President Lisa Loo, center, and the other State Bar of Arizona officers, 2016-17. L to R: President-Elect Alex Vakula, Second Vice President Steve Hirsch, President Lisa Loo, First Vice President Jeff Willis, and Secretary-Treasurer Brian Furuya.

President Lisa Loo, center, and the other State Bar of Arizona officers, 2016-17. L to R: President-Elect Alex Vakula, Second Vice President Steve Hirsch, President Lisa Loo, First Vice President Jeff Willis, and Secretary-Treasurer Brian Furuya.

In the September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, be sure to read our profile of the newest State Bar of Arizona President, Lisa Loo. Her life story began in Macau, China, and she emigrated to New York City when she was a young girl. Her story, and that of her family, is moving and provides some insight into the leadership lessons she’s learned. 

Back in 2001, Arizona Attorney published another article on Lisa.

In the meantime, here is the formal announcement from the State Bar of Arizona. As the item points out, Lisa Loo is the first Asian American woman to be elected State Bar president. Just as fascinating is that the only other Asian American attorney ever to serve as Bar President was Thomas Tang, who went on to become a respected Ninth Circuit Judge—and who was the persuasive impetus behind the original formation of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association:

The State Bar of Arizona has announced the election of Lisa Loo as the 85th president of its Board of Governors. The board also announced the election of Alex B. Vakula as President-Elect, Jeffrey Willis as First Vice President, Steven A. Hirsch as Second Vice President, and Brian Y. Furuya as Secretary/Treasurer.

Lisa Loo in Arizona Attorney Magazine, October 2001 (photo by John Beckett).

Lisa Loo in Arizona Attorney Magazine, October 2001 (photo by John Beckett).

Lisa Loo is Vice President for Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel at Arizona State University and is responsible for leadership of the lawyers in the business and transactional practice group. She joined the ASU Office of General Counsel in 1993 after eight years in private practice.

She has served the legal profession and the greater community in various volunteer leadership roles.

“The Bar is fortunate to have such an experienced and talented person serve as our board president,” said John Phelps, Executive Director and CEO of the State Bar of Arizona. “Leading up to her role as president, Lisa Loo has been an actively engaged board member. Over the past 23 years, she has contributed to some of our most influential committees, including the Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law, the Rules on Professional Conduct Committee, and the Bar Leadership Institute Selection Committee. She has also served on the State Bar’s Strategic Planning Committee and the Diversity Task Force. Her passion in championing Arizona’s legal community is unmatched, and I look forward to continuing my strong working relationship with her. She has already proven to be an excellent leader for the Bar.”

Loo is the first Asian American woman to be elected president of the State Bar. She is a founding board member of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association and served as Vice President of Victory Together, the primary group that advocated for the voter-approved MLK, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona.

Loo graduated from the University Of Virginia School Of Law in 1985 and from Fordham University in 1982. She was admitted to the practice of law in Arizona in 1988 and has served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Board of Governors for seven years.

The State Bar of Arizona has honored Loo as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year and for Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Equal Opportunity in the Profession.

In addition to those elected, Young Lawyers Division President Alexia J. Peterson of DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC (Phoenix) joined the Board. The YLD president receives an automatic seat on the Board during their one-year tenure.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

A March 10, 2016, forum heard from corporate chief legal officers. From L to R: Matt Ohre, Barrett Jackson General Counsel; Richard Lustiger, Harkins Theatres General Counsel; Larry DeRespino, U-Haul General Counsel; and Ahron Cohen, Barrett Jackson General Counsel.

A March 10, 2016, forum heard from corporate chief legal officers. From L to R: Matt Ohre, Barrett Jackson General Counsel; Richard Lustiger, Harkins Theatres General Counsel; Larry DeRespino, U-Haul General Counsel; and Ahron Cohen, Barrett Jackson General Counsel.

Among the things a lawyer audience appreciates the most are smart and candid remarks by corporate counsel. Those were in rich supply at a March 10 event hosted by the Jewish Federation’s Cardozo Society.

The General Counsel Forum was held at the Phoenix office of Perkins Coie and moderated by Eliot Kaplan, Business & Professionals Chair and partner at the firm.

The panelists were the following General Counsel:

  • Richard Lustiger, Harkins Theatres General Counsel
  • Ahron Cohen, Arizona Coyotes General Counsel
  • Larry DeRespino, U-Haul General Counsel
  • Matt Ohre, Barrett Jackson GC

The topics raised by moderator Eliot Kaplan were well selected as of the most interest to attendees. First up was panelists describing their work and what elements most appealed to them. Audience members were likely not surprised to hear the corporate counsel liked their jobs quite a bit.

