In Support of the Humanities

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Higher Education, Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on In Support of the Humanities

The seal of the National Endowment for the Humanities showing an eagle holding both arrows and an olive branch in its claws.Given the Trump Administration’s denunciations of various Americans and numerous manufactured crises, we might easily overlook its attack on the humanities.  For the third consecutive year, the Trump Administration has proposed closing down the National Endowment for the Humanities.  It has also proposed major cuts for the National Archives Administration and the complete elimination of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

The justifications for these kinds of cuts are predictable.  The endangered programs are said to be too costly, although the projected savings of only $28 million for National Endowment grants is not even a drop in the bucket compared to military and defense spending.  More generally, supporters of the cuts are prepared to echo the public’s growing skepticism about the value of the humanities, particularly because they purportedly do not result in marketable skills.

What we really need, some might insist, is more funding for STEM programs or, at least, a greater commitment to programs that develop roll-up-your-sleeves practical approaches to problem-solving.  These are the types of programs, it is claimed, that best prepare people for life and especially for work and employment in the context of the proverbial market economy.

Holding to the side the fact that STEM and skills funding already greatly exceed grants for teaching and research in the humanities, denigrators of the humanities overlook what might be gained from teaching and learning in such disciplines as art, classics, foreign languages, history, literature, music, philosophy, and religion.  Each of these disciplines in its own way invites us to reflect on the most fundamental of questions:  What does it mean to be human? Continue reading “In Support of the Humanities”

Implicit Bias and the Gender Leadership Gap

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Feminism, Labor & Employment Law, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, PublicLeave a comment» on Implicit Bias and the Gender Leadership Gap
A woman carrying buckets looks up at a ladder leading to the sky; the ladders' rungs are labeled with the various opportunities that have been historically available to women, beginning with "Slavery" at the bottom and "Presidency" at the top.
E.A. Bushnell cartoon from the New York Times, October 1920

On April 29, 2019, I moderated a panel discussion for the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Diversity Counsel Program titled “Closing the Gender Leadership Gap.”  The following statistics were shared at the program.  According to a study by the American Bar Association, “A Current Glance at Women in the Law,” half of the students graduating from law school with a J.D. are women.  Yet, only 22.7% of law firm partners are women, 22% of state court judges are women, and 26.4% of Fortune 500 general counsel positions are held by women.  A significant barrier for women in the workplace is implicit bias.  After serving on this panel, I was curious to explore how the concept of implicit bias might contribute to the gender leadership gap in the legal profession.

Implicit bias is the term that describes how the subconscious mind categorizes people.  The concept was first developed by psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald in the 1990s.  Through the use of implicit association tests (“IAT”) Banaji and Greenwald evaluated the time it took for a participant to categorize concepts such as family or career with gender.  The quicker the applicant could categorize concepts, the stronger the implicit association.  The most frightening aspect of implicit bias is that a person may be consciously opposed to gender discrimination but may unknowingly discriminate against women due to an implicit bias that exists only in the subconscious mind.

Studies suggest that implicit bias may play a role in explaining why men are systematically preferred for positions over women.  For example, a Yale study demonstrated a statistically significant preference for men in the field of science.  The study involved sending a fictional resume to 100 faculty members at top universities.  The only difference was that 50 fictional students were named John, while the other 50 fictional students were named Jennifer.  Even though the candidates had identical experience and qualifications, faculty members were more likely to find John competent and were more likely view him as a suitable candidate for lab positions. Continue reading “Implicit Bias and the Gender Leadership Gap”

The June Bloggers Have Arrived!

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Marquette Law School, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on The June Bloggers Have Arrived!

Let’s welcome our Guest Bloggers for the month of June.

Nicholas Wanic

Our Student Blogger of the Month is Nicholas Wanic.

Nick is from Crystal Lake, Illinois, a town which has recently become somewhat infamous in the legal community. Nick received his bachelors from Illinois State in Business Administration, but knew he wanted to go to law school long before he graduated high school. While here at Marquette Law, Nick has worked for the Honorable Joan Kessler of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and has worked with the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office prosecuting ordinance violations and working on civil litigation including the recently resolved and much publicized Bird Scooters case. He was a finalist in the Jenkins Competition this past April and looks forward to representing Marquette at the Chicago Bar Association Competition this Fall.

