business man sitting on a chair on the beach with laptop

No, in fact. This is NOT the State’s Bar’s Summer Law Camp.

If you have school-aged kids at home, they likely had their last day of school about a week ago. And they got bored around the house about half a week ago.

The State Bar of Arizona hears you. That’s why I point out that you still have a few days left for them to enroll in the Bar’s Summer Law Camp.

Why not? Except (if you’re lucky) for a few blissful weeks, your own summer will be occupied by legal matters. What better bonding experience than for your youngster to learn firsthand about the law.

And the Bar will even make it easier for the kids. The one-day camp will involve no document prep or writing memos to the file! But the application deadline is June 12.

Here is the news from Elena Nethers, the Bar’s Diversity and Outreach Coordinator. Be sure you send her the complete application at elena.nethers@staff.azbar.org

“The State Bar of Arizona is offering a free Law Camp for high school students on June 14 at the Phoenix School of Law and June 28 at the University of Arizona School of Law. Lawyers and law students will lead campers through fun and interactive activities that expose students to the law. Campers will also hear from law school staff about what they need to do now to prepare for law school and career options for lawyers.”

“If you have high school-age children who are interested in law or if you know kids in your church or community groups that might be interested, this is the perfect camp. The flyer (below) has more information. The registration form is on the second page and can be faxed or emailed to me at elena.nethers@staff.azbar.org by Wednesday, June 12.”

Summer Law Camp SBA 2013-page-1

Summer Law Camp SBA 2013-page-2

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Marc Miller, Dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Marc Miller, Dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law

Here is some news from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law: They have a new dean.

The white smoke emerged from 1201 East Speedway Boulevard yesterday, and here’s how the announcement begins:

“In an email to law faculty and staff, Provost Andrew Comrie said, ‘Marc has the vision and experience to move the college forward in a decisive manner at the dawn of its second century.’ Miller is the 12th permanent dean to occupy the position since the law school was founded in 1915.”

I have met and worked with Dean Miller on numerous occasions, and I look forward to his leadership.

More and more, it’s a challenging time to be a legal education leader. Challenging budgets are perhaps the least of law deans’ worries. More troubling is the declining interest in the law exhibited by the smartest university graduates. Law schools try and try, but demonstrating the J.D.’s value to potential applicants is an increasingly tough sell. And don’t get us started on law school debt.

I always enjoy my conversations with Arizona’s law school deans, which we reproduce as Q&As in Arizona Attorney Magazine (here’s our most recent, with ASU Law Dean Doug Sylvester). Knowing Dean Miller, it will be a robust dialogue.

So get your questions ready or send them to me now. What should I ask Dean Miller about the law school, law education or the legal profession generally?

And be sure to read the complete news story about Dean Marc Miller here.

There may be no profession that does as much self-examination as legal education. And given the massive challenges it faces, who can begrudge them some navel-gazing?

Another introspective opportunity occurs this Wednesday, March 27, at the University of Arizona Law School. That is when an annual distinguished lecture will be delivered by Larry Kramer, President of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Previously, he served as Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School.

The title for his lecture? “The Past, Present, and Future of Legal Education” (he had me at future)

Larry Kramer will speak Wednesday on The Future of Legal Education (the past and present too)

Larry Kramer will speak Wednesday on The Future of Legal Education (the past and present too) (Photo by Norbert von der Groeben )

The lecture will be delivered on Wednesday, at 12:15 in the Ares Auditorium, Room 164.

The event is free, but pre-registration is required. When I checked the link Monday evening, there were still seats available. But don’t delay. Register here.

His bona fides for offering an educational prognosis are wide and deep. Here is how the school describes the speaker:

“Before joining the Foundation, Mr. Kramer served from 2004 to 2012 as Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. During his tenure, he spearheaded significant educational reforms, pioneering a new model of multidisciplinary legal studies. He also enlarged the clinical education program to promote reflective lawyering, an approach that seeks to integrate theory and practice as well as encourage self-reflection, and revamped programs to foster a public service ethos. He further developed the international law program to support a growing emphasis on globalization in legal practice. His teaching and scholarly interests include American legal history, constitutional law, federalism, separation of powers, the federal courts, conflict of laws, and civil procedure.”

I would very much like to know what Dean Kramer has to say. Unfortunately, I will be Phoenix-bound that day. Therefore, if there is a lawyer or law student attending who would like to write a bylined story for the blog, let me know. It doesn’t have to be long—200 to 500 words could do the trick. But feel free to let your insight as a lawyer or law student shine. Let us especially know about that third part of his lecture: regarding the future.

Interested? Comment below, or write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

English judge stuffy corporate

NOT how you want the public to view our courts.

“Comes now the blogger.”

Odd, right? Completely foreign?

Now you know how lay people feel when they have the misfortune to wander into an American courtroom when lawyers channeling Shakespeare decide to hold forth. Methinks it’s annoying.

That’s why a recent news story out of Tucson is so refreshing. As the Daily Star reports, a new project at the Superior Court for Pima County strives to make the legal process understandable to the public.