Comparing his work in a law firm and his in-house work now, DeRespino appreciates that now there are “fewer distractions expected of me,” and he can focus more simply on the practice of law.

Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix logoIn-house counsel, he said, “get to know a particular client and focus on business solutions. That always was what the practice of law is supposed to be for me.”

But aren’t the hours in-house better? Yes, but … said Richard Lustiger.

“There are fewer hours but they’re more intense. You’re dealing with the crisis du jour.”

The other panelists agreed on the differences between in-house and “outhouse” (which got quite a laugh). Ohre contrasted the difference by describing “legal speed and business speed.” And, like DeRespino, Ahron Cohen enjoys the fact that he can concentrate more on “macro goals” rather than the “micro goals” that are the focus in law firms.

A primary mission of corporate counsel is offering sometimes challenging legal advice that may run hard into the company’s business goals.

Ohre said that he and other corporate counsel may occasionally be called “Mr. No” by colleagues on the business side. But getting brought in earlier in a strategic process may decrease the prevalence of No in the conversation.

Cohen agreed and said finding a way to say yes goes a long way. If the lawyer can help the company achieve its business goals, that will help foster trust in the legal department.

“The legal department should not get the reputation of being the place where deals go to die,” said Lustiger—though he added that some deals need to die. “Improve the output and be a better partner for the company.”

Communicating clearly, concisely, and free of legalese is probably the most important skill an in-house counsel can develop, panelists agreed.

“You have to learn to talk to people who may not particularly like lawyers,” said DeRespino. “It’s a complex dynamic when you want someone to heed your counsel.”

From L to R: Raphael Avraham, Cardozo Society Chair; Richard Lustiger, Harkins Theatres General Counsel; Ahron Cohen, Arizona Coyotes General Counsel; Eliot Kaplan, Business & Professionals Chair and Partner at Perkins Coie; Larry DeRespino, U-Haul General Counsel; Matt Ohre, Barrett Jackson General Counsel.

From L to R: Raphael Avraham, Cardozo Society Chair; Richard Lustiger, Harkins Theatres General Counsel; Ahron Cohen, Arizona Coyotes General Counsel; Eliot Kaplan, Business & Professionals Chair and Partner at Perkins Coie; Larry DeRespino, U-Haul General Counsel; Matt Ohre, Barrett Jackson General Counsel.

But all of that work building relationships is worth it, DeRespino added.

“It’s a tremendous value to speak with your client with absolute candor.”

More information about the Cardozo Society is here. Congratulations to moderator Eliot Kaplan and the Society for a terrific program.

Legal Marketing Association logoWhat would you ask a company’s general counsel if you had the chance? Something about how you and your firm could get corporate work?

If that or anything else is on your mind, I’d love to hear it. Next Thursday, I once again will have the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion of corporate counsel. And as always, I want to ask the questions you’d like answered. (Send your suggested questions to me at

Here is information about the event, to be held on Thursday, September 17, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

 Location: Game Seven Grill, Chase Field, 201 S. 4th Street, Phoenix 85034.

The challenging economic landscape has fundamentally altered the legal industry. Overall demand for outside legal services is down and in-house counsel and outside law firms are collaborating to deliver more with less. In this candid discussion, hear from leading in-house counsel about their unique challenges and opportunities, and their thoughts on such topics including:

  • Selecting legal representation
  • Strategic decisions to manage costs
  • Best practices they want to see from law firms

Join us to gain valuable feedback from our panel to help drive your business development efforts.

This year’s panelists:

  • Patti Dietz, General Counsel, American Residential Properties
  • Lukas Grabiec, Assistant General Counsel, GoDaddy
  • Melanie Hansen, General Counsel, Massage Envy Franchising LLC
  • Michele Keogh, General Counsel, BASIS Educational Group Inc.
  • Shannon Overcash, General Counsel, McDonough Corporation

Detail on the event is here.

Want to attend? (You know you do.) Register here.


In-House Counsel BattleIn-House Counsel Battle At long last (or too soon, depending on your viewpoint), the long, long road culminating in the Super Bowl is over. Right now, you’re either Patriot-happy, Seahawks-bitter, or couldn’t care less and are simply awaiting forensic Deflate-gate results. After months of buildup, you may think you’ve heard every possible news angle.

But wait. The folks at Inside Counsel decided to talk to two in-house counsel from the teams’ home cities. Here was their approach:

“We decided to ask two senior in-house counsel some questions about football and law, ranging from whether Tom Brady or Russell Wilson would be a better lawyer, to what their pregame speech would be before exiting the tunnel. And we were right: Mark Roellig, general counsel of Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual, and David Heiner, deputy general counsel of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, couldn’t be more different in their thoughts on the game, and the intersection of law and football, if we tried.”

