University of Arizona Law School logoIn the March Arizona Attorney, which just went live online, I take the opportunity to praise some law student leaders. Among them are the winners of an annual writing competition at the University of Arizona law school. That competition is named for attorney Richard Grand.

If you read my column, you’ll see that I also get to share a nice photo of the winners.

Here’s the portion of my column pertaining to the UA Law School:

“A January ceremony provided the announcement of the UA Law winners: Kate Hollist (first place), Jessica Schulberg (second), Matt Smith (third), and Omar Vasquez and Tim Butterfield (both honorable mention). Congratulations to all.

“This year’s competition asked for the students to locate the storyteller within them. They were asked to write a profile of a real person who had some experience with the law or legal system. The diversity of responses was matched only by their compelling writing. Well done.”

“The UA competition holds a special place for me due to Richard Grand. The successful and talented attorney died last April, making this the first contest without his involvement. I am pleased to see the continued passion for the student writing experience in his wonderful widow, Marcia. I am sure I will raise a glass to Richard’s memory on February 20, when he would have turned 84.”

But because law school folks are some of the nicest in the legal profession, I also get to share with you, here, a second photo. You see, the school’s own Juan J. Arévalo insisted I step into a shot with the winners. That let Dean Marc Miller and me bookend the talented writers.

Thanks, JJ!

The 13th annual Richard Grand Writing Competition winners. L to R: me (not a winner!), Tim Butterfield, Katherine Hollist, Jessica Schulberg, Matt Smith, with UA Law School Dean Marc Miller. (Not pictured: Omar Vasquez)

The 13th annual Richard Grand Writing Competition winners. L to R: me (not a winner!), Tim Butterfield, Katherine Hollist, Jessica Schulberg, Matt Smith, with UA Law School Dean Marc Miller. (Not pictured: Omar Vasquez)

Please let me know if you hear of any other law student and young lawyer honors.

News last week that Mike Wallace had died signaled the passing of a great veteran journalist. He is best known for his success on the TV magazine show 60 Minutes (more on that in a minute).

Mike Wallace

Here in Arizona, Wallace has covered more than one story. But imagine being the person whose work brought Wallace and his team to the Grand Canyon State. Imagine making an impact so great that Wallace would trek west to tell your story to his tens of millions of viewers.

No, if you were wondering. It wasn’t me.

But it was an Arizona lawyer. In 1983, trial lawyer Richard Grand just did his job when he won a liability judgment for his client, a South Tucson police officer. Unfortunately for the small town, the $3 million judgment was about the same size as the town’s budget, according to the Town Manager. So, in an act that has grown more common in 2012 but was a first in the United States at the time, South Tucson filed for bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy? For a city? That was unheard of, and exactly what brought 60 Minutes calling to Richard Grand’s office.

Richard is pleased to report that the city eventually paid in full. And out of the case, he also got to be interviewed by the consummate questioner Wallace.

Here is a photo (actually, a photo of the photo) of the encounter in Grand’s office. That photo is quite a keepsake.

Mike Wallace, left, and lawyer Richard Grand

Click here to read a story I wrote about Richard Grand.

And here is some of what CBS had to say about Mike Wallace:

“Wallace played a huge role in 60 Minutes’ rise to the top of the ratings to become the number-one program of all time, with an unprecedented 23 seasons on the Nielsen annual top 10 list—five as the number-one program.

“Besides his 21 Emmy Awards, Wallace was the recipient of five DuPont-Columbia journalism and five Peabody Awards, and was the Paul White Award winner in 1991, the highest honor given by the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award grand prize and television first prize in 1996. In June of 1991, he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.”

You can read the front-page obituary that the New York Times ran about Wallace here.

Recently, I had the chance once again to serve as a judge in a law school writing competition. Thank you to the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Richard Grand

Here is the school’s news release.

Richard Grand Competition Rewards Excellence in Legal Writing

Five law students received recognition and cash awards for their writing skills in the 11th Annual Richard Grand Legal Writing Competition at the University Of Arizona James E. Rogers College Of Law. This year, instead of receiving a specific topic or court case, contestants were given the opportunity to write a story from personal experiences pertaining to law or law school.    

