A proclamation by Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey declares that March 2016 is Women's History Month.

A proclamation by Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey declares that March 2016 is Women’s History Month.

Sharing some news from the Governor’s Office you may have missed, a proclamation of March as Women’s History Month. The proclamation posted above bears careful study, as it praises the achievements of attorneys and jurists Sandra Day O’Connor and Lorna Lockwood. Here is the Governor’s announcement:

In honor of National Women’s History Month, Governor Doug Ducey has signed a proclamation honoring the brilliant and courageous women who shaped Arizona’s history. His office also released a video that celebrates just some of the many Arizona women who have torn down barriers throughout the decades.

“In Arizona, women aren’t just a part our history,” said Governor Ducey. “They’ve led it. These women have been Supreme Court Justices, Governors, Congresswomen and more. This month, we commemorate the achievements of Arizona women as we look forward to the next generation of female leaders in our state.”

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (ret.) and Gov. Doug Ducey, September 2015.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.) and Gov. Doug Ducey, September 2015.

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

Jodi Weisberg delivers the humorous goods at the 2015 lawyer-comedy competition (photo by Ruth Howe, Rotary).

I’m happy to report out the following news I received about an annual lawyer-comedy competition. (No, not comedy about lawyers; comedy by lawyers.)

In the past I’ve written about this annual competition. You can read my coverage here and here.

Congratulations to Jodi Weisberg, Bob Howard, and Matt Storrs.

Jodi Weisberg won the 2015 annual John O’Connor Comedy Competition. She is the only two-time winner of this contest, which began in 2011. She has been performing stand-up comedy for more than a decade.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and the Rotary 100 Club, began this competition in honor of John O’Connor, who had a wonderful sense of humor, and was a past President of the Rotary 100 Club.

“It is always such an honor and a thrill to perform for Justice O’Connor and her family,” said Weisberg. “It is a wonderful feeling to make her laugh!”

Weisberg won the competition in 2011, was a judge in 2012, and not allowed to compete in 2013-14. She was invited to perform this year. Bob Howard placed second, and Matt Storrs took third place.

First place prize was $2,500, and Rotary donated $2,000 to the University of Arizona, where Weisberg received her M.S. and J.D. degrees.

John and Sandra Day O'Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

John and Sandra Day O’Connor in their Paradise Valley home (undated photo)

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Today I will happily be leading a webinar on the topic of blogging. So there may be no better day than this to share news from an event last week. That annual event, coincidentally, was the subject of my first legal blog post more than five years ago. (I know; you’re tearing up along with me.)

The Learned Hand luncheon continues to wow a packed room at the Hyatt Phoenix with its awards to smart legal luminaries. And the magic of the event continues to be the stellar speeches, not only be the worthy recipients, but also by their nominators. These folks bring it.

This year’s event was last Wednesday, March 11, and as always it is sponsored by the American Jewish Committee’s Arizona Chapter.

AJC American Jewish Committee logoThis year’s honorees were Lawrence Robinson, Elliot Glicksman, and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. (I know; what took them so long?!)

I won’t go on about each of the honoree’s accomplishments. All of the folks were well selected, and, as always, the acceptance speeches were matched by the nominators’ speeches for verve and punch.

The luncheon provides attendees a moment to pause and hear from esteemed peers. As those lawyers and judges, we recall the best ideals of our profession. I’m confident that as listeners stream out onto the busy sidewalk, full from a salmon lunch, they are at least briefly refreshed as they head back to work. Ideally, the lessons they heard will take root and bear fruit in their own lives.

And if you have a moment, <strong>here is what I wrote five years ago, on the occasion of the same lunch in 2010 (when the honorees were Keri Lazarus Silvyn, E.G. “Ted” Noyes, Jr., and Debbie Hill).

Sandra Day O'Connor, before she was a Justice.

Sandra Day O’Connor, before she was a Justice.

This past week, I finally had the chance to see a historic exhibit that has been on display since September (I mentioned it before). I’m glad I caught the show regarding Sandra Day O’Connor before it closes in May.

Whether or not you’re a cowgirl, or Irish, you’ll enjoy the show at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix.

Some photos I took during my visit are here on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

In the next (April) issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, I write about my visit in my editor’s column. Here it is (spoiler alert):

Honoring a cowgirl–justice

Let’s admit at the outset: Sandra Day O’Connor may not be Irish.

