The Wisdom of King Theodoric

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Category: Legal Education, Legal History, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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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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Student Reflects on Restorative Justice Program at Green Bay Prison

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Category: Criminal Law & Process, Marquette Law School, Public
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Student Jillian Dickson-Igl has put together these thoughtful reflections about her experience with the restorative justice program at the Green Bay Correctional Institution.   

Back in October, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI) as a part of the Restorative Justice class that was taught by Professors O’Hear and Schneider. The trip consisted of three days at the prison, two of which I was able to attend, as part of the prison’s Challenges and Possibilities program for inmates. The Challenges and Possibilities program is a thirteen-week program that helps the participants focus on their own personal growth as well as aiding them in realizing the impact of their actions, past and present, on other individuals. At the conclusion of the program is when the three-day restorative justice component comes into play, and this is when community members, lawyers, judges, and survivors of crime come to the prison to spend time with the men in the program.

Going into the experience I was very skeptical as to what was going to happen.   Read more »

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Study Abroad in Giessen, Germany

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Category: International Law & Diplomacy, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public
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2014 Program ParticipantsApplication materials are now available for the 7th Annual Summer Session in International and Comparative Law, held each summer at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany.  The program is a joint offering of the Marquette University Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School, and the Faculty of Law at Justus Liebig University.

This summer’s program will run from July 18 until August 15.  Participants choose two courses from among the following offerings, for a total of four credits : International Economic Law and Business Transactions, Comparative Law, The Law of Armed Conflict, and International Intellectual Property Law.  All classes are offered in English.

Each summer, the program attracts participants from Marquette, UW, other American law schools and students from all over the world.  This past summer, international students came from Turkey, Portugal, Togo, Ethiopia, Brazil, Vietnam, Italy, Great Britain, Colombia, Germany and Australia, among other countries.  Courses are taught by an international faculty.  Students learn from each other as much as from faculty, as classroom discussions provide different perspectives that cut across legal systems and cultures.

Additional information and an application form are available on the program’s webpage.  Course descriptions are available here.  Brief faculty biographies are available here.

Law students considering a study abroad experience should consider these ten reasons for participating in the Summer Session in Giessen, Germany.

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Discerning the Relationship Between Bankruptcy Judges and Article III Judges

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Category: Federal Law & Legal System, Judges & Judicial Process, Public, U.S. Supreme Court
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supreme courtThis summer, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison that changed how bankruptcy judges, covered under Article I (the Executive Branch) of the Constitution, and district court Article III judges work together. Arkison helped clarify nagging procedural issues between district and bankruptcy courts. At the same time, Arkison verified a significant reduction in the ability of bankruptcy courts to resolve common claims arising in bankruptcy proceedings.

Arkison began as a seemingly conventional case. In 2006, Bellingham Insurance Agency filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Peter Arkison was assigned as the trustee. Mr. Arkison filed a fraudulent conveyance complaint against Bellingham, something not uncommon in a bankruptcy proceeding. In fact, Title 28 specifically grants bankruptcy courts the ability to hear and determine such claims. The bankruptcy court granted summary judgment on Mr. Arkison’s claim.

The black letter language in Title 28 and Supreme Court precedent contradict each other. Read more »

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Back From Japan: What I Learned

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Category: International Law & Diplomacy, Public
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Recently I went to Japan as part of a small group of American academics and researchers who are interested in Japanese foreign policy. During the trip, we met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Coast Guard, and Cabinet Secretariat to discuss recent developments in regional security and U.S.-Japan relations. Unsurprisingly, many of the meetings focused on the Senkaku Islands. In this post, I’ll share a few things I learned.

There’s Still “No Dispute”

During the meetings, it quickly became apparent that some media outlets in the West haven’t accurately characterized current Japanese policy. Tokyo’s longstanding position has been that there’s “no dispute” over the Senkakus—the territory belongs to Japan and there is nothing to negotiate or even talk about. This view is of course controversial in China, which also claims the Islands, and the two sides have been engaged in a fairly protracted and tense standoff as a result. To reduce tensions and improve bilateral relations, China and Japan jointly released a four-point statement on November 7th. Sources ranging from The Diplomat to The New York Times reported the statement as evidence of a significant shift in policy: Japan would now recognize the existence of a dispute. On this view, the recent statement was a major concession to China because recognizing a dispute might open the door to bilateral negotiations that could have only one effect—namely, an erosion of Japan’s effective control over the territory. Read more »

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Welcome to Our December Blogger

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Cabin in Winter ForestOur December guest blogger with be 3L Frank Remington. Frank hails from Madison and is interested in bankruptcy law, appellate writing, and anything to do with litigation. Many thanks to our previous guest, 3L Jennifer McNamee.

