Lynette Carrington 2014-04-01 00:17:38
Building on a Family Legacy of Law Alex Lane is a criminal defense lawyer and brings a well-rounded perspective to each case. His practice is limited to criminal defense and DUI defense. Legal Interest on the Homefront You could say that being a lawyer is in Alex Lane’s blood. His father, Kenney Hegland, is a law professor at the University of Arizona. His stepmother, Barbara Sattler, was a career criminal-defense attorney in Tucson and became a superior court judge. His grandfather, Sheridan Hegland, was a member of the California Legislature with a keen interest in education and civil rights. One of his notable works was his contribution to the creation of the California Student Aid Commission. His great-grandfather, Rufus Lane was also a lawyer and became a general in the Marine Corps. During the Spanish American War he commanded two six pound guns on the USS New York at the Battle of Santiago. Later, he was named minister of justice and public instruction in the Dominican Republic and worked for educational reforms. In addition, one of his brothers is a criminal defense lawyer in California, one is a probation officer. Lane’s father went to law school at U.C. Berkley. In the 1960s, he spent a summer in the South doing civil rights work. After law school, he moved to central California to work on migrant labor issues and then pursued a career in teaching. He taught at UCLA, Harvard, and has been a law professor at the University of Arizona for many years. Lane’s father has published numerous books; his latest is his first foray into fiction entitled “Law Prof.” “Hearing my dad talk about his experiences, I learned that law isn’t about abstract concepts; it’s about real people with real problems,” Lane said. “My dad’s influence was the biggest reason I wanted to pursue a career in law.” When asked why he and his dad have different last names, he said, “I took my mother’s maiden name. There weren’t any Lanes left to carry the name and it was important to her. So, with my dad’s blessing, I took my mother’s and changed my middle name to Hegland. Of course, I had two daughters,” he said with a laugh, “Maybe one of them will keep it.” When asked if his daughters plan to become lawyers, Lane answered, “They tell me no, which is fine with me. Margot, my 10-year-old, wants to be a ballet dancer. Kate, my 8-yearold, wants to either have a cupcake shop or be a song writer – it depends on the day.” Lane pursued his interest in law through his studies. He attended Northern Arizona University and graduated with a degree in philosophy. Thereafter, he worked at Landmark Education before starting law school. Lane attended the University of Arizona Law School and ASU business school at the same time. “I have the unique distinction of having a degree from all three Arizona universities,” Lane said. When asked if he roots for the Sun Devils or the Wildcats, Lane smiled, “Go Lumberjacks.” Lane began his career as a prosecutor, including a lengthy stint in the vehicular crimes bureau at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. In that bureau, he received substantial training related to DUIs, impairment and vehicular collisions. This experience served as a strong framework for his transition to a criminal defense practice and gave him a unique insight into DUI law. Nearly all of his cases were felony DUIs. A Counselor at Law The obvious goal for every criminal defense lawyer is to obtain an acquittal or dismissal. When that’s not possible, the role of a criminal defense lawyer is to negotiate a favorable plea agreement. The next goal is to handle all aspects of the case. For example, in DUI cases Lane explains that he has to manage the court process, the MVD hearing process, and sometimes the collateral consequences such as immigration and professional licensing issues. But Lane’s third goal – one he believes every criminal defense lawyer should pursue – is to encourage his clients to make positive changes when appropriate. Lane points to a recent speech by Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont in which he said, “Research tells us that an addict is most accepting of treatment right after the bust. It’s when the blue lights are flashing and cold reality sets in that we have our best shot. Here’s the problem. Our current judicial system is not well-equipped to seize this moment. It can take weeks or months to wind your way through the court system from arrest to conviction, leaving an addict time to settle back into old habits.” According to Lane, criminal defense attorneys are uniquely positioned to seize that moment. “The reality is that the criminal defense lawyer is often the first professional a person will talk to after an arrest,” Lane said. “The criminal justice system is losing a tremendous opportunity by not fully utilizing the lawyer as a first responder.” The reason, he argues, is that when he first meets with a client, they often ask what they can do to help their case. “This moment is different,” Lane said. “The client is often at rock bottom and may have had handcuffs on the night before. In that moment they are ready to make radical changes because their job, their marriage, or maybe their life as they know it might be on the line.” Lane argues that since the criminal justice system does not do more to appropriately reduce the penalties for people who take remedial actions, this critical moment is too often wasted. According to Lane, lawyers would be more encouraged to counsel clients to make positive life changes at this critical moment if remedial action was better rewarded by the criminal justice system through the imposition of less incarceration. Changes on the Horizon But the lack of early intervention is not the end of the discussion for Lane. He believes the current system, which he says uses incarceration as the primary tool, is too expensive and ineffective. According to him, modern neuroscience and, specifically, the concept of neuroplasticity holds the promise of a totally new approach to how societies should deal with people not following the rules. Lane says that scientists are discovering that people who have a better ability to delay gratification and control their impulses are generally more successful and far less likely to get caught up in the criminal justice system. He references the marshmallow test. “Basically, the study gave kids the option to have one marshmallow