Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Hon. Randall Howe, Ariz. Court of Appeals, surrounded by law school classmates, Arizona Center for Disability Law, May 15, 2015.

Earlier this month, I mentioned a remarkable story told in the May Arizona Attorney. In it, Judge Randall Howe relates his mother’s advocacy for his quality education—though his school deemed him unfit for such due to a disability.

The 6-year-old Howe had a remarkable champion in his corner in 1969. Since then, he has been a champion for others, which led to his being named the recipient of an esteemed Vision Award from the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

AZ Center for Disability Law logoOn May 15, the Center celebrated its 20th anniversary. In a terrific evening, awards were given, including Judge Howe’s and a Disability Justice Award given to the law firm Perkins Coie.

You can see my aggregated tweets from the evening here. They includes links to the Judge’s story and other helpful information.

Congratulations to Judge Howe. He is a champion and an advocate—as well as a terrific former Chair of the magazine’s Editorial Board!

Have a great weekend.

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Mother's Day banner

The following information may be bad news to you: Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

If you find yourself in the awkward bind of realizing that fact a day late, here’s what I recommend: Read Randy Howe’s touching article in Arizona Attorney Magazine. Then contact your loved one and apologize—more than once. And make amends by sharing the story’s link with her.

Randy’s story and his mother’s evocative and surprising letter of advocacy for her son may heal all wounds.

The heart of the story of Randall Howe—now an Arizona Court of Appeals judge—revolves around his mother’s position in regard to her son’s education, and a letter she sent to the district on his behalf. As he writes:

“Six years old was when children in Colorado started first grade, and my mother believed that I should begin school. The fact that I had cerebral palsy, walked with walker, and had a speech impediment—all of these things she deemed irrelevant to my need—my right—to go to school. Consequently, she enrolled me in the elementary school down the street from our house. School officials had never encountered children with a severe disability before and put her off, requiring that I be mentally and psychologically tested to determine if I was intellectually capable of attending school.”

“Undaunted, she did just that. And from reading the letter, you can see what happened. I went to first grade for four days, until school officials decided that they were unable to give a child with a disability the physical assistance necessary so that he could attend school. My mother—again undaunted—proceeded to petition, cajole and argue with the school officials, and to threaten legal action against the school board to get me the public education that was provided to every nondisabled child in the State of Colorado.”

Here is Randy’s whole story, which I (seriously) suggest you share with friends and family.

Arizona Attorney December 2014 cover

Becoming something new, or at least thinking about it?

As we all rush about for the holiday season, I offer up the word transformation, which occupied the minds of a few author-attorneys in the December issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

The two folks—Judge Randall Howe and law professor Susan Rabe—explained what went into their decision to explore deviations from the law practice norm.

You can read Judge Howe here and read Professor Rabe here.

But their perambulations got me thinking that there are probably many stories of Arizona lawyers who took different paths. I’ve already heard from a few, but please write me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org to tell me your tale. We may find a way to share those stories in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

In the meantime, I reprint below my Editor’s Letter from December. (And yes, despite the queries I received, the image does depict a butterfly, and not a moth!).

After that, I may be blog-quiet for a bit—maybe even for a week! We’ll see. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Spreading your wings

In an issue that’s dedicated to “becoming,” you may wonder how we illustrate such a thing.

When it comes to a legal magazine, “becoming” may seem like a pretty conceptual side trip (emphasis on trip). Lawyers believe they address nuts, bolts, and the deals that keep them together (or sever them, when needed). So lawyerly career transformation would appear to be a tangent.

But high-concept is often what we must address in the magazine. Flip through back issues and you’ll see what I mean: copyright, free speech, civil practice rules, grandparent visitation, trademark, even “thinking like a lawyer.” Not easy stuff to, y’know, picture. (Go on; you try it.)

That’s why I appreciate how rarely our talented Art Director, Karen Holub, must resort to the dreaded gavel or scales of justice. Among our colleagues nationwide who address the law in print, most agree that those are tools to be kept behind glass, broken only in the case of emergency. But where others break the glass monthly, we rarely do.

So when we considered “becoming,” I kept my mouth shut and my mind open. I didn’t offer Karen the one obvious approach—a butterfly emerging from a pupa—not merely because it’s stereotypical and a little mushy, but because creative people like Karen think best with only a modest amount of guidance but a whole lot of freedom. (The obvious butterfly that graces this page is the only one you’ll see in the issue, and was my idea.)

I hope you like our “becoming” art as much as I do. Well done, Karen.

Some attorneys are remaking themselves. And you? (photo by Michael Apel via Wikimedia Commons)

Some attorneys are remaking themselves. And you? (photo by Michael Apel via Wikimedia Commons)

And well done to those lawyers who have sought out new and affirming paths.

In the section’s introduction, we say that the legal profession is “a home for searchers.” Maybe it doesn’t seem like that on a Friday when you’re scrambling to complete your too-long-neglected timesheets. But many lawyers seek fulfillment, within and without the traditional legal field. And from where we sit, that is happening more and more, across multiple generations.

So consider this month’s issue as a call to the searchers. Today, we cover those who have made their way to be a judge and a teacher. But in the coming months … ?

Other lawyers, I’m sure, have made entirely different choices. Entrepreneurs, chefs, vintners, farmers—all that and more likely dots the experience palette of Arizona’s lawyers.

If you’re becoming—or became—write to us at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Judge Randall Howe, Sept. 27, 2012

On September 27, I had the privilege to attend a judge’s investiture—that event where a judge is sworn in, robed, given a gavel and sent off to write (many) opinions.

I’ve attended many swearings-in over the years, and a good number have been for people I had come to know well. And Thursday last was another in a great roster of such events. On that day, Randall Howe was sworn in as a Judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Besides being a terrific appellate lawyer, Randy (as we called him until the event) is the chair of the Arizona Attorney Magazine Editorial Board.

(Years ago, another Randy—Randall Warner—was a chair of the same board when he was sworn in as a judge. Hon. Randall Warner is on the bench in the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County. And no, not all of our chairs must be named Randy.)

The opening to Randy Howe’s article, April 2011.

Judge Howe’s investiture was special for a few other reasons. For example, it was held at the Disability Empowerment Center in Phoenix, a site that Judge Howe had spent much time supporting over the years.

The remarks by friends and colleagues also made this a remarkable investiture. The best such speeches reveal a part of the new judge we may not have known. And the speakers—Joe Mikitish, Joe Maziarz, Karla Delord and Phil Boas—certainly did that.

Their comments described many parts of Randy’s work and personality. And in so doing, they praised a man for rising so very high in a difficult profession, all while meeting head-on the challenges of cerebral palsy. That, and many things, make him a terrific choice as a new appellate judge.

Congratulations, Judge Howe.

Judge Randall Howe has written for Arizona Attorney before; read his article here.

More photos are at the magazine Facebook page.