Law School is Life-Changing—and about Changing Lives

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Law school is hard. In your first year, you’re scared and unsure about what to expect. You know that “on-call” is a thing that happens, but you don’t know whether it’s like the movies you’ve seen or if that was just Hollywood. You know you have more reading assigned than you’ve ever had, and you don’t know how in the world you will get it all done. You don’t know anyone, or at least don’t know them well, as you go through the hardest task you have ever taken on.

Law school is hard. In your second year, you understand the process, but you’re starting to wear down. You have figured out how to read hundreds of pages a week—and mostly retain it—but you don’t know how to balance working and extra-curriculars and dramatic interpersonal relationships at the same time. You’re starting to get worried about having a job after graduation. The rankings roll in and you aren’t sure whether you’re succeeding, based on your own standards or those imposed on you.

Law school is hard. In your third year, you have a job . . . or you don’t. You’re tired—mentally, physically, and emotionally. You’re so excited to be done, but that light at the end of the tunnel is still so far away, and even that is scary. Sure, you’re ready to be done with law school—but maybe not ready to be a full-time, practicing attorney. You hope the work is done—after all, the three years are up—but you know that practice won’t be any easier.

Law school is hard. It is frustrating, challenging, infuriating, scary, soul-crushingly busy. Read more »




2017 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Finals

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition, Nate Oesch and Elisabeth Thompson. Congratulations also go to finalists A.J. Lawton and Ashley Smith.  Nate Oesch and Elisabeth Thompson additionally won the Franz C. Eschweiler Prize for Best Brief.  Ashley Smith won the Ramon A. Klitzke Prize for Best Oralist.

The competitors argued before a large audience in the Appellate Courtroom. Presiding over the final round were Hon. Paul J. Watford, Hon. James D. Peterson, Hon. Amy J. St. Eve.

Many thanks to the judges and competitors for their hard work, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship in all the rounds of competition, as well as to the moot court executive board and Law School administration and staff for their work in putting on the event. Special thanks to Dean Kearney for his support of the competition.  Thank you as well to the Moot Court Association for its work in putting this event together, and especially 3L executive board members Samuel (Micah) Woo, who organized the competition, and Chief Justice Barry Braatz.

Students are selected to participate in the competition based on their success in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy class at the Law School.

The final round may be viewed here.




Marquette Wagner Moot Court Team–2017 Semifinalists

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Category: Labor & Employment Law, Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public
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Marquette’s labor and employment moot court team had an incredibly successful performance at New York Law School’s Wagner Moot Court Competition.  On March 24th and 25th, Carly Gerards, Nick Sulpizio, and Corey Swinick competed and performed very well in both their oral advocacy and brief writing.

After the preliminary rounds, the team advanced to the octofinals with the 8th best score of the 40 teams competing.  The team then advanced to the quarterfinals and eventually the semifinals–a Final Four team for Marquette.

In addition to advancing to the top four of the entire competition, the team took home the award for best overall Petitioner Brief.  The team worked exceptionally hard on the brief and in their advocacy practices, and that hard work paid off.  Great job, team!

The team is advised by Professor Paul Secunda and coached by Attorney Laurie Frey.




Apply Now for 2017 Summer Session in Giessen, Germany

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Category: International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public
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Three students in the summer program in Giessen, Germany sit at their desks and laugh.Applications are due March 24 for the Summer Session in International and Comparative Law being held in Giessen, Germany from July 15 through August 12, 2017.  Participants can choose from among four courses — CyberLaw, Comparative Constitutional Law, International Economic Law & Business Transactions and Business Ethics and Human Rights — and spend a month living and studying with a truly international student body.  A distinguished faculty from law schools in Germany, the United Kingdom and Wisconsin will lead the classroom instruction.  More information, as well as an application, can be downloaded here from the Law School Study Abroad webpage.  Past participants agree that this program was one of the most fun and memorable parts of their legal education.  If you need any more reasons to apply, consider watching this YouTube video made by last summer’s participant, A.J. “The Wanderer” Lawton, which documents his travels to Giessen, program field trip destinations in Hamburg and Berlin, and other sites throughout Europe.  Apply Now!




Not Just Another Email

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My first legal writing assignment in law school was an e-mail memo. For the first few weeks or so of my introductory legal writing course, our professor guided my classmates and me through thorough examination and crafting of effective e-mail memos.  At the time, I found the exercise mundane—lacking the excitement and wonder of a full memo or brief.  It seemed more like diet legal writing that was focused on beginners. Boy was I wrong.

As a new associate, I spend much of my time researching developments in the law.  One effective way to communicate and document my research and conclusions is to submit an answer by e-mail. Looking back now, I wish that I had had the principles we learned in that legal writing class in mind when submitting my first such e-mail memo to a more senior associate at our firm.

