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Sponsor A Law Kid

Going Pantsless was the Best Thing I Did in Law School

The best thing I did in law school was the 2009 No Pants Light Rail Ride in Phoenix, Arizona. The people I met there opened the doors to the opportunities that made me the lawyer and the person I am today.

Photo by Jamey Peachy

Improv Everywhere has been doing the No Pants Subway Ride since 2002. In preparation for the 2009 ride, they invited everyone to organize No Pants Rides on the same day in cities all over the world. Jeff Moriarty conspired with a small group of his friends to do a ride on the newly opened light rail in Phoenix. I was a first-year law student and really a nobody in my school and the greater legal community. I didn’t know Jeff back then, but I saw the event on Facebook and signed up to do it with some of my friends.

On the day of the ride, all of my friends who were supposed to do the No Pants Ride with me chickened out. I wasn’t surprised. I said, “You guys all suck. I’m going without you” and I headed out to Tempe to meet my fellow pantsless riders. I figured Jeff had to be a cool guy for organizing the ride, so I purposely stood next to him on the ride and chatted all the way to our final destination.

The rest is history. I can show you, in 7 connections or less, how participating in the 2009 No Pants Ride led to some of my best professional opportunities and experiences.

No Pants Ride >>> Establishing Myself as a Legal Expert

  • Many of the people at the 2009 No Pants Ride are involved in blogging. This inspired me to have a blog.
  • Jeff Moriarty helped me create UndeniableRuth.com in January 2010.
  • I wrote, and still write, weekly posts about legal issues.
  • My posts demonstrated that I have a unique voice and competence in certain areas of law.
  • I parlayed my expertise into opportunities to write dozens of guest blog posts; provide quotes for news articles and blogs; participate in TV, radio, and podcast interviews; and give presentations at conferences.

No Pants Ride >>> Sponsor A Law Kid  

  • I met Jeff at the 2009 No Pants Ride.
  • Jeff is the creator of Ignite Phoenix. He encouraged me to apply to be an Ignite presenter.
  • I was selected for Ignite Phoenix #5 to present Frosting the Law.
  • Kade Dworkin was one of my fellow presenters at Ignite Phoenix #5.
  • Kade had a podcast in 2010 called Meet My Followers where he interviewed his Twitter followers.
  • One of Kade’s guests was Jason Sadler, founder of I Wear Your Shirt.
  • I Wear Your Shirt inspired me to create Sponsor A Law Kid, that funded part of my final semester of law school in 2011.

No Pants Ride >>> Paid Blogger for Attorney at Work

  • A group of us from the 2009 No Pants Ride founded Improv AZ to continue to do flash mobs and pranks in Phoenix.
  • Planning events with Improv AZ sparked my interest in flash mob law.
  • I asked Ari Kaplan whether this might be a viable niche.
  • Ari used my interest in an article for Law Practice Magazine in the fall of 2009.
  • The editor of the magazine, Mark Feldman, loved it. He continued to follow me and blog.
  • When Mark created Attorney at Work with Joan Feldman and Merrilyn Astin Tarlton, they invited me to be one of their professional bloggers in 2011.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I can show how the No Pants Ride led to making some of my best professional connections, writing my first book, developing an interest in podcasting, and meeting some of the most wonderful people in my life.

The 2012 Global No Pants Ride is this Sunday, January 8th in at least 56 cities. If there’s a ride near you, you should go. You never know what will come out of it.

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Sponsor A Law Kid – The Recap

Well, that’s all she wrote – Sponsor A Law Kid (SALK) is in the books!  I was petrified when I initially announced this program.  I didn’t know if it would be a success or if I would fall flat on my face.  I never could have imagined how incredible this experience was.  I wanted to share some final thoughts about SALK.

Photo by AJ Grucky

What Have I Learned From This Experience?
This experience taught me that sometimes your opposition becomes an asset.  I don’t think I would have had so much support for this program if I didn’t get such negative backlash initially from the legal community.  My supporters would have probably thought, “Cool idea,” and moved on, but because I was confronted with venomous negativity, they stood beside me and supported my idea and efforts.  SALK taught me that innovation will always be met with opposition and the best thing to do is to let the haters hate and focus on the task at hand.

