Bud Selig

Bud Selig

We learned this past week that Allan H. (Bud) Selig, the former baseball commissioner, has joined the faculty of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He will play an integral role in the school’s Sports Law and Business program.

As Arizona Republic reporter Anne Ryman says:

“ASU officials said Selig will teach and will be the founding president of an advisory board to the program. He’ll also spearhead an initiative to bring in speakers as part of the Bud Selig Speaker Series on Sports in America.”

You can read her whole story here.

Forbes writer Maury Brown examines Selig’s move and what it means for the athletics-minded academic and the law school he’ll be joining.

As Brown reports:

“So, in Selig’s second life, he looks to expand horizons for those entering the business of baseball and beyond. According to ASU, he helps select two Selig Sports Law and Business Scholars — one from the incoming jurisprudence class and another from the Master of Sports Law and Business or Master of Law. He will also lead efforts to bring speakers to ASU Law as part of the Bud Selig Speaker Series on Sports in America.”

Finally, there is more from 12 News, including a short video interview with Selig, here. As the story says, “The hire is another step in ASU’s attempt to increase its law school’s profile, which includes a move to the downtown campus. The new building is slated to open this fall.”

Bud Selig

Bud Selig

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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.

Professor Kingsfield may not be viewed as today's "model" law professor.

Professor Kingsfield may not be viewed as today’s “model” law professor.

In the category of “you never know where a good idea may come from,” I point you toward the review of a book on what makes a great law professor.

The review was pointed out to me by a very wise person, and she thought I’d be intrigued by the concept. She was right, just as I am intrigued by the location of the review: In the Teachers College Record, “a journal of research, analysis, and commentary in the field of education. It has been published continuously since 1900 by Teachers College, Columbia University.”

At TCR, they concern themselves with all kinds of teaching, even that dispensed at law schools. So always keep your eye peeled.

(And if you missed my recent coverage of a great article about law school, head over here to read it.)

what-the-best-law-teachers-do book cover

The new book is aptly titled What the Best Law Teachers Do, and the review is written by Marjorie Heins, “a former ACLU lawyer, the founding director of the Free Expression Policy Project, and the author, most recently, of Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge (NYU Press, 2013). She has been a visiting professor at both the law school and undergraduate levels. She currently teaches ‘Censorship in American Culture and Law’ at New York University.”

Here is how she opens her review:

“In popular imagination, the typical law teacher is the notorious Professor Charles Kingsfield, immortalized in the novel, The Paper Chase. Imperious, tyrannical, and a master practitioner of the Socratic method in its most rigorous form, Kingsfield aims to intimidate if not terrorize. But in one famous scene, the old codger turns out to be human: he shows approval, if not respect, to a student who has the temerity to talk back to him.”

Marjorie Heins

Marjorie Heins

“Well, we can say goodbye to the era of Kingsfield and to the joys of combat in the law school classroom. As the stories told and teachers celebrated in What the Best Law Teachers Do make plain, today’s model law professor is a nurturer, not a tyrant: loved, lovable, and passionately devoted to helping every student not only to understand the material but to enjoy it, to become a better person, and to embark on a future as a dedicated servant of the law.”

“The 26 law teachers highlighted in this book are indeed paragons. If I am sounding just a bit cynical, it is not because I don’t respect the amazing talents and commitment that these 26 evidently possess, or the impressive results they achieve: students uniformly rising to the challenge, inspired by affection and respect to work hard so as not to disappoint their charismatic teachers’ expectations. Instead, I remain skeptical because I suspect that there might still be room in the academy, if not exactly for pedagogues of the Kingsfield variety, then at least for professors who are not particularly student-friendly, are not interested in inviting them to lunch or hearing about their personal troubles, but are simply brilliant lecturers, inspiring scholars, or, indeed, skilled practitioners of the dread Socratic method.”

Read the complete review here.

Is your own favorite law professor described in the new volume? (or at least someone who shares the same sensibilities?) You may have to get your hands on the book to find out.

Do you agree with the description of what makes an ideal law professor? Does that match your own experience?

C.J. William Rehnquist carved into a pumpkin

Yes, that is C.J. William Rehnquist carved into a pumpkin. Be very afraid.

There is certainly no better day of the year than this one to connect the dots between lawyers and the underworld. And no, I don’t mean the Mafioso.

Happy Halloween. Perhaps I should have waited until today to share the story about an ASU Law School professor who chose to examine the relation between zombies and the tax code. But that tale already walks the earth, and I won’t dig it up again. (But if you missed it, here it is. Click at your own peril.)

If you read that haunting tale and still have a wooden stake you’re aching to use, then turn to this fascinating tale about a law professor (what’s up with the law professors?) named Victoria Sutton and her new book, titled Halloween Law: A Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum.

zombie apocalypse death and taxesIn it, Sutton “examines the scarier side of first year law school subjects like torts, property and criminal law.”

You can read all about her attempt to terrorize the already terrified in this great blog post by John G. Browning.

As the ghoulish professor notes:

“I thought I might do something on vampires and the law,” says Sutton, “[b]ut there wasn’t enough variety.  But in my research I noticed a great number of cases revolving around Halloween, and it occurred to me the subject areas fell into the same categories we teach in the first year of law school.”

Halloween Law by Victoria Sutton

Many of us need only read “first year of law school” to begin uttering, “The horror, the horror.” But for those hearty souls who want to enter the dark cavern, push aside the cobwebs, and perhaps find a treasure (or at least a Halloween Snickers), here is where you may find Sutton’s volume of unspoken woe.

Be strong, and here’s hoping all your candy bars are full-sized.

Ipso Facto Beer Halloween

Speaking of strong: Yes, that is Ipso Facto Halloween-ish brew. Don’t judge.