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President Obama’s Executive Orders are Constitutional

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Category: Constitutional Law, Immigration Law, President & Executive Branch, Public
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452px-Barack_Obama_basketball_at_Martha's_VineyardA “head fake” is a basketball move where the player holding the ball feints as if starting a jump shot, but never leaves his feet.  Done correctly, it causes the defender to jump off of their feet in anticipation of the shot, arms flailing helplessly.  Meanwhile, the shooter calmly resets and scores a basket while the defender is harmlessly suspended in the air.

Just over two weeks ago, the mid-term elections supposedly signaled the end of President Obama’s ability to drive the policy agenda in Washington.  Last Thursday night, the nation’s “Basketball Player in Chief” executed a brilliant head fake on immigration policy, disproving this conventional wisdom.  Hints that the President intended to “go big” and use his executive authority to conduct an overhaul of the Immigration and Nationality Act had generated anticipatory paroxysms of outrage by Republicans, who hit the airwaves with charges of constitutional violations and threats of impeachment.  However, the executive actions that the President actually announced last Thursday were more modest in scope than what Latino groups and reform advocates wanted, and far less provocative than congressional Republicans feared.

The executive actions on immigration fall well within the Executive Branch’s established authority to set priorities in the enforcement of Immigration Law and clearly within the constitutional power of the President.  Meanwhile, the President’s Republican critics have already committed themselves to a campaign of outrage and indignation, even though it is increasingly evident that they lack a legal basis to attack the President’s actions or a political strategy to undo them.  The President’s head fake is evident when the details of the Executive Orders are examined. Read more »

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Calls for Doing Better Set Tone for Catholic Schools Conference

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Category: Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Religion & Law, Speakers at Marquette
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Perhaps Kathleen Cepelka effectively summed up a half-day conference Wednesday on the future of Catholic kindergarten through twelfth grade schools simply by describing the state of the schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Cepelka, the superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, told the full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall about the strengths of schools in Milwaukee, about positive developments in enrollment, and about the many praiseworthy people and organizations involved in making the schools as good as they are.

But, she said, the quality of some of the schools isn’t what it needs to be and there are weak levels of achievement among students in some schools.  “We are not satisfied,” she said.

That mix — loyalty and pride in Catholic schools with an understanding of the pressing need to improve —  was voiced frequently during the conference, “The Future of Catholic K-12 Education: National and Milwaukee Perspectives,” sponsored by Marquette Law School and the Marquette College of Education.  Maybe “we are not satisfied” could have been the slogan for the event.   Read more »

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Immigration Reform and the Challenge of Democratic Self-Government

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Category: Immigration Law, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public
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Mortar_of_Assimilation_Citizenship_1889News reports indicate that President Obama will soon announce how he plans to use Executive Orders to implement some aspects of Immigration Reform, due to the failure of Congress to address the subject legislatively.  I recently had the opportunity to participate in a program on Immigration Reform at the Law School on November 5, 2014, along with Stuart Anderson, the Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy and an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute.  The event was sponsored by the Law School Chapter of the Federalist Society, the Marquette Immigration Law Association, and the International Law Society.  I want to thank Mr. Anderson for sharing his insights with the law students.  Interested readers can click here to find a recent article by Mr. Anderson.  What follows are my prepared remarks.

I have a daughter who is turning 21 next month.  When a child reaches that age, parents start to ask themselves questions.  Will my daughter bring someone home with her one day, and announce that she is engaged?  How will I react if the person she brings home belongs to a different faith?  How will I react if he is of a different race?  How will I react if “he” is a “she?”

These are questions that tap into deep emotions, even if my rational brain tells me that the answers to these questions don’t matter.  I know that my response to such a situation should be compassionate, and loving, and focus on my daughter’s happiness.  But I also know that I may feel threatened or hurt or disappointed, without consciously wanting to.  Maybe part of the problem is that I can’t control who my daughter brings home.  To a certain extent, who becomes a member of my family is her choice, not mine.

Immigration is about membership in our national family.  It raises the same deep emotions that marriage raises within the family.  And just as we can’t always choose who our children will marry, we also can’t always control who joins our national family.  And Immigration policy needs to be rational, data-driven, and compassionate, and not based on knee jerk emotions.

Simple answers to complex social and economic problems don’t work.  One challenge we face as a nation is that we share a longstanding geographic connection with Mexico.  U.S. employers have turned to Mexican citizens for seasonal labor needs for a very long time.  People have established migration patterns that persist through generations of the same family.  These behaviors won’t change just because we tell people to stop.  We need to address the underlying incentives and motivations for these behaviors. Read more »

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Congratulations to the 2014 Chicago Bar Association Moot Court Teams

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Congratulations to 3Ls Stephanie Chiarelli and Adam Dejulio for reaching the octofinals of the Chicago Bar Association Competition this past weekend.  Attys. Kaitlyn Reise and Mindy Nolan coached the team and traveled to the competition.  3Ls Tyler Hall and Jeff Morrell also competed and were coached by Attys. Jaclyn Kallie and Dana Luczak.  All of the coaches are Marquette alumni who competed in moot court.  Professor Rebecca Blemberg advised the teams.

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