An April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event at the Arizona Supreme Court gathered advocates and legal experts to addr4ess access to justice issues.

An April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event at the Arizona Supreme Court gathered advocates and legal experts to addr4ess access to justice issues.

Our offices will be closed for the Fourth of July holiday on Friday, July 3. But before I head for the hills, I’ll share one more post for this week, this one written by my prolific colleague Alberto Rodriguez.

His piece is in regard to a noteworthy event held earlier this spring. Arizona Forward was a gathering of people and organizations committed to access to justice. Held at the Arizona Supreme Court on April 3, 2015, speakers included American Bar Association President William C. Hubbard.

Now, the event organizers have released their report, which Alberto summarizes for us here (more event photos are at the end of this post; click to enlarge and to view them in a slideshow):

Speakers at the April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event included (L to R) State Bar CEO John Phelps; ABA President William Hubbard; Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales; State Bar Governor Jeff Willis; and State Bar President Richard Platt.

Speakers at the April 3, 2015, Arizona Forward event included (L to R) State Bar CEO John Phelps; ABA President William Hubbard; Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales; State Bar Governor Jeff Willis; and State Bar President Richard Platt.

Legal professionals and community leaders are one step closer to solving the shortage of accessible legal services in Arizona. Arizona Forward, a day-long conference held in April that focused on finding new and better ways to deliver legal services, has released its findings, which included the following.

To move Arizona forward in the future delivery of legal services to its citizens, the significant changes in demographics, economies and technology must be considered by leaders from all sectors of the community-at-large.

  • (We) need to consider further augmentation of the legal services profession, beyond licensed document preparers, to include greater use of non-lawyers and paraprofessionals.
  • (We) need to communicate more effectively to those who need legal services about access to the legal system and recognize when legal advice is needed.
  • (We) must harness technology in every imaginable way to reach and assist those in need of legal services.

The underlying theme in the report was the need for increased communication. Advancements in technology will help to tackle this communication barrier. As technology continues to advance, it will play a key role in ensuring that it provides the gateway in linking those who need legal services to those who can provide it. Mobile and virtual technology are two elements being considered.

As Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Scott Bales has said, “Having meaningful access to legal services is vital to fulfilling the promise of justice for all. The goal of Arizona Forward is to find new, innovative solutions that advance justice for all Arizonans.” That first step was taken, and the first goal met by the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, the American Bar Association and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, who co-sponsored the event, along with community leaders from across the state, was to identify the issues and offer attainable solutions.

For more information on Arizona Forward and to read the report, click here or contact Carrie Sherman at 602-340-7201. To learn more about the nationwide initiative led by the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, click here.

November 2013 coverToday, I share some good news about the State Bar—and Arizona Attorney Magazine. It involves the Bar’s recognition with the prestigious Award of Excellence in Education from the Arizona Society of Association Executives.

Back in November 2013, you may recall we published the results of an attorney survey that examined Arizona lawyers’ experience with violence in the profession. You can read the story by attorney Stephen Kelson here.

That story was being developed and drafted soon after the horrific murder of attorney Mark Hummels and his client at the hands of an angry man. I wrote about it here.

Following the crimes, the Bar launched a webcast on violence in the legal profession that garnered a national audience.

The Bar’s CEO/Executive Director John Phelps also wrote an op-ed on the topic in the Arizona Republic.

Below you can read the press release about the recent award recognizing all the Bar’s efforts. Please let me know how we should continue to advance the dialogue in the magazine.

Mark Hummels

Mark Hummels

“The State Bar of Arizona won the Award of Excellence in Education from the Arizona Society of Association Executives (AzSAE) and will be recognized at the organization’s 50th anniversary gala in December. Each year AzSAE recognizes outstanding programs and projects implemented by associations in Arizona.”