This year’s winners competed against a record number of participants. From within a total of 40 contestants, the 2011 Student winners were:

  • Jared Jorde (2L), First Place—$2,000
  • Matthew Chandler (2L), Second Place—$1,000
  • Joseph Austin (1L), Third Place—$375 (tie)
  • Benjamin Harville (3L), Third Place—$375 (tie)
  • Annie Ross (1L), Honorable Mention—$250

Judges included: Justice Robert M. Brutinel, Arizona Supreme Court; Commissioner Wendy Morton, Maricopa County Superior Court; Timothy Eigo, Editor of Arizona Attorney Magazine; Troy Larkin, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Attorney, and Jeremy A. Lite, Attorney, Quarles and Brady, LLP.

The competition is one of two annual events funded by internationally-recognized plaintiffs’ lawyer Richard Grand to improve student skills. The Richard Grand Competition tests student skills in oral arguments and will be held later this spring.

Grand, a 1958 graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, began his practice in Tucson as a deputy county attorney. Since 1962, his practice has been limited to representing plaintiffs. On 100+ occasions he has obtained either a verdict or settlement in excess of $1 million.

In 1972, he received a jury verdict of $3.5 million, at that time the largest in the United States for a single injury. (Wry v. Dial, 18 Ariz. App. 503 (1972)). Most recently, he and co-counsel Mike Meehan successfully settled a personal injury case with the City of Tucson for $1.25 million.

Grand is the Honorary President of The Richard Grand Society—“The Injury Lawyers Alliance”—a society of preeminent personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers entitled to practice in the United Kingdom. In 1972 he founded the Inner Circle of Advocates, which is limited to 100 U.S. lawyers who have completed at least 50 personal injury trials and have at least one verdict in excess of $1 million for compensatory damages. In 2002, the University of Arizona Alumni Association Board of Directors awarded him the University of Arizona’s Professional Achievement Award.

Richard Grand

I was pleased to receive the following news the other day: The Law School at the University of Arizona has named its alumnus of the year, and it is none other than Richard Grand. And for good measure, he shares the honor with his wife, Marcia.

Richard has been a subject in numerous posts here and stories in Arizona Attorney Magazine—for good reason. He is an accomplished lawyer and an individual of conflicting talents: He is community-minded yet solitary, a consummate plaintiff’s lawyer while not being exactly a people person.

It was my pleasure to deliver a keynote address in January at the Law School in which I honored Richard’s accomplishments. And here is what the school had to say about one of its most colorful graduates. Congratulations, Richard and Marcia!

Richard Grand Named 2011 Law Alumnus of the Year

Recognizing his outstanding support for students and his alma mater, Richard D. Grand has been selected as the 2011 Alumnus of the Year for the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. Grand, a 1958 graduate of the College, will receive the award jointly with his wife, Marcia Grand.

The couple has been actively engaged with the law school for decades, providing resources for student activities that emphasize practical lawyering skills. The Richard D. Grand Writing Competition, now in its 11th year, allows students to compete for cash prizes based on persuasive writing. The Richard Grand Damages Argument Competition, held since 1995, promotes excellence in crafting and delivering jury arguments. Mr. and Mrs. Grand are Arizona Law Fund Dean’s Fellows and are also longtime supporters of the University of Arizona Foundation.

Senior Director of Development Patricia-Coyne-Johnson nominated Mr. and Mrs. Grand for the honor, notes that “Richard and Marcia have continued to be close friends and generous benefactors of the University of Arizona for more than 50 years.  This award is a long overdue recognition of their commitment to the University and dedication to the College of Law.  We all benefit from their many many contributions and leadership, surpassing the bar for loyalty and dedication.”

Mr. Grand began his practice as a deputy county attorney in 1958, the same year of his graduation from the College of Law. Since 1962, Richard Grand’s practice has been limited to representing plaintiffs. On more than 100 occasions he has obtained either of verdict or settlement in excess of $1 million.

In 1972, Richard Grand founded the Inner Circle of Advocates, which is limited to 100 U.S. lawyers who have completed at least three verdicts in excess of $1 million for compensatory damages.

Since 1942, The University of Arizona Alumni Association has presented awards to alumni and friends for their outstanding achievements and service to the University of Arizona, the Arizona Alumni Association, their communities, and their professions. The 2011 Alumnus of the Year award will be presented to Mr. and Mrs. Grand at a campus-wide reception on Friday, November 4th, 2011. The ceremony will honor alumni from across the UA campus.

I reported before about a competition for students at the University of Arizona Law School. It was a writing competition sponsored by alum and Arizona lawyer Richard Grand.

