate protections for animals into domestic violence prevention and remediation strategies, both within and outside the court system, covering everything from protective orders to divorce decrees and emergency escape plans to temporary housing.

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?)

Unfortunately, domestic violence has always occurred as long as there have been people living on the earth and, sadly, it shows no signs of going away anytime soon, let alone slowing down.

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

Lawyers, and people in general, think domestic violence victims are allowing themselves to be victimized and should just walk away from their abuser. However, a victim is most likely to be killed or seriously harmed when they try to escape. It takes most victims years and multiple “trial runs” or attempts before they finally succeed in leaving and starting a new life, if ever. One of the most sobering statistics is that approximately a third of all DV victims do not leave or delay leaving because they fear for the safety of one or more pets left behind, and two-thirds indicate their batterer has either threatened to harm or kill a family pet or has done so.

State Bar of Arizona lawyers answer family-law questions, Nov. 10, 2015.

State Bar of Arizona lawyers answer family-law questions, Nov. 10, 2015.

On Tuesday, November 10, the State Bar of Arizona and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program. There, eight attorneys volunteered their time and expertise to answer viewers’ questions on family law issues.

The following update comes from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorEight attorneys volunteered their time:

  • Taylor Anderson, Anderson & Cabrera Law Group
  • Ryan Borges, The Borges Law Firm
  • Rebecca Browning, Browning Law Office
  • Tabitha Cabrera, Anderson & Cabrera Law Group
  • Craig Cherny, Canterbury Law Group
  • Kina Harding, The Harding Firm
  • Daniel Rodriguez, Diaz, Rodriguez & Associates
  • Jennifer Shick, Shick Law Offices

12 News logoThe lawyers answered 156 calls during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How do I file for a divorce? Do I need an attorney?
  • Can I stop paying alimony/spousal support?
  • How long do I have to be married to get alimony/spousal support?
  • How do I enforce court-ordered child support? Can I modify child support?
  • How do I modify a parenting plan/parenting time?
  • Do I have any rights as a grandparent?

Four of the eight attorneys were first-time volunteers. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated.

Abogados a Su Lado 08-17-15

Today, I share a news story by colleague Alberto Rodriguez.

The State Bar of Arizona and Univision Arizona hosted the Abogados a Su Lado public service program on Monday, August 17, 2015. Volunteer lawyers answered calls relating to viewer’s family law issues. The following is a recap of the program.

There were six lawyer volunteers, two of whom were first-time volunteers:

  • W. James Fisher Lopez, William James Fisher Law Offices
  • Mark Hawkins, Hawkins & Hawkins
  • Carlos E. Noel, Arizona Attorney General’s Office
  • Christina Ortecho, Law Office of Christina Ortecho
  • Daniel A. Rodriguez, Diaz Rodriguez & Associates
  • Alejandra Valdez, Arizona Attorney General’s Office

The volunteer attorneys answered an impressive 84 calls during the two-hour phone bank.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How do we begin the divorce process? Do we need an attorney?
  • My husband left five years ago, can I file for a divorce without him?
  • Can I sue for back child support if my children are over 18?
  • How do I enforce a child support order? What if the parent doesn’t comply?
  • How do I get grandparent rights?

And I didn’t tell Alberto I was going to do this, but here is a great visual tweet by Gerardo Higginson that shows my co-worker and a lot of the call-in activity:

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.

Arizona family law attorneys answer consumer questions during Lawyers on Call, September 2, 2014.

Arizona family law attorneys answer consumer questions during Lawyers on Call, September 2, 2014.

Some news from my State Bar colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

On Tuesday, September 2, volunteer lawyers offered their time to answer family law questions as part of the State Bar’s successful Lawyers on Call program.

Those volunteer attorneys answered 96 calls on family law issues—66 of which were addressed via social media. That resulted in a total of 162 people who were helped.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorThe volunteer attorneys were: Steven Clark, Cody L. Hayes, Heidi Lukacsik, Kelly Mendoza, Jennifer Moshier, Felicia Schumacher, Mike Skupin and Margo A. Shorr.

Two of the eight attorneys were first-time volunteers.

Attorneys received a wide variety of consumer questions. Among them:

  • How can I enforce a child support order? Can I modify a current child support order?
  • How can I terminate child support?
  • Do I have to allow for parenting time if I’m receiving child support?
  • What should I do if I can’t locate my child’s parent to request child support?
  • Do I have any rights as a grandparent?
  • Can I file for a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want to?
  • Can I file bankruptcy if I’m going through a divorce?
  • How do I enforce a divorce decree?

Social media has increased in popularity during the years Lawyers on Call has been in place. On September 2, 75 consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, 66 of which attorneys Heidi Lukacsik and Margo Shorr responded to with their recommendations/advice.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ bankruptcy and foreclosure questions on Tuesday, October 7.

Volunteer attorneys participate in the Lawyers on Call phone program, April 8, 2014, on the topic of family law.

Volunteer attorneys participate in the Lawyers on Call phone program, April 8, 2014, on the topic of family law.

Here is a follow-up to a State Bar event, by my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, azcentral.com and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, April 8.

The following is a recap of the program, which focused on family law—divorce, child support, and paternity issues

The volunteer attorneys were: Christa Banfield, Michael Clancy, Tali Collins, Michael Cordrey, DeeAn Gillespie Strub, Wendy Hernandez, Kris Leonhardt, Nancy Khiel, Londa Rivera and Patrick Sampair

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorVolunteer attorneys answered 148 calls on family law issues. An additional 41 consumers were assisted via social media, which gave us an impressive total of 189 people who were helped.

Here is a sample of consumer questions:

  • How do I modify current child support payments?
  • How do I request/establish child support?
  • How do I modify custody and parenting time?
  • How can I request grandparent’s rights? What are my rights as a grandparent?
  • Can I travel outside of the country with my children?
  • What are the differences between a legal separation and a divorce? Pros/cons?
  • How do we divide assets?
  • Do I qualify for spousal maintenance?
  • Do I need to hire an attorney to file for divorce?

Social media continues to be a successful element of Lawyers on Call.  41 consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page and attorney Kris Leonhardt responded with her recommendations/advice.

All 10 attorneys were first-time volunteers.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ bankruptcy and foreclosure questions on Tuesday, May 6.