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The State Bar of Arizona sent out a blast email to members last Thursday afternoon, April 2nd. The email sincerely insincerely asked for comments about its 2015-2019 Strategic Plan “to make sure we haven’t missed anything.” But the deadline for response was a mere 4 work days later by tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7th.

Most lawyers will miss the email, let alone respond. But then that’s hardly a surprise. The Bar makes a habit of eleventh-hour requests for member feedback. This way at least, it can always check the box that it asked for member input — even if it was late or after-the-fact.

It’s a tiresome stratagem since, as many of us know, a mandatory membership bar only pretends to care what members think or want.

For the autocratic Arizona Bar, top-down, under-the-radar decision-making is how it rolls.

So when the Bar asks for comments about its plans — it’s for appearances’ sake since the Bar believes more in dressing the window than in opening it to let in light and fresh air.

Strategic Plan Rehash.

In its request, the Bar linked to its one-page “Outline of Goals,” which briefly summarized its strategic planning committee’s five goals: competency; ethics; professionalism; administration of and access to justice; and professionalism.

It’s all much ado, however. The 2015-2019 plan is little more than a rehash of its over-the-top 2010-2015 five-year plan. See “AZ Bar drafts up 5 year vision but misses the mark” and “Arizona Bar releases five-year vision”

And per usual, the outline is full of self-congratulation but also per usual, light on metrics. Where are the sets of measurements to quantify results? Where are the performance metrics to quantify performance? Or the project metrics to verify attainment of goals?

And what about the Bar’s continued problems with transparency, due process and communication? Or the failure to address the prioritization of resources and the elimination of low priority programs and services? Of course not. It’s all lip in search of service. For comparison, see the Nebraska State Bar’s revised strategic plan after its supreme court made most of its programs and services optional.

The Bar’s plans are merely a means not to “sustain efficient and effective management of Bar resources” as the outline states — but excuses for mission creep, the bureaucratic Bar’s ingrained love for gradually broadening its original organizational objectives.

In the end, however, the short turnaround time for member response is of little import since the Bar’s poised to simply repeat what it did in 2010 and again prospectively proclaim its purported objectives a done deal: “The State Bar of Arizona demonstrates excellence in every area: operations, programs, resource management, policy and planning, and citizenship.”

“To Protect and to Serve.”

My only other thought is to wonder why the Bar even bothered to do a strategic plan since the state supreme court has undertaken its own state bar through a task force it created in August. Any strategic plan will be subordinated and subsumed by what the task force recommends to the court.

Indeed, according to the task force’s mostly completed work, the state supreme court will soon be retooling its rules “to clarify that the mission of the State Bar of Arizona is primarily to protect and to serve the public, and secondarily, to serve its members.”

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/24/Jackwebbbbigseptemberman.jpg

“All we know are the facts, ma’am.”

Or in other words, as a bar executive once told me, to function “like a consumer protection agency”  — i.e., to protect the public from its members.

So much for all the soft-pedaled mush language in the strategic plan outline about ‘promoting and enforcing the highest member ethical conduct’ or about ‘enhancing the Bar’s protection of the public.’

 

 

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Photo Credits: “Don’t Listen,” by Sean Loyless at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; “Bored in the subway,” by Mike Warot at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution;”Chris,” by Paris Buttfield-Addison at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution;104/365 “These are the times we all wish for,” by bp6316 at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; “LAPD Seal,” by JBrazito at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; Jack Webb, via Wikipedia Commons.

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https://brandtao.files.wordpress.com/2007/08/groupthink.gif?w=411&h=231

In August, I reported the Arizona Supreme Court had directed the creation of a state bar task force to review “The Role and Governance Structure of the State Bar of Arizona.” But knowing how things roll around here, I had of meaningful reforms. In the words of Laurence J. Peter, “Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.”

Groupthinking task force.

