Don’t Fear Numbers

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RIskOver the last several years in Law School, I’ve learned that many of my peers are averse to math. In Prof. Anzivino’s Business Bankruptcy class I distinctly remember painful groans as he explained the time value of money and had the class look at a simple amortization table. In Prof Grossman’s Business Strategy course, I had a friend lean over to me and ask, “What the hell is a balance sheet?” Basic accounting and finance concepts seem to be like nails on chalk board for many law school students. Don’t fear numbers; basic accounting and finance skills can help distinguish your resume from other law school graduates and build better relationships with future clients.

Lawyers should have a basic understanding of a balance sheet, income and cash flow statements.

A balance sheet identifies the assets of an organization and how those assets were financed, either through debt [using someone else’s money] or through equity [using the owner’s money]. For those who are interested in doing M&A, a thorough understanding of a balance sheet is critical. For example, the ability to identify and discuss financial reserves [such as, those related to environmental remediation] can help you to identify, understand, and highlight risk for your client. An entity’s balance sheet also provides an understanding of an operation’s well-being: trends in cash, inventory, revenue producing equipment, receivables, payables, debt equity ratio and retained earnings [to name a few]. It’s also important to understand the relationship between these elements; it’s called a balance sheet for a reason. Read more »

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Congratulations to the 2016 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competitors

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The Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition is the appellate moot court competition for Marquette law students and is the capstone event of the intramural moot court program.  Students are invited to participate based on their top performance in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy course at the Law School. 

Congratulations to the participants in the 2016 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition:

Barry Braatz
David Conley
Robert Copley
Samuel Draver
Isabelle Faust
Alexis Guraz
Christopher Hayden
Ashley Heard
Amber Horak
Megan Kaldunski
Alexandra Klimko
Alicia Kort
Jessica Lothman
Alan Mazzulla
Kayla McCann
Sara McNamara
Andrew Mong
Brittany Running
Rexford Shield
Amardeep Singh
Emily Tercilla
Natalie Wisco
Samuel Woo
Kiel Zillmer

 

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Making a Murderer: Oh-So-Many Talking Points

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Category: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Evidence, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal Ethics, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Popular Culture & Law, Public, Wisconsin Law & Legal System
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635874987555624158-XXX-IMG-NETFLIX-MAKING-A-MUR-1-1-VGCTGMDU-78432434As the winter break winds down, it’s definitely worth your time to start binge-watching Making a Murderer, a recent Netflix documentary on a real-life criminal case. A very close-to-home criminal case, at that.

The documentary, filmed over 10 years, follows Steven Avery, who was convicted in 1985 of sexual assault. He maintained his innocence and, indeed, 18 years later DNA evidence exonerated him. After he was released, he sued Manitowoc County for his wrongful conviction. It looks as though that lawsuit starts digging up some very unsavory conduct among officials in Manitowoc County.

But then—Avery is arrested for the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach. Several months later, his nephew Brendan Dassey is also arrested.

I’ll stop there with plot. If you’ve been around Wisconsin, you’ve probably heard of the case. If you’ve been on the Internet in the last couple of weeks, you’ve almost surely heard of it. But you must watch it.

For law students, there’s so many teachable moments. For everyone, there’s so much to talk about. Read more »

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Marquette Quarterfinalists at NMCC Regionals

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Marquette hosted the Region VIII round of the 66th Annual National Moot Court Competition (NMCC) this weekend, which included fourteen participating teams.

I was pleased to work with two strong, dedicated teams.  Larissa Dallman, Jeremy Klang, and Chal Little advanced the quarterfinal round.  Attorneys Emily Lonergan, Jason Luczak, and Max Stephenson coached the team.  Alexandra Don, Christopher Guthrie, and Lauren Maddente also competed and were coached by Attorneys Sue Barranco, Jesse Blocher, and Mike Cerjak.  Both teams put in many hours preparing for competition.

The NMCC is sponsored by the New York City Bar and the American College of Trial Lawyers. Over 180 law schools compete across the country.  I am grateful for the time donated by the Marquette Moot Court Association, and in particular, Alex Ackerman, who chaired this event.  Numerous judges and attorneys from around the state (and even from around the country) took their weekend time to travel to Marquette to judge the oral arguments, or earlier, to grade briefs.  We rely each year on their dedication to this event, and we truly appreciate their help.