“The State Bar of Arizona was recognized for its “Violence Against Lawyers Education Project,” which transformed the unfortunate shooting death of an attorney into an evaluation and education initiative. The initiative, which surveyed members and ignited dialogue, resulted in two educational components: a 75-minute live webcast with more than 1,000 viewers nationwide and an in-depth article Arizona Attorney magazine regarding violence against attorneys.”

“According to the AzSAE, winning entries are showcased at the AzSAE Annual Awards Celebration and serve as inspiration to other associations.”

John Phelps headshot

John Phelps

“Commenting on the award, State Bar CEO John Phelps said, ‘This award is the result of teamwork and a commitment to excellence by State Bar staff and volunteers. It reflects what we do, day in and day out, in our service to the public and our members.’”

“The AzSAE Annual Awards were held on Dec. 3, 2014, at the Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale.”

On Tuesday, after the formal State Bar Board photos, Bar CEO John Phelps invited two leaders to participate in what has become a photographic tradition at Convention: the choo-choo photo.

Here it is.

Leaving the station: Whitney Cunningham, Richard Platt, John Phelps

Leaving the station: Whitney Cunningham, Richard Platt, John Phelps

Who is captured? From left, here is State Bar 2013-14 President Whitney Cunningham, 2014-15 President Richard Platt, and John Phelps.

I presume there is an underlying message about organizational change and a parade of talented leaders, some coming, some going.

But why should I presume? Instead, I’d like to know what you think.

Yes, it’s a caption contest. Tell me how you would title this photo. But, because lawyers, we have rules:

  1. Nothing obscene.
  2. Nothing you wouldn’t share with your mother.

OK, I guess I’m saying the same rule twice. But you get the picture (see what I did there?).

(You need not be a lawyer to submit a caption.)

I will take submissions three ways: posted below (always a risk); tweeted with the hashtags #caption and #azbarcon; or emailed to me at

What’s the prize? How about a $20 Starbucks gift card, and the praise and admiration of your legal colleagues (and your mother).

Who’s the judge? I’m the judge. But all complaints will be heard by your mother.

Deadline: 9:00 am, Friday, June 13, 2014.

KeepCalmReportPhishingThe following news arrives via John Phelps, the State Bar of Arizona CEO/Executive Director. He writes on a topic that should be of great interest to most all lawyers: scams aimed at those in the legal profession. Such efforts have been around for quite awhile, but as John writes, “This latest twist is just another reminder that you have to be constantly vigilant with your
business practices

Here’s John opening on the topic:

We want to warn you about a phishing scam that is directed at lawyers. The latest twist is that the scam email is mentioning IOLTA accounts. The email implies that the account doesn’t have enough money to pay an outstanding check. It then asks for the attorney to contact the sender to clear up the matter.

Scammers are always looking for new ways to find victims. They’re hoping that by creating confusion, you’ll provide them with information they can use to access your account and steal your money. Always take a moment to read the email carefully. If it claims you have an outstanding problem, contact your own banking institution. If you do contact the sender, do not give them any account information.

Read the entire article here.

State Bar of Arizona CEO John Phelps, interviewed by CBS5 regarding a free seminar on protecting yourself against workplace violence in the legal profession.

State Bar of Arizona CEO John Phelps, interviewed by CBS5 regarding a free seminar on protecting yourself against workplace violence in the legal profession.

How substantial is violence in the legal profession? And how much is security at the top of lawyers’ minds?

“Very” appears to be the answer to both questions. That is based a recent survey that sought the views of Arizona attorneys.

In the November issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, we will publish an article by Steve Kelson, a lawyer and the survey’s organizer. I am reading a draft of the article now, and violence and the threat of it are more pronounced in the profession than I would have supposed.

As attorneys struggle with those concerns, the State Bar of Arizona decided to confront the issue head-on. Besides the survey publication next month, the Bar is offering a free seminar tomorrow that you may want to attend. It’s called “Expecting the Unexpected: How to Prepare You and Your Staff for Violence in the Workplace.”