Read the results of their conversation here. Smart, eh? So that got me wondering: Does your own favorite team have characteristics that might be reflected in their city’s lawyers? And why not go further? How about the team’s general counsel’s personality and outlook? What say, Cardinals fans? What team traits and views would the team’s lawyer hold? (And if you are David Koeninger, the team’s lawyer, feel free to weigh in! A previous team lawyer was once-prosecutor Michael Bidwell, now the Cards’ president. We are lawyered up in Phoenix!)

Legal Marketing Association logoThis Friday, I have the pleasure of moderating a great annual event: a panel of corporate counsel at a lunchtime gathering of the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association.

Before I get to the meat of the matter, be sure to read and register here (the speaker names are at this end of this post).

And now, 3 reasons you should be there on Friday:

1. Your question could be asked.

That’s right. I am seeking (here and via Twitter) great questions to put to attorneys who are in-house counsel at companies and nonprofits. What do you want to know about their work life? Curious how to get hired, in-house or as outside counsel? Secretly yearn to know how not to get fired in either of those two roles? Send me your question(s) to (or tweet it to me @azatty).

2. These people are canaries.

No, I am not insulting them with a bird reference. I merely analogize them to the proverbial canary in a coal mine. There, the little birds could spot trouble before humans could—and communicated it in a disconcerting way.

AzAt 2011 GC panel headline corporate counsel legal marketing associationCorporate counsel are likewise on the leading edge—of the legal profession’s economy. As purchasers of outside legal services, they are extremely well informed about the state of things. As a result, they hire more, hire less, and examine bills with a fine-tooth comb (or whatever the opposite of that is). They also can gauge our profession by the number of others gunning for their positions. So if you’re looking for guidance on how the legal profession is emerging (or not) from a bad recession, listening to a corporate counsel is a pretty good strategy.

3. They may talk about you.

Well, OK, not exactly you. But I have asked the panelists to consider some anecdotes (omitting names, of course) that explore some of the great things outside counsel have done. But I also asked for their cautionary tales, those that arise out of law firm fails. Nervous-making and exciting all at once, right? That’s our goal.

So, once more with the registration link. I hope to see you there.

And here are the great speakers on tap:


  • Karim Adatia – Insight, Associate General Counsel & Director, Legal (Global Sales, Corporate and IP)
  • Steve Beaver – Aspect, Senior Vice President & General Counsel
  • Lukas Grabiec – Microchip Technology Inc., Senior Corporate Counsel
  • Carmen Neuberger – Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Senior Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headlineWay back in September (remember September), I told you about an upcoming corporate counsel event—a panel discussion that I was asked to moderate, sponsored by the Legal Marketing Association.

It was a blast. It’s always great to hear the up-close-and-personal dialogues among and between lawyers who work within corporations and associations.

However, because Arizona Attorney Magazine is a multi-modal content-delivery system (say that three times fast), I point you now to a synopsis of some of the attorneys’ insights, available in print and online.

You may already have received (and read!) your print version of the magazine. But click here to read the concise article online.

Here is how the dialogue opens:

What are corporate counsel thinking?

Boiled down, that is the question that drives a great annual event that gathers lawyers and law profession communicators to hear from in-house counsel.

Corporate Counsel Q&A Dec 2013Tim Eigo: With an upswing in the economy, do you anticipate more outside legal hiring?

Sonny Cave (ON Semiconductor): It’s going to provide work both to the in‑house team and the outside team. At any given moment in time, I’ve got hundreds of matters that are being handled by outside counsel, lawyers in all the different countries where we do business. I do try to hold as much work in-house as possible. Our cost model is generally about 40 percent of the total legal budget for in-house work and about 60 percent for outside law firms.

Eigo: Todd, is real estate coming back, and is there a hiring effect?

Todd Weiss (Cole Real Estate): Yes and yes. When I started in 2004, we did $250 million in acquisitions. This year our goal is between $4 billion and $5 billion in acquisitions. There’s not a week that goes by that we aren’t sending a matter out to outside counsel. We rely heavily on our outside counsel to run our acquisitions.

Eigo: Lisa, as a large public university, what does your office seek in outside counsel?

Legal Marketing Association logoLisa Loo (ASU): We look for law firms that understand our challenges, understand where it is we’re trying to go. We’ve been lucky in that the law firms we have engaged understand the challenges. The downturn in the economy hasn’t lessened our work; it actually has made us be more creative because you have to figure out how you are going to bring more money in, and students tend to enroll in higher ed when the economy is down.

Keep reading here.

Legal Marketing Association logoQ: What do you do when you’re standing between an eager audience and panelists with valuable content to share?

A: Speak little, and ask a few good questions.

