On June 5, a panel of four corporate counsel addressed the challenges of diversity and inclusion that are faced by the legal profession.

The event, hosted at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, was sponsored by the Arizona Collaborative Bar, the South Asian Bar Association of Arizona, the Iranian American Bar Association, and the State Bar of Arizona.

The attorney–panelists were:

  • Sharad Desai, Litigation Counsel, Honeywell International Inc.
  • Maacah Scott, Staff Counsel Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Art Lee, Deputy General Counsel, University of Arizona
  • Ashley Kasarjian, Senior Corporate Counsel – Employment, Republic Services

Greg Gautam, a partner in Snell’s Phoenix office, moderated the discussion.

Among the questions posed:

  • How do the employers ensure they are reaching and identifying diverse candidates?
  • Why does your firm value diversity and inclusion? Does it start with your top executive?
  • How do you support lawyers who are parents?
  • How do you address the unconscious biases we all have?
  • What efforts does your firm make to mentor young lawyers?

Surrounded by an audience of more than 50 attorneys who attended this lunch-hour session, panelists warmed to the topics.

Desai described his company’s commitment to providing secondment opportunities – which is how he originally joined Honeywell. And Kasarjian stressed the value of holding multiple panel interviews to ensure that a candidate interacts with a broad swath of current employees.

Scott acknowledged that inclusion is a slow process – which may appear not to be advancing well in the profession. She pointed out that mindfulness about these issues is important. For instance, using non-gender-neutral language, even accidentally, sends a negative signal to listeners and slows progress.

Interactions like that occur far too often, panelists said.

“If you find yourself in a place with a lack of diversity,” Kasarjian said, “it’s not your fault. But it is your problem.”

And unconscious bias puts those on the receiving end at a disadvantage – a “different starting point that you have to explain yourself out of,” said Kasarjian. Desai recommended everyone take one of the many available Implicit Association Tests. “Acceptance [that biases are real] is the critical step. You then can begin to negate them.”

Panelists also spoke about how everyone in an organization can be an ally for diversity.

Art Lee offered advice to diverse lawyers: Reach out widely to a broad group of attorneys for ideas and mentorship. There will be lawyers in that group who may be extremely helpful on your path.

Scott agreed and urged lawyers to “recognize allies who may not be diverse.”

Kasarjian recalled the words of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor when she visited Arizona in 2017. It may be difficult to do, the Supreme Court jurist said, but we all must work to advance those people who may be different from us. “People who may not be walking your path” may still bring phenomenal value to the profession and to your workplace. And both the profession and your organization suffer if that talent is not nurtured and included.

Former Arizona Attorney General will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 14, 2016, banquet honoring the winners of the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

Former Arizona Attorney General will be the keynote speaker at the Jan. 14, 2016, banquet honoring the winners of the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

You thought you missed it, didn’t you? The deadline for a terrific annual award that recognizes the vital role in-house counsel play in the success of a business.

No need to worry. The deadline for this year’s Arizona Corporate Counsel awards is Monday, October 26. Given your likely wide circle of colleagues to nominate and the blazingly simple nomination form, you won’t even have to break a sweat to offer up a colleague’s name.

Have you met or worked with in-house counsel who impress you with their skills and approach? Organizers of an annual award event seek your nominations.

The awards were founded by AZ Business Magazine and the Association of Corporate Counsel state chapter.

More detail is here. And the nomination form is here.

The 9 categories are listed below. Nominations are welcome in all, but I have heard that award organizers would be very pleased to receive more nominations in the final four areas listed (I have thoughtfully bolded them for your convenience!):

  • Public company (large)
  • Public company (small)
  • Private company (large)
  • Private company (small)
  • Up-and-comer
  • Nonprofit company
  • Government/municipal/public sector
  • In-house law department of the year
  • Intellectual property attorney of the year

The Awards Dinner will be held on January 14, 2016 at the Camby Hotel in Phoenix. Grant Woods will once again be the keynote speaker, so prepare to be entertained.

As in the past, the State Bar of Arizona is a presenting partner for the program.

