The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image


Fixing the Jury Duty System

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure/obligation of serving jury duty at the Phoenix Municipal Court. In general, I’m in favor of the jury duty system. Having a case decided by a jury of your peers with a judge in place to ensure that the case is conducted properly is formula for fair results. My friend and colleague who is a judge told me that most of the time in his opinion and experience, juries make the right decision.

Screen in the Jury Duty Room at 9am

Screen in the Jury Duty Room at 9am

Even though I was unhappy about having to give up a day of work to be there, I understand why jury service is important. I appreciated that the prospective jurors were given free parking and access to a free coffee and cocoa machine in the jury waiting room. They even tried to make it entertaining by playing movies and having handouts of word searches and Sudoku games available.

The problem with jury duty is related to the fact that many cases don’t settle until the last minute. The court doesn’t know how many cases will actually need a jury. They only know how many cases might need a jury. There was a screen in the jury waiting room that kept us abreast of how many cases were left to start or settle that day.

Screen in the Jury Duty Room at 2pm

Screen in the Jury Duty Room at 2pm

One of the most frustrating aspects of the day was knowing that I couldn’t serve more than one day. I work in an eat-what-you-kill environment so if I don’t work, I don’t make any money. I cleared my calendar for one day of jury duty but the next was as full as ever with client work and meetings. If I wasn’t selected for a jury by lunch, the chances of a case selecting a jury, presenting all the evidence, and the jury deliberating and reaching a verdict before 5pm was low. I felt like my afternoon was a waste because I knew I couldn’t serve on a duty for a 2-day trial and the environment wasn’t conducive to getting any real work done.

If I could tweak the jury duty system, these are some of the changes I would implement:

Secondary Screening of Potential Jurors. Upon arrival, jurors should be given the chance to complete a form explaining why they couldn’t serve on a multi-day trial if requested. Those forms would be reviewed by an appropriate person at the court who would determine who has a valid reason. If those people aren’t selected before the lunch break, they will be released. Knowing that certain jurors will be released if not selected in the morning might motivate lawyers and defendants to start their case in the morning.

Decide on Trial the Day Before. The parties have until the last minute to decide if they will take a plea and whether a jury will be necessary. If the parties are forced to decide the day before, the court will have a better idea of how many potential jurors are needed for the next day. On my day of jury service, there were seven cases that might need a jury, but only one panel was called.

Courthouse Co-working Space. With movies playing in the main jury waiting room, it was too loud for productive work. There was a “quiet room” but it was too small and much of it was like a medical waiting area rather than a practical work space. The quiet room at jury duty should be more like Co+Hoots with copious table space and outlets and soundproof walls so outside noises won’t cause disruptions.

I never made it out of the jury waiting room during my day of service. I impatiently watched the screen showing how many cases were left to begin that day, especially in the afternoon, since I knew I wouldn’t be selected for jury service. As soon as the person in charge of the jury waiting room announced at 3:30 that we were being released, I was out the door in a flash.

Day 89/90 – Registered Trademark

Day 89 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I officially registered trademark for this blog!

It's Official!

It’s Official!

Ever since the Turner Barr incident a few years ago, I’ve been telling all my blogger and vlogger friends to register the name of their sites with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to keep someone from stealing their name from them. Since I am a person of integrity, I needed to do the same, so in January I submitted the application to the USPTO to register The Undeniable Ruth as a trademark.

A few weeks ago, I got the notice that my application was approved and today my certificate arrived in the mail. So The Undeniable Ruth is now The Undeniable Ruth®. It’s mine. All mine. You can’t have it. I will forever be The Undeniable Ruth®! If anyone tries to use my name or something like it on their product, I will lay the smackdown on them hard and fast.

The best part of getting a registered trademark was that I got to post a picture of it on Facebook and share the joy with all my friends. It wouldn’t have been as meaningful if I didn’t have people to share it with, especially my fellow creatives.

In case you missed it: Day 88 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I got to have lunch with Stripes!

Day 80/90 – Breakfast with Prospective Law Students

Day 80 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to have bagels and coffee with honors business undergrads who are considering careers in the legal industry.

