What in the heck does the State Bar of Arizona do, anyway?
It has several different functions. The most major function is to regulate the practice of law. As an arm of the state Supreme Court, it's responsible for ensuring that all the people who practice law are qualified to do so and do so in a way that protects the public. The disciplinary system is a major part of our function.
The other things we do include promoting understanding of the legal system and the legal profession with the public. We do this in a variety of different ways.
I have to ask: Do lawyers get a bad rap?
I think they do. Obviously, like in any other profession, there are some among us who create fodder for some of that rap. In large part, lawyers serve the community both by what they do as lawyers every day, as well as the volunteer services they perform. A lot of that is unknown in the community, and that's unfortunate. ... Every time surveys are done on the legal profession, there's a large difference in opinion between what people think of lawyers as a general concept versus the individual lawyers people have had personal contact with. They have a much higher opinion of the lawyers they know.
So, what do you think of shows like The Practice and Ally McBeal? Are they accurate?
Those two? Not very. One show that is quite accurate is Law and Order, both from the point of view of what goes into a criminal investigation and what happens in criminal prosecution after the investigation. The two you mentioned are fun, but not realistic. The situations that happen in those shows could never happen to a lawyer ethically practicing law.
What do you hope to accomplish during your year as president?
A couple of things. Right now, professionalism is both a quality of life issue for lawyers and for people in the legal system.
You're saying professionalism is a problem for attorneys right now?
I think it's a problem in our society in general. To me, to some degree, being professional involves a level of civility which is not only missing in some areas of our profession, but society in general. The kind of things the people who have been in practice for a long time talk about as important professional issues include being able to rely on what people tell you without getting it in writing, for example. It really boils down to civility. We're not as good at being polite to each other as we used to be.
It says in the news release that you'll oversee the State Bar's 29-member board of governors. That sounds kind of scary.
It depends whether you're sitting on the board or appearing before them. There's no question that it's a very large board, but there's also a lot of work to be done. We're fortunate to have a hard-working board. It allows us to divide the labor.
What do you think of "judicial" TV shows like Judge Judy?
I haven't watched too many of those, but what little I've watched of Judge Judy concerns me. I can see why it's popular TV, but it runs the risk of (warping) people's perception of what a judge is supposed to be. If you interviewed judges, they'd say that they've wanted to say things like she does on occasion, but that's not the way you behave.
Any political aspirations for you?
Actually, no, which may sound strange, seeing as I was a political science major. I think way too much is demanded of people's privacy in politics today. It's way too much to ask of people.
Anything else we should know?
If people have questions or want to know more about the State Bar, we are fortunate enough to have a Southern Arizona office and a good Web site, www.azbar.org. Another side of the bar is our foundation's work. They have a Web site called lawforkids.org. It's a really neat Web site that's gotten national attention. A kid can write in with a question about a legal topic. We have a group of volunteer lawyers who will write back.