Justice Scott Bales

Gazing at the packed-to-the-gills Grand Ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore, it occurs to a lawyer that there may be no better way to kick off a Bar Convention committed to education for the future than to look back at legal pioneers.

That must have been the thinking of Convention organizers driven by the motto “100 Years of Lawyers Serving Arizona.”

That concept gave us Wednesday’s lunch, which included a witty and insightful panel led by Justice Scott Bales (and introduced by Bar President Joe Kanefield). Accompanying him in a triumvirate of value-laden remarks were Roxie Bacon and Grant Woods. Bravo to all.

The event was comprised of fascinating video clips—eight minutes in all—featuring Justice Bales interviewing retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Her memories were crisp, direct, funny and—given her experience as a woman lawyer pioneer—occasionally startling.

Those clips were pure gold. But they were complemented by being punctuated by the panel’s own remarks.

Roxie Bacon and Grant Woods

In those remarks, Roxie and Grant shared names of others, in addition to Justice O’Connor, whom they count as their own pioneers and mentors.

Grant reminded the audience that Justice O’Connor was the most powerful and influential woman in the country for a long time. But he added his own debt to retired Justice Stanley Feldman, who brought many others to his side “by the force of his argument and the power of his intellect.”

Justice Scott Bales

Roxie spoke warmly about retired Arizona Chief Justice Charles “Bud” Jones. Politically and in other ways, she said, they could not have been more different. “He was the most unlikely mentor you ever could have imagined for me.”

And yet, she said, he was caring and compassionate toward her as a younger lawyer. “With dignity and humor he brought me into the big leagues of employment and labor law.”

The audience clearly enjoyed a lunch committed to Arizona’s legal history. And the biggest laugh of the day may have come on the heels of a story Grant Woods told about a judge who was well known for always following her own tune.

In a high-profile case, an older man—Grant suggested he was 68 years old—was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Clearly upset, the man sputtered to the judge, “Your honor, I’m 68 years old. I don’t think I can do 40 years!”

Ever polite and charming, the judge leaned over her bench and gazed down at the convicted man.

Joe Kanefield

“That’s all right. You just do as many as you can.”

Well done.

Have a great conference.

On this Change of Venue Friday, I am still attending the State Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference (which I wrote about yesterday). So I’ll take the opportunity to tell you about another great event, this one hosted by the Arizona Minority Bar Association.

More than 50 people attended the AMBA’s lawyer–law student mixer held on November 4 at the Hotel Congress in Tucson. It is an annual event, much appreciated by both groups of people.

I was told about the event by Suzanne Diaz, a Fennemore Craig attorney and a graduate of the State Bar’s Bar Leadership Institute. She was kind enough to invite me and, when I was unable to attend, to send me news and photos.

Suzanne says that lawyers and students all enjoyed meeting and talking to each other, and that the students said they received great advice from the lawyers and judges.

Among the judges sharing their Thursday evening were Supreme Court Associate Justice John Pelander and Judge Philip Espinosa of the Court of Appeals’ Division 2. (If we missed any judges, Suzanne and I both apologize.)

Suzanne even passed on a review of the evening by a student attendee:

“I thought it was absolutely fabulous! The students had a great time!” ~Ashley Gomez, JD Candidate, 2012

You’ve heard the great news. Now get ready for the call to action. It’s in two parts.

First, traipse over to the AMBA’s Facebook page and, if you’re so inclined, click “Like.” I did, because it’s great to see a dynamic group of lawyers who enjoy and are energized by their duty to mentor and advance a new generation of lawyers. Bravo.

Second, do you have an event that we should cover? Is it coming up in the future, or has it just happened? In either case, contact me—we want to help spread the word about your news regarding Arizona’s legal community.

Here are a few photos (more are at that Facebook page). Have a great weekend.

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