The project was spearheaded by Commissioner Dean Christoffel. In his job, he saw people “struggling to fill out forms dealing with divorce, child custody issues, child support, paternity and spousal maintenance.”

So Commissioner Christoffel sought out University of Arizona students “who could rewrite dozens of instructions provided to people representing themselves.”

Among the experts who helped with the “Simpla Phi Lex” project was Barbara Atwood, the Mary Anne Richey Professor Emerita of Law at the UA Law School.

The complete story is here. (And the University’s story is here.)

Here at Arizona Attorney, I still smile every time I re-read the two articles we were privileged to publish that Dean had written. (Read “A Ripping Good Yarn Told With Verve” and “Algebraic Apoplexy.”) This is a lawyer and court official who knows how to write!

Maybe it’s my own fascination, but we run a good number of articles about improving legal writing. Last month, we published a news story about an initiative to simplify the Justice Court rules. And our February issue had a cover story urging clarity rather than ornate language.

Congratulations to Dean Christoffel, as well as everyone affiliated with this new great project.

Economist sinking ship cover relates well to the legal profession

Designed for a world economy story, The Economist’s sinking ship cover may contain a message for the legal profession.

Who knew I could head across the Pond to see intriguing coverage of U.S. law schools, lawyers and the legal profession?

That’s what I discovered recently, when a colleague shared a link to a story in The Economist. Though the first article I read annoyed me a bit, the writing is good (and we should appreciate their interest!).

That article was in regard to the possible shortening of law school from three years to two. The writer wisely cited some New York law professors for their insight and the likelihood of the new curriculum rolling out in New York.

I got to the last paragraph holding my breath, expecting that somewhere—somewhere—the reporter would mention developments west of the Hudson. And then I saw the kicker: “New York could be a lodestar for the rest of the country.”

Really? Not a word about a pilot project in Arizona that leads the nation. Once it’s up and running, it will allow certain law students to take the bar exam in their third year. There’s your lodestar.

economist-magazine-mind-the-gap-ad

Advice for lawyers: Mind the gap, which is becoming a chasm.

Oh, well. At least their general proposition is intriguing: “Law students have been saying for years that America’s legal education is broken. Graduates from even the best law schools are failing to find jobs. And those that do often find themselves stuck.”

Read the complete article here.

And then cruise over to their coverage of the possibility of non-lawyer ownership of law firms. The author examines a lawsuit by the law firm Jacoby & Meyers seeking to allow that very thing.

That article, I must add, included an Arizona connection, in the form of a University of Arizona Law School professor:

Theodore Schneyer, a professor at the University of Arizona, was co-chairman of a working group for the ABA investigating the question of ownership. It came down in favour of outsiders investing in law firms and working alongside lawyers; this would allow, for instance, engineers to help lawyers with patents. But the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20, charged with modernising the profession, declined to take up this proposal. Mr Schneyer, who personally favours even broader reform, thinks that only lawsuits like Jacoby & Meyers’s will bring progress.”

And then, read a final Economist insight, this one also on legal education. It opens:

“Today’s average law-school graduate in America is left with $100,000 of debt on top of undergraduate debts. Reforming the system would help both lawyers and their customers—and these, at some point in a life, include most people. Sensible ideas have been around for a long time, but the state-level bodies that govern the profession have been too conservative to implement them.”

The whole article is here.

Have a terrific weekend.

Mark Hummels

Mark Hummels

As I write this, Mark Hummels is dying.

In honor of a man who is an excellent lawyer and a former respected journalist, I should be more precise, so let me try: Experts have announced that Mark Hummels, age 43, will die (if he has not already done so by the time you read this). But the goodness he represented, as manifested in his family, led to their decision to maintain his tie to this world via medical support, pending organ donations. And that is why, as of 9:00 p.m. Thursday night, he is still alive.

That heartbreaking generosity is almost certainly more than this flawed world deserves.

(Update as of 8:25 Friday morning: Mark Hummels has died.)

You have likely read the avalanche of coverage (examples here and here) we’ve already seen regarding yet another instance of an angry and/or deranged individual who used a gun to murder those he viewed as obstacles. Others were hurt in the Phoenix shooting, and a client of Mark’s, a businessman named Steven Singer, was murdered by the same gunman. One news outlet reported that the shooter’s dispute revolved around a $17,000 beef over office cubicles. The mind reels.

You can see the court docket below. It ends with the 9:30 settlement conference that was punctuated by murder.

Arthur Douglas Harmon docket 1

Arthur Douglas Harmon docket 2

I know; we live in a society apparently resigned to such violence. But the deep sadness is only exacerbated by recent national conversations about deaths and weaponry.

Back in 2002, I had the privilege to meet Mark. He was a law student at the time, at the University of Arizona Law School. I spoke with him briefly at a reception honoring five finalists in a law student writing competition.

I was a judge on the competition, and so I drove down to say a few words and to meet the winners.