He is currently working toward his litigation certificate and hopes to work in litigation and appellate practice after graduation. In his free time Nick enjoys painting, cooking, and golfing.

Our Alumni Blogger this month is April K. Toy.

April Toy

April is an attorney in Meissner Tierney’s commercial litigation practice group. April represents businesses, insurance companies and individuals in a wide range of civil matters including liability and insurance coverage. She also defends businesses against professional liability claims and advises insurers on extra-contractual claims handling issues, including bad faith and duty to defend issues.  April graduated from Marquette University Law School in 2010.

April is a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee.  In addition, she volunteers at the Milwaukee Justice Center.

The Purpose of Law School

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Public1 Comment on The Purpose of Law School

Group study sessionNow that the academic year has ended, it’s time to catch up on what is happening in the world. Of particular interest is the news that Kim Kardashian plans on becoming a lawyer without attending law school. Or college. Bar exams are likely easier to pass with the help of a law school education, but is that the purpose of law school? Not all states allow law school to be optional, but does law school serve purposes other than just checking off a requirement?

Is the purpose of law school to educate us regarding the law? To teach us to “think like lawyers”? Or is law school a socialization process, as a lawyer explained to Ms. Kardashian/West on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians? This attorney explained that law school doesn’t teach you the actual “stuff” and that Kardashian’s qualities put her way ahead of contemporaries in law school. I wonder if law school is meant instead to be a selection process. Continue reading “The Purpose of Law School”

Second-Class Treatment of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Wisconsin Court System, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on Second-Class Treatment of Criminal Defense Lawyers

A gavel with scalesCurrently before the State Legislature are bills regarding the State Public Defender private bar appointment rate.  Currently the rate is $40 per hour (the lowest in the nation), but the bill is proposing to raise the rate to $70 per hour.  Recently a petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court attempted to get the Supreme Court to raise the private bar rate of the public defender to $100 per hour.  While the Supreme Court acknowledged the current rate as woefully inadequate, it did not take action regarding the public defender appointed rate, although it did raise the court-appointed rate effective next year to $100 per hour for all court-appointed lawyers.

The issue regarding the lack of attorneys willing to take SPD appointments to represent the indigent has picked up significant media attention and has prompted one lawsuit.  The discussion that the State is failing to fulfill constitutional obligations to its citizens is important.  Why did it take a “constitutional crisis” to reach this point?  The criminal defense attorney is not just politically unpopular but can often be viewed as a reason elections have been lost. Continue reading “Second-Class Treatment of Criminal Defense Lawyers”

Informed Consent

Posted on Categories Health Care, Public, Tort LawLeave a comment» on Informed Consent

White hospital bedsSeveral years ago, the Wisconsin veterinary state convention focused on the legal standard of informed consent in the profession. Lawyers explained that this meant that veterinarians needed to provide all options to owners and that owners make the decision as to what options to pursue. Although this seemed simple enough, and certainly some veterinarians already practiced some degree of informed consent, some veterinarians were understandably concerned about discussing a “no treatment” option and some veterinarians practice in situations where discussions with owners may be difficult (e.g., production medicine) or the time involved would defeat the purpose of their services (e.g., high-volume spay/neuter clinics). But the take-home message was that veterinarians are not the responsible parties for making the decisions for clients and that veterinarians need to provide all of the options, and all of the information that clients need to make decisions. Informed consent protects both parties to the transaction.

Informed consent provides transparency. In the veterinary profession, owners are held directly responsible for the decisions and charges incurred. When an owner is informed about diagnostic or treatment options, this includes the cost involved with the options. Informed consent means discussing what the diagnostics or treatments entail, the prognosis or outcome expected, and the costs involved. In fact, most veterinarians provide written estimates for procedures or hospitalization and may require a deposit. Although this may seem insensitive in some way—to require a deposit to provide care—the estimate can be the reality check an owner may need and, again, the owner client is the responsible party.