My first version of an e-mail memo in practice was a disaster.  The question was simple: Whether there had been any new case or other law on a narrow issue. The answer, as I saw it based on my research, was just two sentences of text. So, I wrote down my answer in a colloquial e-mail, fired it off, and moved on to another matter. Oops.

Shortly thereafter, the senior associate that I sent that e-mail to walked into my office and politely asked me whether I had a copy of The Bluebook.  Then it all came back: Identify the question; give an answer; justify and support the answer by stating what the law is and how it would likely apply to these facts; consider counter answers where applicable; offer further discussion; check your cites. Needless to say, my first e-mail memo in practice did not follow this blueprint.

Now, my experience might not be everyone’s, but if I could add to the heap of advice law students receive, it would be to refresh that recollection of how to write a superb e-mail memo before pressing the send button as a new associate in practice. E-mail memos are not mere introductions to legal writing.




Marquette Teams Win Best Petitioner Brief and Best Respondent Brief at NMCC Regionals

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I had the privilege of working with two outstanding National Moot Court Competition (NMCC) teams again this year. The Region VIII round of the NMCC was hosted by Marquette November 19-20, 2016.

Please congratulate team members Kayla McCann, Emily Tercilla, and Samuel (Micah) Woo, who received the highest brief score in the competition and award for best Petitioner’s brief. Attorneys Jason Luczak and Max Stephenson coached the team.

Please also congratulate team members David Conley, Andrew Mong, and Kiel Killmer for their performance at the competition. The team had the top placing Respondent’s brief and advanced to the quarterfinals (top eight teams). Attorneys Jeremy Klang, Jesse Blocher, and Michael Cerjak coached the team.

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Study Abroad in Germany This Summer

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overview_2016-participantsThe campus of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany will be the location of the Ninth Annual Summer Session in International and Comparative Law offered jointly by Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin, and the Justus Liebig University- Giessen.  This program brings together up to sixty students from law schools all over the world to take classes in comparative and international law over a four week session lasting from July 15 through August 12. In addition to students from the United States and Germany, over the years the program has attracted students from Russia, India, Columbia, Brazil, South Africa, Ethiopia, Spain, Vietnam, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Australia, Indonesia and Kazakhstan, among other countries.  Class instruction is in English, and the international student body provides for a unique learning experience.

Faculty will be drawn from the U.S. and Europe.  Each student will select two courses (each course worth 2.0 law school credit hours) out of a total of four courses in the curriculum.  In addition to coursework, the curriculum includes two overnight field trips to Berlin and Hamburg to visit courts, other governmental institutions, and historical sites.  In addition, the program includes speakers on a variety of topics including a panel discussion on differences and similarities in legal education and practice around the world and a discussion of opportunities for further legal study and internships in Europe.

Classes will be held Monday through Thursday, during the day, over the four weeks of the program.  This schedule leaves students with time to explore the cities, villages and countryside around Giessen and nearby Frankfurt, and the opportunity to travel throughout Europe.  Paris to the west and Berlin to the east are a mere 300 miles from Giessen.

Past participants in the program have given high marks to both the substantive learning experience and the opportunity to form international friendships.  Enrollment is open to students who have completed one year of instruction in any U.S. law school.  Students enrolled in law schools outside of the United States should apply through the Justus Liebig University.

A general program overviewtravel and tuition details, course descriptions and faculty biographies can be viewed online.  An application form can be downloaded here.  Apply now and I will see you in Germany this summer!




America’s First Law School

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V__9AECI had the opportunity in August to spend a day at the Litchfield Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut.  Although several universities enrolled students in law departments during the final decades of the eighteenth century, almost all lawyers of the period prepared for practice by completing apprenticeships in lawyers’ offices.  Attorney and Judge Tapping Reeve thought that education at a formal law school would be a better way for lawyers to prepare, and therefore he founded the Litchfield Law School in 1774.

More than 1,100 students attended the Litchfield Law School before it closed in 1833.  Two of Reeve’s students (Aaron Burr and John C. Calhoun) went on to become Vice President.  Fifteen of the students became governors.  Three of the students became Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Twenty-eight students became United States Senators, and another ninety-seven served in the United States House of Representatives.  Clearly, the Litchfield Law School was important in educating and credentialing a significant portion of the era’s most accomplished lawyers. Read more »




Summer Law Studies in Germany with MU Law

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Category: Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Uncategorized
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DSC09137Just one week remains in the 8th Annual Summer Session in International and Comparative Law taking place in Giessen, Germany.  In the photo you can see me with some of my students in the Comparative Constitutional Law class.  It is a great group, mixing U.S. students from Marquette and the University of Wisconsin Law Schools (and one attendee from Touro Law School in New York) with students from Brazil, Italy, India, Russia and Georgia.  We had fun comparing the constitutions of our home countries and talking about the ways that the preambles of the various constitutions reflected similar yet different values.  For example, India’s Constitution is adamant that the national government is secular in nature — reflecting that countries enormous diversity of religious faiths and unfortunate history of religious strife.  Meanwhile, Russia’s Constitution is clear that the union of nations into one country is permanent unless unanimously dissolved, in a way that reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s view of the United States.

