A new pro bono program will offer lawyers the opportunity to brief and argue cases at the Arizona Court of Appeals.

A new pro bono program will offer lawyers the opportunity to brief and argue cases at the Arizona Court of Appeals.

A brand-new program launches this week at the Arizona Court of Appeals through which attorneys may be approved to brief and argue appellate cases on behalf of self-represented litigants. If you’ve had a hankering to stand and deliver at the CoA, this may be your opportunity.

As the court says, “Attorneys interested in arguing a case at the Court of Appeals are being recruited as volunteers for this pro bono program.” To be considered, the court requires you to contact one of the designated lawyer–coordinators, who will be developing lists of counsel for both Division One and Division Two of the Court of Appeals.

The administrative order creating the program is here.

Here are the attorney–coordinator contacts:

Division One Pro Bono Attorney Coordinator:

Kimberly A. Demarchi, Esq.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP

201 East Washington Street, Suite 1200

Phoenix, AZ  85004

(602) 262-5728 or KDemarchi@LRRLaw.com

Division Two Pro Bono Attorney Coordinator:

Andrew M. Jacobs, Esq.

Snell & Wilmer LLP

One South Church Avenue, Suite 1500

Tucson, AZ  85701-1630

(520) 882-1207 or AJacobs@SWLaw.com

As the court has indicated, “Attorneys who want to volunteer for the program are encouraged to contact the coordinator nearest to them. The coordinators are not accepting requests from pro se litigants; they only will coordinate counsel for specific cases referred to them by the Court of Appeals.”

In the coming weeks, I aim to speak directly with some of those most involved in this novel program, including Division One Presiding Judge Diane Johnsen and Judge Sam Thumma, as well as the lawyer–coordinators, Kim Demarchi and Andrew Jacobs.

Until then, you can click here to read:

Arizona Court of Appeals logoAnd here is more information from the court:

“The Arizona Court of Appeals today launches a new program that seeks to improve access to justice for self-represented litigants while also creating opportunities for attorneys to brief and argue cases in the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals will identify specific civil cases in which one or more parties are self-represented and offer the litigant(s) in those cases an opportunity to be paired with a volunteer lawyer.

“The Court of Appeals expects to select cases for the new program that are complex, cases that involve a new issue of law, or cases that require specialized legal research. The Court will select cases that fit these criteria and refer them to one of two volunteer attorney coordinators. The coordinators will work to find a volunteer lawyer to serve as counsel for the unrepresented party.

“‘This program will directly benefit the litigant, but it will also benefit our court in that we will receive briefs and hear arguments that have been prepared by trained lawyers,’ Court of Appeals Division One Presiding Judge Diane Johnsen said. ‘It will also give young lawyers, or attorneys who rarely argue cases on appeal, a chance to have oral argument at the court.’

“‘It is important to distinguish this program from other pro bono programs. The assessment of which civil cases qualify for the program will be conducted exclusively by the court. The court will not be accepting motions for the appointment of counsel from civil pro se litigants, nor will the court be accepting motions for a particular case to be included in the program,’ Division Two Presiding Judge Peter Eckerstrom said. ‘We aren’t forcing the unrepresented party to work with a volunteer attorney. The person involved in the case has final say, but we think they will welcome the free legal help.’

“Judges Eckerstrom and Johnsen are hoping that attorneys will welcome the chance to offer their services for free because they will get to brief a case and participate in an oral argument at the Court of Appeals while providing representation to a pro se party.

“The program is modeled after a similar program at the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Presiding Judge Johnsen said that Judge Samuel Thumma developed the program for the state court of appeals.

“‘This program meshes nicely with the statewide goal of increasing access to justice for self-represented parties,’ Division One Judge Thumma said. ‘The crucial step now is to recruit attorneys who would be willing to help advance this program.’

“Arizona’s Court of Appeals is divided into two divisions. Division One is based in Phoenix and serves the counties of Apache, Coconino, La Paz, Navajo, Maricopa, Mohave, Yavapai and Yuma. Division Two hears appeals from Cochise, Gila, Greenlee, Graham, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz Counties. Both divisions will be participating in the program.”

The annual award breakfast of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association was held Friday morning. At the event, the AWLA recognized Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch with the Sarah Herring Sorin Award, the group’s greatest honor.

A recurring theme of the event’s comments focused on why groups like AWLA are still vital and needed in 2012.

AWLA President Kim Demarchi took that question on head-on when she looked back at Arizona history. She noted that Sarah Herring Sorin was admitted to the Bar—the state’s first woman lawyer—in 1892, 22 years before Arizona became a state. And then in 1951, Mary Anne Richey—for whom the annual breakfast is named—was the only woman admitted to the Bar that year. Thirty-seven years after statehood, the only one admitted.

“What AWLA is about today,” Demarchi said, “is support for each other, service to the community and a willingness to collaborate and build coalitions.”