Photo by Gina Sanfillippo, used with permission

Photo by Gina Sanfillippo, used with permission

I was invited to speak to this group of bright students from the W.P. Carey School of Business  at ASU about having a nontraditional legal career. These students are in an internship program which involves working out of business and attempting these weekly seminars where different speakers talk about various aspects of working in the legal industry. I was invited to share my story to demonstrate to the students that you can do more things with a JD degree then be a traditional lawyer.

I got to talk about how I basically went to law school on a whim and how I found my professional passions after getting involved in the flash mob and social media communities in Phoenix which led to me starting this blog, opening a firm right out of law school, and putting as much energy into developing my career as a professional speaker and writer as I do into providing legal services for my clients. (I still say the best thing I did in law school was participate in the inaugural No Pants Light Rail Ride. It led to almost all the awesome opportunities in my career.)

It was fun to listen to these people, who are at the beginning of their careers, about their ideas that they want to work on professionally and how they can make opportunities for themselves through blogging, social media, and just being professionally bold about what they want.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of what I actually said, but the group’s coordinator, Gina Sanfillippo said I did a great job and all the students seemed happy with what I presented and wanted my card. I’ll take that for a win.

In case you missed it: Day 79 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Mitch Jackson and I did a live preview of our talk on social media law for Periscope Community Summit.

Day 79/90 – Periscope Community Summit Preview with Mitch Jackson

Day 79 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to do a spontaneous online show with Mitch Jackson about our upcoming panel at the Periscope Community Summit in New York!

Ruth and Mitch Rockin' it on Blab

Ruth and Mitch Rockin’ it on Blab

I previously shared that Mitch Jackson and I will be co-panelists at the Periscope Community Summit in September where we will be talking about the legal issues that accompany live streaming video and social media. Today, Mitch suggested we do preview show on Blab to talk about some of the topics we might cover in our talk and to get input on the topics and questions non-lawyers who use Periscope have.

You can watch our full talk on Blab here.

And here’s Mitch’s write up of our conversation.

I thought it was so funny that Mitch has pages and pages of ideas for our panel. I summed up our talk into a sticky note that said, “Stop Fucking Up On Social.” The audience seemed to appreciate that.

We’re only going to have an hour at Periscope Community Summit for our panel but I’m sure we’ll try to touch on copyright/fair use, trademark, defamation, privacy, First Amendment, harassment/bullying issues, and FTC requirements. Hopefully we’ll have time during and after the conference to keep the conversation going about these legal issues because with these new technologies, the legislature and the courts are still figuring out what the rules are.

This is going to be a fun trip. I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone at Periscope Community Summit and all my New York and New York-adjacent friends.

In case you missed it: Day 78 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I got to corrupt the 1Ls at ASU Law School!

Day 78/90 – Corrupting ASU 1Ls

Day 78 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to meet some of the new law students at ASU at their orientation reception.

I can't wait until the new law school building is finished (Photo courtesy of ASU Law School)

I can’t wait until the new law school building is finished (Photo courtesy of ASU Law School)

ASU Law School has a reception during 1L orientation where they invite their alums to meet the new students. It’s in the evening so the 1Ls are exhausted from a long day of information overload and culture shock. It’s fun to share tips for surviving law school and give them a glimpse of what life after law school is like.

My goal for attending these types of event is to show law students that there’s more than one way to be a lawyer. I purposely attended in jeans and a tank top to show them that not all lawyers wear a suit every day. Along with talking about my legal career as an Of Counsel attorney, blogger, speaker, and author, I tried to share some lessons that got my though law school:

  • If you’re smart enough to get into law school, you’re smart enough to get through it.
  • Sometimes you’ll lose your mind a bit due to stress and fatigue, but it’s temporary. You will bounce back and be happy again.
  • The difference between the top and the bottom of the class is small. Unless your dream job requires you to be at the top of your class, you don’t have to check your grades. I didn’t.
  • Become friends with the IT guys. They will save your ass when your computer breaks.
  • The staff and faculty at ASU Law are as supportive as they claim to be. If you need or want something, ask.
  • Treat law school like a trade school. Learn your craft and network your face off you so will be well connected to the community by the time you graduate. If you have an opportunity that requires skipping a class, definitely skip class.

