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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Category: Corporate Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Practice, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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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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22nd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Katherine Seelow

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Katherine SeelowThe 22nd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held in the evening on Friday, February 13, 2015 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.  Katherine Seelow, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS fellow.  Besides her work as a PILS fellow, Katherine is helping to organize this year’s auction.

Where did you work as a PILS fellow?

I was lucky enough to be a fellow twice-over.  First, I worked for the Milwaukee Justice Center. Next, I worked at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, in the Felony Trial Division.

What kind of work did you do there?

At the Milwaukee Justice Center I worked the Family Law Help Desk, helping the pro-se litigants with a wide variety of family law issues fill out the appropriate paperwork. Additionally I was able to conduct research on family law issues and participate in tracking the progress of MJC clients. At the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office,  I was assigned to a trial team and helped them organize discovery on felony, criminal cases. I was also able to appear on the record under the 711 Student Practice Rule.

How was the experience meaningful to you?

My experience at the MJC was meaningful to me because it gave me great experience working with clients, one-on-one, which is not something you often get to do as a rising 2L. My experience as a Law Clerk with the Cook County State’s Attorney was meaningful because I got to prepare and handle cases on the record.

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22nd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Nicole Ostrowski

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Nicole OstrowskiThe 22nd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held in the evening on Friday, February 13, 2015 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.  Nicole Ostrowski, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS fellow.  Besides her work as a PILS fellow, Nicole is helping to organize this year’s auction.

Where did you work as a PILS fellow?

I worked at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office–Milwaukee Trial Division, both this past summer and the summer between my 1L and 2L year as a PILS fellow.

What kind of work did you do there?

I mainly worked on misdemeanor cases and did anything and everything with the cases I was assigned, including preparing for a jury trial that unfortunately did not go. I was very fortunate in my fellowships because I was able to get a lot of hands on experience with clients, including visits to the jail by myself! My time with the Public Defender has helped me learn what it’s like to actually be an attorney in practice, as opposed to simply learning how to think and write like an attorney, as we’re taught in law school.

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Pet DNA Used to Help Solve Crimes

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Public
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CatAs this public radio show discusses, DNA from pets is increasingly being used to help solve crimes.  Investigators can take DNA samples found at a crime scene, such as hair, and have it tested to match a victim’s pet.  A match can link a perpetrator to the crime if, for instance, the DNA of the victim’s pet shows up on the assailant’s clothes.  As noted on the show, the field of veterinary forensics is growing, and while the DNA testing is expensive, it can make a big difference in solving a case.  In addition to animal DNA, plant DNA and viral DNA has also been used in criminal cases.

 

 

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The Wisdom of King Theodoric

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theodoricYesterday I was honored to speak at the mid-year graduation ceremony at Eckstein Hall.  Twenty three graduating students and hundreds of friends and family came together with Dean Kearney, faculty and administrators to celebrate the event.  What follows are my prepared remarks.

Dean, fellow faculty, invited guests, and most importantly, December graduates.  I am honored to be with you on such a momentous day.

Class of 2014, today is the day that you thought would never come.  Today is the day that you embark on your legal careers.  Even in normal times, the transition from law school to practice can be an anxiety-inducing event.  But these are not normal times.

The practice of law has been undergoing significant change in recent years.  Venerable old law firms, with names over a century old, are disappearing, through merger and bankruptcy.  It seems that lawyers are better known for their television commercials than for their legal arguments.  And the basic day to day legal work that law firms have traditionally relied upon to meet their overhead is now being outsourced offshore to cheaper lawyers in New Delhi and Manila.

I doubt that someone of my generation can even understand the challenges that you will face in your future careers, much less presume to offer you any advice on how to meet those challenges.

Let me give you some idea of how the practice of law has changed over the last quarter of a century.  When I graduated from law school in 1988, I went to work at a large law firm (at a job that I expected to have for my entire career).  I wrote briefs in longhand on yellow legal pads, and gave the sheets to a secretarial pool for typing.  And if I wanted to do any online legal research, I had to go to the firm’s sole designated Lexis terminal, which was located in the law firm library and which was hardwired via phone line straight into Lexis headquarters (because there was no such thing as the internet). Read more »

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Grilling By Judges? It’s Not Just for Moot Court.

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Category: Federal Law & Legal System, Legal Practice, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public
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NSAPerhaps it is because I just spent an enjoyable few weeks judging the Appellate Writing and Advocacy class moot court rounds, that lately I have taken a few detours while doing research. While reading some of the NSA phone data cases, I watched an enlightening and very entertaining appellate argument online. We may wait a long time to see video recordings of U.S. Supreme Court arguments, but the Circuit Courts of Appeal oblige us for some of their cases, which is a bonus for everyone including students.

Several plaintiffs’ lawsuits that challenge the National Security Administration’s phone records surveillance program are making their way through the federal courts. Plaintiffs in these cases have claimed the NSA data grab violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment or that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the original basis for the surveillance under President George W. Bush, cannot reasonably be interpreted as allowing the program. For students who participate in a moot court competition, or are considering it in the future, video of the oral arguments in these cases provides an opportunity to learn something about the privacy issues and also to see the types of questions and atmosphere an attorney might expect from a federal appellate panel.

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Want to Have a Strong Legal Career? Find a Good Mentor.

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MentorThis article in the ABA Student Lawyer Magazine discusses the benefits of having a mentor. A mentor can help you acclimate to your new role as a lawyer.  A good mentor will make your life easier both at your office and in external venues.  Your mentor can teach you how to communicate effectively with clients, can show you how to handle technical and procedural matters that may otherwise be hard to learn on your own, and can introduce you to top management at your place of employment.  Having a mentor can speed up how you learn to be effective in your job.

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Peace Be With You … And With You?

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Exclamation_markUnder the heading of hard bargaining tactics gone bad (and bad lawyer advice), we can now add this story.  When a group of eight faculty members at the General Theological Seminary in Manhattan decided to stop working in order to protest their newly hired dean and president, Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, all purgatory broke loose. Under advice of their counsel, the faculty wrote a rather strongly worded letter outlining their demands regarding the dean.  (See the nasty details of the dean’s behavior here.)

Unimpressed with the tone of the letter, the Board of Trustees for the Seminary considered the letter, instead of the opening bid that the faculty intended, as a mass resignation.  They dismissed the eight faculty members (leaving the students at the Seminary with only two instructors.) In this case, the eight faculty members’ hard bargaining tactic to have their foul-mouthed, micromanaging (in their descriptions) dean dismissed ended up focusing attention on their perceived “bad” behavior rather than that of their dean. Read more »

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