That small fact detracts not a whit from an installation at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix that explores one remarkable woman’s path from cowgirl to jurist.

The show—up since September but which I finally saw in February—comes to Phoenix from Texas—Fort Worth, in particular. That’s where (of course) the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is located, and where they conceived the idea of “The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice.”

Sandra Day O'Connor speaks at her Senate confirmation hearings, her image reflected on the case holding her judicial robe.

Sandra Day O’Connor speaks at her Senate confirmation hearings, her image reflected on the case holding her judicial robe. (Click to enlarge.)

The well-chosen exhibition displays offer viewers the opportunity to explore how life on the ranch and in chambers are similar and different. You can’t help but marvel at the distance a young girl traveled, and it’s hard to resist viewing her judicial approach anew, through the lens of the Lazy B Ranch (where, to nobody’s surprise, no one was lazy).

Family photos and a branding iron are concrete and evocative reminders of Justice O’Connor’s heritage. But the portion of the beautiful room given over to her ascension to the Court reminds us of her historic appointment.

As I watched the looping footage of O’Connor’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I was struck by her calm demeanor and kind but firm method of schooling her questioners. Her flickering visage, reflected in the case holding her judicial robe, reminded me how fortunate Arizona is to be home to talented lawyers and jurists like Sandra Day O’Connor.

The show remains open until May 23, 2015. More information is here.

See how the ranch and the bench intersected in Sandra Day O'Connor's life at an event Wednesday, Feb. 25.

See how the ranch and the bench intersected in Sandra Day O’Connor’s life at an event Wednesday, Feb. 25.

This Wednesday, a Phoenix event will include an opportunity to see a display of items related to Sandra Day O’Connor’s cowgirl days.

The mixer of the Phoenix Community Alliance will be held at the Irish Cultural Center in Margaret T. Hance Park on Wednesday, Feb. 25, from 4:30 to 6:30. The address is 1106 N Central Ave., Phoenix 85004.

Register here for the free event (a map and parking information are also available).

As organizers say:

“The Irish Cultural Center is also home to the McClelland Irish Library, which resembles a traditional 12th century Norman castle from the Emerald Isle. The library consists of 8,000 books from Irish authors, poets, and genealogical sources.”

On exhibit in the library is “The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor,” an interactive exhibit that shows how the ranch and the bench intersected. It “demonstrates how a cowgirl from a ranch in Arizona became the first female to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

I wrote before about the connection between the Irish Cultural Center and Justice O’Connor.

For more about what you’ll see at the exhibit, click here.

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix

icivics logoCongratulations to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and all the people at iCivics for being named to receive a “MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.”

Read the Washington Post story here. As the story opens:

“A civics education program founded by former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor and two other nonprofit groups … are among nine organizations worldwide selected this year for the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The awards for the nonprofit groups, less well known than the MacArthur Foundation’s ‘genius grants’ for individuals, provide as much as $1 million to each institution.

And here is a brief video about how iCivics works.

And read more about iCivics here.

University leaders and dignitaries break ground at the ASU Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2014. Those pictured include law school Dean Doug Sylvester (third from left), retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (center) and ASU President Michael Crow (right).

University leaders and dignitaries break ground at the ASU Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 13, 2014. Those pictured include law school Dean Doug Sylvester (third from left), retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (center) and ASU President Michael Crow (right).

On a crisp and clear autumn day, Arizona State University officials yesterday welcomed a throng to downtown Phoenix to witness the groundbreaking for its new Center for Law & Society. On a temporarily closed Taylor Street, nearly 200 attendees, many garbed in maroon and gold, happily ate pastries, sipped coffee and smiled as speakers praised the university and touted the new building’s innovative features.

The building ultimately will be 280,000 square feet and cost $129 million to construct and launch. (According to the university, “This includes the cost of the construction, furniture, IT/AV equipment, and all of the soft costs associated with the project.”)

Fork-branded construction headgear awaits dignitaries at the ASU groundbreaking.

Fork-branded construction headgear awaits dignitaries at the ASU groundbreaking.

Speakers at the ceremony included ASU President Michael Crow, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (ret.), Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Dean Doug Sylvester, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

President Crow said that the notion of a new kind of law building was conceived as immigration fights raged across Arizona. The topic, he said, is “one of the most important issues we face,” and yet the dialogue was “a rather uninformed series of debates.”