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Arizona Bar leadership is notorious for group-think; tone-deafness; and smug self-congratulation. Far as Bar leadership’s concerned, ‘Everything Is AWESOME!!!

business,attire,suits,cheering,emotions,excitement,facial expressions,groups,hands up,happy,jumping,men,people,women

 

Business as usual.

Entertainment 606The task force has met five times and even started prepping its “initial, and very rough, draft report.”  But ‘fugetaboutit,’ there’s nothing to clap about.

Zero-based inquiry? Dissenting opinions? After reading five meeting minutes, save for cosmetic changes consisting of renaming the Bar’s board; seating fewer board members; and imposing overdue term limits — it’s clear without dissenters on the task force, it was preordained business as usual.

When thirty-six percent of the task force is composed of past members of the Bar’s board of governors, four of them also past presidents, including the immediate past president — expect no surprises.

Then there’s this, the appointed task force “consultant” ‘splainin‘ things to underinformed task force public members is the Bar’s well-paid CEO. Or as former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi once said, “If I, taking care of everyone’s interests, also take care of my own, you can’t talk about a conflict of interest.” A mission and governance review with such guiding lights is like hunting with the game warden.

BoredThe recommendations so far:

“#1: The Task Force recommends amendments to Supreme Court Rule 32(a) to clarify that the mission of the State Bar of Arizona is primarily to protect and to serve the public, and secondarily, to serve its members.

“#2: The Task Force recommends “restyling” Rule 32(a) for clarity and for easier comprehension.

“#3: The name of the board of governors should be changed to the board of trustees. This change acknowledges the fiduciary responsibility of board members . . . .

“#4: The size of the board should be reduced to 15 to 18 voting members. The Task Force recommends a board of 15 members.

“#5: Some members of the board should be selected through an electoral process, and other members should be appointed.

“#6: A significant portion of the board should be public members who have no financial interest in the practice of law . . . .

“#7: To assure that appointed members have the skills and experience necessary for service on the board, a process should be created for recruitment, vetting, and nomination of appointees . . . .

“#8: Board members should serve staggered terms to preserve continuity of leadership and institutional knowledge.

Politicians 34“#9: Board members should have term limits. The number of terms depends on the length of terms, but generally, board members should serve no more than 8-12 years.

“#10: Attorney members of the board, whether elected or appointed, should have no less than 5 years’ experience as lawyers, and a clean disciplinary record for the 5 years preceding service on the board.

“#11: Court rules should include a process for removing board members for good cause. The Task Force did not define “good cause,” but it might include commission of serious crimes, commencement of or sanction for formal discipline, etc. The Task Force proposes removal of a board member on a two-thirds vote of the board, conditioned on the Court’s ratification.

LAW AND JUSTICE 12“#12: Ex officio members bring value to the board. The immediate past president of the bar, and an associate Supreme Court justice, should serve on the board as ex officio, non-voting members. The Court should appoint one law school dean as an ex officio member, with the appointment rotating annually or bi-annually among the deans of Arizona’s law schools.

“#13: The leadership track of the board of trustees should consist of three officers: a president, a president-elect, and a secretary-treasurer, who should serve one-year terms of office.”

Having the cake and eating it, too.

The task force glanced at the 148-page report submitted by the Task Force on the Role of the State Bar of Michigan — but like the guy that licks the frosting but leaves the cake, the task force only liked Michigan’s affirmation of mandatory membership. The rest was irrelevant.

This file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Germany License.

Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Germany License.

To the surprise of possibly only a squirrel with a backpack, Arizona’s task force recommended “that Arizona continue to have a mandatory (integrated) bar.”  See Mission & Governance Draft Minutes

As for the Arizona Bar’s posture concerning the reason the Michigan State Bar Task Force was created, i.e., whether as a mandatory bar, the Michigan Bar could fulfill “its core mission of service to the public and our members within the constitutional boundaries defined by Keller v. State Bar of California” — well, that was given short shrift.