I told a group of 1Ls the story about the day I realized Dean Sylvester was super cool when he encouraged me to send a demand letter to the then-ASU Law Dean when he was late to class.

I also met a 1L who I exchanged emails with a few years ago. She’d asked me if law school was worth it and I told her to ask herself whether a law degree was necessary to achieve her goals. If so, go to law school. And now she’s at ASU. That was really cool.

I gave my business card to just about every law student I met and I told them to call or email if they need anything. We’ll now many of them take me up on it.

For anyone who discovers this post after meeting me tonight, here a bonus for you: Seven Layers of Academic Hell.

In case you missed it: Day 77 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I treated myself to a Suzie Housewife Day!

Day 74/90 – Russ on the Radio Show

Day 74 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to be a guest on the Russ on the Radio show on KFNX 1100AM!

KFNX Talk Studio - photo courtesy of KFNX (Sorry, I forgot to talk a selfie)

KFNX Talk Studio – photo courtesy of KFNX (Sorry, I forgot to talk a selfie)

Russ Stevenson has an hour-long non-political non-religious weekly talk radio show. He invited me to be a guest to talk about social media law and flash mob law. He gave me the option to call in or be a live in-studio guest, and of course I chose to be in the studio. The station is only a few miles from my office and being there in person is such a richer experience than calling in to a show or doing it via Skype.

I got to the station a little bit before Russ’ 4 o’clock time slot and met with Russ and his co -host Alex Stephens to go over the format of the show and what topics they wanted to cover. I was very touched and pleased when Alex said, “You’re a performer.” I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been involved in the performing arts since I was a child and that people acknowledge that this is part of my personality and one of my natural talents.

Being on the show was awesome. The hour flew by. I loved being in the studio with the fancy headsets, microphones, and the egg crate foam on the walls. During each of the commercial breaks, we chatted briefly about what we are in a cover in the next segment. Working with Russ and Alex was so easy. I think they thought it was funny when I would dance in my chair during the intro music. Everyone at the station made me feel very comfortable and welcome. I can’t wait to hear the replay when the show is released as a podcast after it is edited. Russ said they take out some of his Ums and other verbal stumbles. I hope they do the same for me.

After the show, Russ and Alex said that I did a good job. Even their driver said I did a good job – and according to Russ and Alex, he doesn’t say that to everyone. They said they want me back on the show again, because we only scratched the surface of social media and flash mob law issues. I’m looking forward to it.

In case you missed it: Day 73 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Mitch and I are Invading New York this Fall for Periscope Community Summit!

Day 73/90 – Invading New York with Mitch

Day 73 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I found out that Mitch Jackson and I are co-presenting at the Periscope Community Summit in New York this fall!

Doing The Human Side show with Mitch Jackson

Doing The Human Side show with Mitch Jackson

Mitch is an awesome personal injury attorney in southern California. He is a great guy who’s also active on Twitter, Periscope, and has a podcast called The Human Side. I had the pleasure of being on the show earlier this year – we had a blast. I’m jealous of his Periscope videos that he shoots next to the ocean just before he goes surfing. We hoped to connect in person when I was passing through southern California during The Undeniable Tour, but unfortunately our schedules didn’t mesh.

Today I got a call from a giddy Mitch. He was so excited to share the news that we will be on a panel together at the Periscope Community Summit to talk about the legal issues related to using Periscope and other social media platforms.

“Do they know how awesome this is going to be?” he asked me.

“They think they know, but they have no idea.” I responded.

Then we went off on a tangent about how we aren’t going to sleep when we’re in New York because we’ll to be so busy with the conference and trying to see all of our friends and to connect with New York-based social media movers and shakers. As proud members of the Vayner Nation, we decided we at least have to stop by VaynerMedia to see GaryVee. Mitch suggested we jump in an Uber with him when he’s between meetings to maximize our time with him. Can you help us make that happen DeMayo?

