Does your workplace foster engagement, or the opposite? (employee motivation morale leadership dave-wheeler harvard business review

Does your workplace foster engagement, or the opposite? (illustration by Dave Wheeler, Harvard Business Review)

Easy lifting is my Friday mantra, and I wish the same for you. For an enjoyable read, I suggest Ashley Kasarjian’s blog post that could transform your workplace.

Ashley is an employment & labor attorney at Snell & Wilmer—and the chair of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board. So she has great experience about what works and what doesn’t in regard to motivation and morale.

And you’ve got to be wowed by the way she pairs her advice with song choices. I love the smell of leadership in the morning!

Ashley Kasarjian

Ashley Kasarjian

(You might recall I wrote before about Ashley’s being honored with a 2015 Athena Award—so well deserved!)

After reading Ashley’s insightful post, please send me a note to say which morale-boosting tip is your favorite.

I admit it’s hard to separate the wisdom from whether you love the song that inspired it. So my favorite—Michael Jackson and making a change—might be musically driven as much as workplace driven!

Meantime, if you needed more evidence that de-suckifying your workplace may help your staffers’ morale, I have one word for you: Harvard!

That’s right, who isn’t impressed by words of wisdom that emanate from that Ivy League school on the Charles River? So head over to read a great piece on employee motivation and your company’s culture in the Harvard Business Review.

Here is one graphic from that article. I suspect we all have aspects we could improve in our organizations. Let me know what you’re doing in your law office. Write to me at

Company process and employee motivation (frightening graphic by Harvard Business Review)

Company process and employee motivation (frightening graphic by Harvard Business Review)

Have a terrific—and lyrical—weekend.

Civil discovery rule changes described by @swlaw attorney

“No (More) Fishing” may be one way to describe changes to federal discovery rules.

­­As you likely know, important changes were recently made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including changes in the discovery realm, captured in Rule 26.

In late January, Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein wrote about the amendments, particularly in regard to environmental and natural resource litigation.

He is some of what he said in his well-written blog post:

“Previously, parties were entitled to conduct discovery regarding anything that might be ‘reasonably calculated’ to lead to relevant and admissible evidence. In practice, this led to some parties deposing witnesses and subpoenaing documents with only a tenuous relationship to the real issues of the case. This kind of behavior caused significant costs and delays in litigation.”

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

Snell & Wilmer partner Mitch Klein

“In environmental and national resource litigation, abusive discovery conduct typically results from parties without any real evidence looking for some (fishing expeditions), deep-pocketed parties trying to overwhelm their adversaries under a pile of documents and/or multiple and lengthy depositions, or parties who have no real idea what they were doing and are trying to figure it out along the way.”

“The new rule now requires an analysis of ‘proportionality.’ Rather than seeking everything but the kitchen sink, a party conducting discovery has an obligation to show why the discovery is reasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case.”

You should read the whole thing here.

Of course, I’ve been around long enough to know there’s more than one way to look at rule changes. And when I see phrases like “abusive discovery,” “fishing expeditions,” and “everything but the kitchen sink,” I would guess at least a few lawyers would want to characterize things differently.

So today I wonder:

  1. Should we cover this topic in Arizona Attorney Magazine? and
  2. How would you describe the discovery rule changes? As Mitch did, or otherwise?

Write to me at

Pile of documents stack up high waiting to be managed

Needles and haystacks are often a metaphor for civil discovery.

Ashley Kasarjian Athena Award 2015 1

Snell & Wilmer attorney Ashley Kasarjian accepts her Athena Award, Oct. 29, 2015, Arizona Biltmore Resort.

How do you ensure your own professional success? There are multiple ingredients in that recipe, but a vital one is to surround yourself with talented people.

In that life’s mission, I am pleased to report that attorney Ashley Kasarjian prevailed in the 2015 Athena Awards. The employment and labor attorney from Snell & Wilmer is the honoree in the Young Professional category.

Ashley is terrific in many ways, and we are privileged to have her serve as the Editorial Board Chair for Arizona Attorney. I’ve been lucky to work with great chairs over the years, but … gulp … she is our first Athena!