What was missing, he said, was the university’s projecting “our role as teachers and thinkers. We needed a new gathering spot,” he said, and it should be in downtown Phoenix, center of the state’s activities.

President Michael Crow speaks at the groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

President Michael Crow speaks at the groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

The building, Crow and other speakers reiterated, would be far more than a law school. It would be “a community center for engagement in law.”

According to the dedicated website, the structure will contain the law school as well as “two think tanks, multiple centers with cross disciplinary focus including the Lincoln Center, and the new ASU Alumni Law Group that will house the first teaching law firm associated with a law school.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the site “ground zero for discussions of critically important issues.”

“This is about building the kind of community we want,” he continued. “It is about being embedded in the community.”

He added, “There is not an inch of space between the success of ASU as an enterprise and the future success of the City of Phoenix.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs a construction helmet as attorney Leo Beus looks on, Nov. 13, 2014.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton signs a construction helmet as attorney Leo Beus looks on, Nov. 13, 2014.

In her brief remarks, Justice O’Connor noted with pleasure that the building would be “open to the public and open for community events.”

President Crow acknowledged the struggles the legal profession faces today, but said the building signifies a new strategy.

“The older models have run their course. We’re forging the new way.”

As of that morning, Crow said, $34 million had been raised toward the building’s construction. ($10 million of that comes from attorney Leo Beus and his wife Annette. It is reportedly the largest single donation in the law school’s history. Leo spoke at the groundbreaking; more detail on his gift is here.)

Shovels await their users at the ASU groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

Shovels await their users at the ASU groundbreaking, Nov. 13, 2014.

Following the remarks, dignitaries and guests turned some dirt with silver-plated shovels. Meanwhile, attendees could gaze into the two-story-deep excavation where workers prepared footings and rebar for the building’s construction.

Besides the Center’s own website, you also can get more information from its project site, on which you can watch its ever-updating construction cam.

Click here to see more photos from the event at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page. Below is some more information provided by the university.

Screen-grab from the university's construction cam, Nov. 13, 2014; the groundbreaking occurred near the white tents at the top of the image.

Screen-grab from the university’s construction cam, Nov. 13, 2014; the groundbreaking occurred near the white tents at the top of the image.

“Construction on the Arizona Center for Law and Society began in July. The new building will be ready for classes by August 2016. The College of Law currently occupies its home of almost 50 years, Armstrong Hall, on the Tempe campus. ASU and the College of Law are committed to ensuring that the Armstrong name will be honored in the new law school.”

“The Arizona Center for Law and Society is being funded by the city of Phoenix—which is providing land and $12 million—construction bonds through Arizona State University and private donations. ASU Law has set a capital campaign goal of $50 million for contruction of the building. The College has raised more than $34 million so far.”

“‘This could not have been possible without the generosity of our alumni and connected legal communities,’ Dean Sylvester said. ‘We are particularly honored that long-time Phoenix attorney Leo Beus and his wife, Annette, recently made a $10 million contribution to the building’s capital campaign.’”

“The building is planned to be approximately 280,000 gross square feet with two levels of underground parking. It will have 18 rooms in which classes will be regularly scheduled, including one large lecture hall dedicated to university undergraduate education. Features of the new law school include a high-tech courtroom and an active learning classroom.”

“‘Not only will the new law school have state-of-the-art learning facilities, it also will provide our students with incredible opportunities,’ Sylvester said. ‘The downtown location is near the courts and the city’s legal district, which will prove invaluable to our students in the form of internships, externships and networking.’”

“The Ross–Blakley Law Library, currently located in a separate building near the law school in Tempe, will be moved to the new building. The library will occupy multiple floors and create the main circulatory structure of the center. The first floor of the building will have retail space consisting of a school bookstore and a café.”

“The Arizona Center for Law and Society also will include space for two think tanks, multiple centers with cross-disciplinary focus and the new ASU Alumni Law Group, the first teaching law firm associated with a law school.”

“The lead architects on the project are Ennead Architects and Jones Studios, with DPR Construction as the lead builder.”

 

Construction crane on the site of ASU's Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix.

Construction crane on the site of ASU’s Center for Law & Society in downtown Phoenix.