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Marquette Quarterfinalists in Criminal Procedure Moot Court

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Mary Ellis and Natalie SchiferlCongratulations to 3Ls Mary Ellis and Natalie Schiferl for placing in the quarterfinals and being awarded the third place for their Petitioner’s brief in the National Criminal Procedure Tournament this past weekend in San Diego.  The team’s advisors are Professors Susan Bay and Thomas Hammer, and the team coaches are Attys. Brittany Kachingwe, Sarah McNutt, and Jennifer Severino.  Special thanks to alum Jennifer Severino, who has been a tremendous volunteer with the Marquette moot court program as a coach and competition judge.  Atty. Severino is moving to Las Vegas and will be missed at Marquette.

 

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Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Kapila and Van Gompel

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kapilavan gompelToday, September 24, 2015, the Milwaukee Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) Foundation honored two Marquette University Law School students with scholarships.

Saiba Kapila, 2L (pictured at left), received the AWL Foundation scholarship. The AWL Foundation Scholarship is awarded to a woman who has exhibited service to others, diversity, compelling financial need, academic achievement, unique life experiences (such as overcoming obstacles to attend or continue law school), and advancement of women in the profession. Kapila’s grandfather was a nonprofit lawyer in a small rural village in India. Inspired by him, Kapila views law as a tool for social change. She does pro bono work and volunteers at the Milwaukee Hunger Task Force and with Wisconsin Special Olympics. She participated in the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Diversity Clerkship program, through which she worked at American Family Insurance in the corporate legal division.

Cassandra Van Gompel, 3L (pictured at right), received the AWL Foundation’s Virginia A. Pomeroy scholarship. This scholarship honors the late Virginia A. Pomeroy, a former deputy state public defender and a past president of AWL. In addition to meeting the same criteria as for the AWL Foundation scholarship, the winner of this scholarship must also exhibit what the AWL Foundation calls “a special emphasis, through experience, employment, class work or clinical programs” in one of several particular areas: appellate practice, civil rights law, public interest law, public policy, public service, or service to the vulnerable or disadvantaged. Active in student organizations, Van Gompel has served on the executive boards of the Public Interest Law Society, Client Skills Board, Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, and Criminal Law Society. She’s also a student advisory board member of the Milwaukee Volunteer Legal Clinic. She’s gained experience in a wide array of settings; she’s interned at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the West Allis City Attorney’s office. She hopes to pursue a career in governmental and public interest work. As of now, she’s already logged more than 170 pro bono hours.

Congratulations to both women for outstanding service and for their representation of Marquette University Law School.

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The Best Punctuation Day Ever. Period.

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GrandpaHappy National Punctuation Day—the 11th annual of this festive event. Get out your red pens and Strunk and White and get ready to have some fun today.

This Time article claims that punctuation is changing: some would say not for the better. Among other things, says this post, the apostrophe appears to be phasing out in some circles. I think that’s a shame. One problem is that some technology autocorrects apostrophes improperly, adding them where they are not supposed to be, or removing them. Perhaps tech programmers should work with editors to catch those programming errors.

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From Marine to Law Student

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Marine CorpsDerek Randall is a rising second-year law student whose career path started in the Marine Corps and now is headed toward the JAG Corps.  In this interview, Derek discusses the interplay between military work and the study of law, as well as his amazing opportunity to work this summer at Quantico doing legal defense through Marquette’s Washington D.C. Initiative program.  Derek shared with me that he was already in the courtroom a few days after he arrived at Quantico this summer.  One of the highlights of his experience was a visit to Justice Sotomayor’s chambers at the United States Supreme Court.  Derek received the Huiras award this spring at Marquette for excellence.

