National Hot Dog Day 2015 v1

Harvey Shinblock can’t be the first lawyer who wanted to open a hot-dog stand.

So today, Thursday, is National Hot Dog Day. Don’t believe me? Well, would the Des Moines Register lie to you?

Not legal enough a topic for your bloggish reading? Stick around. I’ll get to the legal in a moment.

In the meantime, here are a few places in the Phoenix area you might enjoy a hot dog.

Musing on the wonderment of wieners, I was curious about this, so I checked: In the five-plus years I’ve written my daily blog, I’m chagrined to note that the words “hot dog” appear more than a dozen times.

That seems high for a legal blog. Agreed? Well, maybe it’s a cry for help.

In any casing (see what I did there?), I thought I would share my first-ever documented blogular use of the phrase. It occurred in the prologue to a legal novel I wrote (detail about that endeavor is here.)

The book is titled The Supremes, and it involves a new law firm composed of former state supreme court justices. They thought clients would come knocking—which they did—but the law firm partners underestimated how much they disliked each other—and disliked hard work.

The hot dog reference came early, when the new firm’s administrator thinks about Harvey Shinblock, a colorful lawyer who is now disbarred (for numerous offenses, including a Circle K assault with a pocketknife). Harvey owns a hot-dog stand, and he carries quite a grudge against the legal profession. Here’s a portion:

Bernie Galvez liked hot dogs, and Harvey Shinblock sold the best in the city.

Galvez smiled as he recalled how Shinblock had managed to get 30 days in the county lockup for his “misunderstanding” at the convenience store—the best lawyering Shinblock had ever done, representing himself before old Judge Barnes. And after that 30 days, Shinblock woke up driven by a dream of opening his own hot-dog stand.

Human nature being the self-destructive little imp that it is, Shinblock drove his metaphoric stake in the ground on the sidewalk right outside the criminal courts complex. There, he gazed balefully as lawyers and judges streamed by him daily. If looks could kill—or wound with a pocketknife—those members of the bench and bar would have been a bloody mess on the Phoenix streets.

National Hot Dog Day 2015But maybe they got their comeuppance. For in the last three years since Shinblock opened “Court Wieners,” he had received the praise of every publication in town, from the “Best in Phoenix” to the “Best in the Southwest” to the “Best Nooner in a Casing.” Shinblock knew what he was doing as he steamed his hand-crafted dogs.

Nonetheless, no lawyer or judge was ever known to be brave enough to step up and purchase a meal. The history, the bad blood, and the fear of poisoning kept a significant portion of the suited sidewalk denizens from venturing forward and trying Shinblock’s bliss in a bun. They salivated and gnashed their teeth, but the gray and blue army marched past the stainless steel stand, thinking hungrily that they may have been a tad hard on good old Shinblock. Still, march by they did.

The complete prologue is here. Want to keep reading? Here’s Chapter 1.

And … do get out and eat a hot dog.

State Bar of Arizona building

State Bar of Arizona building

Career news from the State Bar of Arizona:

The Bar has an opening for Intake Bar Counsel. The Intake Bar Counsel conducts initial assessments of new bar charges to determine whether a full screening investigation is warranted. Duties may include performing the following functions: extensive telephone contact with complainants and respondents; evaluation of charges, both written and telephonic, to determine ethical issues; conducting follow-up investigations as warranted; monitoring diversion cases; drafting letters and diversion agreements. On occasion, duties may also include handling formal litigation of discipline charges.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorA J.D. required, as well as: being an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Arizona; and minimum five years’ successful practical legal experience (solo or small-firm practice preferred).

The complete job description and application form can be found here.

The State Bar is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes and encourages applications from diverse candidates.

 

Can I get an "ouch"? Lawyer hourly fees may cause client discomfort.

Can I get an “ouch”? Lawyer hourly fees may cause client discomfort.

This morning, an #azbarcon panel addresses the landscape for alternative fee agreements. Amidst a legal profession largely still wedded to hourly billing, the notion of a fixed fee may still get a tough reception among lawyers.

As attorney Mark Lassiter addressed a standing-room-only crowd, he opened by playing a hilarious video from a U.K. law firm. Riverview has made it part of their mission to blow up the hourly model.

I hope to share more on alternative agreements in the future. In the meantime, enjoy the video:

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

[Note: This article was edited to clarify the role that Ezequiel Hernandez played in regard to the White House. According to Hernandez, he was one of four legal experts from Univision whom the White House spoke with to ensure accurate information was communicated and to communicate the message against fraud; the description of him as “a White House consultant” was inaccurate. I apologize for the error.]

You may recall that one day after the President’s Executive Order on immigration—one day—the State Bar offered an event that included lawyers giving advice on that very topic.

Now, in the week before Christmas, when most of us are devising ways to enjoy the holiday and think less about work, my colleague Alberto Rodriguez passes on news of two more immigration-related events put on by the Bar and partner Univision. One is tonight, and the second is next Monday. No rest for the weary!

(At one of the events, Univision correspondent and attorney Ezequiel Hernandez of Hernandez Global Law Firm will speak. Read more about him here.)

I’ll get to the events in a second, but I’ve got to say: They represent many, many hours of work—to locate attorneys, line up venues, and nail down all of those tiny details that can make or break public gatherings. Congratulations to Alberto and everyone who has had a hand in this.

Ezequiel Hernandez

Ezequiel Hernandez

“The State Bar of Arizona is partnering with Univision Arizona to host two access to justice programs focused on immigration/deferred action. In an effort to inform consumers, dispel myths, and combat consumer fraud, both organizations have come together to offer a 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank on December 18 and a special immigration session and legal-aid clinic on December 22.”