As the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce describes its award:

“The Athena is bestowed on a small and impressive group of women. Honorees ‘demonstrate inspiring leadership within their industry, have mentored women throughout their career, and have dedicated themselves to the community through various activities and charities.’”

More detail on Ashley’s achievement is here and here.

What? Did you say you’d like to view great video related to the event? The one where she accepts her award and crushes it in addressing the importance of education and education funding? Well, all you had to do was ask!

And in case you didn’t know it, Ashley is also the author of the terrific Employment and the Law Blog. It was named the top Labor and Employment Law Blog in 2011 by LexisNexis. You should bookmark and follow her here.

Congratulations, Ashley, on your honor! So well deserved!

Arizona civil verdicts 2013 gavel

Are you curious to hear the stories behind the top Arizona civil verdicts of the past year? At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we covered the topic in our June cover story written, as always, by attorney Kelly MacHenry. But as they say, there’s always more to the story.

This Wednesday, August 27, you can hear Kelly explain what lay behind those significant jury verdicts; she’ll also cover punitive awards, defense verdicts and trends. I have seen her presentation over the years, and it offers helpful insight into what the jurors (and the lawyers) were thinking.

The event will be at The University Club, 39 E. Monte Vista Road, Phoenix, AZ 85004. The Arizona Women Lawyers Association event is $25 for members and $35 for nonmembers.

More information and registration are here.

Legal Marketing Association logoQ: What do you do when you’re standing between an eager audience and panelists with valuable content to share?

A: Speak little, and ask a few good questions.

That is the primary lesson I’ve learned the last few years when I’ve had the pleasure to moderate an annual roundtable of corporate counsel.

Sponsored by the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, this year’s panel, on Friday, September 20, will include four in-house counsel from a variety of public and private companies:

    • Sonny Cave, ON Semiconductor—Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer, and Corporate Secretary, Law Department
    • Christy Hubbard, PetSmart—Senior Counsel, Marketing, Operations and Services
    • Lisa Loo, Arizona State University—Deputy General Counsel
    • Todd Weiss, Cole Real Estate—Senior Vice President, Legal Services

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headline

The event always packs a room. (You can read more and register here.)

As I always do, I come to you now, Arizona’s legal community, to ask for your help as I prepare for the September 20 event. Here’s my query:

If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Post your suggestion(s) below, or send me a note at

And I hope to see you there.

Picture this.

No, I mean it: Picture this blog, not filled with streams of annoying words, but instead illustrating its main points in visual ways.

If you think you’re down with that, then we’re on the same page.

Understand, I’m all about the words. But I’ve been hankering for the past year for more pics and fewer verbal tics. And I have found infographics a terrific tool (maybe I just need a new reading prescription). And in Arizona Attorney Magazine, I’m trying to see where we can use infographics to good effect.

What is an infographic? You may have viewed them and not been familiar with the label. Here’s an example from the highly accomplished Bar Association of San Francisco:

Bar Association of San Francisco infographic

Cool, right?

And here is another shared by Association Media & Publishing:

infographic AMP Association Media and Publishing

Recently, I’ve engaged in a dialogue with a great member of the magazine’s Editorial Board. She too is intrigued by the possible legal uses of infographics. Because she’s efficient, though, she didn’t just muse on it. Instead, Ashley Kasarjian created one, and she’s on her way to creating others.

You may know Ashley as the author of the nationally recognized Employment and the Law Blog. And in her day job (oh, that), she’s an attorney at Snell & Wilmer.

Now, because we blog writers love us a little web-traffic, I’m not going to reprint Ashley’s whole infographic here. For that, you have to travel over here and give her a little SEO love. But here is a snippet of what she’s up to:

Ashley Kasarjian infographic

A portion of an infographic by Ashley Kasarjian

As you can surmise, she’s cooked up a Venn diagram of sorts (and who doesn’t love a Venn diagram?). So surf over to see the whole thing.

I happen to know that Ashley’s subsequent efforts are aimed at including even fewer words. Be still my heart!