1. How did you end up in law school?

Let me start off by saying that these statements reflect only the views of the author and do not reflect the position or views of the United States Marine Corps, Department of the Navy, or Department of Defense. Now that’s out of the way, I suppose I’m a career-changer in a certain sense. I became a field artillery officer in the Marine Corps in 2008 after graduating from Texas A&M University. While I loved serving in the Marine Corps, I ultimately did not enjoy many aspects of my specific job. For my last deployment to Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to take a non-traditional assignment that included, among other things, investigating malfeasance of low-level civic officials in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. I ended up working closely with a Marine Judge Advocate (military lawyer) for a few months and really enjoyed the work. Once I got back from Afghanistan, I was due for a respite tour so the Marine Corps assigned me to Naval ROTC instructor duty for a year. Still keen on becoming an attorney, I took the LSAT and applied for the Marine Corps’ 2014 active-duty Law Education Program while I was teaching ROTC students. I was selected and received new orders to Marquette’s law school to complete the requirements for a Juris Doctor.  Marquette has a great reputation in the Navy and Marine Corps thanks to its relatively large Navy ROTC unit, so I’ve been thrilled with the opportunity to go to law school here while on active duty.

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Katie Maloney Perhach Discusses Her Leadership Role at Quarles & Brady

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Marquette Law alum Katie Maloney Perhach discusses her leadership role at Quarles & Brady in this interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  She is managing partner for the Milwaukee office and the chair of its Financial Institutions Litigation Group.

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Congratulations to Scott Butler–2015 Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year

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Congratulations to Marquette Law graduate, Scott Butler, for being named the 2015 Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year by the Young Lawyer’s Division of the State Bar of Wisconsin.  Butler is an associate attorney with Fitzpatrick, Skemp and Associates in La Crosse.  In addition to his successful practice as a civil litigator, Butler serves on several legal and community organizations in the La Crosse area, including the Wisconsin Association for Justice and the La Crosse County Bar Association and New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Center.

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Law and the Horse

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Horse and RiderIf you’ve spent much time around me, you know that I’ve got horse-crazy daughters.  My oldest is fourteen, and she’s just starting her tenth year of riding.  Her sisters joined in the fun a couple years after she started.  That has meant all sorts of things for our family, one of which is that I’ve spent an awful lot of time watching riding lessons.

It’s no surprise that spending that much time watching my daughters being taught a set of skills has led me to reflect on my own teaching.  There are, I’ve concluded, lots of connections, and so in this post I’m going to try to persuade you of two things:  The first is that learning to be a lawyer is in meaningful respects similar to learning a skill like how to ride a horse.  (Or, for that matter, figure skating.)  Both processes involve not merely the acquisition of information, but also a somewhat ineffable sense for how to engage in an activity.  The second is that those similarities can help provide some interesting perspectives on what we do in law schools.

I am breaking no new ground in making the first point.  Karl Llewellyn, for example, wrote of the value to lawyers and judges of “situation sense” and “horse sense” and of understanding that – and even more, understanding how – legal rules will often tell a tale that is incomplete or even wrong when applied to certain fact patterns.  This is a view of law as a craft.  Doing it well requires cultivating an often inarticulable sense of what sorts of responses are appropriate to which situations.  We might call it judgment.  Some of this is doctrinal knowledge, the content of the “law.”  But, Llewellyn admonished new law students, as memorialized in The Bramble Bush, “it does not make so very much difference whether you remember the specific rules.  Good, if you do.  But even if you do not, there remains a deposit, formless, curious—but one which informs your hunches in the future.”  Few of us remember much in the way of doctrinal specifics from our first semester in law school, but none of us could claim that we didn’t learn much.

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Some Perspective from Five Marquette Lawyers Who Are General Counsel

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You are the general counsel of a large corporation. Your company is involved in negotiations to buy a competitor and there are layers upon layers of complexity and risk. Is a lawsuit against the competitor a deal-killer or no big deal? Why is a key employee of the other company about to bolt for a third company? Business for your own company has been slipping. Do you need this deal to save your company or will the deal wreck what you do have? The questions—and the pressure—build.

Ray Manista, Cari Logemann, Paul Dacier, Julie Van Straten, and Frank Steeves in Eckstein Hall’s Appellate Room

Ray Manista, Cari Logemann, Paul Dacier, Julie Van Straten, and Frank Steeves in Eckstein Hall’s Appellate Room

Paul Dacier, L’83, outlined the scenario before a capacity audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall on Feb. 20, and as he did so, he asked members of the audience how they would handle each step.

As Dacier’s story comes to a head: The CEO calls you into his office. “It’s just the two of you in the room and the CEO is sweating bullets,” Dacier says. He wants to know what you as general counsel recommend.

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