It will occur at noon tomorrow (Tuesday, August 20). You can view the program live at the Bar office in Phoenix, simulcast in the Tucson Bar office, or via livestream from wherever you are.

Before I give the details, you may also want to watch a brief news story that describes the risks and in which Bar CEO John Phelps is interviewed.

The news story also points out that the seminar has been opened up to attendees nationwide; as of the story’s airing, there were 375 registrants (and that includes far more people, as many law offices have registered as an entity and will gather many staff for the viewing).

Here is the detail you need about the free seminar.

Workplace violence happens.

How will you respond?

Lawyers, judges and public figures are at increased risk for workplace violence. Knowing how to respond is a necessity in today’s world. Join the State Bar of Arizona and InReach, a leading provider of online continuing education management solutions, for a free seminar designed to promote personal safety and create a safer work environment. 

During this program, you will hear from:

  • a police sergeant trained to counteract shooters and apprehend violent offenders,
  • a former police officer turned litigator,
  • a lawyer experienced in disaster preparation and
  • a psychologist who is an  expert in situational awareness.



  • Sgt. Phil Brailsford, City of Mesa Police Department
  • Amy D. Paul, Psy.DCrisis Preparation and Recovery, Inc.
  • John Phelps, CEO/Executive Director, State Bar of Arizona

WHEN: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, Noon to 1:15 p.m.

LIVE SEMINAR: McAuliffe CLE Center, State Bar of Arizona, 4201 N. 24th Street, Phoenix

TUCSON SIMULCAST: Southern Regional Office, 270 N. Church Ave., Tucson

WEBCAST: Live streamed to your office or home computer

This seminar is a member service and does not qualify for MCLE credit.

We're sprouting bollards today. Here's a mushroom one in Belgium (Wikipedia)

We’re sprouting bollards today. Here’s a mushroom one in Belgium (Wikipedia)

When I received an email this week from the State Bar of Arizona CEO and glanced at the subject line, my first thought was: I must have really irked him.

After all, my speedy glimpse revealed what I thought was a British obscenity. Upon closer examination, though, I could read it accurately: “Bollards”

Whew. Not an Anglo–Saxon expletive, after all.

Once I got past my concern about the subject line and read John Phelps’ email, I realized that he was informing State Bar staff about the installation of new short vertical posts, placed outside the building’s front doors as security devices.

US Capitol security

Safe and sound? Warm and fuzzy?

John took the moment to make it more than a construction update. He informed us why they were appearing (no specific concerns, but let’s be safe out there). And then, because he knows how much some of us enjoy the oddities of life, he included the link to the Wikipedia page on bollards.

Yes, there is one. And yes, you should click it. (That’s where I got a few nifty bollard photos, natch).

So John’s email was helpful, but I still was concerned. Would we step outside and see yellow pylons, a la Safeway or Costco? Or, even worse, had the charming entrance been transformed into a Benghazi streetscape (or a tourist’s modern-day view of the U.S. Capitol)?

Imagine my pleasure at seeing the result. The bollards complement the building and surrounding planters nicely. Security appropriate to its surroundings—well done!

Bollard state bar

Bar bollards bloom

Immediately after snapping this shot, I was able to get confirmation that the good taste of Bar deciders is not universal. Twenty minutes later, I was at the downtown Phoenix Police station for a meeting, where I strode up to the brutalist architecture (which undoes any good done by the officers’ community policing).

Phoenix Police Department HQ

Phoenix Police Department headquarters

There, I spotted the alternative to the Bar’s approach: the police bollards.

Bollard phoenix police

Bollards protect and serve up some hurt

Yikes. They were what I had feared. Fierce and menacing, they ensure a visitor does not feel welcome. (And before you say “unfair,” the ones at the front of the building are pretty grim, too.)

Well done, State Bar.

Back to the Wikipedia page.

