reside in Phoenix, overnight travel is required, and each class must agree to attend
all workshops when accepting their selection
for the BLI. Following graduation, participants stayed involved, and they have made
significant contributions in the Bar and in
the wider community.
What follows is some detail about the Institute, the insights of some graduates, and
how to get involved or recommend someone to BLI.
To gauge the BLI participant network’s
opinions on the program over the last 10
years, a survey of participants and graduates
was conducted in December 2016 and January 2017.
• 80 BLI participants took part and
responded to the survey.
• 95 percent of respondents maintain relationships with the BLI network.
• More than 91 percent of respondents
have referred a colleague to the BLI.
• More than two-thirds of respondents believe the BLI has advanced their career.
• For the respondents, the employment
areas are: 35. 44 percent government,
39. 24 percent private law practice, 8.86
percent in house/corporate counsel,
5.06 percent full-time judges, 2. 53 percent public interest lawyers, 2. 53 percent non-profit, and 6. 33 percent other.
The Bar begins accepting applications for
next year’s class—Class 11—on April 15.
It welcomes applications from interested attorneys, and urges lawyers to share the news
and urge others to apply.
• Be an active member in good standing
with the State Bar of Arizona.
• Be admitted to practice law in a U.S.
jurisdiction for at least two years and not
more than 10 years. Eligibility is based
on date of bar admission.
• Commit to attend all sessions.
• Commit to two years of participation in
the State Bar, through membership in a
committee, Section, or special appointment and/or participate in an affinity bar
association or community organization.
Attorneys apply through the State Bar of
Arizona website, submitting an application,
resume, and at least one letter of recommen-
dation. 5 The select-
ion committee reviews
each applicant’s mater-
ials to carefully choose
each incoming class.
Each selected participant must commit
to participation in the
nine monthly sessions,
pay the $250 program
fee or qualify for a
waiver, and receive approval from her or his
The annual kickoff
retreat is held in September, with a two-day intensive weekend
session focused on an
and teambuilding activities for the group.
From there, each month covers a new topic
of discussion with interactive sessions. Students are expected and encouraged to ask
questions, challenge ideas, and give opinions.
Program topics range from core values in
leadership, public speaking, ethics and career
development, to conversations with judges,
government attorneys, in-house counsel,
and executives. Each session provides networking opportunities where participants
personally meet leaders in the judicial and
legislative branches of state government,
community and affinity bar association leaders, and the State Bar of Arizona.
In 2016, the BLI instituted a new team-project component to apply the leadership
skills learned along the way. By completion,
each participant may receive up to two years
of continuing legal education credit. Mindful of the financial pressures faced by new
attorneys, the program fee is nominal, and
fee waivers are available.
For attorneys who would like to be involved with the program, but who are not
able to commit to the full program, there is
also the possibility of participation on a BLI
panel or through the BLI mentorship program. The State Bar also offers annual continuing legal education focused on addressing the issue of diversity and inclusion.
Each participant brings his or her own perspective to the BLI experience. Why someone joins the program—and what he or she
takes away—are as varied as the participants
themselves. Below is a small sampling of
participant descriptions and their thoughts
about the BLI.
Ann Marie Chischilly, 2009
Ann Marie is an enrolled member of the
Navajo Nation (Diné). She saw the BLI as
an opportunity to have influence over the
stories that are told about American Indian
communities. Ann Marie believes the BLI
“opened friendships and network connections that [she] maintain[s] to this day.” It
expanded her professional network and led
to her current position at the Institute for
Tribal Environmental Professionals. She is
now an international speaker regarding climate change and tribal environmental issues.
She describes the BLI as “an oasis,” and
it gave her an opportunity to learn about
other people, to learn about other fields of
law, and to meet people doing things that
she’d never done. The BLI boosted Ann Marie’s confidence and created an opportunity
see p. 24 for endnotes
BLI Turns 10