now, or if they waited a bit, they would get a second marshmallow and could eat both.” Researchers followed the kids to see how they did in life and discovered that those who were able to wait for the second marshmallow were more likely to be successful. Those that were unable to wait for the second marshmallow were more likely to have a criminal record. Lane argues the marshmallow test simply shows that some individual’s brains are less able to delay gratification and control impulses, which can lead to criminal behavior. “What we really want to know is can we help people develop these skills, to curtail future criminal behavior.” He says that the concept of neuroplasticity is beginning to show that we can. To explain, Lane mentioned a recent study published in the journal, Psychological Science. “In this study, alcoholics completed difficult memory exercises every day for 25 days. A control group was given easy memory exercises and another group was given more difficult exercises. Researchers found that individuals who performed the more difficult exercises had less positive associations with alcohol and actually drank less.” According to Lane, this is an example of neuroplasticity, the concept that the brain is not static, and that neural processes can be retrained or relearned. “Of course, I’m not suggesting that we can cure alcoholism and end crime with memory games,” Lane said. “However, it brings to mind a quote by Frederick Douglass, ‘it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ That’s why the billboards on 1-10 recruiting prison guards make me wince, they should be replaced with ones to recruit more kindergarten teachers.” Alternatives to Incarceration Continuous alcohol monitoring bracelets, Lane argued, when added to treatment can be far more effective at curbing criminal conduct than incarceration. This is a device placed around an individual’s ankle that monitors their sweat for alcohol. Lane says it can alert a court or probation officer when an individual has consumed alcohol. “Suppose a repeat offender, is facing a lengthy prison sentence for DUI,” Lane said, as an example, “Instead of prison, why don’t we let them put on an alcohol monitoring bracelet? Consider this, the person we lock up in prison will encounter alcohol for the first time the day of release. On the other hand, the person wearing the bracelet for a period of years has had to forego purchasing alcohol every time they were in a grocery store and forego ordering a drink every time they ate at a restaurant. For some people these are major life style changes.” According to Lane, an individual who wears the alcohol monitoring bracelet for the same period of time is much less likely to reoffend than someone who was incarcerated. He argues that the individual who wore the bracelet has been conditioned to control their impulses and deal with real world pressures in a way that a period of incarceration cannot replicate or substitute. “Previous periods of incarceration haven’t deterred them from drinking and driving,” Lane said. “So why would we keep responding to their conduct in the same way? When all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put humpty back together again, why would the king order more horses and more men?” In his practice, if Lane is representing a repeat DUI offender, he will sometimes counsel them to put on an alcohol monitoring bracelet while the case is pending. “This demonstrates to the judge and prosecutor, who are considering an appropriate sentence or plea agreement, that the individual has made changes and is staying sober,” Lane said. Teaching Law Office Management and Using Mobile Devices Mobile devices and technology have become something of a hobby for Lane. In fact, he has given CLE presentations to the Maricopa County Bar Association, the East Valley Bar Association and the ASU College Of Law on topics such as how technology and mobile devices can improve an attorney’s practice and how to convert a law office to Apple computers. “After I converted my office to Apple computers, I started researching ways to be more effective using mobile devices,” Lane said. Since then, Lane has implemented a case management system that enables him to have access to nearly all of his client information on his iPhone or iPad. While comprehensive case management systems that sync information between devices are not new to the industry, Lane has found that having organized and linked information available on his iPhone translates into better service for his clients. “Let’s say a client calls me when I’m not in the office,” he said. “It used to be that I’d have to tell the client ‘I’ll get back to you on that,’ and send myself an email reminder to address the client’s question when I get back to the office. Now, however, I can review the entire client file including emails, officer interviews, police reports, to-do items and relevant documents from my iPhone and respond to their question from wherever I am.” For Lane, that means that downtime is no longer wasted time. Time spent waiting in court, for example, can be spent reviewing client files, responding to emails and managing his staff. When a judge reschedules a hearing, Lane is quick to suggest a new date because he can check the link to the court and find out in seconds when he will be in the same courthouse on another case. This system also allows Lane to “tag” a file with keywords for issues that have come up in the case. “How many times have you had an issue come up and thought, ‘Hey, I dealt with that same issue a few years ago in a case. What was that client’s name?” Lane says that his system is a radically different approach. The attorney no longer has to remember the name of the previous case or client because all files can be concurrently tagged with the issues that arise in the case, whether legal or otherwise. Lane added, “It allows me to easily access the information at a later date, even years later.” Lane believes that in the last few years there have been some dramatic advances in law office management software and the biggest advance is how easy and intuitive a lot of the new software options have become. “You really don’t need to have a tech background or spend a lot of money on IT support to enjoy many of these benefits,” he said.
Published by Target Market Media . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/article/Alex+Lane/1676143/203592/article.html.