Arizona Corporate Counsel Awaards logo

Our distinguished panel (L to R): Patti Dietz, General Counsel, American Residential Properties; Lukas Grabiec, Assistant General Counsel, GoDaddy; Shannon Overcash, General Counsel, McDonough Corporation; Michele Keogh, General Counsel, BASIS Educational Group Inc.; and Melanie Hansen, General Counsel, Massage Envy Franchising LLC

Our distinguished panel (L to R): Patti Dietz, General Counsel, American Residential Properties; Lukas Grabiec, Assistant General Counsel, GoDaddy; Shannon Overcash, General Counsel, McDonough Corporation; Michele Keogh, General Counsel, BASIS Educational Group Inc.; and Melanie Hansen, General Counsel, Massage Envy Franchising LLC

An easy-lifting kind of Change of Venue Friday just to say THANK YOU to the Legal Marketing Association Arizona chapter for again inviting me to moderate a panel of corporate counsel (I previewed the event and panelists here.) In our packed-to-the-gills lunch hour, we wrestled a lot of ornery issues to the ground, including:

  • The challenges of a modern-day in-house lawyer
  • How law firms can best represent themselves to be considered as outside counsel
  • How diversity is considered (or not) in selecting outside counsel
  • How law firms can distinguish themselves from others in the effort to get noticed
  • What law firms actions please corporate counsel
  • What law firms actions irk corporate counsel
  • And more

The Game Seven Grill at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix was a cool location, the five corporate counsel were insightful and generous with their time, and the audience of legal marketers and attorneys was as savvy as ever.

Below are a few photos from the event (click to biggify). We’ll probably publish some excerpts from the conversation in the December Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Have a great—and non-corporate—weekend.

Arizona Corporate Counsel Awaards logoHave you met or worked with in-house counsel who impress you with their skills and approach? Organizers of an annual award event seek your nominations.

Founded by AZ Business Magazine and the Association of Corporate Counsel state chapter, the Arizona Corporate Counsel Award nominations are due by Thursday, October 23.

More detail and a nomination form are here.

Categories include:

  • Public company (large and small)
  • Private company (large and small)
  • Nonprofit company
  • Government/municipal/public sector
  • Up-and-comer
  • In-house law department of the year
  • Litigator of the year
  • Intellectual property attorney of the year
  • Community/pro bono attorney of the year

The Awards Dinner will be held at the Camelback Inn on January 15, 2015.

The State Bar of Arizona is a presenting partner for the program.

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 arizona.attorney@azbar.org (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:

Panelists:

  • 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 arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And I hope to see you there.

Barb Dawson, Snell & Wilmer

Modern large-firm law practice has thrown a variety of challenges toward firms that want to excel and grow. One of the tools those firms use to grow their business and their market-share is networking—often on a global scale.

Organizations like Lex Mundi and Mackrell International allow and encourage interaction among lawyers globally. They also provide a great way to send legal work to lawyers in a score of localities.

Recently, those two groups have seen Arizona—Phoenix in particular—as a great spot to meet and re-energize.

In late March, Lex Mundi, in collaboration with the Association of Corporate Counsel, held a two-day event in and around Snell & Wilmer. Lex Mundi calls itself “the world’s leading association of independent law firms,” and Snell partner Barb Dawson is chair of its board of directors.

More information on the conference is here. And go here for some photos from the conference, posted on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

This coming week is Mackrell’s turn. Mackrell describes itself as “one of the world’s premier networks of independent legal firms.”

Hosted by Polsinelli Shughart (whose own Marty Harper is chair of the international network), the April-27-30 event will be held at the Arizona Biltmore.

Marty Harper, Polsinelli Shughart

More information on this week’s Mackrell event is here. And a press release from Polsinelli is below.