All of the finalists were impressive, but I specifically recall speaking with Mark. Perhaps it was because he was moving from a life as a journalist to one as an attorney (and I had done the same, but in reverse). Whatever it was, I found him engaging and exactly what the profession needed—so much so that I mentioned him and the other law students in my Arizona Attorney column.

Mark Hummels in Arizona Attorney Magazine, March 2002

Arizona Attorney Magazine, March 2002.

Apparently Osborn Maledon agreed with my assessment, for they hired Mark and made him a colleague. It was while in service to a client that Mark was struck down.

In an evolving news story, you can read the stunned remarks of Ninth Circuit Judge Andy Hurwitz, who once hired Mark as a law clerk. “This is a day of unspeakable sorrow. We all feel so helpless.”

Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz and Bill Maledon speak about Mark Hummels (via Adam Longo, CBS5)

Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz and Bill Maledon speak about Mark Hummels (via Adam Longo, CBS5)

Here is another image posted on Twitter, by CBS5 reporter Adam Longo.

And here is one other tweet, which matches the shock of many posting about Mark:

In a violent society, we still retain the power to be shocked and horrified by violence. That is how I and many others feel on this dark winter week.

Here is a statement from Osborn Maledon. I will post information about Mark’s service when it is available. And I send my deepest condolences to Mark’s wife and their children, aged 9 and 7.

And if any reader wants to share his or her memory of Mark, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Statement from Osborn Maledon

Our friend and partner, Mark Hummels, was severely injured in yesterday’s senseless shooting.

We have been informed that Mark will not survive from the shooting.

We are devastated at this news about our beloved friend. Our deepest sympathy and support pour out to his wife, Dana, and their two children. The trust and affection Mark inspired in every reach of our law firm and with his clients are a lasting testament we will always cherish.

We are sad beyond measure also to have lost our long-time friend and client, Steven D. Singer, the CEO of Fusion Contact Centers, in this tragedy. Steve was a long-time client of the firm and an accomplished entrepreneur. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve’s family as well.

Mark Hummels is the best kind of lawyer – a man who is highly capable in his practice and caring to his core about his community. Still in the early years of his career, Mark has earned many accolades for his skill as an attorney. He is president of the Phoenix Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and highly regarded by the State and Federal bench. He was recognized by “Benchmark Litigation” as a “future star” in litigation. To judges, attorneys and other professionals, he is a trusted counselor in ethics and disciplinary proceedings.

Mark also has given back to the community at large, serving on the training committee for Arizona Town Hall and providing pro bono legal services to those who could not afford counsel. This giving spirit was enhanced during his early years as a reporter for the “Santa Fe New Mexican,” an experience that honed his rare insights into people and our society.

Above all, Mark is the most decent of men. An adoring husband, dedicated father and true friend, Mark is what all of us aspire to be on our best days.

As has been reported, both Mark and Steve were engaged in a settlement conference before they were shot.

The loss of Mark and Steve in any circumstances would be a tragedy. For this to happen to them, while participating in a mediation, is beyond understanding, a terrible loss for us all.

Osborn Maledon shooting statement re Mark Hummels

electoral college vote program Arizona LawThere’s no better sign that the holidays are over than that calendars fill once again with compelling presentations and talks. In the coming week, I’ll share some news from two Arizona law schools about their noteworthy offerings.

Today, news from the University of Arizona Law School and its upcoming program on the electoral college. Here is how the school describes the January 24 presentation:

Vikram Amar and Michael Paulsen will discuss recent efforts to abolish the Electoral College and shift to a national popular vote for president in a presentation titled ‘The National Popular Vote: The End of the Electoral College?’ to be held at the College of Law on January 24, 2013, Noon – 1:15 p.m., Ares Auditorium (Room 164).”

Vikram Amar

Vikram Amar

“In the wake of the 2000 election, frustrated with the Electoral College, Vikram Amar and his brother, noted constitutional scholar Akhil Amar, helped to originate a plan called the National Popular Vote (NPV) Interstate Compact. They theorized that the Electoral College could be abolished without a constitutional amendment if states with a majority of Electoral College votes pledged to award their electoral votes to the popular vote winner. Because the Constitution specifically calls for states to choose the manner in which they select their electors, the Amar brothers argued that this would be constitutional. Most constitutional scholars, including Professor Paulsen, agree with this interpretation.”

Michael Paulsen

Michael Paulsen

“Since 2000, nine states representing 132 electoral votes (49% of those needed for the 270 majority) have passed NPV legislation. Two other states that represent 49 electoral votes have proposed legislation to join the NPV compact. Additionally, in the wake of the presidential election this past fall, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer proposed eliminating the Electoral College.”

“Associate Dean Amar and Professor Paulsen will discuss the history of the Electoral College, the specifics of the NPV Interstate Compact, and the implications of eliminating the Electoral College.”

Arizona Law logoYou can read more detail here. I’ll be pleased to hear from Associate Dean Amar, who was a terrific professor at my law school, UC Hastings, before he drove up the road (and the deanship scale) to UC Davis. It will be fascinating to hear speakers on the possibility of undoing an institution like the Electoral College.