Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Conference room artwork, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

On October 21, law firm Dickinson Wright held an open house to showcase their new space in the Viad Corporate Tower in midtown Phoenix. I stopped by to take a look.

Congratulations to the firm and its managing partner, Gary Birnbaum, who made some terrific choices for the new offices (especially in flooring and lighting—nice work!).

The event was impressive, and even included some culture. It was a pleasure and a treat to have live performances by talented young actors from the Valley Youth Theatre. They performed a selection of works from the then-current show Narnia. (Full disclosure: My daughter is in an upcoming VYT show. And as long as I’m disclosing, note that tickets are available here for A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail. If you go, give extra applause to Rabbit; I’d appreciate it.)

Touring law firm offices is a little like assessing gradations of diamond quality through a loupe. I mean, most of these offices rival fine hotel spaces in their sophisticated opulence. Among that class of office, though, I must say that the firm has created interior spaces that would be great to inhabit for 1,900 billable hours per year or so.

What made my tour a real pleasure, though, was the company. Firm partner Fred Cummings and communications pro Andrea Kalmanovitz made sure I saw ever item I desired and were helpful in answering all my intrusive questions.

For example, on the nuts and bolts, in case you’re wondering: According to the firm, the initial Dickinson Wright Arizona office lease agreement is through 2026.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright's Phoenix offices.

Andrea Kalmanovitz and Fred Cummings show me the new digs of Dickinson Wright’s Phoenix offices.

Fred’s good humor was especially appreciated. He even showed me his office, which (honestly, Fred) could use a few homey touches.

One thing I was pleased to see is the new space for the firm library. I knew it must be much reduced, and it is. Here is a photo of that new area:

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

Library space, Dickinson Wright law firm, Phoenix, Ariz.

As firms make these moves, they must decide whether and how to carry over their voluminous volumes. Most, like Dickinson, must pare down to a select few tomes. For not only are fewer lawyers turning to the print books, but the massive weight of them can make tenant improvement costs prohibitive. For example, in a multi-floor firm, the floor that holds your full-blown library can cost many times your other floors, simply for shoring up that paper weight.

(Another approach I noted last year in Fennemore Craig’s new offices: Subdividing that smaller number of volumes among the floors and spaces to site certain volumes near relevant practice groups of attorneys.)

This library-reduction development is not simply an Arizona one, of course. About a week ago, the New York Times ran article on Kaye Scholer’s new space. It’s titled “So Little Paper to Chase in a Law Firm’s New Library,” and here is a photo of that storied firm’s new library space (Dickinson’s may be nicer):

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

New library space of Kaye Scholer, New York. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Back at Dickinson Wright, the firm used the interior design services of Krause Interior Architects: Brad Krause, Jennifer Consentino and Alexandra Ayres. Andrea Kalmanovitz also tells me that the firm has worked with KIA in connection with its previous relocation and various expansions of its facilities. “The color scheme (largely gray, white, blue and various wood tones) was selected by the architect to convey a modern image and to reflect the youth and vitality of the Firm. The space consists of approximately 45,000 square feet.”

Some more photos from my tour are below (click to biggify). Congratulations again to Dickinson Wright on their beautiful new digs. Here’s to your attorneys, whether they enjoy using print books or not.


The challenges that solo practitioners face are legion. And although the playing field may have been somewhat leveled over the past decade through widespread access to technology, the sledding may still be rather tough.

One Arizona development aims to make things a little easier, for solos or for any lawyer who may require access to legal research. This week, the Phoenix School of Law announced its Law Library Bar Access Program. Through it, lawyers and judges may gain “access to [the school’s] physical and online collections,” both at its downtown Phoenix location or via their own computers.

More detail on the Bar Access Program is here.

And here is a list of those who may apply for membership in the program:

  • Active members of the State Bar of Arizona
  • Active members of any tribal bar
  • Inactive members of any state or tribal bar engaged in pro bono service or scholarship
  • Employees of active members of the State Bar of Arizona under supervision per Rule 5.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

There are some modest fees involved: an annual registration fee of $120, and $30 “to defray the cost of the identification card.”

Phoenix School of Law Dean Shirley Mays said, “We are quite proud and excited to offer such an incredible resource such as our Law Library Bar Access Program housed here at Phoenix School of Law to the legal community in Arizona and beyond.”

Is this a benefit you may use? When I had my own law practice, I definitely would have made use of this, both for the resources and the support and insight a law librarian can provide. Today, however, is that still the case? Librarians, of course, can still be worth their weight in gold. But are the legal resources far more available than ever before—and at a good price?

Please let me know what you think of this offer. Or send me your own story about using it.

If you have questions about the program, contact Lidia Koelbel, Access Services Manager, at (602) 682-6899. The complete list of available resources and materials for on-campus and off-campus access is here.

Finally, don’t forget to bookmark the PhoenixLaw Library Blog, called Footnotes.

Phoenix School of Law Library