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Finally! Funny Legal T-shirts that are Comfy to Wear

This is the first time I’ve found legal eagle t-shirts that aren’t cheap and itchy.

RP shirt2

Anyone who knows me knows I love t-shirts. My law firm even celebrates T-shirt Friday every week where I wear a t-shirt not matter what’s on my calendar. I love shirts that are witty, have beautiful artwork, or are affiliated with an event or cause that’s important to me.

There are lots of fun legal t-shirts out there. I thought it was hilarious when my lawyer friends told me that he and his buddies all wore t-shirts that said “Reasonable Person” to their bar exam.

Hal Cohen rocking his Reasonable Person shirt during a study break

Hal Cohen rocking his Reasonable Person shirt during a study break

(For those of you who aren’t legal eagles, like the unicorn, the Reasonable Person doesn’t exist. It’s a fictitious person who acts in a reasonable manner in every situation. In many cases, the court compares what a person actually did to what the Reasonable Person would have done under similar circumstances to determine if the person should be held responsible for causing harm.)

Unfortunately, most legal t-shirt aren’t worth buying because they’re cheaply made, uncomfortable to wear, and horribly overpriced. I have seen or can think of at least six legal t-shirts that I would wear if I could find them. I’m contemplating having a shirt made with a quote from my Administrative Law professor: “Most of law is totally flawed.  Just go with it.

Posita shirt2Thankfully, Brand X in Tempe has stepped in to fill the void.  They recently created their own version of the “Reasonable Person” t-shirt. I love Brand X. They make all the shirts for Ignite Phoenix and they’ve made at least eight custom shirts for me, including my “Life is Blog Material” shirt and my “GeekLawFirm.com” shirts. Their base shirt is super soft and the quality of their work is top-notch. I’m so glad someone is making shirts for legal eagles that I can wear. I may have to ask them to make some more legal eagle shirts for me for some of my upcoming projects.

At the request of one of my patent-enthusiast friends, they’ve also made a “Person of Ordinary Skill in the Art” shirt. (And yes, you can buy both shirts online and have them shipped to you if you want.)

For full disclosure: I am not a paid spokesperson for Brand X. I receive no financial benefit from either of these shirts. I just love Brand X, and I want people to know that there are high quality legal t-shirts available so we don’t have to settle for the crappy ones anymore.  

 

You Know There’s A Story Behind This

A Sign in my Neighborhood

A Sign in my Neighborhood

I took this photo while I was walking my dog, Rosie.

Every time I see this sign I can’t help but grin.

I bet the original sign said, “Animal Waste Must Be Removed By Pet Owner” and then someone got out of a pooper-scooper ticket by proving that they weren’t the owner, just merely the dog walker.

Independents Week 2014 – Who’s In?

I’m excited for Independents Week next week (6/29 – 7/6) and I hope you are too. This is the week where you’re encouraged to spending your money locally. When you spend locally, more of your money stays in the community compared to when you shop at big box stores – a lot more. I participated last year and had an awesome time shopping at some of my favorite businesses in the valley and trying out some new ones too.

Independents Week is also Golden Coupon week. Members of Local First Arizona will be offering 20% discounts when you shop with a Golden Coupon. (See their site for details and limitations.) Over 260 businesses all over the state are participating. It’s a great reason to try a new place in your neighborhood.

Golden Coupon 2014

These are some of the places in metro Phoenix that I’m excited to see are participating. I’m sticking to Phoenix area places because, well, I live here.

  • Arizona Fun Services – where my partner-in-crime and I got our root suits
  • Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange
  • Brand X Custom T-shirts – makes all my custom t-shirts and running shirts
  • Changing Hands Bookstore
  • Nobel Beast – great pet supply shop
  • Practical Art on Central – I’ve never been here but it looks interesting
  • Phoenix Art Museum
  • Write Ons – where I get all my greeting cards
  • Zia Records

If you’re looking for a new place to eat, there are awesome restaurants that are accepting the Golden Coupon, including:

  • Duck and Decanter
  • Fez
  • Scramble
  • Sun Up Brewing
  • The Dhaba
  • The Refuge

Some of you might be asking, “How does being a minimalist comport with Independents Week?” To me, being a minimalist means I try to only buy things that add value to my life. I still need to buy things. I think Independents Week is a great reason to pop into places you wouldn’t ordinarily visit to get to know them. (It’s important to me to spend my money locally when I can.) These places might have things that would add value to my life – now or in the future. There’s no pressure to buy anything this week, but if I do, I get a nice discount.