Not like it mattered that the genesis of the Michigan Task Force was a state bar letter to the Michigan Supreme Court opposing a Michigan Bill to make bar membership voluntary. Noting that the bill raised “questions about the operation of the State Bar as a mandatory organization that are most appropriately addressed within the judicial branch pursuant to the Supreme Court’s exclusive constitutional authority . . . For that reason, we write to request that the Supreme Court initiate a review of how the State Bar operates within the framework of Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 US 1 (1990).”

But since the State Bar of Arizona back-pats itself “Keller-pure” — the task force opted not to go there. ‘We’re good.’ Ditto on the Bar’s programs, services and activities — its amazingness is everywhere!

To review all meeting minutes and related documents go to AZCourts.gov

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Photo Credits: cartoon source “group think or team win” by brandtao;chart based on Irving Janis groupthink model by HaleyB3, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons attribution;11326426096.jpg and 113264261341.jpg by sideshowmom at Morguefile.com; Nom cake! by Sirenz Lorraine at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License.

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The Eastern Seaboard may still be buried in ice and snow. But Spring beckons all the same. And come March — like swallows that supposedly always return to Mission San Juan Capistrano, U.S. lawyers receive their yearly state bar propaganda promoting that vestigial anachronism known as the annual state bar convention.

2015 Patrons ProgramLast month I received the Arizona Bar’s annual sponsorship solicitation letter ‘inviting’ members to underwrite the convention as “Convention Patrons.” Suggested donations range from $200 plus to $4000 plus. The Nevada Bar, where I also belong, likewise looks for convention sponsors. But not nearly as enthusiastically as Arizona’s Bar, which spends thousands of dollars in member dues to solicit each member by direct mail.

To pry open lawyer billfolds, the cover letter from Arizona Bar leadership that accompanies the patron contribution form extols (without corroboration) the convention as “consistently recognized as one of the finest in the nation” and asks members’ “help to maintain this position of prominence by returning the attached sheet with your contribution.”

Given such tireless entreaties, mandatory state bars never ever leave a lawyer’s consciousness. So notwithstanding that creaky old song about swallows coming back to Capistrano — likewise the truth is that swallows never ever leave Capistrano. They’re always around.

In the good ole’ summertime.

State bar conferences are usually held in summer preferably at climatically pleasant locales like, for instance, Seattle, Washington where the State Bar of Nevada’s Annual Meeting is set for July 9-11, 2015. Or lovely Sun Valley, Idaho on July 29th when the Utah State Bar’s Summer Convention features keynote speaker Citizens United author U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

All well and good — except locally. The Arizona State Bar holds its annual meetings in June and in Arizona — hardly a climatically pleasant locale that time of year. Summer around here means hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

And alternating the venues between Phoenix and Tucson is of little use. The average June temperatures in each city easily surpasses 100 degrees°F. And in Phoenix, site of this year’s Butt-Numb-A-Thon, the June thermometer averages 104 degrees°F. The good news for the Bar is that by keeping the air conditioning cranked up, bored conferees don’t wander far from the all-you-can-eat CLE buffet or from the shameless self-congratulation ceremonies.

Getting cheeky.

Another way to keep ‘cheeks in seats’ — at least per the State Bar of Wisconsin, is to headline the event with the likes of humorist, actor, and author Mo Rocca. Wisconsin holds its 2015 Annual Meeting in June at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and a Kenosha lawyer apprised me about this year’s speaker.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/6c/WaitOctaviaMoR2.JPG/360px-WaitOctaviaMoR2.JPG

But Mo Rocca? In 2010, the Wisconsin Bar featured retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor delivering the keynote address. But in 2015, it’s the sobriquet sharing “Mo” whose fame comes via CBS Sunday Morning and frequent stinting as a panelist on NPR’s weekly quiz show, “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me.”

