“Diversity” in the Law: Savvy Business, Self-Motivation, or Both?

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“Diversity” is a term to qualify something diverse, which the American Heritage dictionary defines as “made up of distinct characteristics, qualities, or elements.” Diversity in the work environment of law firms, agencies, in-house counsels, and non-profits usually relates to the genetic makeup of the employees’ gender, race, national origin, and sexual orientation, but for purposes of brevity and, frankly, your time, this post focuses solely on race.

In 2007, per the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, the racial demographic of the attorney population consisted of 77.6% Caucasian/White, 3.2% African American, 3.1% Hispanic and even lower numbers for the other categories of races and ethnicities. Not surprisingly, this disparity has not made much progress in the past decade which is displayed in the 2017 percentages that show attorneys consisting of 66.8% Caucasian/White, 4.1% African American, and 3.9% Hispanic. Accordingly, these statistics create more questions than answers, such as: Why is there such a low presence of minorities in the law? Is this disparity due to a systemic problem in the American education system or attributed to employers’ implicit bias? Do schools/employers care about these statistics? If not, should they? Read more »




The Benefits of Bar Associations

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A gavel with scalesPicture this: you have finally been accepted as a member of the Bar in your respective state. Job offer in hand, you anxiously await the first day of the rest of your life – your first full time law position. The Sunday night before your first day of work, you peruse the attorney profiles on your new firm’s website. Viewing the profiles with a clear head, that is, a mind free of finals, bar prep, and interview details, a section catches your eye for the first time: PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS. The organizations that your colleagues belong to vary in category. Some groups appear to relate to practice areas, while others are seemingly dedicated to specific causes. Now you begin to wonder – do I need to join any specialty bar associations?  What purpose will it serve? If I decided to join, how do I narrow down the best organizations for me?

It is commonplace for states across the country to have a bevy of specialty bar and legal associations that cater directly to a specific segment of the legal community. Attorneys’ specialties and practice areas vary, so it can be difficult to find your footing as a new lawyer outside of your specific firm or corporation. This is just one of the ways these organizations can help. While it isn’t necessary to join any specific organizations, the benefits are plentiful. Joining an association, whether local or national, generally provides you with the opportunity to network with your peers, grow your practice, continue your legal education, and commit yourself to work that is personally important to you.

When I graduated from law school, the first organization I committed myself to was the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL). Formerly known as the Wisconsin Association of Minority Attorneys (WAMA), WAAL was established in 1988 with the mission of dedicating itself to ensuring diversity in Wisconsin’s legal community. Since its inception, WAAL has been actively involved in community affairs throughout Wisconsin. My first introduction to WAAL was during my 1L year at its annual welcome reception, where Marquette and University of Wisconsin law students are invited to mingle with WAAL members. Through that reception, I met numerous Wisconsin attorneys, and formed relationships that have helped carry me through my career today. As a member of the Board of Directors since 2014, my admiration for the organization and its partners has only grown. Read more »




The Importance of Legal Apprenticeship: Why There is no Substitute for the Master-Student Relationship

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“Never trust a teacher who does not have a teacher.”

-Unknown

On the first day of my Summer Clerkship in 2016 at the firm of Anspach Meeks Ellenberger LLP in Toledo, Ohio, Mark Meeks, a partner at the firm, sat me down in his office to give me the rundown of what I could expect during my twelve weeks there.  At that meeting, he stressed the importance of the work I would be doing, as well as the fact that most of it would be spent on what was going to turn out to be one of the most important cases the firm would try in years.  He also said something I will never forget: “What you learn in law school is a mile wide and an inch deep.”  He told me I would likely learn more during that summer than I did in my entire first year of law school.  I was skeptical, but by the end of the summer, I would come to understand what he meant.

My father, Robert Anspach, is founder and managing partner of the firm.  In his office there is a picture hanging on the wall of a man no older than my father is today.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed it was his father.  It is, however, not a blood relative: it is a picture of Charlie W. Peckinpaugh, Jr., the man who mentored my father during his early, formative years as a practicing attorney, into the effective lawyer he is today. (Pictured above.)

The Master-Apprentice relationship has been around for millennia. (Consider, for example, one of the most well-known teacher-student relationships of Socrates and Plato).  In the study of Yoga (capital “Y,” for union of mind, body, and spirit), those who want to become teachers (or better yet, who are called to be teachers), learn to master their art by studying under this sort of tutelage. Read more »




After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & Process
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Statue entitled "The Spirit of Justice" outside of the Rayburn Huse Office Building in Washington, D.C., showing a seated woman with a small child.I’ve been asked to be the alumni blogger for the month of May. It’s about time!

For those who don’t know me, I am a criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin. I am currently the President of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL). Because of this position, and the fact that I’ve practiced exclusively in the criminal defense field for 12 years, my posts will generally focus on defense-related issues.

In that vein, perhaps the most pressing criminal defense-related issue in Wisconsin remains the unconscionably low rate of compensation paid to lawyers who take appointments from the State Public Defender’s Office (SPD).

Here’s the nutshell version of what currently happens. Indigent defendants are constitutionally guaranteed representation by lawyers who work for the SPD. But the SPD obviously can’t handle all of the cases assigned to the agency. For one, there are cases with co-defendants, where ethical rules preventing conflicts of interest would preclude one “firm” from representing both defendants. In other situations, a flood of criminal prosecutions renders the SPD staff unable to handle all of the cases. Consequently, private attorneys will sometimes step up to the plate, and agree to take these cases.

These cases, known as SPD appointments, are paid at a rate of $40 an hour. Read more »




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.




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 »