If you do participate in the Local First Independents Week Golden Coupon program, you’re eligible to enter to win a staycation in Flagstaff. Why am I telling you that? Shop with the Golden Coupon but don’t enter the contest. You’ll be hurting my chances of winning.

Happy Independents Week! Who’s in?

Gender Inequality Under the Arizona Decency Law

It’s officially summer in Arizona . . . and it’s hot. (Yeah yeah yeah I live in a desert. Suck it up.) I got home from work one day recently and when I changed out of my work clothes, I threw on a pair of workout shorts and that’s it – no shirt, no sports bra, nothing from the waist up. I’ve been known to hang around my home dressed like that. It’s not sexual, it’s just comfortable.

2013 Go Topless Day Protest with Evo Terra. Photo by Sheila Dee, used with permission.

2013 Go Topless Day Protest with Evo Terra. Photo by Sheila Dee, used with permission.

Then I realized I needed to walk down the street to get the snail mail so I had to put a shirt on. That got me thinking, “I wouldn’t care if my male neighbor got his mail in just a pair of shorts, but if I did that, I’d be breaking the law. What’s the difference?”

How can we say that men and women are equal when the law clearly treats us differently? It’s only an issue if we make it an issue. I’ve heard of cities where it’s legal to be naked in public and it’s a novelty for the high school kids to sit in the park in their birthday suits but otherwise no one cares.

I’ve had guy friends try to explain that women’s chests are more sexual than men and I don’t buy that. I think that guys may be more visually stimulated than women, but that sounds more like their issue than mine. In my experience, if someone is turned on by a body part, it really doesn’t matter if there’s a layer of fabric over it. They’re still going to look (though some of you need to learn to be more discrete about it).

And I don’t buy the argument that a woman’s breasts are more sexual than a man’s chest. I know lots of guys who get uber turned on if you touch their nipples. And given how big some guys’ man boobs are, you can’t say that women’s boobs should be covered up because they’re bigger.

What are we telling girls about their bodies by having different laws for men and women? I’m concerned that this law teaches girls that they should be ashamed of their bodies and tells heterosexual and bisexual boys that it’s ok to treat women like sex objects. Are we telling girls that showing your body could result in people not being able to control themselves? I think we’ve long established that no one has a right to touch or harass you regardless of what you’re wearing.

When I posted the question about gender inequality on Facebook, a friend responded that women going topless would result in traffic problems. And that pissed me off. What happened to personal responsibility? If you get too distracted by pedestrians to safely operate a vehicle, you shouldn’t drive. We had the same questions come up with the No Pants Light Rail Ride. If we are lawfully standing on the platform in our underwear, and someone causes an accident because they were looking at us instead of where they were going, that’s not our fault.

I know we have bigger legislative fish to fry in Arizona than changing the Decency Law, but gender equality should be a priority. It will be an important milestone, more important than most people realize, when we treat men and women’s bodies equally and with the same level of autonomy and respect.

There is an International Go Topless Day every August to bring attention to this issue. My friend and I participated last year and I did a video rant about the news coverage of the event.

Preventing Skin Cancer with Vanity

These are my friends - real photo from my medicine cabinet

These are my friends – real photo from my medicine cabinet

I had an appointment with my doctor a few weeks ago – nothing serious, just my annual exam and blood work. He took one look at my pasty pale skin and remarked that we didn’t need to have the discussion about the importance of sunblock.

He went on to share how when he talks to patients who aren’t as diligent about protecting themselves from the sun, he doesn’t tell them about the dangers of skin cancer. He said he tells them that the sun in aging them prematurely and making them look older than their true age.

Life lesson: Vanity works.

(BTW: I firmly believe that sunblock and moisturizer are why I can still pass as 22.)

Getting Out of Dodge with Rosie

I won a night at the Sedona Rouge during Independents Week last year. The gift certificate expired in July 2014 so I had to use-it-or-lose-it. They’re a dog-friendly hotel so I booked a room for Rosie and I during mid-week last week to get away from the heat for a few hours.

Sedona Rouge

Sedona Rouge – Sedona, AZ

At first I was thinking, “Why am I doing this? We’re not even going to be gone for 24 hours. There’s so much I could be getting done if I just stay here instead of packing up the pup and me, driving 2 hours to Sedona, just to drive back the next day.” I’m so glad I ignore this voice in my head. We had an awesome time and it provided a much needed break from the daily grind.

The staff was so nice to Rosie and me. Rosie is an experienced traveler and I packed her box of bowls, food, and toys plus her bedding. Her stuff took up a lot more room in the trunk than my overnight bag and backpack. I thought it was very sweet when we got to our room and saw that the staff had put out dog bowls and a bed for Rosie.