If I Could Go Back and Do It Again, What Would I Do Differently?
SALK went from a passing idea in my head to the initial announcement in about 72 hours.  I didn’t fully commit to the idea until about 12 hours before the blog went up and I wrote that post was written in about 20 minutes.  I wish I had had more time to completely flush out my ideas and proofread that initial post.  It was written very much in my stream of consciousness.  People who knew me completely understood what I was saying, but others who didn’t, took offense because they didn’t get it.  If I could go back, I’d take a little more time before making the initial announcement to make sure that I conveying the message in a way that would be better received by my readers.

If I could do it again, I would have announced SALK about 2 months earlier too.  It was hard work getting SALK going and soliciting sponsors in such a short period of time!

How Did I Find Sponsors?
I started out by posting the initial SALK blog and posted links to it on Twitter and Facebook.  I also made a post about it on the Phoenix Professionals Group on LinkedIn.  Then I made a list of all the products I use and the stores I patronize on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I use a lot of national brands and chain stores, so they usually ignored my requests for sponsorship.

I looked for ways to reach out to some of these businesses in person.  For example, I had to get my oil changed in December.  While I was waiting for Toyota to be done with my car, I spoke with a marketing person at the dealership and walked out with a check and 2 more sponsored days.

I also reached out to every business that advertises in local magazines that I occasionally read and I sent emails to every major news station in the Phoenix area to see if any of them would be interested in running a story about SALK.  I was pleasantly surprised when ABC Channel 15 called back 10 minutes later asking if they could send a reporter to my house that afternoon.

What Was The Biggest Challenge?
The biggest challenge was creating quality content every day.  After writing blogs for 23 consecutive days, I was grateful for a day off.  Some days I wouldn’t get done with my school work until 9pm and I’d still have a blog to research and write before I went to bed.  If I did not know the person or company well, it took longer because I wanted to be sure that I wrote a thoughtful and accurate blog.

How Much Money Did I Earn With SALK?
I earned over $3,200 by doing SALK.  This includes the days that were sponsored and people who purposely overpaid the days they sponsored.  The total also includes Bashas’ Grocery Stores.  I asked them to sponsor a day, and they responded by offering a $1,000 scholarship.

Would I Do It Again?
Yes!

Should Other Law Students Do This?
Absolutely!  This was a great way to make a national name for myself in the legal community and to network with other professionals while offsetting the cost of my education.  Besides the fact that I was more tired than I otherwise would have been, there was no downside to this program.

With SALK, I offered every day for sale between January 1 and July 27.  That’s a lot more days than a typical academic semester, and thus, I had the potential to make a lot more money.  If I only sold the semester, I could only sell about 115 days, including weekends.  That would not have covered the entire cost of a semester of school.  If anyone wants to have their own SALK program, I suggest doing the math to see how much you might make if every day sold.

Thank you to all my sponsors who made SALK a success:  Darvin and Jane DeShazer, Amanda Ellis, ThinkGeek, Donna McGill, Vincent Cannizzaro, Debbie Walker, Camelback Toyota, Tyler Hurst, Henry’s Hope, Sara Shea, Tyler Allen, Michael Vincent, The Foster Group, Nancy Smith, Jana Knapp, K Royal, Jane Ross, Katrina Holland, Brand X Custom T-shirts, the Ferreira Family, Fred Von Graf, Bev Wolf, Sheila Dee, Bristol6, Two Men and A Truck, Pam Gibson, Michelle Diaz Cannon, Stephanie Green, Micah and Danielle Larripa, Aaron M. Kelly, Linda Day, Kerry Mitchell, Matt Hollowell, and David E. Mills.  I couldn’t have done this without you!

Please see all my SALK posts here.

SALK Day 208: David E. Mills

Today is my last day of Sponsor A Law Kid!!  My final sponsor of this adventure is David E. Mills of The Mills Law Office.    His recent claim to fame is being among the few lawyers who have had the privilege of arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court.  He obtained a 9-0 decision in Ortiz v. Jordan earlier this year.  I love that he’s done so much, and yet he’s still a down-to-earth person who works out of his apartment in Cleveland, Ohio.  He asked me to relay the story behind him becoming my final sponsor.