The other NPR quiz show panelists Tom Bodett and Paula Poundstone were probably busy. At any rate, they didn’t invite Dick Cheney who stirred up Wyoming lawyers when he was keynote speaker at last year’s Wyoming State Bar Convention.

So no matter years of lackluster attendance and past pronouncements about the demise of the annual cheesehead lawyer convention, it appears its death was “greatly exaggerated.” Instead, the Wisconsin Bar has come roaring back — with Mo Rocca.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

But in Arizona, no worries. Keynote speaker? Who knows? Last year, according to the bar’s website, the principal address was also by a humorist but leastways, that fellow was also a lawyer even though nobody I know had ever heard of him. Of course, the same may later be said of Mo Rocca.

If the Arizona Bar hasn’t thought of it, NBC News Anchor Brian Williams is probably available now that he has six months of extra time on his hands. Or maybe that’s not such a good idea since his honorarium would most likely top Mo Rocca’s.

But for now, those waiting with ‘bated breath and whispering humbleness‘ will simply have to wait longer for the identity of the keynote speaker. The schedule hasn’t been fully announced for Arizona’s 2015 feast of self-congratulation, even though there’s a theme. Reminiscent of “Ready, Fire, Aim” — it’s “Ready, Set, Practice.”

In the end, however, it makes scant difference. Like some 90 percent of my colleagues, I won’t be showing face at the convention — so all those marketing appeals will go for naught.

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Photo Credits: 010 022.jpg by butkovicdub at Morguefile; IMG_4895copy.jpg By carmemlucia at Morguefile; Mo Rocca by Infrogmation (talk) at Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license; Dick Cheney by DonkeyHotey at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution; Brian Williams by DonkeyHotey at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution.

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I had bats on my mind yesterday. First there was the report Thursday about bats causing pandemonium sending people screaming from an Arkansas courtroom. I’ve been in really old courthouses and know that rodents live there but this was a first concerning bats. Bats in the belfry Then also last night, I read not about bats but brickbats thrown by the Ninth Circuit over another case of prosecutorial malfeasance. Railing as I have over time, about the persistence of prosecutorial misconduct, for instance, here, here, here, here, here and here, all those posts have started to seem “like the [impotent] vaporings of the fellow with a large flock of bats in his belfry.”

 

Prosecutor punishment rare.

So here I am back in the same belfry. The problem is that state judges rarely punish the misconduct by at the very least, referring the wrongdoing prosecutors to state disciplinary authorities or at best, by sanctioning the transgressors by reversing the convictions. Furthermore, state bars hardly ever bring disciplinary complaints on their own against prosecutors. Consequently, state supreme courts almost never disbar prosecutors for dereliction, lying, or for failing to disclose evidence to the defense that deprives defendants of a fair trial. Baca v Adams. Courtroom 93The Los Angeles Times’ always insightful Legal Affairs Reporter reported last night about a January 8, 2015 Ninth Circuit hearing and the stern admonishment from the 3-judge panel about prosecutorial lying and the heedlessness of watchdogs in bringing misconduct to heel. See “U.S. Judges see ‘epidemic’ of prosecutorial misconduct in state.” Citing Napue v. Illinois, 360 US 264 (1959), which held that “the failure of the prosecutor to correct the testimony of the witness which he knew to be false denied petitioner due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the three judges were not amused in the unheralded case of Johnny Baca v Derral Adams, which was the subject of the hearing. Per Napue, prosecutors cannot suborn perjury — or lie as happened in the Baca case. 1152762_left_hand_silhouette-_womanAnd questioning why bad things don’t happen to people doing bad Judge Alex Kozinski declared, “You know it’s a little disconcerting when the state puts on evidence, the evidence turns out to be fabricated and nothing happens to the lawyer and nothing happens to the witness. So I have to doubt the sincerity of the State when it says it was a big mistake.” It was hardly a surprise, then, that given the findings of the state appeals court that the prosecutor lied and their own readings of the Baca file, that the judges wanted the State to back off. Judge Kozinski additionally noted that though the state appellate court found the prosecutor lied — since no discipline had been meted, then he opined that prosecutors “got caught this time but they are going to keep doing it because they have state judges who are willing to look the other way.” Watch the videotaped hearing below at about the 28:30 minute mark for equally biting criticisms, including Judge Kozinski questioning the absence of any inquiry or discipline by the state attorney general into the misconduct.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/36/Kamala_Harris_Official_Attorney_General_Photo.jpg/160px-Kamala_Harris_Official_Attorney_General_Photo.jpg