That is the primary lesson I’ve learned the last few years when I’ve had the pleasure to moderate an annual roundtable of corporate counsel.

Sponsored by the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, this year’s panel, on Friday, September 20, will include four in-house counsel from a variety of public and private companies:

    • Sonny Cave, ON Semiconductor—Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer, and Corporate Secretary, Law Department
    • Christy Hubbard, PetSmart—Senior Counsel, Marketing, Operations and Services
    • Lisa Loo, Arizona State University—Deputy General Counsel
    • Todd Weiss, Cole Real Estate—Senior Vice President, Legal Services

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headline

The event always packs a room. (You can read more and register here.)

As I always do, I come to you now, Arizona’s legal community, to ask for your help as I prepare for the September 20 event. Here’s my query:

If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Post your suggestion(s) below, or send me a note at

And I hope to see you there.

Corporate Counsel panel discussion, Snell & Wilmer, Sept. 26, 2012

O in-house corporate counsel, how we yearn to know what’s in your heads.

That desire has long been held by lawyers and law firms. And in a tough economy, the yearning gets raised a few octaves more.

I wrote before about a recent corporate counsel panel discussion in Phoenix. There, we explored a number of topics. Of most interest to the assembled lawyers, though, were questions about how corporate counsel choose to hire—and fire—outside counsel.

An insightful article in the Harvard Business Review came to my attention (thanks to legal strategist Dee Schiavelli). In it, the author says that we’re in the age of the in-house counsel. He argues that they have eclipsed the powerful stature of the outside law firm.

For more evidence that our panel was on the right track, here is an article from the ABA Journal that explores “four reasons why general counsel fire their law firms.”

Intrigued, aren’t you? Let me know if there are reasons that the author fails to mention.

All fired up: Lawyer brain activity

On Wednesday, I will moderate a panel discussion of in-house corporate counsel. Its title is “Corporate Counsel Panel: Key Insights for Attorneys and Marketing Professionals.”

The sponsor is the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. I had the opportunity to play the moderator role last year, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. This year, the LMA has invited four in-house counsel. They come from a variety of public and private companies.

As I’ve pointed out before, what is on the minds of general counsel is very much of interest to Arizona Attorney readers. Right after lawyer discipline and what judges are thinking, the decision-making by general counsel is a prime topic of interest. And no wonder: Companies purchase a huge amount of legal services every year, and the General Counsel is the one who picks the outside lawyer and firm to get the work.

Last year’s corporate counsel panel, Sept. 22, 2011 (photo by Diana Wright)

But as I prepare for Wednesday’s event, I have a question for you: If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Last year I asked the same question in advance of the event and was pleased at the responses.

Post your suggestion below, or send me a note at

In case you missed it, here is our roundtable discussion from the 2011 panel, as it appeared in Arizona Attorney.

And if you haven’t registered yet, here is a link to Wednesday’s event.

Our December 2011 cover story

If you wanted to explore one component of the legal community that may serve as a bellwether for many others, you’d be wise to select corporate counsel.

These are the people on the leading edge of the economy, who have a sense when to hire lawyers and law firms freely, and when to take care of things in-house. They often interact with government and regulatory agencies, and they may know in a very direct way which way juries are tending. They can tell us a lot about the economy, government–business interaction, and the health of the legal market.

For those and other reasons, the Legal Marketing Association Southwest Chapter was wise to host another in its great series of Corporate Counsel Roundtables last week. (Before the event occurred, I wrote about it here.)

I was privileged to be asked to moderate the lunchtime conversation, and it was a hoot and a half. In fact, I couldn’t resist one of my dorkier pleasures: taking a cell-phone photo of the attendees as they watched me and the panel.

Legal professionals wondering why their photo is being taken

The praise for the great event goes to the three lawyers willing to sit in a hot seat and answer questions from me and the attendees.

Once again, let me thank:

Understand, these guys all have day jobs that keep them pretty swamped. Taking time out of a week with few minutes to spare is a great service. And, once there, they brought their “A” game. Each of them shared great insight and anecdotes on a range of topics the audience wanted to know. And then they added humor, to boot.

If there is a definition of “good job,” it would be the ability to work with people who take their work seriously without taking themselves too seriously. Thank you, John, Mike and Larry, for letting me have a good job on Thursday.

Thanks also to Kristi Phillips and the staff at Lewis and Roca, who shared their offices and their talents. Events like these take a huge amount of planning, and they handled it all with grace. (They were even kind enough to wrap me a plate of food to go, as I hadn’t gotten a chance to eat—thanks, Anna!).

Finally, thanks to AZ Business Magazine. Though I am most pleased to be able to tout my own publication, I have to send them my gratitude for sponsoring the event. Here’s looking to more of that kind of synergy in the future.