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Jeff Moriarty

Life Doesn’t Care We’re Studying for the Bar Exam

There’s an old proverb that says, “Man plans and God laughs.” That’s been Rob and my experience with this bar prep.

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

My friend, Jeff Moriarty dressed as Jesus to encourage marathon runners. The message works for the bar exam too.
Used with Permission

Conversations with God
If I believed in a traditional all-powerful deity, based on this proverb, I suspect these would be our conversations in recent weeks:

Me: I want to make my life simple so I can put my energy into bar prep.
God: You’re going to get hit by a car, live with daily pain, and have multiple appointments every week with the chiropractor for most of bar prep.

Me: I’m going to work on flash cards during my flights to and from BlogHer in Orlando.
God: You’re going to spend half a flight helping a dad flying with three small boys and one of them will be having ear issues from swimming.
(I have no regrets about this one. Helping a child doubled over in pain trumps studying any day.)

Me: I’m going to get a full-night sleep every night.
God: Your basset hound is going to get colitis so you’ll spend three nights taking her out every few hours plus about six hours taking her to vet and switching her to a cottage cheese, chicken, and white rice diet.
Me: I warned you what would happen if you do anything to Rosie.
God: By the way, your gymnastics coach/maternal figure passed away.
Me: Go fuck yourself.

Yeah . . . bar prep has been more challenging than expected, mostly due to events outside my control. It’s been exhausting couple of days. I spent yesterday working at home so I could work, study, and rest as I needed while sticking close to Rosie.

We got this.

Reminding Friends We’re Not Available
Rob-tastic doesn’t spend much time on Facebook, but he uses it to coordinate activities with friends. After getting several invites to spend time with friends, he felt compelled to send another reminder that while he enjoys spending time with them, he’s not available for fun and shenanigans until August. It’s not personal, he’s just studying.

I’m on Facebook nearly every day, so my friends know what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. They still invite me to events and parties, but I automatically hit “Can’t Go” if it’s scheduled before the bar exam. I don’t have the time or energy for anything extra right now.

Pulling Back from Lawyer Work
July starts the weekend, and Rob and I are both pulling back from client work. Of course, all of our obligations to current clients will get done, but we’ll be spending more time out of the office to focus on studying. Rob said he wanted to spend whole days out of the office to focus on studying, and I can easily work on a client’s contract from home for a few hours in the morning and then study 7-8 hours during the rest of the day.

My goal is to be out of the office completely after July 7th until after the bar exam. The only thing that I can think of that would compel me to go into the office is if I’m working on a filing for the court. Senior litigator, John Mascari, is co-counsel on all of my cases. When I write a draft for the court, he and I sit down, each with our own copy of the document, and review it line-by-line. It’s easier to do this in person than by phone or email.

Barbri instructor Doug Moll said July starts the “heroin scratch” time of bar prep – meaning, all of us taking a bar exam may be extra agitated. Hopefully Rob-tastic and I can stay the course, focus on locking in the material, without getting to distracted by nerves. If you want to send us good vibes via snail mail, that’s always welcome. Send us postcards at Ruth and Rob, c/o Venjuris P.C., 1938 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016.

If you have a friend taking the bar exam, cut them some slack, even when they are an irascible prick. (They’ll bounce back after the bar’s over.) Send them a note to make them smile. It makes a difference. If you want to be a super-friend, and offer to help clean their home or do their laundry. Anything that makes their life a little easier will be deeply appreciated.

Lunch with Jeff = Change in Writing Plans

In my last post, I told you about my plans to write two new books next year.

Then I had lunch with Jeff, and now my plans have changed significantly.

Partners in Crime (Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission)

Partners in Crime (Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission)

Jeff Moriarty is one of the most creative people I know. He has a gift for developing and executing ideas. He is the founder of Ignite Phoenix and a co-founder of Improv AZ. I often refer to him as my partner in crime. (Note: We are partners in crime, not partners in life. I have no idea how his wife puts up with all of his puns.) Jeff is also a talented writer and has substantial knowledge about indie publishing. He and Evo Terra ran a company called ePublish Unum that helped indie authors (including me) write and release their books.

I told Jeff about my ideas to write two books next year, and he made the brilliant suggestion that instead of writing two comprehensive books, I could write several shorter ebooks where each one tackles a smaller subtopic within social media law. This would allow me to create and release more book-quality content throughout the year and delve into specialized topics for niche audiences. After releasing several of these short books, I could create a compilation of material from several books and release that as an ebook or in print (most likely print-on-demand).