Calif Attorney General Kamala Harris

However, given the keen political shrewdness of California State Attorney General Kamala Harris who now aspires to succeed Barbara Boxer in the US Senate, she spared her office further embarrassment by timely accommodating the strong judicial intimations to stand down. Last Thursday when the bats were flying in De Queen, Arkansas, she and the new Riverside County D.A. filed the following motion: As for myself, unlike one optimistic commentator, who opined after the hearing, “Prosecutors who suborn perjury may finally have to pay the piper,” here in my belfry, I’m still skeptical.

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Photo Credits: New Bat, by Windell Oskay at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License; Bat in Belfry at The Phrase Finder http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/bats-in-the-belfry.html; Round Rock, TX: Mexican Free-Tailed Bats by Roy Niswanger at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License; Kamala Harris, by http://oag.ca.gov/about, official photo, California State Attorney General, Wikipedia Commons, public domain; kdjfdkjdkl.jpg by greyerbaby at morguefile.com license .

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I don’t have a team to root for in this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX. The Packers choked like Luca Brasi and the 49’ers were never in the hunt.

That said, I still plan to watch the game although not out of parochial loyalty because it’s hometown-hosted in Satan’s crotch.

Red carpet moment.

Thanks to the NFL’s marquee event, Arizona’s all over social media; the blogosphere; the traditional newscasts; and of course, all the sports channels.

Local chamber of commerce types have overstated their Op-eds and overcooked their media interviews with tongues and tails wagging like nervous Cocker Spaniels who piddle when guests ring the doorbell. Can’t fault them, though. This is Arizona’s red carpet moment.

“The Super Bowl of Sex.”

But the fact is, despite all the media hype and hoopla, I find myself agreeing with Matt Brown, one of my Arizona lawyer blogging amigos, who a few days ago was justifiably in high dudgeon not over the game but over crackdowns by “sociopathic authority figures” in the lead-up to the big game. Mix predatory cops, lazy prosecutors, broadly-worded criminal statutes and onerous mandatory sentences and you have a prescription for easy guilty plea deals for “Super Bowl Johns,” he opines in his post, “The Superbowl . . . Of Sex?,” which was not only aptly argued and titillatingly titled but amusingly angry.

Hookers not haboobs in Super Bowl forecast.

Matt’s a criminal defense lawyer and so he’s allowed to get deflate-gated over the “sleazy” and “desperate” entrapment tactics that make life so easy for local law enforcement feeding the “criminal-justice conveyor belt.”

According to local and national news media, the Phoenix forecast calls not for ‘haboobs’ — but hookers since allegedly, “hordes of sex-crazed Superbowl attendees are currently descending on our fair state with an unquenchable desire” for paid sex.

And while Arizona’s tourism boosters and business types want very much for the Super Bowl to give Arizona a chance to change its tarnished image, I tend to agree more with Matt Brown’s concluding paragraph, “If the powers that be in this state wanted to teach the rest of the country a lesson for thinking Arizona maybe wasn’t the cruel, backwards place it seems to be based on our government’s perpetual quest to out-stupid the rest of the country, mission accomplished. If the rest of the country is lucky, they’ll learn to not acknowledge us anymore. They’ll certainly not want to visit again, and I can’t blame them.”

But what about ‘dem Cardinals?