David E. Mills, courtesy of Mills Law Office

I announced Sponsor A Law Kid on November 16, 2010.  The idea came to me somewhat on a whim, and I had no idea if it would work.  My friend in the blogging world told me to “put out a blog post and see what happens.”  At that time, I had been blogging for less than a year and I was happy to have a few dozen people visit my site a day.  It took a few days, but Above the Law and the ABA Journal websites each ran a story about my endeavor and my numbers started to climb rapidly.

And then the comments started.  People who didn’t know me and wouldn’t know me from Adam, visited my site and left comments claiming that they were embarrassed for me and that I was lazy, undedicated, and begging for money.   It was hard to approve those mean-spirited comments.  I did not expect that level of negative backlash from the legal community.

I had over 3,000 hits in the first 10 days after I announced the program, including David.  He saw the post about Sponsor A Law Kid on Above the Law.  He thought my idea was interesting, and he was curious to see what people’s reactions were.   David had no intention of buying a day.  However, when he visited my site, he was so appalled by the unwarranted insults towards me and was so impressed with the way I calmly responded to them, that he offered to buy my most expensive day.

I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received for this program.  Now that Sponsor A Law Kid is over, we need to find new endeavors to support, like the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.  Cleveland has a very special place in my heart, and this is a fantastic organization that provides a wide variety of legal resources for people who can’t otherwise afford legal representation.  It is staffed by wonderful people who work tirelessly for their clients.  They embody what the practice of law is supposed to be.

Sponsor A Law Kid was my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is David E. Mills.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 207: Law School Chat

My sponsor today, Matt Hollowell, asked me to spotlight Law School Chat, a new venture providing information and support for potential and current law students.  This entity was launched in March 2011 by three bloggers: Jack Whittington, Jason Tenebaum, and Brian Hoffman.  Their goal is to have an on-going “conversation for law school students and potential students regarding the issues, concerns, and rigors of law school life and beyond.”

Photo courtesy of Law School Chat

Everything about law school is challenging: picking the right school for you, selecting classes, doing well on exams, networking for your future career, managing stress, and occasionally trying to have a life.  Law School Chat is a wonderful resource because it connects people who have questions with others who have been through the challenges and have a variety of ideas about how to cope with them.  They had their first chat via Twitter in March and they’ve announced that their weekly chats will return in the fall, using the hashtag #lawschoolchat.  This is going to be a fantastic way for members of the legal community to connect to support the up-and-coming lawyers.

Law School Chat is a great resource for information.  Some of their recent posts have focused on how to select a law school and how 1Ls can prepare for the overwhelming first semester of law school.  They also do a wonderful job of referring their followers to the other fabulous lawyers and law-related resources in the social media world.  Law School Chat was recently mentioned in the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine where Whittington said he hopes their chats can provide support to stressed law students who need advice and people to talk to.

Law School Chat is definitely something to keep on your radar.  Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and be sure to participate in their upcoming chats.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Matt Hollowell.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 206: Whitty’s Wears

My sponsor today is Matt Hollowell.  He asked me to promote his friend, Tina Whitlock, who has her own clothing line, Whitty’s Wears, in Nashville, Tennessee.  This mom-founded, mom-owned and mom-designed company’s mission is to “provide clothing for infants, toddler and youth that celebrate the child in them.”

Your Radiance by Whitty's Wear

Everything that this line sells is something that they would want to see their children wearing.  In a society that hypersexualizes children too young, it’s so refreshing to see a children’s clothing line that encourages children to be creative, playful, and carefree.

According to Matt, “Whitty’s Wears was born out of owner, Tina Whitlock’s love and passion for her children and her desire to put a positive vibe into their universe.”  Her works shows that she’s a wonderful role model for her daughters.

The Whitty’s Wears Facebook page currently features its LovethisLife collection.  The designs are adorable and whimsical.  You can tell that they were lovingly and thoughtfully created.  They send a positive message and each piece contains a unique spiral and arrow design either as a main feature or mixed into a picture of a butterfly, turtle, or flower.  I especially love the sun design entitled, “Your Radiance.”  I’d love to have this design on a tank top.