This idea makes perfect sense for my ideas. I have been struggling with how I was going to fit so many different topics into two books – especially social media law for small businesses because there are so many different groups within that audience I want to help.

In listening to Jeff, my brain was already cranking out ideas – like using a similar cover design for each book, but in a different color, much like what ePublish Unum did with their books about indie publishing.

Originally, I thought I wanted a traditional publisher for my next books, but now I’m thinking of going back to my indie publishing roots. I will still have an editor and a graphic designer; and I may hire a company to format my books. But beyond that I can release my work myself, on a schedule that I set, with total autonomy regarding the topics I cover. And if I don’t have a traditional publisher, there will be no question or debate about who owns the copyright (me) and I can set my own prices. (Translation: I can charge less than what a traditional publisher would charge because I won’t have to share the profit with them.)

So now my next step is to decide what topics I want to cover in my next batch of work, and start figuring out how many e-books I will be writing next year as a result. I have a feeling this means I’m going to have a wall covered in sticky notes in the near future.

Day 75/90 – Touring Fox 10 Phoenix

Day 75 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got take a tour of the Fox 10 Phoenix station with Jeff Moriarty.

Some things never change.

Some things never change.

Jeff is my partner in crime, and he is also the Director of Social Media for Fox 10 Phoenix. He’s been a bugging me for months to come down to the station for a tour, and I’ve been putting it off, mainly because you never know when breaking news is going to happen and I didn’t want to be in the way. He finally got me down there this week.

I'm flying!

I’m flying!

I got to visit Fox 10 a few weeks ago when I was on Fox News Now, but I didn’t get the full tour of the facility. Jeff showed me all the ins and outs of the station including the back hallways, editing rooms, and the sets where they do the morning and evening news programs. I was really nervous walking through the building, because I didn’t want to touch anything or speak too loudly in case it would disrupt someone’s work.

The sets for the news were really awesome – they are all in one room. I was intimidated by all the equipment – especially the boom camera and the robotic camera. Yes, they have a robotic camera that can be controlled remotely. Even though they weren’t shooting a show at the time, I was afraid it was going to wake up and move around. Jeff, of course, was comfortable in our surroundings and encouraged me to take pictures on the sets and with the green screen.

Again, I felt like I was invading someone else’s world, but I’m glad I got a behind-the-scenes look at the station. It seemed like a place where I could become comfortable if I worked there and the things that intimidated me as a visitor could become commonplace equipment and activities.

In case you missed it: Day 74 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I got to be a guest on the Russ on the Radio show!

Day 62/90 – Hanging Out with Jeff

Day 62 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to hang out with my friend and partner-in-crime Jeff Moriarty.

I love this photo of Jeff and me from an Ignite Phoenix #17 Speaker Bootcamp. Photo by Brandon Larkin. (Creative Commons License)

I love this photo of Jeff and me from an Ignite Phoenix #17 Speaker Bootcamp. Photo by Brandon Larkin. (Creative Commons License)

Jeff came over to hang out for a bit today. My dog, Rosie, loves him. She loses her mind and howls like crazy when she sees him at the door. Today was no exception. It’s so funny to watch. Today was extra special for her because he brought her a treat which she gobbled up instantly.

I think the rest of the visit will probably be really boring for you to hear about – we just sat on the couch catching up about life, work, our dogs, etc. It was wonderful to catch up in a no-stress, no-agenda environment, and to watch Rosie periodically walk over to Jeff and stick her nose up on the couch next to him to request/demand attention.

It’s always a delight to catch up with my friends. Being so busy, it’s hard to make scheduling fun with friends a priority, but I realize it is part of what makes me exceptionally happy.

In Case You Missed It: Day 61 of the 90 Days of Awesome – A Not-So-Awesome Day.

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.

Day 33/90 – Breakfast with Jeff

Day 33 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to have breakfast with one of my best friends, Jeff.

Jeff & Ruth - Two Cheesy Geeks at Breakfast

Jeff & Ruth – Two Cheesy Geeks at Breakfast

I met Jeff Moriarty at the inaugural No Pants Light Rail Ride in 2009. We stood next to each other on the train and we were instant friends by mid-ride. I’ve been calling him my partner-in-crime ever since. We’re also known for organizing flash mobs and other shenanigans in the valley. I love his bold thoughtfulness and the fearless way he executes new ideas like Ignite Phoenix and the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown.

Back to breakfast – we met at Snooze, one of the most are some breakfast places in Phoenix. I thoroughly enjoyed my sweet potato pancakes. Our conversation was probably nothing that would interest anyone but us – just two friends catching up over a meal. Ok – maybe there was some talk about future shenanigans, you are not privy to that. But otherwise, it was pretty mundane. It was the perfect way to start a holiday weekend.