I’m so excited that I will finally get to meet Mitch in person, and we are going to blow the Periscope community away with our talk. They will never think of lawyers in the same way again. I can’t wait.

In case you missed it: Day 72 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I love that my job lets me fix my clients’ problems.

Day 72/90 – Fixing Problems

Day 72 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I think I found the answers to some of my clients’ problems.

The Fix Is In by JD Hancock from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The Fix Is In by JD Hancock from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

One of the things I like about being a lawyer is I get to solve problems. I get to fix things. I get to be an intellectual engineer that combines statutes, with case law, and my client’s situation to find a viable solution. In several aspects of my practice areas – like social media law and internet-based businesses, the law isn’t black-and-white. There are a lot of gray areas, and even then, there are times where there are no definitive answers. At best, we can hedge and predict until the laws are changed or an applicable court decides a case on the issue.

Today I felt like a legal engineer – looking case law, examining it when my color-coded highlighter system, looking at similar situations, talking to other attorneys who work in the area, and coming up with recommendations for my clients. Sometimes that’s the best anyone can do – critically analyze the situation and try to draw conclusions based on the available data.

(Please say “data” correctly. In my world, it’s pronounced DAY-ta – like the Star Trek character, not Dah-Ta.)

In case you missed it: Day 71 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Helping another Lawyer be more Effective with Social Media.

Day 71/90 – Paying it Forward

Day 71 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to help a fellow lawyer understand the benefits of blogging to get more clients.

Hanging with Peter Shankman - Love this guy!

Hanging with Peter Shankman – Love this guy!

One of my legal eagle friends popped by my office today to pick my brain about using social media to get more clients. She was thinking about using LinkedIn to post long form content. I suggested she start a blog instead.

I love blogging and using social media. I prefer blogging to posting long form content on social media platforms because it gives me more control over my content and I have people visiting my site weeks, months, even years after I wrote a post to read my content.

I showed her the backside of the Carter Law Firm website to see how my readership has steadily grown over the last three years. I wanted her to see that my readership has grown steadily because I keep putting out quality content on a regular basis. Eight out of the top ten pages of my site today are blog posts. I don’t share this to brag. I share this to show that blogging works.

Helping other lawyers understand how social media and blogging work makes me so happy. It’s my way of paying it forward from the people who have helped me so much over the years. This is an area that is always growing and developing so it’s always fun to see what’s coming down the pike next. Here are the top three people I recommended she follow to learn more about how to use social media effectively:

If you want to know more about the legal issues that go along with blogging, I wrote the book on that.

This discussion got me so jazzed up that I recorded an episode of Unsolicited Advice about it:

In case you missed it: Day 70 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I had a spontaneous dinner date with my friend Chad!

Day 60/90 – Being on Fox 10 Phoenix

Day 60 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to be on Fox 10 Phoenix’s News Now!

Selfie in the Fox 10 Lobby!

Selfie in the Fox 10 Lobby!

Is this the beginning of my career as a talking head? I hope so!

I was walking Rosie around 5 o’clock tonight when my phone rang. It was my friend and partner-in-crime Jeff Moriarty. He’s the head of social media at Fox 10. He created News Now at Fox 10 – a live video show that appears on Fox 10’s YouTube channel and Facebook account. It’s pretty awesome. He asked me if I was interested and available in being on the show at 7 to talk about some legal news stories of the day.

Of course I said, “Yes!” and zipped home to take a shower, put on something presentable, and headed to the station where I met Kinsey Schofield. She’s awesome. She had me on to talk about James Woods’ defamation lawsuit against someone to tweeted that he’s a cocaine addict, the woman who was sentenced to 3 weeks in jail for contempt for her outburst during the James Holmes trial, and Hannah Anderson being deposed for the Jim DiMaggio wrongful death lawsuit. We had a lot of fun bantering back in forth about these stories:

During this interview I mentioned my YouTube channel where I talk about lots of legal issues and respond to questions from readers. I hope you enjoy it.

I had an awesome time being on News Now! I hope I get invited back.

In case you missed it: Day 59 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I took a quasi-mental health day.