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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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.

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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 »

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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.

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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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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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