Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2012 Spirit of Excellence Award Call for Nominations

Don’t forget the deadline for the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Awards is July 15, 2011.  The ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession established the Spirit of Excellence Awards to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who excel in their professional settings; personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.  Many of our awardees have been nominated by local, state or other national bar associations.  Therefore, we invite you and your affiliates to consider nominating a trailblazer in diversity! 
Download a nomination form  and submit it electronically at spiritawards@americanbar.org However, if the materials are more 15 Megabytes (MB) in size you may need to send the materials in separate parts. 
Spirit Nominations are due July 15, 2011

The Spirit Awards luncheon will be held at the 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, LA. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh, and One Other Thing about CPRC Rule 2-100

I meant to include this in my Friday post.  Apparently it's also not obvious to many lawyers that the California Rules of Professional Conduct  (Rule 2-100) and the ABA Model Rules ( Model Rule 4.2) also prohibit a lawyer from sending an email to the opposing party, if the party's lawyer has cc'd her client on a communication.  Now, in the olden days, if I sent a letter on paper and noted that I'd sent a copy to my client, no one would interpret that as giving permission to the opposing counsel to contact my client directly.  Why is it any different by email?  I've had lawyers tell me that since I've copied my client on an email, "reply to all" in response is fine. Seriously, friends, it's not.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lawyers Can't be Friends

I don't often write about issues relating to attorney ethics and their professional duties, but not once but TWICE today I seemed pulled into the orbit of the Rules of Professional Conduct.  The first incident seemed fairly academic at first--a partner just for fun circulated a copy of the recent San Diego County Bar Association Legal Ethics Opinion 2011-2 which interprets California Rule of Professional Conduct 2-100 which says, in pertinent part:  “(A) While representing a client, a member shall not communicate directly or indirectly about the subject of the representation with a party the member knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the member has the consent of the other lawyer."  Seems like a fairly straightforward rule, and one with fairly obvious results when a lawyer uses Facebook "friend" requests to surreptitiously gain access to the opposing party's employee's statements.

But later in the day I realized Rule 2-100 is apparently not all that obvious in its intent for some lawyers in this state.  A lawyer representing the opposing party in an active, adversarial matter announced a few hours before a long scheduled meeting of the principals, that she (the lawyer) intended to attend as well.   When the meeting was cancelled because the other party's counsel couldn't make the meeting on such short notice, the lawyer blithely commented that she hadn't intended to attend as her client's lawyer, just as her "friend."  So how can that violate the Rule?

So now my weak little mind is thoroughly confused and I have lost all ability to tell when a lawyer is a lawyer or a friend, or a "friend."  I always thought it was pretty obvious before today.  But apparently lawyers who know and pal around with their clients can just be friends when convenient.  On the other hand, lawyers who are friending me on Facebook are actually looking for dirt.  

Not that I have that many friends anyway--my kids laugh at my paltry Facebook 35 Friend count (and that includes my kids and my dad).  I pretty much turn down all friend requests from lawyers, clients and referral sources, not because I don't like these people, just because I don't want to have to bother with lists and privacy settings and all that jazz.  So I don't seem all that friendly to them, and I suppose I'll eventually develop a reputation as a cold and distant type who doesn't have many friends.  I just don't feel bad about it, though, since the word "friend" now means something entirely different than it did when I was younger.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quotes January - June 2011

I am pleased to share with you again my most recent collection of quotes.  I hope they inspire you as they have me.  

"We know that silence equals consent when atrocities are committed against innocent men, women and children. We know that indifference equals complicity when bigotry, hatred and intolerance are allowed to take root. And we know that education and hope are the most effective ways to combat ignorance and despair." Gabrielle Giffords

“Romance, like the rabbit at the dog track, is the elusive, fake and never attained reward which, for the benefit and amusement of our masters, keeps us running and thinking in safe circles.”  Beverly Jones

“Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.”  Lois Wyse

“Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men - bring them softness, teach them how to cry.”  ~Joan Baez, "Sexism Seen but not Heard," Los Angeles Times, 1974

“Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive.”  Marya Mannes

"What it comes down to, ultimately, is love.  How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance."  Elizabeth Taylor

“If you think somebody cares about you and believes your life is worth saving, how can you give up?”
Geraldine Ferraro

“But how does a person learn to see herself as nothing when she has already had so much trouble learning to see herself as something in the first place?  It’s so confusing.  You spend the first half of your life learning that you are something after all, now you have to spend the second half learning to see yourself as nothing.”  Lydia Davis

“The first wave women lawyers would advise both men and women to throw themselves into causes greater than their own advancement, to live fully, and to find pleasure in their work.”  Barbara Babcock

“Men are irrelevant.  Women are happy or unhappy, fulfilled or unfulfilled, and it has nothing to do with men.”  Fay Weldon

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
Marie Curie

"Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you're wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn't love you anymore."  Lady Gaga

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pro Bono Check In

We're just about half way through the calendar year, so for those of us who are obsessed with setting and meeting New Year's Resolutions or other goals, it's a good time to do a personal check in.