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Photo Credits: Ready to play, by frankieleon at Flickr Creative Commons attribution license; Juno and Melon summer 2012, by Ray Larabie at Flickr Creative Commons attribution license; DSC_0769 by Greg Gorman at Flickr Creative Commons attribution license;Satan’s Super Congress, by DonkeyHotey at Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

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It’s been a few years since I last made reference to bacon. And that’s despite my knowing full well that a lot of people think bacon ought to go with just about everything, perhaps even “The Irreverent Lawyer.” Sir Francis Bacon, after all, was a lawyer. I can hardly aspire to better. “Judges must be aware of hard constructions and strained inferences, for there is no worse torture than the torture of laws, Bacon famously opined.

But intentional puns aside, have you ever tried a bacon sundae? Or a bacon mint?

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/71/Dennys_Maple_Bacon_Sundae_%285576479106%29.jpg/319px-Dennys_Maple_Bacon_Sundae_%285576479106%29.jpg

My last porkbelly post.

In 2011 when I last made a rasher reference, it was about how in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Thompson v Connick. My post this time, though, is scarcely as indignantly infuriating.

So rather than rant again about the prevalent prosecutorial flouting of the rule in Brady v. Maryland, I’ve instead chosen to post about bacon and how medical science has supposedly found beneficial uses for the artery-clogging comestible. We’re now told there are purportedly “3 ways to use bacon as medical treatment.”

According to scientific literature, bacon’s high salt content induces swelling and blood vessel constriction so that it promotes clotting, ergo, it’s good to stop nosebleeds as a nasal tampon made out of bacon. And then there’s the use of bacon fat as bait to entice dermis-damaging infectious larvae to the skin surface for facile, quick tweezer removal. The larvae are left behind by a particularly nasty insect. And last, there’s the medical use of bacon fat again but this time as an ingredient in a topical itch cream for scabies. (Hat tip to the magazine, Mother Jones at http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/01/3-real-medical-conditions-bacon-can-cure )

With apologies to the physicians I hold in the highest esteem, I nevertheless remain skeptical about newfangled claims from our cutting-edge medical practitioners. Take for instance the advice, which I’ve dutifully followed about taking daily low dose aspirin. As it now it turns out, there’s news that 1 in 10 patients have been inappropriately prescribed aspirin.

As a friend recently pointed out to me hearing again my frustrated reflections on how often doctors come up with errant diagnoses, “There’s a reason they’re called practicing physicians” he quipped sardonically.

No matter, though, for those not believing in the wonders of smeared bacon fat salvation. Methinks there’s something to the notion that bacon does go with everything — so why not FREE CLE for equally practicing attorneys? The latest Free CLE roundup follows along with the usual disclaimers about content, continued availability, and acceptance for credit by your jurisdiction.

FREE CLE

Stafford Publishing

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Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

Compensation Series Webinar: What’s Next for Director Compensation

Date: Thursday, January 29, 2015

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Clifford Law Offices

2015 Webinar: “The Ethics of Conflicts of Interest”

MCLE Information: Clifford Law Offices is an accredited Illinois MCLE provider. This program has been approved for 2.00 hours of professional responsibility credit in Illinois.

Date: Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015

Time: 2:30-4:30 p.m.

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Miller Law Group

In-House Counsel Webinar Series
January 22, 2015 – 11:00am – 12:00pm
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Legal Update for Lawyers
(1.0 hour of Elimination of Bias MCLE Credit)

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Employment Law Update Webinar Series
January 29, 2015 – 10:00am – 11:30am
California’s New Paid Sick Leave Law: An Employer’s Guide
(1.5 hours of HRCI & MCLE Credit)

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National Academy of Continuing Legal Education (NACLE)

In association with Frankfurt Kurnit, “free access to a variety of Frankfurt Kurnit courses on topics ranging from legal ethics, to advertising compliance, to employment law – and more”