Dog Bed and Bowls

Sorry About the Poor Quality

I could tell they’re used to having canine guests that are smaller than Miss Rosie and evidenced by the size of the dog bed. But that didn’t stop her from using it.

Rosie on the Dog Bed Nex t to her Real Bed

Rosie on the Dog Bed Next to her Regular Bed

Rosie and I had a great time at the Sedona Rouge. We took a self-guided tour through the Column Garden and the pool area. All the guests who saw her gushed over her. I spent most of this trip reading Jason SurfrApp’s book, Creativity for Sale. It’s hard to make reading a priority at home. I found a comfortable seat in the courtyard, looped Rosie leash through one of the legs of the chair, and enjoyed Jason’s book while a gentle breeze blew through my hair. It’s a really good book – my brain is buzzing with ideas about my future professional endeavors. I really wish I didn’t need sleep or work/life balance so I could spend more time working on them.

Rosie in the Column Garden

Rosie in the Column Garden

In the evening, I trooped to the pool area to do some writing before taking a soak in the hot tub. I do a 2-day personal/professional retreat every December, and this trip gave me a chance to check in on how things are going so far this year. Rosie snuggled up in the chaise next to mine.  She was so cute but it was too dark to get a picture so we had to recreate the shot the next morning.

Poolside Rosie

Poolside Rosie

We spent less than 24 hours in Sedona. The next morning we got up early, got a walk for her, a run for me, and breakfast for both of us before heading back to Phoenix. Even though it was a short trip, it was a good reminder of how important it is to occasionally get away to reflect and recharge.

I really enjoyed my time up north. I’ve been thinking about my next book and this trip made me consider the possibility of taking a month away just to write instead of working writing into my daily routine as I’ve done with my other books . . . definitely something to think about.

Paying It Forward to an Aspiring Flash Mob Organizer

This past Friday night, I was sitting at home watching a movie when my phone chimed with a new email. It was from a fifteen year-old girl in Ohio. She wanted to do a flash mob in response to violence in her community. She’d never done anything like this before and she wanted some help.

I was quite impressed by her email. It was so sweet that she was trying hard to be respectful. You could tell she put some time and effort into writing this. She started it with “Dear Ms. Ruth Carter…” and closed with “Sincerely” and her full name. She was upfront about her age and that she couldn’t afford to hire me. She said that she and her friends wanted to do a flash mob to “get the young adults in my city to do something fun and to stop the violence” but they didn’t want to cause any trouble because “the city legal justice system has enough to deal with.” And she thanked me for my time even if I couldn’t help.

Listen by Johan Larsson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Listen by Johan Larsson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Her message came in around 8pm my time, so that means it was 11pm her time. What 15 year-old sends thoughtful emails to a lawyer late on a Friday night? I was inspired to help her. I scooped up my phone and responded with, “Give me a call. Right now. I’ll give you some tips,” and I included my personal cell phone number.

I’m sure she didn’t expect that.

I’ve had a few moments in my life where I’ve sent an email and received the “Give me a call right now” response. And those messages usually get my heart racing because there’s no time to prepare for the conversation.

About ten minutes later, my phone rang. I walked around the house for about twenty minutes, sharing stories from my flash mob experiences and how I approach planning events with this young lady. (I tend to pace when I’m excited or nervous. It helps get my creative juices flowing too.) I suggested that her group look at their ideas from an outsider’s perspective and think about what they might be doing wrong and what they might be accused of doing wrong. We talked about deciding when to ask for permission vs when to ask for forgiveness. I shared with her my experiences with getting in trouble with mall cops and why malls are generally a bad location for flash mobs. We also talked about who she could partner with and I was pleased to hear that she has contacts in her police department who can advise her.

At one point in the conversation, she called me “ma’am.” I was amused that she was being so respectful. I bet it is intimidating to be fifteen and talking with a lawyer who is almost twenty years her senior. I totally get it even though I thought it was funny. When I was fifteen, every adult except my gymnastics coaches were “Mr.” or “Mrs.” plus their last name. To this day, there are some adults who I still address as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” I giggled and told her to call me “Ruth.”

It felt really good to pay it forward to this young lady. So many people have been exceptionally generous with their time and knowledge when I was young and it’s nice to be able to do the same for someone else. I told her to keep me in the loop and to let me know how her flash mob goes. It sounds like her heart is in the right place so I hope she can pull it off.

