24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley

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The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) was held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  David Conley, a current law student, shares his experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

The Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office—Juvenile Division Milwaukee County

What kind of work did you do there?

The Law Offices of the Wisconsin State Public Defender represents indigent people who face criminal charges. However, the State Public Defender’s Office actually covers a variety of different cases where people are in need of legal representation. Milwaukee County is divided into two main offices. One office, (MKE Trial) handles adult criminal cases. The other office, (MKE Juvenile) represents juvenile clients facing a variety of life obstacles. These obstacles could be: (1) a juvenile delinquency petition, (2) a CHIPS (child in need of protective services) petition, or (3) a JIPS (juvenile in need of protective services) petition. The public defenders office advocates for juveniles who are in desperate need of legal help. The juvenile office also handles TPR (termination of parental rights) cases, and mental health commitment cases. As a Public Interest Law Society Fellow, it was my responsibility to assist the staff attorneys in the successful representation of these clients.

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24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger

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The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) was held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Corinne Frutiger, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

Milwaukee Justice Center.

What kind of work did you do there?

I got to continue a lot of the pro bono work that I was already very involved with, including meeting one on one with clients in the Family Forms Clinic and side by side with volunteer attorneys in the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC).  In the Family Forms Clinic I worked one on one with clients to help them navigate the family law process, whether that be the starting of an action, or jumping back into an existing case.

I also worked with attorneys in the MVLC to provide brief legal advice to clients on a range of matters, including such matters as family law, small/large claims, probate, landlord-tenant, and guardianships.  I was given the opportunity to be fully integrated with the MJC staff and sit in on meetings to discuss what more we could do to better serve our clients and the Milwaukee community.  It was truly incredible to see and be a part of a group that works tirelessly to continue to improve their services for the benefit of the community.  Watching the MJC staff, volunteer attorneys, and even some of the other volunteer students work so hard and brainstorm together to serve the full extent of a client’s needs was truly memorable and an experience I am truly grateful for.

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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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Commonly Confused Words, Part VII

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Here is my final set of commonly confused words. My other posts on commonly confused words are here (that/which/who; more than/over; few(er)/less; amount/number; farther/further; since/because/as; among/between; who/whom; attain/obtain), here (a/an/the; counsel/council; e.g.,/i.e.; it’s/its; principal/principle; then/than; utilize/use; you’re/your; affect/effect; tortious/tortuous; tack/tact; capitol/capital; motioned/moved; flesh/flush), here (although/while; assure/insure/ensure; complement/compliment; rational/rationale), here (a couple, a few, some, several, and many), here (born/borne; good/well; lay/lie; pair/pare/pear; peak/peek/pique; precedent/precedence; whether/whether or not), and here (disinterested/uninterested; discreet/discrete; elicit/illicit; liable/guilty; lead (lead)/lead (led)/led; loose/loosen/lose; plead/pleaded/pled; precede/proceed; prescribe/proscribe; site/sight/cite).

Adverse/averse – Both of these words are adjectives; that is, they describe or modify nouns. “Adverse” refers to something—or someone—that prevents success or blocks our path. It could be, say, adverse market conditions for certain investments; it could be an adverse party in a lawsuit. “Averse” means hostile or opposed to or showing a strong dislike or distaste, and usually refers to feelings about something. E.g., Analiese is averse to cigarette smoke. Or, Simon is risk-averse. That is, Analiese strongly dislikes cigarette smoke and Simon really doesn’t like taking risks.

Allude/elude – “To allude” is to suggest something indirectly. Like, Ryan’s report on our last meeting alludes to what we discussed the first time we met. “To elude” is to evade or escape, usually in a skillful or clever way. (Thus, you can remember elude = evade/escape.) E.g., The prisoners eluded the sheriff for a week before they were finally captured.

Assume/presume – My father used to have a saying about the word “assume,” which he once explained to me by drawing with his favorite pen on a napkin in a restaurant. It involved placing slash marks at two points in the word to show what happens when one assumes. “To assume” is to suppose or to believe, but without any proof. I assume that Jess won’t mind if we leave now means that I believe Jess won’t mind if we leave now, but really I don’t know for sure. I could be wrong. And if I am, well, there’s where my father’s diagram comes in. Read more »

Commonly Confused Words, Part VI

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previewBack with more sets of commonly confused words. While some may think the words on my lists are elementary, I assure you that I am choosing specific sets because I have seen law students and lawyers misuse them. In an effort to help eliminate that misuse, I present ten more sets of commonly confused words.

Disinterested/uninterested – The distinction between these two words is subtle, but it’s important. “Disinterested” means impartial, unbiased, having no stake in the outcome. E.g., To settle the dispute, we want a disinterested third party. “Uninterested” means not engaged, unconcerned, or bored. E.g., I am uninterested in the NBA playoffs. That means I pretty much don’t care about NBA playoffs or their outcome. They don’t interest me. I would not say, I am disinterested in the NBA playoffs. While with both sentences, I am saying I have no stake or interest in the outcome, “disinterested” implies an impartiality that I don’t mean. I am not impartial or unbiased (disinterested) about the playoffs; I affirmatively have no interest in them (uninterested).