Longtime AWLA member (and past President) Paige Martin echoed that mission. She also reminded attendees the reason the Chief Justice was receiving the award: not for being Chief or her work on the Court of Appeals before that, “but for her day-to-day acts of being a mentor.”

Martin also read a wonderful tribute to the Chief from Justice Berch’s daughter, who could not attend due to a conflict in her work teaching at Southwestern Law School. Among her remarks: “My mom is the glue that holds our family together. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

L to R: Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch, Kim Demarchi, Paige Martin

Chief Justice Berch then spoke movingly about mentoring, which she called “the work of everyone who cares about our profession.”

She then encouraged a new generation of women lawyers to advance to leadership positions, especially as part of the judiciary.

“I know we’re all balancing a lot, but you have to apply for those positions.”

Although more and more lawyers may be women, she said, “Look at who are the associates and who are partners. At law schools, look who are tenured faculty and who is teaching legal writing.”

The Chief demonstrated her down-to-earth advice when she urged attendees to focus on what’s important and to sometimes push other things down the to-do list.

Let your house go another day without dusting, she said. “I’ve served Grape-Nuts for dinner,” she laughed. “I am fond of popcorn and a glass of wine for dinner.”

“Get up and do the things we need to do that will have a lasting effect.”

To emphasize that drive, AWLA Vice President Janet Hutchison announced the winners of the AWLA Mary Anne Richey Scholarships: ASU Law student Ashlee Hoffmann and UA Law student Judith Davila.

Congratulations to the AWLA for another great event. More photos are available at the Arizona Attorney Facebook page.

Kim Demarchi, President-Elect of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, summed up a recent event well: “We focus on how the shape of our workplaces shapes our experiences within them.”

Demarchi was offering an introduction for a keynote speaker at the group’s annual convention on November 4. But the concern—creating successful workplaces or their opposite—is one that is shared by many in a difficult profession.

The special speaker was Jessica Natkin, a national expert on workplaces and retention efforts that improve them. She arrived from the Project for Attorney Retention for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

The Center is a national model and a leader in the topic. And Natkin’s pertinent remarks demonstrate why. (Full disclosure: I graduated from UC Hastings Law School in 1993, three years before the Center launched. And, while I’m at it, I am an AWLA member.)

Natkin’s lunchtime talk examined what it takes to have a successful law firm. But, going in, she acknowledged that the order was a tall one, given that our accepted model for success is based on “an ideal worker”—someone who lives and breathes for the workplace, one who “manifests a singular devotion” to work. In that rigid law office, according to one scholar, time becomes a proxy for dedication and excellence. In today’s society, Natkin said, a significant number of lawyers seek a work–life balance that is greater than that.

Kim Demarchi

She explained that “work-life” does not necessarily mean part-time, and it definitely does not mean reduced commitment to the job. In a world in which many firms are expecting 2,200 billable hours a year, “work-life” may often mean simply reclaiming a 40-hour workweek.

“Maternal wall bias” is one of the highest obstacles to women in the workforce, Natkin said. That is simply bias against women because they are or may become mothers. In that worldview, mothers are seen as less competent and committed than other lawyers.

Due that and other biases, women find themselves pushed out of the workplace. Women who are mothers are less likely to be hired, are offered a lower starting salary. And, researchers have found, mothers are held to higher standards of punctuality and performance.

In law firms, Natkin said, men are twice as likely as women to make partner. Women of color comprise only about three percent of the profession nationally. And less than one percent of equity partners in law firms are women of color.

Despite statistics like those, Natkin pointed out that work/life is not merely a woman’s problem: 70 percent of male attorneys and 71 percent of female attorneys report such conflict in their law firms, one in which the work to be accomplished never ends, and time outside work is seen as suspect by firm leaders. As one research respondent aptly put it, “It’s like a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.”

One possible solution to the dilemma, Natkin said, may lie in something called “balanced hours.” Though it may be similar to what we formerly called “part-time,” balanced hours is an individually tailored approach that also fits the firm’s business needs. “Balanced hours programs involve active management of workloads in proportion to reduced hours, emphasize client service, and promote the values of the firm.”

Jessica Natkin

Natkin also urged lawyers who seek to negotiate a better workplace to be open to the fact that there are occasional job emergencies: “We cannot be rigid. We must be flexible in our flexibility.” When those sometimes occur, she said, be prepared to pitch in.

Perhaps the law profession is pretty far from adopting solutions and approaches like those touted by the Center for WorkLife Law. In fact, many lawyers may reside comfortably in the notion that things are pretty good and change is unlikely—or unnecessary. If so, then perhaps the words of another research respondent—a woman who decided to vacate the profession—may give them pause:

“So I decided to quit, and this was a really, really big deal … because I never envisioned myself not working. I just felt like I would be a nobody if I quit. Well, I was sort of a nobody working, too. So it was sort of, ‘Which nobody do I want to be?’

Congratulations to the Arizona Women Lawyers Association for putting on another great program. More information on WorkLife is available here.