Richard Grand

The generosity of Richard and his wife Marcia fund that award, but their gifts range far beyond that. One of the other benefits of their contributions go to an annual oral argument competition. In it, students present damages evidence in personal injury cases. Student finalists argue how much in damages should be awarded in a civil lawsuit.

Congratulations to the law students who won the competition. Here is more information.

16TH ANNUAL RICHARD GRAND ARGUMENT COMPETITION AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Five law students received recognition and cash prizes for their lawyering skills in the 16th Annual Richard Grand Argument Competition at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Student Winners of the April 4th competition were:

    • Nora Dillon (1st place – $2,000 prize)
    • Joe Ezzo (2nd place – $1,000 prize)
    • Jonathan Confer (3rd place – $500 prize)
    • Brian Chase & David Friedman ($250 prizes)

    The event is an oral argument competition that emphasizes the presentation of damages evidence in personal injury cases.  Student finalists present mock closing arguments on the issue of how much in damages should be awarded in a civil lawsuit.  Five local lawyers – Professor Paul Bennett, Brian Laird, Ryan Redmon, Julie Santander, and Ed Hopkins — Served as jurors and judges for the arguments.

The competition is funded by Richard Grand, a 1958 graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law.  Grand began his practice in Tucson as a deputy county attorney and, since 1962, his practice has been limited to representing plaintiffs.  On more than 100+ occasions he has obtained either a verdict or settlement in excess of $1 million.

In 1972, he received a jury verdict of $3.5 million, at that time the largest in the United States for a single injury.  Wry v. Dial 18 Ariz. App. 503 (1972).  In 1972 he founded the Inner Circle of Advocates, which is limited to 100 U.S. lawyers who have completed at least 50 personal injury trials and have at least one verdict in excess of $1 million for compensatory damages.  In 2002, the University of Arizona Alumni Association Board of Directors awarded the University of Arizona’s Professional Achievement Award to Richard Grand.  Mr. Grand was only the twelfth person to receive this prestigious award.

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Richard Grand

Last Friday, I reported that I would be headed south—to Tucson—to celebrate an important anniversary.

The event was a luncheon celebrating 10 years of the Richard Grand Writing Competition, held at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

Besides a terrific lunch, attendees enjoyed remarks by Dean Lawrence Ponoroff—who had them laughing in their soup. And then Richard Grand himself delivered his own thoughts, through the power of video. It is one thing to hear from Richard via telephone or e-mail. But to see and hear Richard as generations of jurors have seen him—and been persuaded by him—was a real treat.

After all that, the five winning law students were announced by Professor Suzanne Rabe. They were: Andrew Floyd (1L), Eric Gans (3L), Benjamin Harville (2L), Megan McLean (1L) and James Mieding (1L).

Among the day’s many highlights was the opportunity to see firsthand some of the school’s Richard-abilia. In the library, there are a variety of glass cases housing items evocative of the school’s history. All the cases are important, but there may be none as vibrant as the one dedicated to Richard and his law practice.

Dean Lawrence Ponoroff

It includes clippings from news stories, photographs, and even replicas of exhibits he used in personal injury cases. And it is anchored by his pinpoint jacket and briefcase, both wielded daily by Richard in trials for his clients.

Below, there are a few photos from the case, and of the luncheon.

Finally, I delivered my keynote address, a great honor. They are extremely polite down in the old Pueblo, so no one snored or threw brickbats as I spoke. So in my world, I take that as great praise!

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Here are my complete remarks:

Remarks at Richard Grand Writing Competition Luncheon, UA Law School, Jan. 21, 2011

On Words and Other Tools

Congratulations again to all of you. I have been a judge in this competition for quite a few years now, and as I have told Suzanne many times, it is one of my favorite events of the year. Thank you for your great writing and great thinking, and thank you to Suzanne for her leadership and willingness to include a crotchety old lawyer-editor on her judging panel. It’s been an honor.

This has been a wonderful event, not least of which being due to Richard’s great video. I now empathize with what a trial lawyer must go through when he stands to give his own meager closing argument after Richard has brilliantly chaperoned a jury down the path of justice in his own closing.

Note to self: Never follow animals, children or Richard Grand.