(In fact, I will let you in on a little secret: Ashley has thrown down the gauntlet and suggested an infographic battle. I’ve accepted, naturally, but I may be in trouble, given that she’s already jumped in while I still simply ruminate. On the other hand, I’ve warned her that I am willing to include the ever-popular puppies and kittens; as a distinguished Snell attorney, she’s out of luck on that score! #winning)

But you may be unconvinced that such an accessible, concise and comprehensible tool has any place in the practice of law. Therefore, I urge you to set aside your reading of Bleak House and your admiration of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, while I share with you some reasons for you to embrace the brave new visual world.

So: Here are 5 reasons I learned to stop worrying and love the infographic:

1. Clients may love them, and they make your content more valuable to them.

Your background and experience likely mean that you have valuable content to share. And if you have a website (you do have a website, don’t you?), it may be brimming with content out the wazoo. But let’s be real; your mom may be reading it, but other people have higher standards. Why don’t you take some suggestions to make that content sing?

2. Your partners insist on depth, but they don’t read to the end of your memos either.

I am aware of the requirements of law practice; that 17-page brief on whether gravel should be regulated as a building material or a mineral had to be written. But your audience (even your partners) are yearning for the executive summary. What if that brief one-pager were fronted by an infographic setting out the rocky principles? Sure, you might get fired. But you’re a trailblazer.

Read here why simple = powerful, and why “Psychological research on cognitive fluency shows why easy to understand = more profitable, more pleasurable, more intelligent and safer.”

3. We’re all (even attorneys) visual thinkers.

That’s right, even you, with your Juris Doctorate, are likely a visual thinker. There may be some folks who think almost entirely in words, but scientists say they comprise only 25 percent of the population. (Cue the jokes to determine what practice area they’re in.) Want more evidence? (Of course you do, counselor.) Read this great essay about the power of visual thinking.

Or do you want that idea in a picture? (Yes? Now you’re getting the hang of it!). Here:

visual thinking a la postypography

Think about it: Which is mightier than which? (image by postypography)

4. Flowcharts work, especially when your mind doesn’t.

Do you remember law school? That was the place with all the words. Volumes of them. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to read 75 cases about wheat or chaff or something.

Do you remember your bar exam prep course? That was the place with pictures—or at least flowcharts. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to complete and then study a two-page chart that walked you through every possible permutation. Two pages, not volumes.

Close your eyes, and you may still remember those two pages. Close your eyes and think about the law school volumes. ZZZZZZZZZ.

But despite the evidence and our own experience, lawyers eschew images in favor of words. We know that Barbri (or whoever) saved our ass, but after that exam, we cozied up to words all over again.

Here’s an article that describes how valuable flowcharts can be. Read it, and then make one today.

5. Lawyers are creative, and many yearn to release a little art.

In case you missed it, I point you to a story we ran in Arizona Attorney recently. It’s about lawyers who were bit early by the art bug.

Read it and I bet you see a little of yourself there. You may not be a painter or author or sculptor. But infographics? It may be your milieu.

Want to get started? Here is a great collection of law-related infographics; they tend to be connected to personal injury practice, but let’s broaden our horizon to imag(in)e our own possibilities.

I’ll see you in the images.

Corporate Counsel panel discussion, Snell & Wilmer, Sept. 26, 2012

O in-house corporate counsel, how we yearn to know what’s in your heads.

That desire has long been held by lawyers and law firms. And in a tough economy, the yearning gets raised a few octaves more.

I wrote before about a recent corporate counsel panel discussion in Phoenix. There, we explored a number of topics. Of most interest to the assembled lawyers, though, were questions about how corporate counsel choose to hire—and fire—outside counsel.

An insightful article in the Harvard Business Review came to my attention (thanks to legal strategist Dee Schiavelli). In it, the author says that we’re in the age of the in-house counsel. He argues that they have eclipsed the powerful stature of the outside law firm.

For more evidence that our panel was on the right track, here is an article from the ABA Journal that explores “four reasons why general counsel fire their law firms.”

Intrigued, aren’t you? Let me know if there are reasons that the author fails to mention.

All fired up: Lawyer brain activity