In-House Counsel BattleIn-House Counsel Battle At long last (or too soon, depending on your viewpoint), the long, long road culminating in the Super Bowl is over. Right now, you’re either Patriot-happy, Seahawks-bitter, or couldn’t care less and are simply awaiting forensic Deflate-gate results. After months of buildup, you may think you’ve heard every possible news angle.

But wait. The folks at Inside Counsel decided to talk to two in-house counsel from the teams’ home cities. Here was their approach:

“We decided to ask two senior in-house counsel some questions about football and law, ranging from whether Tom Brady or Russell Wilson would be a better lawyer, to what their pregame speech would be before exiting the tunnel. And we were right: Mark Roellig, general counsel of Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual, and David Heiner, deputy general counsel of Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, couldn’t be more different in their thoughts on the game, and the intersection of law and football, if we tried.”

Read the results of their conversation here. Smart, eh? So that got me wondering: Does your own favorite team have characteristics that might be reflected in their city’s lawyers? And why not go further? How about the team’s general counsel’s personality and outlook? What say, Cardinals fans? What team traits and views would the team’s lawyer hold? (And if you are David Koeninger, the team’s lawyer, feel free to weigh in! A previous team lawyer was once-prosecutor Michael Bidwell, now the Cards’ president. We are lawyered up in Phoenix!)

Example of stonework to be used in Arizona monument to the Bill of Rights.

Updated with more information as of March 9:
A lawyer, a stonemason and a comic walk into a bar

No, that’s no good. How about …

What do you get when you cross Justice Lewis Powell with comic Lewis Black?


Sorry, I’m working on possible ledes for a story in an upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine. And it involves some odd mashups of professions.

Poster for May 13 comedy concert

On Change of Venue Friday, I typically take us far astray from law practice. And why not? Let’s get this weekend started.

Today is no different, for I get to share news of an upcoming comedy concert. Of course, it’s not entirely divorced from law. For it is related to the creation of a Bill of Rights Monument in Arizona, the first of its kind in the nation. (I wrote about it here.)

Today, at a noon press conference at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix, the talent-packed bill was announced for a comedy concert that will be a major fundraiser for the Monument. Appearing at Phoenix Symphony Hall on May 13 will be:

  • Lewis Black
  • Bill Engvall
  • Bobcat Goldthwait
  • Dick Gregory
  • Kathleen Madigan
  • Tommy Smothers
  • Steven Wright

And then there will be musical guests (from Little Feat) Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett.

Chris Bliss and promoter Danny Zelisko discuss the May 13 comedy concert, at Tom's Tavern, Feb. 29, 2012.

For good measure, I understand that comic Chris Bliss will also perform. (Chris, of course, is also the Executive Director of, the event organizer.)

Tickets will go on sale Monday, March 19, at 10 a.m., and they’re likely to go fast (reserved seats will be $53 to $98 + convenience fee, via Ticketmaster, and at Phoenix Convention Center box office).

(A previous event, on Wednesday, February 29, at Tom’s Tavern in downtown Phoenix was the venue for a gathering of lawyers and judges committed to getting the memorial erected. Those attendees got a preview of the May 13 comedy lineup.)

Danny Zelisko and State Bar of Arizona President Joe Kanefield, at Tom's Tavern, Feb. 29, 2012

My story on the project will appear in the May Arizona Attorney. In the meantime, here are some more photos from the event at Tom’s Tavern. Have a great weekend.

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An upcoming event this Saturday offers attendees a look into cutting-edge topics in two distinct yet related areas: sports and entertainment law.

The entirely student-run conference is hosted by the aptly named Sports and Entertainment Law Students Association at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. This is their second-annual run at this topic, and it follows on the heels of a 2010 event that garnered more than 150 attendees. This year, organizers aim even higher.

The all-day conference is centered around seven panel discussions, each with three to four speakers. The topics range from big-league collective bargaining, to intellectual property, bankruptcy, drug testing and defamation. (See the flier at right for a complete description; click it to make it larger.)

Casey Johnson, a 2L, is this year’s conference director. He explained that many students had been involved to handle the multiple details of such an event: contacting speakers, organizing and brainstorming topics, and even making hotel and plane reservations.

In choosing topics, Johnson said, students looked first at the news headlines. That allowed them to select areas of focus that were timely and compelling.

Johnson said that student organizers were pleased to have Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwell launch the conference as their keynote speaker. Topics that Bidwell may cover include team management issues and league governance. Almost certain to be mentioned is the path that led to Arizona’s being awarded the 2015 Super Bowl. In addition, Bidwell, a former federal prosecutor, may be able to touch on a variety of the conference’s topics.

(Click here for a story about Bidwell’s speaking at the 2010 annual convention of the State Bar of Arizona.)

For more information on Saturday’s conference or to register, click here to go to the student association blog page. Or email

Bidwell Touts Teamwork, Quality

Lawyer and Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwell delivered the keynote address at the Bar’s Convention Kick-Off luncheon at noon today, and his messages sounded in quality and customer service.

Introduced by State Bar Communications Chief Rick DeBruhl, Bidwell opened with a compelling history of professional football and his own family’s storied role in its evolution.

He is in the third-generation of Bidwells who run a pro team, and he said he appreciated the Convention’s theme of “The Future Is Now.”

“Our organization is all about innovation, technology, developing new things., and being responsive to our customers—our fans.”

As an example of excellence, he asked the attendees why Hertz remains the number-one rental car company. “Because they wake up in the morning and don’t want to be number 2.”

Bidwell bemoaned the way the way reputations of good professions like law and piloting aircraft—his avocation—can be damaged by a few bad actors. That means all in the lagal profession should ask themselves, “What are we doing to put our best foot forward?”

He emphasized the importance of customer service in creating a quality profession. At the Cardinals, that meant signing on with the Disney Institute to train all employees. Their goal is a great “driveway to driveway experience.”

The kickoff lunch is an opportunity for Bar members to gather. It is partially sponsored by the exhibitors.

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