Polsinelli Shughart Welcomes Mackrell International for Annual General Meeting in Phoenix

Press Releases

April 22, 2011

When United States companies explore business opportunities beyond our borders, the need arises often for legal services abroad. An international conference, held in Phoenix, will explore cross-border relationships to help attorneys better serve the business community globally. More than 100 attorneys from Africa, the Asia Pacific Region, Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South America will be in Phoenix to attend the 2011 Mackrell International Annual General Meeting (AGM). In recent years, the AGM has previously been held in Sydney, Athens, Berlin, Istanbul, and Buenos Aires. This is the first time the AGM will be held in the in the United States in 12 years. The event will be held at the Arizona Biltmore from April 27 – April 30.

Polsinelli Shughart PC Shareholder Marty Harper, from the Phoenix office, is the chair of this international network of law firms that takes a “common sense” approach to conducting business internationally. Mayor Phil Gordon will welcome the international visitors, and discuss foreign investment opportunities in Phoenix and upward economic trends occurring in the Valley. The mayor will speak April 29 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 pm.

“We pride ourselves in being a global city, not only in our population, but in our business development,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. “Conversations such as these are important in assisting the world to recognize what our city and state can offer internationally. It is very exciting to be hosting more than 100 delegates from all over the world.”

In addition to Mayor Gordon, Polsinelli Shughart welcomes Dr. Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird Global School of Management. Dr. Cabrera will address trends in both the local and international economy, as well as discuss the legal issues impacting their specific regions and the potential for doing business in Arizona. His keynote address is April 28 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 pm.

In addition to Harper’s role as chair of Mackrell, Polsinelli Shughart has a growing international law practice to serve clients in Phoenix. The attorneys focus on high-profile litigation and complex business matters in a variety of practice areas and industries. Attorneys who have previously served as in-house counsel for national and international companies bring a unique perspective to several practice areas.

“We are honored to host our annual meeting here in Phoenix and showcase our great state,” said Harper. “Mackrell plays a critical role in assisting member firms to expand their geographic reach and connect clients to the very best legal representation around the world. The relationships built by Mackrell members at these regional meetings create a strong network of mid-sized firms, establishing a presence across geographies and practice areas, which ultimately benefit the clients they serve.”

Mackrell International, with 80 law firm members in 55 countries, brings together over 4,000 lawyers from independent law firms through its various actions. The AGM is the culmination of the work that happens globally all year.

“We are very proud that the largest-ever gathering of Mackrell International delegates would take place at the initiative of Polsinelli Shughart and particularly as Marty Harper comes to the end of his period as chair of our network,” said Mackrell International Managing Director Clive Miéville. “We are delighted to be here!”

Reporters will be able to find story ideas about the following topics:

• Phoenix as an international destination for business
• The realities of Phoenix businesses conducting business internationally
• Differences and similarities of lawyers in America versus other countries
• Phoenix attorney Marty Harper who serves as the chair of Mackrell can speak on the importance of global business relationships and help provide international attorneys for media interviews

Note to editors: Media interested in attending should contact Molly Edwards at medwards@polsinelli.com or via phone at 602.650-2338.

About Polsinelli Shughart PC

With more than 530 attorneys, Polsinelli Shughart PC (www.polsinelli.com) is a national law firm that is a recognized leader in the areas of business law, financial services, real estate and business litigation. Serving corporate, institutional and individual clients, Polsinelli Shughart is redefining the business of law by sharing ideas, goals and outcomes with its clients. The firm builds enduring relationships by creating value through legal services – with passion, ingenuity and a sense of urgency. The firm has offices located in Kansas City; St. Louis; Phoenix; Chicago; Denver; Washington, D.C.; New York; Wilmington, Del.; Overland Park, Kan.; St. Joseph, Springfield, and Jefferson City, Mo.; Topeka, Kan.; and Edwardsville, Ill.

About Mackrell International
Mackrell International (www.mackrell.net) is one of the world’s premier networks of independent legal firms. Membership enables our members to provide their clients with legal services at home and abroad. With member firms in 51 countries, Mackrell International gives clients access to 4,000 lawyers worldwide providing a seamless legal service wherever the client needs it.
The organization has increased its representation by 35% in the last three years by adding new firms to our network, particularly in Eastern Europe and in both North and South America. Expansion continues in the Middle East – Israel and Dubai are now on board – and representation is growing in other key areas of the world, such as Africa and Central America.