The title of my remarks today is “On Words and Other Tools.” And in case I needed another example of how faulty communication can be, I was reviewing some handwritten notes I had taken myself as I spoke on the phone last month with the Law School’s Nancy Stanley. And I was surprised—and a little intrigued—that I had penned the words, “Also invited to the luncheon are previous sinners.”

Of course, I meant to write winners, but what happens in Tucson stays in Tucson.

Today I’ll talk a little about words, but a lot more about Richard.

My impressions of Richard are formed almost entirely through words—and I will tell you why in a few moments. But I have to comment first on his video tour de force, which is all Richard, from beginning to end.

First, as it opens, we viewers are baffled and intrigued as he starts speaking. It takes a brave man to begin a peroration with “We must do the bitter bookkeeping of death.”

Our bafflement grows as he speaks to us and a larger audience about important matters. And it is not until he reaches the four-minute mark that Richard, ever the showman, lowers the veil just a bit to address us, as audience. Until that moment, we have been witness to a litany of some of Richard’s most effective sentences uttered over decades of law practice.

So the first gift he has provided us today is the opportunity to see him as juries have seen him for years: very brave, a bit puzzling, mildly exasperating, extremely engaging.

That gift of words sends a signal: “You viewers are intelligent and worthy of my highest attention,” Richard conveys. “You have the smarts to figure this out. But I am not handing it to you on a silver platter.”

Richard is enigmatic, maddening and generous — much like law school itself.

I wish I could have gone to the Richard Grand Law School. Unfortunately, he doesn’t enroll students at his school of experience. But he does tender all of us a legal education.

A number of years ago, I heard someone very smart say that it is a pleasure to see the lights go on in law students’ eyes. Since then, I have used that line myself probably a dozen times over the years, in various contexts. But it’s time to come clean. The original speaker was your own former dean, Toni Massaro. Now that I’m standing in her house, I had better credit her.

That line reminded me that Richard Grand likes to help turn on those lights, too. But his approach to legal education is less Socratic, and more autodidactic. He’s a believer in the notion that the student who stumbles about a bit in his or her own darkness will be more likely to find the light switch. And Richard has no need for the student who demands a Clapper.

Richard calls himself a “merchant of words,” and that is a worthy avocation to which we all should aspire.

In the video, when Richard finally completes his juror conversation and speaks directly to us, what does he open with?

“I have been in love with words during my entire life. And you, if you want to become lawyers, must learn to love words.”

As a lawyer and a writer, I say, Right on, Richard. You are a lawyer and law school all in one.

This past month, I thought a lot about the writing process—which can be both a blessing and a curse.

I recalled teaching writing to college freshmen, many of whom were convinced that such a skill would provide no discernible return on investment. One student, in particular, appeared to take it as a personal challenge to disembowel the English language. I will never forget his thesis statement in an argument paper on a great work by Edgar Allen Poe: “The Fall of the House of Usher is about a big house that falls in a lake.” I think about Andy occasionally, and hope he never became a lawyer. And if you see Aristotle, please apologize to him for my failed efforts.

But simple need not be simplistic. You may recall Ernest Hemingway’s response to a challenge that said he could never write a good story in six words. And yet he wrote: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never Used.” He called it his best work.

Richard Grand, too, is the master of evocative simplicity, as we saw in his video. In every one of our 15-minute conversations he and I have had over the years, he provides me the unique and sometimes startling experience of re-creating three years of law school. In turns, I am stunned, mortified, edified and delighted. At the end, I am always far richer, and not a penny poorer (which is how I know that it’s not really law school).

Now, I am not a speaker who will wax poetic about the glories of law school. I leave the rapture to others. My experience was that it was difficult—probably more difficult than I expected. I found that it could be obtuse and nonsensical, and that its pendulum swung maddeningly between expecting too little of us students, and far too much.

But law school gave me—and I hope you too—something important. It gives us what Chaucer called tyme and space—time and space—both of which are necessary ingredients for us to examine the world anew. In that endeavor, we use foreign tools and weak muscles. Those three years, as frustrating as they can be, are a sheltering sky. At the time, we believe it to be an impending hurricane, but truly, it is a small clearing on a deserted beach, where we carve new tools for ourselves. Sure, it can be a little Survivor and a lot Lord of the Flies, but the tools that we use—including the words we became familiar with—are to stay with us for the rest of what we hope will be fulfilling careers of service.