A big fan of tugboats, I was pleased to see the entry’s nautical bent. Here are a few more bollards that add quirkiness to function.

bollard Victoria Canada

Well-dressed bollards in Victoria, B.C.

And for those of you whose hopes were raised upon mention of the British expletive, I offer a Change of Venue Friday video: a banned VW ad that prominently features the word “bollocks.”

Let’s see if that irks John.

Have a great weekend.

Amelia Craig Cramer opens her gift of a bound volume of Arizona Attorney Magazine, while State Bar CEO John Phelps looks on, June 18, 2013.

Amelia Craig Cramer opens her gift of a bound volume of Arizona Attorney Magazine, while State Bar CEO John Phelps looks on, June 18, 2013.

On the Tuesday before the State Bar Convention begins, the Board of Governors holds its June board meeting. It takes most of the afternoon (OK, the whole afternoon), but it does have its charms.

First of all, it’s the last board meeting over which the outgoing President presides. That means Tuesday was Amelia Craig Cramer’s last meeting. She was a pleasure to work with, and we were lucky to have her lead the Bar in the past year.

Others, too, cycle off the board at that meeting. And it is always great to hear the warm best wishes uttered among people who work hard together and often do not have a free minute to commiserate and visit as friends. The June meeting provides that opportunity.

The passing of the gavel includes a few gifts to the outgoing President. Amelia wanted the Bar to donate to the Foundation the money they would have spent on her gift—and so they will. But she still receives (whether she likes it or not) a gift of a leather-bound year of Arizona Attorney Magazine. She opened the gift, smiled, and then mentioned that with the Bar’s green and paperless initiative, this may be the last year the gift will be possible. Gulp. I’ll take that as being part of her great sense of humor!

Another tradition that’s arisen is the oh-so-brief crowning of the Incoming President. And so we got to view the already-tall Whitney Cunningham achieve a truly regal height. He generously allowed a photo or three as Amelia placed the velvet and ermine piece on his head, but then declined to wear it further—being a man of the people, I suppose (me, I would have worn that around the Biltmore throughout the Convention’s duration!).

Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer crowns her successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer crowns her successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

The reveal: Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer displays her crowned successor, Whitney Cunningham, June 18, 2013.

Congratulations and thanks to Amelia, Whitney and all those others who offer their time and more in service to Arizona’s lawyers.

State Bar of Arizona BLI graduates 2013

2013 BLI Graduates—Back row, L to R: Brad Martin, Blair Moses, Elizabeth Kruschek, Buck Rocker, Doreen McPaul, Ray Ybarra Maldonado. Front row, L to R: Chris Tozzo, Tabatha LaVoie, Nicole Ong, Laura Huff, Annamarie Frank, Cid Kallen, Jessica Sanchez. Not pictured: Heather Baker.

The newest class of the State Bar of Arizona Bar Leadership Institute graduated last Friday. As always, it was a noteworthy event marking the accomplishments of a talented group of lawyers.

You may already know about the BLI, but here is a description of the program:

BLI graduation 2013 1 sign“The Bar Leadership Institute is a nine-month program designed to foster the professional growth and enhance the leadership skills of a diverse group of Arizona attorneys. The purpose is to increase participation and visibility in the State Bar and the community-at-large among historically under-represented groups, with an emphasis on racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability and geographic diversity. In 2009 the Bar Leadership Institute was selected by the American Bar Association to receive its prestigious Partnership Award.”

More detail is here.

Speakers at the graduation stressed the qualities of leadership exemplified by the attorney graduates.

State Bar President Amelia Craig Cramer praised the attorneys, and she thanked them for their continued participation in the work of the Bar.

State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer, May 10, 2013

State Bar of Arizona President Amelia Craig Cramer, May 10, 2013

CEO John Phelps urged the graduates to value the friendships and connections they forged through the BLI program.

“That network of leaders is something special,” he said. “Take advantage of that friendship; nurture it. You’ve had the opportunity to connect with others in this special program.”