Whitty’s Wear provides clothing for children in sizes ranging from newborn to 12Y.  It currently offers long- and short-sleeved onesies, long- and short-sleeved tees, pants, and sweat jackets.  Whitty’s Wear also has organic pieces.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Matt Hollowell.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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SALK Day 130: Art by Kerry Mitchell

I met Kerry Mitchell last year at Podcamp AZ when he attended my session on copyright basics.  He sponsored a day to promote his artwork.  I thought he might be a painter or a photographer.  Nothing prepared me for the experience that is his artwork on his website.

At first, I was captivated by the vibrant colors he often uses – electric pinks, blues, reds, purples, and golds.  As I looked closer at his pieces, I noticed the beautiful intricacies of his designs.  I do not know how he creates these gorgeous works, but I love them.  Mitchell has created hundreds of works of digital art.  These are some of my favorites.

Ascension:  This was the first piece that caught my eye.  At first it reminded me as a seashell but it drew me in when I saw the detailed repeating swirl patterns.  Every time I look at it I see another aspect of his art that I did not notice previously.

Blues in the Night:  This piece reminds me of the night sky in the darkest of night as it is seen in rural areas where the city lights do not drown out the dimmer stars.  I think this is one of the most majestic pieces he’s done.  It has a lovely balance of power and peace within it.

Compared to What?:  Mitchell said this piece was inspired by the song “Compared to What” as performed by Les McCann and Eddie Harris.  It’s a delightful song and Mitchell turns it into a beautiful mix if purple, gold, and pink.  I would happily turn an entire wall of my future office into this piece.

Mitchell’s prints are available for purchase in sizes ranging from 8”x10” to 24”x30”.  Larger prints are available upon request.  Many of his works deserve to be displayed in larger form so you can take in all the dynamic elements that make his work so remarkable.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Kerry Mitchell.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 129: The Miracle of Recovery

Today’s sponsor is my dear friend who is celebrating 22 years of sobriety this week.  He asked me to write about recovery from addiction.  I’ve had the privilege of knowing a handful of incredible people who are recovering from addictions to various substances.  It is amazing to hear their stories about how their lives used to be and to see them now as functional and successful people.  Most of my friends who have done this needed help from a recovery program like Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA Big Book

Image via Wikipedia

The transformation that people in recovery can experience is incredible.  One of my friends used to be a prostitute when she was using, and now she’s a nanny for a family with a special needs child.  Another one of my friends used to be a misanthropic drug dealer who sold drugs to college kids to support his habit, and now he’s close to finishing his college degree and has aspirations of going to graduate school.  He’s also one of the most thoughtful and gentle people I’ve ever met.

A few years ago, I invited one of my friends who is in recovery to dinner with my parents.  He is one of the kindest and warm-hearted people you will ever meet and he does not hide the fact that he’s in recovery.  Afterwards, as Mom and I were washing the dishes, she turned to me and asked, “Did he used to be really messed up?”  She couldn’t believe that this wonderful intelligent person that I’m proud to call my friend used to be drunk and/or high on a daily basis.

These are only a handful of the stories of recovery.  Dozens of AA Speaker Tapes of people’s stories of recovery are available for free on iTunes.  These are people who were so full of pain and shame, who had no self-esteem, and were so uncomfortable in their skin that they had a compulsion to medicate their feelings with drugs and alcohol, regardless of the consequences.  It’s amazing that the found the help they needed and stuck with the program to get sober.

And it’s hard work.  I’ve heard that programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are simple, but not easy.  They require a willingness to be uncomfortable and to learn to live in a new way where people don’t have the option of self-medicating to escape their discomfort.  It requires being willing to walk through fear and not self-sabotage their potential for success.  The work is worth it, because recovery comes with hope, freedom, and the ability to dream again.

Tonight, I asked my friend who, if all goes according to plan, will be celebrating 22 years of sobriety this week what advice he would give to someone who is contemplating recovery or who is new to the program.  He said, “You’re worth it.  You’re worth giving it a try.  You have nothing else to lose.  Give yourself permission not to self-sabotage.”

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Anonymous.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 117: Happy Birthday John!!

My classmate, Linda, sponsored a day to give special tribute to her husband, John.