I suspect some people think my life is always exciting. One of my friends once asked, “Do you ever have a dull day?” The answer is “Yes,” and to be honest, it’s often the most pedestrian activities that make me the happiest. I will take a stress-free meal with a good friend where the hardest decision I have to make is which awesome pancake do I want any day.

In case you missed it: Day 32 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Raising my Game as a Lawyer!

Funny Signs at the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon

I had to miss running in the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona race this year due to leg injuries, but on the flip side, I had an awesome time cheering marathoners on with funny signs during the race.  I teamed up with Jeff and Dannie Moriarty for some serious fun near Mile 13.

We arrived at our spot a bit before the first marathoners would be running by so I gleefully took my sidewalk chalk to the marker at Mile 13 and wrote the following on the street.

Rock n Roll AZ Street ChalkIf You Did…

The Half…

You’d Be Done…

By Now!

Finish Strong

Oh I amuse myself! I chatted with a racer the next day and she said she when she saw my note she thought whoever wrote it was “pure evil.”

Now, I’m someone who actually likes being insulted when I run. Don’t ask me why, I just like it. My shirt from last year’s race said, “Masochist” across the front and “Run Bitch” on the back. I figured I’m not the only one who finds this endearing and helpful so I continued the “Run Bitch” tradition with one of my signs. Some people laughed said they liked it. The best reaction was, “How did you know my name is Bitch?”

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

I held this sign for most of the race until we started seeing more and more racers who were walking. I didn’t want them to think I thought less of them for not running the full route so I switched to my other sign.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Dannie had an awesome Breaking Bad inspired sign for the race. I told her to hold onto it for next because if I run the full marathon, I’d want to see that.

Dannie Sign

Jeff had the best sign of the race.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, Used with Permission

The reactions ranged from shock, to laughter, to “holy shit,” to racers and spectators stopping to taking photos – even two police officers took photos. I liked his Zombie sign too, but nothing could top Jeff with his pants around his ankles.

Jeff zombie sign

One thing I learned this year was that if you put your name on your shirt – like the original Mouseketeers – people will cheer for you by name. I thought I was hanging up my running shoes after last year’s race, but now that rehab is going well, I’m thinking I’ll be back on the course next year. I may have to get another custom running shirt for the occasion.

If you thought our signs were funny, you should check out Jeff’s Harassing Marathon Runners Flickr album that includes all his signs from this year’s and last year’s races.

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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Breaking Into Digital Publishing

Evo Terra, (cc) sheiladeeisme on Flickr

I spent last Saturday at ePublish Unum’s first Digital Publishing Workshop for Authors. EPublish Unum is a new company started by Evo Terra and Jeff Moriarty to educate and assist digital authors in publishing their work. Between the two of them, they have a host of knowledge and experience in writing, marketing, social media, and podcasting.

I am at the beginning my writing career. I attended this workshop because I’m ready to take my blog writing to the next level and become an ebook author. This workshop taught me that writing a manuscript is just the beginning of being a successful digital author.

Jeff Moriarty, (cc) sheiladeeisme on Flickr

Being a digital author is completely different from using a traditional publisher. I co-authored a book chapter during law school. I wrote the manuscript and had to proofread the draft after it came back from the editor and that was basically it. As a digital author, you don’t have the burden of shopping your work around for a publishing house, but there are so many other things you have to do and consider.

  • A digital author is an author, publisher, and promoter.
  • An acceptable layout on paper may not translate well to an iPad or Kindle.
  • Your cover art has to look good as a thumbnail.
  • Ebooks are a lot cheaper than paper books, but they are outselling paper books.
  • You have to convert your book from a manuscript to an ebook and decide which service to use.
  • You have to proofread your work after conversion to catch any “gremlins” that were created.
  • You have to decide how you will promote your work and interact with your fans.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! There was so much information, I felt like a sponge taking it all in. Despite the enormous amount of information that was being presented, Evo and Jeff always presented the material in a nonthreatening way. I walked away inspired and feeling like being a digital author was something I could do successfully as long as I was willing to do the work.

I currently have three ideas for ebooks:

  • The legal side of blogging,
  • The legal implications of being a flash mob organizer, and
  • The best thing I did in law school was take off my pants on the light rail (how I made law school work for me).

I am petrified and excited to begin working on these projects. I am grateful that there are successful digital authors I can look to for inspiration and the incredible people at ePublish Unum I can turn to for guidance when I need it.

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.