State Bar of Arizona CEO John Phelps, May 10, 2013

State Bar of Arizona CEO John Phelps, May 10, 2013

With a laugh, he concluded, “You’re part of the club now. Be sure to use your club membership.”

Elena Nethers, the Bar’s Diversity and Outreach Advisor, reminded graduates, their families and supporters that the BLI is designed to “enable people to attain their full potential.”

This year, she reported, the 14 graduates arose from a pool of 60 applicants.

Bar Governor Lisa Loo praised the program and the attorneys, taking the time to introduce audience member Henry Ong, a Bar member since 1972. He has been an active participant in the activities of multiple bars, Lisa pointed out. And for good measure, he is the father of Nicole Ong, one of this year’s BLI grads.

Also attending the event was BLI chair and attorney Booker Evans, Jr.

If you are interested in being part of this successful initiative (for yourself or someone else), be sure to share and complete the Bar Leadership Institite application for the coming year’s class. The application is due by June 28.

State Bar Governor Lisa Loo and BLI chair Booker Evans, Jr., at the 2013 BLI graduation

State Bar Governor Lisa Loo and BLI chair Booker Evans, Jr., at the 2013 BLI graduation

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorLast Thursday, John Phelps wrote candidly about violence against lawyers in an Arizona Republic op-ed.

John is the CEO/Executive Director of the State Bar of Arizona. Here is how he opened his editorial:

“The murders of Phoenix attorney Mark Hummels and his client Steven D. Singer are part of an unsettling trend in the legal world. Threats and violence are on the rise.”

John Phelps headshot

John Phelps

“In the same week that Hummels was murdered, a prosecutor in Texas, Mark Hasse, was also gunned down. Last year, an attorney in Yuma, Jerrold Shelley, was shot and killed by a man upset over a divorce.”

You can read his complete editorial here.

John goes on to discuss Steve Kelson, a Utah lawyer who has researched instances of violence against lawyers all across the country. (He is in the beginning steps of his process to do the same in Arizona in 2013.) The statistics Keslon reports in John’s op-ed are startling and should give us pause.

In his conclusion, John reminds us of attorneys’ highest duties: “Mark Hummels died after leaving a mediation. His death was the result of trying to find resolution. He died fulfilling Cicero’s belief that ‘we are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.’”

“Our thoughts and prayers go to Mark and Steve Singer’s family, friends and co-workers.”

John Phelps op-ed re Mark Hummels

News screen grab (referring to shooter Arthur Harmon)

UPDATE: This morning, a shooting in Delaware highlighted the flash point that the legal system can be. News reports indicate that multiple people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a security checkpoint in a Wilmington courthouse. Identities of those killed and hurt have not yet been announced. But the final paragraph of the news article is revealing: “Wilmington Police Chief Christine Dunning, attending a roundtable on gun violence with Vice President Joe Biden and other law enforcement officials in Philadelphia, declined comment on the shooting and deferred to officials on the scene in Wilmington.”

State Bar of Arizona BLI Reunion 1

Reunion of graduates of the State Bar of Arizona Bar Leadership Institute, Jan. 24, 2013, Phoenix, Ariz.

Last evening, the State Bar of Arizona hosted its first BLI Reunion. It’s the first such event since the Bar Leadership Institute was launched five years ago.

Since then, those five graduating classes of lawyers have become embedded in significant leadership positions within the Bar. More information on the BLI is here.

Last night’s mingling event was at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton, and it was a success from start to finish. Noteworthy is the camaraderie felt among all of the graduates, who clearly benefit from and enjoy the fellowship of their colleagues.

The event also featured a few (brief) speakers. They were BLI grads who shared a little about the exciting projects in which they are involved. More on that later, but for now, let me mention Ann-Marie Alameddin, who discussed a pro bono legal information clinic she manages; we may cover her work, and that of others, in an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Have a great weekend. Here are a few more photos.