After two weeks with me and Professor Thilo Marauhn from Justus Liebig University Law School, discussing and comparing topics related to constitutional structure, we turned the class over to Professor Heinz Klug of the University of Wisconsin and Professor Ignaz Stegmiller from Justus Liebig University Law School.  They focused on comparing civil rights and liberties under various constitutional systems.  All in all, a very thought-provoking course. Read more »




When is it Plagiarism?

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trump obamaLast night’s Republican National Convention has thrust “plagiarism” to the forefront of the news. One of last night’s speakers was Melania Trump, the wife of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. Trump’s speech sounded to many strikingly similar to one given eight years earlier—by First Lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

How similar?

Incredibly so. Not just identical words, but nearly identical context and sentence structure. At one point, Trump says, “Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them” (emphasis added). Eight years earlier, Obama had said, “Because we want our children — and all children in this nationto know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them” (emphasis added).

That is plagiarism.

(You can see a side-by-side text comparison here and here and side-by-side video comparison here.) Read more »




Congratulations to the 2016 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Finalists

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Congratulations to this year’s Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition finalists: Samuel Draver, Alan Mazzulla, Sara McNamara, and Amardeep Singh. All the semifinalists presented strong oral arguments.

Thank you to the semifinal round judges: Atty. Gil Cubia, Atty. Cathy LaFleur, Prof. Jonathan Koenig, Atty. Steve Meyer, Hon. Paul Reilly, and Atty. Jan Rhodes.

The final round will be held on April 13 at 6:00 p.m. in the Appellate Courtroom. The final round judges will be Hon. Diane Sykes, Hon. Brett Kavanaugh, and Hon. Gary Feinerman. The Law School community is cordially invited to attend the final round. Here is a link to rsvp for the event. The teams will be matched as follows:

Samuel Draver and Alan Mazzulla versus Sara McNamara and Amardeep Singh.

Best of luck to the finalists.




Justice Scalia at Marquette Law School

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Category: Education & Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Seventh Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court
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Judge Diane Sykes introduces Justice Antonin Scalia at the dedication of Eckstein Hall

Judge Sykes introduces Justice Scalia

It seems to be common ground that it will be hard to imagine the United States Supreme Court without the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He was a force also in legal education more directly. That is, he was a teacher, and he taught his theories of constitutional and statutory interpretation with intellect and energy, even outside of his writings in the U.S. Reports.

 

Justice Scalia visited us at Marquette University Law School on two occasions. The first was in 2001 to deliver our annual Hallows Lecture, where some 500 people were with him in the Weasler Auditorium, while a group of the same size watched a video feed in the Monaghan Ballroom of the Alumni Memorial Union. For me, the more memorable moment in that visit came when the Justice first arrived to campus, where an overflowing group of law students awaited him in Room 307 of Sensenbrenner Hall. The dean at the time, Howard B. Eisenberg, told the students that I would introduce him, because “Without Professor Kearney, there would be no Justice Scalia here.” Even before I could say anything, Justice Scalia brought the house down with this interjection: “I thought that, without Justice Scalia, there would be no Professor Kearney here.”

Justice Scalia returned to deliver the keynote address at the dedication of Eckstein Hall on September 8, 2010. He relaxed his strictures on recording, and the entire ceremony can be seen here, with an account of it appearing in the Marquette Law Review. I especially recall this comment of Judge Diane S. Sykes, L’84, in introducing the Justice:

“So we are fortunate, indeed, that this history-making justice has joined us here today as we make a little history of our own. When Dean Kearney unveiled the plans for this beautiful building two years ago, he famously declared that Eckstein Hall will be ‘noble, bold, harmonious, dramatic, confident, slightly willful, and, in a word, great.’ It certainly is. And with the possible exception of harmonious—Justice Scalia has been known to say that one of his charms is that he likes to tell people what they don’t want to hear—the dean’s description of this distinguished and splendid building might likewise be applied to our distinguished and splendid visitor. So, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the noble, bold, dramatic, confident, slightly willful, and, and in a word, great Justice Antonin Scalia.”

There are things to learn from the remarks of Justice Scalia and the other speakers that day, including then-Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, whether in the recording or the law review account linked above. My own recollection of Justice Scalia has appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and can be found here.