Creativity For Sale – An Interview with Jason SurfrApp

Photo provided by Jason SurfrApp

Photo provided by Jason SurfrApp

I’ve known Jason SurfrApp since he was wearing t-shirts professionally through IWearYourShirt. He was the person who inspired me to create Sponsor A Law Kid to offset the cost of law school. He has since gone on to auction off his last name (twice) and become a maven in the marketing world who seems to be able to get sponsorship for everything. This week, Jason published his first book, Creativity For Sale, where he shares his story and how to turn your passion into profit. He was kind enough to field some questions from me.

Why Did You Write This Book – Besides To Make Money?
During the first few months of 2013 I was feeling pretty down. The business I had built and killed myself to make successful since 2009 (IWearYourShirt) wasn’t doing as well anymore and I was starting to get burnt out. I attended a life-changing conference – and I never say stuff like that- in Fargo, ND in May 2013. At that event I listened to some amazing speakers and I was also a speaker. Instead of my normal “success” talk about IWearYourShirt, I opened up and shared that things weren’t going well. That was the first time I was ever publicly vulnerable, and while it was incredibly uncomfortable and difficult it felt like I had lifted a 600-pound gorilla off my back. When I returned home from the event I had lunch with a friend. While shoving a burrito in my face my friend convinced me that I should write a book about my entrepreneurial journey.

My Signed Copy of Creativity For Sale

My Signed Copy of Creativity For Sale

What’s The One Lesson You Want Readers To Take From Your Book?
I want people to give themselves permission to follow their passions and try to make money doing what they love. It won’t be easy, but the best things in life are earned.

It Took A Lot Of Guts To Start A Business, Auction Off Your Last Name, And To Write This Book. How Do You Combat Fear When It Creeps Into Your Professional Life?
It may not seem like it, but I do a lot of planning, thinking, and strategy before I launch any project. In that pre-launch time I weigh all my options and think about the potential risks and fears I have. The majority of them have to do with people not supporting the projects financially or someone saying negative comments about it. The negative comments are an easy fear to overcome: People will say negative things and 99% of the time it’s because those people are unhappy, not because the project is bad. When thinking about someone not supporting a project financially, I just ask myself “what’s the worst that will happen?”

What Words Of Wisdom Do You Have For Anyone Who Wants To Do A Sponsored Event (Or Life)?
#1 You don’t get what you don’t ask for.
#2 You will hear “No’s” and that’s perfectly okay. Remember that people aren’t saying “No” because of you, they’re saying “No” because the project doesn’t align with their goals, they don’t have the budget, it’s bad timing, etc.

Creativity For Sale Page 162

Creativity For Sale Page 162

How Do You Define “Success?”
Success used to look like $1,000,000 in the bank, driving a Ferrari, and retiring by age 35. I realized that I don’t need $1M in the bank to be happy and live a fulfilled life. I took time last year to look at the things that really mattered to me and in doing so realized that I didn’t need anywhere near $1M in the bank to meet those needs. My previous measures of success were completely driven by societal pressures and I’m ignoring those now. Instead, I’m focusing on having financial freedom (no debt and enough money to not have to worry about making my mortgage each month), having the ability to work from anywhere in the world, and being able to work on whatever projects I want. The definition of “success” will evolve continuously for me and I’m cool with that.

What’s The Meaning Of Life?
Doing what you love and living a life of intention. Don’t let the fears of other people get in the way of your dreams.

What’s Up Next For You?
I’m super excited for creative professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, etc., to grab a copy of my new book Creativity For Sale. I’ll be on the road quite a bit for the rest of this year promoting the book through public speaking. I’m also launching a new project with the book called The Rebel Within Us where I’ll be helping people unleash their inner rebel and learn how to make money doing what they love through various paid products and resources.

I’m really excited to read Jason’s book and hopefully his speaking tour will bring him through Phoenix. He’s a fun guy. You should meet him in person if you have the chance. And check out his book – my law firm sponsored page 162!

Minimalism Project Recap – Eliminate Paper Clutter

I challenged myself last month to take steps to eliminate the paper clutter in my life. Before starting project, I would let papers that needed to be filed pile up on the kitchen counter. If people were coming over, I would move the pile from the kitchen to the bedroom, and about four months later I’d take an hour to sort and file the massive pile of papers.

My project for May 2014 was to deal with every new piece of paper in my life within 24 hours, preferably before I went to bed that night. So here’s how it went.

For the most part, the project was a success. The only papers that sat on my counter for a limited amount of time are bills (that get paid every Friday) and grocery store ads (that get recycled when the next ones arrive in the mail). Many times, the 24-hour rule forced me to file papers I keep within minutes of coming in the door. It was a great habit to solidify. Often times, it was faster to deal with papers right away than when I’d let them pile up.