Yes, I know a huge number of my fellow travelers on this planet don't plan more than 3 minutes into the future and set their personal goals accordingly--this post IS NOT FOR YOU.  I know you didn't set any goals for the year and so you'll see no point in seeing whether you are there yet.  So just move on to your next blog.

BUT FOR THOSE OF YOU who are nutty like me and actually measure performance against personal goals, this is the time to see where the hours have gone.  If you are short on your pro bono commitment, there's actually precious little time left in this year.  Considering that there's very little opportunity to pick up anything new in August (everyone is on vacation), and the 5 weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas are basically useless for anything except finishing year end work, there are actually only 18 productive weeks of the year left.

So if you are looking for a pro bono project, I'd suggest you start with your local bar association.  There is no shortage of people who need legal advice but can't afford it.  The ABA Center for Pro Bono also has a lot of links to places where you can find work.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

I am so excited--after a three year hiatus from vegetable gardening, I am finally back in my house and have planted a great vegetable garden!  I put in six tomato plants, including the usual Early Girl, a beefsteak variety, something in purple, a lovely yellow, and a couple of others.  I also have cucumbers started, four varieties of peppers, and a hill of pumpkins.  I definitely have gardening on my mind, and am not (yet) overwhelmed by weeds, bugs, heat, and other things that make gardening a chore.  For another month or so I can just enjoy the anticipation: I'm optimistic that by August, I'll have a bumper crop of vegetables to share.

Speaking of progress an inch at a time: according to Catalyst, women and minorities have barely made progress in holding board seats on Fortune 500 corporate boards in the past six years.  Reporting on a study released last month, they noted:

In the Fortune 100, between 2004 and 2010:
  • Men still dominated boardrooms. In 2010 they held 82.0 percent of board seats; in 2004, 83.1 percent.
  • White men have actually increased their share of board seats in corporate America—from 71.2 to 72.9 percent. Minorities and women shared the remainder, with very few seats occupied by Asian Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, or minority women in particular. With the exception of African-American men, who lost seats, the percentages have not changed notably since 2004.
  • More specifically, African-American women held 2.1 percent of seats; Hispanic women held 0.9 percent; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.5 percent; African-American men held 4.2 percent; Hispanic men held 3.1 percent; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.7 percent
  • Although women gained 16 board seats—7 occupied by minority women—the overall 1.1 percentage point increase over 6 years was not appreciable.
  • Fortune 500 boards were less diverse than Fortune 100 boards.
  • Men held close to 85 percent of all board seats. White men dominated the board room, holding 77.6 percent of board seats. Minority men held 6.8 percent. White women held 12.7 percent. Minority women held 3.0 percent.
  • More specifically, African-American women held 1.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats; Hispanic women held 0.7 percent; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.3 percent; African-American men held 2.7 percent; Hispanic men held 2.3 percent; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.8 percent.
  • Approximately one-half of Fortune 500 company boards were composed of 20 percent or fewer women and/or minorities.
  • Women and minorities were significantly underrepresented in Fortune 500 board leadership positions. White men held 94.9 percent of board chair positions.
  • There was not a single Latina lead director or board chair.
  • In 2010, 15 companies achieved broad board diversity: each of the major U.S. Census groups was represented in their boardrooms.

I suppose the philosophical approach is to patiently work the corporate garden inch by inch, row by row.  Those who can till the fields, obviously, predominantly white men, will have to be the ones to do most of the gardening here.  There are certainly many, many qualified women and minorities.  Those current board members and shareholders who have the power and opportunity to nominate board members need to be reminded that women and minorities are ready, willing and able to serve on corporate boards.  The representation of women and minorities on corporate boards is not going to increase dramatically in the next decade, if history tells us anything.  But hopefully we can make it at least another percentage point forward.  Is that asking too much, or too little?