“On Thursday, December 18, eight volunteer attorneys will answer viewers’ questions during the 2-hour Abogados a Su Lado phone bank from 5 to 7 p.m. on Univision 33.”

“On Monday, December 22, the Bar will host a 30-minute information session that will include an overview of the Bar’s consumer protection services and endorsements (for the Bar) by two nationally recognized immigrant rights organizations. In addition, Ezequiel Hernandez, a Contributor and legal expert for Univision News National Network, will offer a brief presentation on deferred action.”

“Following the presentation, twelve volunteer attorneys will offer one-on-one consultations. The information session and legal-aid clinic will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Saint Agnes Catholic Church located at 1954 North 24th Street in Phoenix.”

“Univision Arizona will record the information session and legal-aid clinic, which will then be broadcast as a 30-minute immigration special, replacing their evening news—date to be determined.”

The President's recent Executive Order on immigration may provide more questions than answers for immigration attorneys ... and their clients.

The President’s recent Executive Order on immigration may provide more questions than answers for immigration attorneys … and their clients.

Recently, I have mentioned some efforts by the State Bar of Arizona to provide guidance in the wake of the President’s Executive Order on immigration. And there will be more news on that front later this week (maybe even tomorrow).

In the meantime, I’m pleased to say that there is so much on offer that I entirely missed a 1.5-hour seminar on the topic offered by the CLE Department (and yes, it’s still available online).

Titled (no surprise), The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions,” it is led by three attorneys as faculty: Ayensa Millan, Alma Montes de Oca, and Ruben Reyes.

Topics include:

  • Enforcement Priorities
  • Deferred Action for Parents (DAP)
  • Expansion of DACA
  • New U/T Visas
  • 601a Waivers
  • Parole in Place
  • Visa Modernization

The seminar is available here.

Do you think ghost-blogging by lawyers is misleading, unethical?

Do you think ghost-blogging by lawyers is misleading, unethical?

Here is a simple question for you on a Monday morning. It involves ghost blogging, the practice of some lawyers to post blog content on their own blog that was written by someone other than themselves.

 

My question arises from a few sources. It’s related to conversations I had at a Scottsdale conference last week. And it’s connected to an exchange that is evolving in a Linkedin group in which I participate.

Yes, I have my own opinions. But I’d like to hear from others and then we’ll chat more.

Blog evangelism. Check. Professional engagement. Check. Surprising questions. Check, natch.

Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity logoYesterday, I had the privilege to present on the topic of lawyers and blogging to a national law society. As expected, I learned as much as I imparted.

The Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity held their annual conference in Scottsdale, and it was a pleasure to meet with many of its members as I presented on how to manage the multi-channel chaos that faces us (and use a blog to build your practice and secure your image).

You can see the list of rotating workshops here. I’m sure you’ll agree, there was some pretty serious content on offer—plus blogging, by me.

As is my custom, I took a photo of my two workshop audiences as they began to drift into the room.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

Each group was attentive, slept only a little, and had engaging questions at the end.

As occurs at the best conferences, some of their questions took me by surprise. But the surprises are where we presenters learn.

One young attendee asked about the overall professional wisdom of blogging. She related a story about a hiring lawyer who reviewed submitted resumes. When he spotted an applicant who touted their blog, he threw the c.v. in the trash. His reasoning: He didn’t want to hire someone who spent their time blogging.

Another young questioner said that she most often got advice to eliminate as much of her electronic contributions as possible, rather than add to them with a blog. She feared that every online offering, including blog posts, could eventually be sifted and analyzed and held against her by employers and professional colleagues.

Meanwhile, the questions I received from older audience members were more expected ones and had to do with functionality: Do I recommend WordPress over Blogger? How often do I post? Where do I locate public-domain images?

The risk-averseness-ness among younger voices took me by surprise. But these folks face a shifting world, one in which the media portray the online world generally and social media (even blogging) in particular as dotted with pitfalls.

So I responded (as I recall) that our best professional judgment will keep most of us from serious error online, just as it always has in person. A sober—even if occasionally cheeky—assessment of a legal topic is unlikely to cause anyone long-term harm. In fact, people (lawyers and non-lawyers) are more likely to be impressed by what makes your voice unique than they are by how well you recede into the mass of your navy-suited colleagues.

And, I pointed out, a post that assesses a recent Supreme Court case, for instance, is unlikely to generate the kind of professional shame that may accompany a naked drunk tweet. Professional tip: Avoid those.

I added that if your blog is well done, potential employers will spot the bottom-line value as quickly as they spot the book of business you may bring. Each is a professional asset that may be touted and capitalized on.

Finally, I added that if electronically stored evidence has taught us anything, it is that (1) yes, all that data (including your drunk tweet) will “stay out there forever,” but (2) it is amazingly expensive to go back years and years and years to locate a single tweet or a single Facebook post or a single screen-shotted Snapchat. An employer may not care to do that with an associate attorney applicant. I believe the media stories are largely a bunch of scare-tactic B.S. Then again, your mileage may vary.

Aside from the occasional hiring partner who doesn’t have a clue how to read resumes and assess value.

But those audience questions linger in my mind. They lead me to re-assess the part of my presentations that explain the value prospect in blogging. For clearly, the challenges and media scare tactics faced by younger attorneys and law students require a new and different response.

Thank you again to Phi Alpha Delta and its Executive Director Andrew Sagan for the invite. I had a blast—and learned a lot.

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