It wasn’t always easy or successful. Sometimes I go to networking events and I get back to the office with a stack of business cards. It’s time consuming to enter the data from each card into my contact database and there were a few nights I was up late, sometimes painfully tired, getting all the data in before I’d let myself go to bed.

Working Through My Phoenix Business Journal Last Week

Working Through My Phoenix Business Journal Last Week

The hardest thing to deal with was newspapers and magazines. I get the Phoenix Business Journal (PBJ) every week and I get a few professional magazines every month as part of my memberships in professional organizations. It’s hard to go through each one within 24 hours of their arrival, and I can’t always predict when they will arrive so I can’t set aside time for them. And I think part of it is a fear that going through each one will take a lot of time – and that’s not necessarily true. Here’s a typical process I go through with each edition of the PBJ:

  • Flip through the paper – read the articles that are relevant to my work, skim the rest (or at least read the headlines).
  • Highlight the articles that require a follow-up – people I know or people I want to meet
  • Tear the pages with highlights out. Recycle the rest.
  • Take the highlighted pages to my laptop and send follow up emails. Note the interactions in my database.

I only have to send a few emails per editions, and sometimes it’s zero. Take home lesson: Dealing with these publications (which are filled with ads I don’t read) takes a lot less time than I think. It’s usually less than an hour, significantly less.

I wish I’d made it a bigger priority to clean out my existing files, in particular to take my receipts in Taxes 2014 folder and put them in the Taxes 2014 binder that has dividers to help me stay organized. I started the binder last month and every new receipt goes into it, but there’s a file folder of accumulated receipts that may not get sorted until 2015 when I’m working on next year’s taxes.

So what’s next in my minimalism project? I think it’s my CDs. I have a CD binder full of albums I rarely look at. Some people would say just to chuck it out, because if it’s that important, I’ve already ripped it into my iTunes. I think I’ll go through it one more time, make sure everything’s ripped, keep a few albums I play in the car, and then get rid of the rest.

Frustrating Arizona Board of Governors Election Results

Ugh – What were people thinking?

Last week, the State Bar of Arizona announced the results of the Board of Governors election. This was a critical vote because the Board recently voted to increase our bar dues by $60/year despite receiving a report that this would result in the Bar having a cash surplus of $3.7 million by 2019. (This passed by one vote.) Prior to the vote on bar dues, Arizona already had one of the highest bar dues in the nation. (And we’re a mandatory bar, so you can’t be a licensed Arizona attorney unless you’re a member of the State Bar.)

Thirty-three people ran for the nine slots on Board for Maricopa County – eight of which were incumbents. I thought it was awesome that so many people were interested in making a difference in how the State Bar operates. I made my list of candidates whose actions and profile were compatible with how I wanted my State Bar to govern me.

Here are the nine people who won the election in Maricopa County:

  • Melissa Ho (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • Lisa Loo (Incumbent, Voted For the Increase)
  • Geoffrey Trachtenberg (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • Steven Hirsch
  • Samuel Saks (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • David Derickson (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • Diane Drain (Incumbent, Voted For the Increase)
  • Richard Coffinger (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)
  • Jennifer Rebholz *

* = On my short list of candidates

"'nough said..." by Arnaud DG from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

“‘nough said…” by Arnaud DG from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

What is up with the power of the incumbency?! With thirty-three people running, I’m surprised that we’re only adding two new faces to the Board for Maricopa County. I seriously wonder how many people voted for people they liked vs people who supported their beliefs about how the State Bar should govern its members. Our Board has a history that lacks transparency and they voted to increase our dues that made no sense when they crunched the numbers.

I was pleased to read that we had the highest voter turnout ever for a Board of Governors’ election, but that statement is pretty pathetic when the State Bar announced that only 35% of eligible voters participated in the election. With ~12,000 attorneys in Maricopa County, that means 7,800 people didn’t vote. 7,800 people forfeited their right to bitch about how the Board operates until the next election.

This lack of participation suggests a lack of responsibility among our members, and that makes me sad and frustrating. We’re a self-regulating profession – why wouldn’t you vote when given a say in how we operate?

These results help me understand why some of my fellow legal eagles say that nothing’s ever going to change with the Board. But I hope that in the increase in voter  participation and the fact that a significant number of people who were elected are dedicated to transparency and fiscal responsibility are signs that change is possible and coming in the State Bar. I hope the next Board will have the power and pull they need to fix some of the mistakes previous Boards made and to be more dedicated to providing value to the State Bar’s members.