John is a retired attorney and the patriarch of a family of attorneys, and thus, he has put his birthday celebration “on hold” every year for the last fifteen years because it would interfere with someone’s law school finals.  His three children and two son-in-laws are attorneys, and now his beautiful wife will soon join the ranks of the legal community.  John’s passion for the legal profession and for helping people has inspired everyone around him to follow in his footsteps.

Happy birthday to a remarkable and genuine man who his deeply loved by his entire family.  May your day be filled with joy.

Photo courtesy of Linda Day

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Linda Day.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

SALK Day 102: The Kelly Law Firm

In honor of National Be Kind to Lawyers Day, today’s sponsor is Aaron M. Kelly, founder of The Kelly Law Firm, LLC.   The Kelly Law Firm provides comprehensive legal representation and counseling in most areas of law.  His practice areas include civil litigation, business law litigation, and criminal law.

The stereotypical lawyer is stern and stoic.  They work in a fancy law firm and wear a business suit every day.  The stereotype also says that they are a type-A workaholic with a high risk of developing a drug addiction.  They have the reputation of being cut throat and are somewhat intimidating to be around.

The stereotype couldn’t be further away from the approach at The Kelly Law Firm.  There the office has a more relaxed atmosphere.  Kelly has a couch and an Xbox so he can mentally recharge his batteries during the day.  He usually works in jeans.  Kelly says that 90% of his clients enjoy his approach to practicing law.  It makes him more approachable, and they are probably more comfortable around him as a result.

Kelly is proof that a lawyer can be professional, well-respected, and thrive in this working environment.   What matters is that he performs effectively on behalf of his clients and respects them.  Communication and client satisfaction are his top priorities.  He takes the time to listen to his clients and maintain close working relationships with them.  I love that he frequently communicates with his clients via instant messenger.  It’s an innovative way to maintain open lines of communication and provide extra support to clients when they need it.

This is not an approach that works for all clients.  Some clients need a lawyer who is stressed out and wears a suit, and that’s ok.  It’s a benefit to the profession to have lawyers with different personalities so that clients can pick someone who fits their needs.

This morning, I was working in the Innovative Advancement Program – a legal clinic that works with entrepreneurs.  I looked out the window into the building next door and saw two men playing ping pong in their office.  They were probably computer programmers, but it made me happy to see that some people still appreciate the benefit of the simplicity of play for percolating creative thoughts and recharging the brain.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Aaron M. Kelly of The Kelly Law Firm, LLC.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

It’s Official – I Have a Big Brain

A few weeks ago I got a message from Jonathan McNamara of the Phoenix New Times informing me that I had been nominated and was a finalist for the 2011 Big Brain Awards.  The Big Brain Awards are annual awards give out by the New Times to exceptional and innovative people in the arts in the Phoenix community.  I never thought that I would be nominated, let alone a finalist.  The committee started with nearly 400 nominees and whittled the list down to 18 finalists, 3 in each of 6 categories.  I’m a finalist in the Performing Arts category.

I was selected as a finalist because of my work with Improv AZ and because of Sponsor A Law Kid.  I am very excited and humbled to be nominated.  I have been blown away by the phenomenal people I’ve met in the Phoenix area in the last two years that to be singled out for my work is quite an honor.

I will find out if I’m a Big Brain winner or just honored to be nominated this Saturday at Artopia.

None of this could have happened without the love, support, and guidance from some special people in my life:

There are two special people I need to single out and thank for their support and guidance.

  1. Jeff Moriarty – If it wasn’t for Jeff organizing the first No Pants Ride, none of this would have ever happened.  There wouldn’t be Improv AZ, and I wouldn’t have met most of the amazing people in my life today.  Jeff was also the person who encouraged me to become a blogger and helped make Undeniable Ruth possible.
  2. Evo Terra – Evo is one of the most outspoken and brilliant people that I know.  A few months ago I asked him how he he developed a thick skin against criticism.  He responded, “Figure out who’s opinions matter to you. Then genuinely do not give a shit what anyone else thinks.”  That is easier said than done, but those have become my guiding words when I’m against people who disagree with what I write or what I do.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get this far.  I’m up against some phenomenal people this Saturday: Tom Leveen and Joseph Perez.  While it would be nice to win, I will be pleased regardless of the outcome.