Constitution DayIn case you hadn’t made your Constitution Day plans yet, I recommend to you a great video that includes a retired Supreme Court—and Arizona—jurist.

The National Association of Women Judges has launched a public service announcement (in separate video and audio). In it, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor discusses the value of free and fair courts.

And what is more constitutional than that?

Here is the video:

Fair and Free – Full Film – featuring Sandra Day O’Connor (EN) from Informed Voters Project on Vimeo.

Below is more background from the association (and a hat tip to Francine Walker of The Florida Bar for putting me on this very cool trail!)

“In honor of Constitution Day, September 17, the ‘Informed Voters Project’ sponsored by the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), has released a new :30 second TV public service announcement and a :60 second radio announcement featuring retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The PSA campaign’s message is a reminder that politics and partisanship have no place in the courts of the United States of America.”

“The National Association of Women Judges ‘Informed Voters – Fair Judges’ project is a non-partisan voter education project developed to increase public awareness about the judicial system, to inform voters that politics and special interest attacks have no place in the courts, and to give voters the tools they need to exercise an informed vote in favor of fair and impartial courts.”

More details c­­an be found here.

In a video screen-shot, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (center) describes a proposed judicial selection plan.

In a video screen-shot, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (center) describes a proposed judicial selection plan.

The dialogue over how we select judges continues in earnest across the country, and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor continues to be in the thick of it.

As Justice O’Connor recently said, “The courts are the bulwark of our democracy, and we can ill afford to see them undermined.”

Last week, we read an announcement that a new proposed plan had been released, and it is named the O’Connor Judicial Selection Plan. (The complete plan is here.)

The new proposed plan was issued by the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The new proposed plan was issued by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.

The proposal comes out of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). You can read more about the news here.

According to plan advocates, the plan “was the outgrowth of work by Justice O’Connor, IAALS and the Advisory Committee to its Quality Judges Initiative, chaired by former Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor, who is a member of the Justice at Stake Board of Directors.”

As described by Justice at Stake, the plan includes:

“a judicial nominating commission to screen judicial applicants and identify the best qualified candidates, appointment by the governor of one of those candidates, broad-based and objective evaluation of judges’ performance on the bench, and periodic retention elections.”

(Yes, that is very much like the Arizona system, at least in three counties.)

Justice at Stake logoWould you like to see where your state stacks up in its judicial-selection method? The IAALS, at the University of Denver, breaks it down here.

In case you’re thinking the conversation is of interest merely to court wonks, read a new study by the Defense Research Institute, which calls itself “the voice of the defense bar.” Its report titled “Economics of Justice” details the facts behind its position that financial blows suffered by the judicial branch are inflicting “widespread economic harm in communities.”

A press release and link to the full report are here.

Finally, for a quick synopsis of the O’Connor Plan, watch this video with the Justice herself, along with retired Arizona Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and IAALS Executive Director Rebecca Love Kourlis.

 

Screen-shot from Federal Bar Association video on its Women and the Law conference, to be held on July 11, 2014.

Screen-shot from Federal Bar Association video on its Women and the Law conference, to be held on July 11, 2014.

How do you visually preview your events? Not at all? Maybe you need a new plan.

I became a convert to the in-person conference about a decade ago. That’s when I attended some events that provided an educational experience that could not be replicated in a webcast or podcast.

Many people agree with that sentiment. But far too few use all available channels to tout their upcoming event. Among the channels that are underused? Video.

Federal Bar Association FBA logo_optI previously shared my take on how the State Bar of Arizona and Niche Media proclaimed their coming educational conference. (And more on Niche later this week.)

But today’s thumbs-up goes to the Federal Bar Association. Many of you attorneys who practice in federal court may already be FBA members (and if not, you should consider it).

On July 11, the FBA hosts its Women in the Law Conference. You can read more about it here.

If I were in DC later this week, I would attend. But in the meantime, thank you to Stacy King, the FBA’s Deputy Executive Director, for sharing the organization’s video touting the conference. Here it is:

Well, if there’s one thing all my conference experience has taught me, it is to replicate the best ideas you see floating around. So congratulations to the Federal Bar Association for a terrific video; hello to wideo, a portal I will grow familiar with as I muddle through creating my own video.

Is anyone else planning to make a video in the near future? Let me know if you try wideo. Let’s get people looking even more at our content.