That may be what Richard offers all of us. He holds his hand out, and it contains no Mai Tais on that beach. His secrets to success will not shield you from the scorching sun of what can be a very difficult profession. But his words, when ruminated on, offer a path to something even better. They may even lead us to that light switch.    

What can I say that I know for sure about Richard Grand? In a way, I know very little. He avoids events like this like the plague, and prefers to remain outside the limelight. Of course, with Richard, he is never entirely beyond that light. We always detect in the shadows his pinpoint suit, his smile, and his strongly felt judgment masquerading as genial opinion.

Elsewhere, he often may be. Absent, he never is. As someone once said to me, Richard hovers among us and among everyone who loves words, ready to offer insight like a deus ex machina. The machina may be writing competitions like this, or it may be YouTube. But he is in service to us all.

Of all the tools Richard offers, we are most of all always and everywhere in the presence of his words. Let me tell you how present.

When Nancy Stanley first contacted me about speaking at today’s special ceremony, I was delighted— you’d have to possess a far smaller ego than mine to be unmoved by such a generous invitation.

But … I paused. I knew that this event could draw in some serious legal firepower as speakers. Not to disappoint you, but you should know the truth: You probably could have gotten to listen to an Arizona Supreme Court justice, or the State Bar President.

I suspected that the firm, guiding hand of Richard had “suggested” my name to the law school. And for that I am extremely grateful—though you may take a different view.

But why should Richard request me? Well, we get along famously, and I even have written about him a few times. We share similar interests, and we may even be friends, of a sort. At least, I am hoping we are.

But it was really all about the words. Here is one of the more interesting parts of our friendship—and why our relationship is formed almost purely through words: Richard Grand and I have never met each other in person through all the years we’ve known each other.

My interactions with him have been flashes via e-mail, the telephone, or his new display case here at the law school. I have conversed with Richard as he and Marcia lived in Tucson, visited their daughter in San Francisco, or strolled between shows in the West End of London.

How very Socratic of us! And how appropriate for Richard, who operates so well in the spoken environment.

I recently read an article about Richard from the Tucson Citizen.

In it, he said, “I don’t want to be recognized. I don’t want to be noticed. I want them to hear me.”

His life and career of being heard came to mind as I thought about recent events, when many of us have begun to wonder what kind of state and nation we live in.

It has become unpopular to say that recent tragic events here in Tucson may be related to politics or slanted popular messages.

But this we know: There has been a coarsening of conversation, a willingness to rely on vitriol rather than reason, and to hijack language in the service of partisanship.

There has been a failure of what many of us hold dear: a failure of words.

Chief Judge John M. Roll

In that regard, it strikes me as one of the more poignant of bittersweet truths that the last word uttered by Chief Judge John Roll may have been his heartfelt greeting “Hello.” Having known Judge Roll, I can say that he was a considerate and dynamic man, whose simple greeting possessed more eloquence than most of us can muster in a day’s worth of blathering. He had that skill that Richard Grand admires perhaps most of all: to craft “crisp sentences that wrap up a bale of thought.”

Through that lens, Richard and all of us who cherish words must illuminate a better way. Macabre yet wise, he reminds us, “We are born astride a grave.”

“Dead yesterday, unborn tomorrow, there’s only today.”

It is time for boldness, of the Richard Grand variety. Boldness in search of truth and of justice. And boldness wedded to quite a bit of wit.

I congratulate all of you here, who know that words have consequences. Let’s take up Richard’s charge: “Be bold.”

Thank you.

Richard Grand

Today, I am honored to be delivering the keynote remarks at an event at the University of Arizona Law School.

The event is a luncheon marking 10 years of the Richard Grand Legal Writing Competition. Ten years of that esteemed trial lawyer and his wife Marcia giving of themselves in service to better writing, thinking and lawyering.

The title of my speech is “On Words and Other Tools.” I’ll tell you how it comes off.

I have been one of the competition’s judges for quite a few years now. This year’s other judges were: 

  • Hon. Andrew D. Hurwitz, Vice Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court
  • Hon. Sarah Simmons, Pima County Superior Court (Juvenile Division)
  • Sarah A. Bullard, Assistant Pima County Public Defender (Juvenile Division)
  • Bunkye Chi, Deputy Pima County Attorney (Juvenile Section)

You may enjoy reading what I’ve written in the past in Arizona Attorney Magazine about Richard and his unique take on trial practice and legal education. Here is an article from 2008, and one from 2006.

Have a great weekend.