Discreet/discrete – Though pronounced the same way, these two words mean two different things. “Discreet” means cautious or reserved, particularly in conduct or speech. A person who is discreet knows not to talk about a sensitive subject in public. “Discrete” means something that is separate and distinct. For example, in any given case, there may be two or more discrete legal issues; that is, two or more separate and distinct legal issues.

Elicit/illicit – These two words sound nearly the same when said, though the context of the conversation will often provide the cues a listener needs to know which word is which. In writing, though, you want to be sure to choose the correct word. “Elicit” means to draw out or draw forth, usually a response or a reaction. The defendant’s testimony about the crime elicited gasps from the jurors. “Illicit” means something illegal or unlawful, and therein is the best way to remember it. Illicit = illegal. Defendant was arrested for his illicit conduct.

Liable/guilty – And while we’re on the subject of illegalities, let’s distinguish between guilt and liability. While the words may be interchangeable to lay people, in law they tend to have some specific meanings. Someone convicted of a crime is guilty, but someone who violates some civil standard is liable. Read more »

Commonly Confused Words, Part V

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I’ve previously posted on words that writers, particularly lawyers, commonly confuse. Those posts are here (that/which/who, more than/over, few(er), less, amount/number, farther/further, since/because/as, among/between, who/whom, attain/obtain), here (a/an/the, counsel/council, e.g.,/i.e., it’s/its, principal/principle, then/than, utilize/use, you’re/your, affect/effect, tortious/tortuous, tack/tact, capitol/capital, motioned/moved, flesh/flush), here (although/while, assure/insure/ensure, complement/compliment, rational/rationale), and here (a couple, a few, some, several, and many).

Today, I’ll cover seven more pairs of commonly confused words.

Born/borne – Both words are past participles of “to bear”; however, only one relates to birth. Use “born” when referring to literal or figurative birth, such as: She was born in California or Wisdom is born from years of experience. “Borne,” on the other hand, refers to the other meanings of “to bear”: such as, to carry, to produce, or to bring about. “Borne” would be proper in the following: Costs associated with this litigation will be borne by the defendant.

 Good/well – “Good” is an adjective, “well” is an adverb. That is, “good” describes and “well” modifies or qualifies. A good lawyer writes well. “Good” in that sentence describes the noun, “lawyer.” (What kind of lawyer? A good one.) “Well” qualifies the verb “writes.” (How does the lawyer write? Well.) The exception to this good/well distinction involves health. If you’re asked How are you?, the grammatically correct answer would be I am well (i.e., your health is good).

Do not use “good” to modify a verb. We might say That lawyer is good at writing, but we certainly wouldn’t say That lawyer writes good.

 Lay/lie – My wonderful colleagues Anne Enquist and Laurel Currie Oates from Seattle University have best explained the distinction between these two words in their book Just Writing: Grammar, Punctuation, and Style for the Legal Writer (4th ed. 2013). I am drawing from their explanation nearly verbatim but for style changes to fit the form 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.

Rules to Work By

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raised handMost of the lawyers I know and deal with are exceptional professionals and generally, great people. They are not the ambulance chasing, greedy, egocentric, lying, unethical, do anything for a buck hired guns that people stereotype as your traditional lawyer. As an in-house lawyer, my one client, the business, would suffer if I were to fall prey to these stereotypes. It is possible in some situations the loud aggressive pit-bull attorney finds success and is necessary. As an in-house construction lawyer, if that were my approach when dealing with other stakeholders, I would still be working on the first contract to come across my desk.

I have adopted some of the rules my six year old was sent home with after his first day of kindergarten. Listen, be safe, polite and respectful, and play nice with others. My playground is buzzing everyday with non-client parties like customers, subcontractors, vendors, GC’s, owners, regulatory agencies, the public, trade associations, unions and families. Finding a way to “play nice” with all of these competing influences and without sacrificing the duty to advocate for my client, has been my greatest challenge and biggest success.

Whether giving legal counsel or advising as a trusted business partner, in-house lawyers assist the business team with issues ranging from accidents, crisis management and work place safety to multi-million dollar contracts and employee harassment. Read more »

State Bar’s Appellate Practice Section Hosts Outstanding Brief Competition

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The Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin is hosting its first Outstanding Brief Competition for members of the bar. Any appellate opening or response brief from a case decided in the last year may be entered in the competition. Entries are due by March 31. As noted on the state bar’s website:

The brief writers (and their firms or agencies) will be publicly recognized, and the briefs will be posted to the Appellate Practice Section’s website to serve as models for appellate practitioners. Anyone can nominate a brief – author, colleague, friend, judge, clerk, or other admirer of great legal writing. Nominations will be kept confidential.

The website provides additional details about how to nominate a brief and other qualifications.  Here is a link to use to nominate briefs and to ask questions.  The Appellate Practice Section seeks through this competition to promote excellent brief writing among Wisconsin practitioners.

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 »

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