Registration required (NOTE THIS IS THE NOW CORRECTED LINK). https://www.nacle.com/Register 

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Barkley Court Reporters

Leveraging Trial Technology in a Visual Society (1 hour)

“This program will prepare litigation departments for trial in the 21st century. From scanned exhibits to 3-D animated videos, our trial tech specialist will explain all the elements of visual trial preparation and presentation. Learn to utilize state-of-the-art technology to convey information visually and maximize communication with jurors.”
(1 Credit – IL, NY nontransitional, CA, NV)

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FREE LIVE CLE SEMINAR

The City of Surprise, Arizona

Free seminar on recent employment law and use law cases

Location: The City of Surprise – Public Safety Auditorium, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza, Surprise, AZ 85374

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

This activity is worth 2.0 CLE credits.

Registration is FREE. Contact (623) 222-1157

RSVP by February 4, 2015.

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Almost FREE:

1000 Friends of Florida for monthly webinars on planning, development and growth issues facing Florida

February 11, 2015, Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Victor Dover on Street Design:  The Secret to Great Cities and Towns
Cost $10 per participant
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March 11, 2015, Noon to 1:30 p.m.
2015 Florida Legislative Update
Cost $10 per participant
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Photo Credits: Bacon mints, by Ryan McFarland at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution license; Denny’s Maple Bacon Sundae at Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license; Library Visitor, umjanedoan by at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution license.

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People 3050About a year ago, I again posted about how far, in the minds of some, the ‘noble profession of law’ has slipped its ‘surly bonds — but not ‘to touch the face of God’ — thanks in part to lawyer advertisers.

Ah, thank the lawyer hordes relentlessly pursuing virtually unrestrained inventively immoderate ways to differentiate themselves in a glutted legal market.

One of my ‘favorite’ examples of the inventive immoderation remains 2011’s “Chasing ambulances? Some say lawyer’s latest ad crosses taste boundaries.” 1

File:BenjaminMPalmerYoung.jpg

No cheer here. Benjamin M. Palmer (1818-1902)

Meanwhile, those subscribing to the more prosaic view of lawyers as members of Benjamin M. Palmer’s long ago “solemn priesthood”2 remain shocked, aghast and dismayed.

But get a grip — of whatever, including all four cheeks if you have to. After all, those who take a business-minded view of the law will instead deem such off-the-wall efforts as merely needfully aggressive stratagems to project a requisite brand and market differentiation.

Consumer attention-spans are short; shock-value diluted; social media cheap and available; and reality-television the exemplar. Therefore, the law-as-business types while possibly conceding without much lamentation that the boundaries of good taste are stretched, will nonetheless pronounce those boundaries incalculably elastic in a crowded marketplace. See, for instance, “Super bowl, super-sized and Jamie Casino’s super advertisement.”

Caucasian businesswoman with finger pointing upwards uidTsk-tsking the ignobility and calling instead for higher purpose are the likes of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm who writing for the Michigan Bar magazine stated,“The practice of law is a noble profession. We lawyers are called to be so much more than narrow technicians, implementing the great, mediocre, or ignoble designs of our particular clients.”

So she says. For yet another, see Anthony T. Kronman’s now 20-year old tribulation, Lost Lawyer: Failing Ideals of the Legal Profession.

But meantime, there’s this from a member of the California bar:

And a Happy Belated New Year.

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[1] For a different take on an ambulance-chasing lawyer, see Wallace T. Figg from John Grisham’s hilariously delightful novel, The Litigators.
[2] Decrying “selfish utilitarianism” and “materialism,” the good Rev. Palmer high-mindedly wrote, “It is filling the noble profession of the law with mendicant attorneys, prostituting the solemn priesthood of their office by opening the subterfuges of legal chicanery to villainy and fraud.” – Johnson, Thomas Cary, The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Presbyterian committee of publication, 1906

Photo Credits: Benjamin M. Palmer (1818-1902), Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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