Informed consent is also the standard in the human medical profession, but the human medical profession does not provide estimates and doesn’t seem to even know, or admit to knowing, what price tag attaches to options. Much is said about the failures of human medicine. Some of this can be attributed to allowing the profession to not be transparent—to not providing information. Continue reading “Informed Consent”

Five Lessons Democratic Presidential Candidates Might Learn from Tony Evers’ Victory

Posted on Categories Political Processes & Rhetoric, PublicLeave a comment» on Five Lessons Democratic Presidential Candidates Might Learn from Tony Evers’ Victory

After what happened in Wisconsin in 2016, you can bet the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates won’t forget about the Badger state in 2020. Donald Trump’s narrow victory here played a key role in his stunning victory, and most political observers believe the president will need to win Wisconsin again to secure a second term.

But if what’s past is prologue, Democrats might want to remember not just what happened in Wisconsin in 2016, but what happened two years later, when Democrat Tony Evers defeated Republican Governor Scott Walker in a race that was decided by fewer than 30,000 votes. Let me explain. Continue reading “Five Lessons Democratic Presidential Candidates Might Learn from Tony Evers’ Victory”

The Rewards of Being a Small Town Lawyer

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public, Uncategorized1 Comment on The Rewards of Being a Small Town Lawyer
A path forward with trees on either side going through a forest.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

When asked to write a blog for the Marquette University Law School blog, I was provided several general topics that I could have considered, as I have never blogged.  But it was also suggested that I have an interesting personal story:  I always wanted to be a lawyer in my hometown, a city with fewer people than are enrolled as students at Marquette.  I have always had a desire to return to Ashland, Wisconsin, and practice law, raise my family and live the lifestyle that I enjoy.  I don’t find my situation to be unique or interesting, but maybe that’s because northern Wisconsin is such a wonderful location that it pulls many people home, and my story isn’t unique among residents here.  However, someone who grew up in an urban area may be apprehensive that there will be “nothing to do” in a small town.  To that I say: only boring people get bored.  So rather than discuss a legal topic, I plan to discuss my legal practice, and why being a small-town lawyer is a fulfilling and interesting career.  The State Bar of Wisconsin has also recently encouraged small town practice and tried to connect new lawyers or those looking for a change with lawyers in rural areas. Small towns need lawyers.

I grew up in Ashland, located on the shores of Lake Superior, enjoying the big lake and the big woods (Chequamegon National Forest). In the summer and fall the activities were hunting and fishing, in winter it was hockey rinks and ski slopes, and the in the spring, well that was just mud season.  I have been teased for the pride I take in talking about my home, my high school, and the general area I grew up in.  Unlike larger areas, my high school represents my community and is smaller than most.  Ashland has just over 8,000 people and the county has just twice that many.  There was no other high school, so it represented us as an area.  It represents my home, so I take pride in its success and sorrow in its failures.

In law school I had academic success having offers from large firms and was a summer associate at one.  I graduated magna cum laude and moved back to Ashland the day after being sworn in to the Bar.  While my big firm experience was positive, I knew my long-term happiness was north.  When asked why would you want to live up there, my response was typically the same: “Why do you vacation in northern Wisconsin?”  To many people, Elkhart Lake was “up north,” while I consider Highway 8 to be the dividing line between north and south Wisconsin.   I find cities great places to visit on weekends but I find the small town is the place to live.   I think many lawyers would find small town practice rewarding both professionally and personally. Continue reading “The Rewards of Being a Small Town Lawyer”

Welcome May Bloggers!

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Marquette Law School, Public, Student Contributor1 Comment on Welcome May Bloggers!

Please join me in welcoming our guest bloggers for the month of May.

Tyler Wickman

Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Tyler Wickman.   Tyler was born in Ashland, Wisconsin.  He is a member of the Wisconsin Bar and received his education at St. Norbert College (B.A., 2005 summa cum laude, majored in political science and education) and Marquette University (J.D., 2008, magna cum laude). While in law school, Tyler published in the Marquette Law Review and served as an academic support program leader. Also during law school, he was an extern for the Hon. William Griesbach of the Western District of Wisconsin, a law clerk for Hupy & Abraham, and a summer associate at Von Briesen & Roper.

Following law school, Tyler returned to his hometown of Ashland and has been with Dallenbach, Anich, & Wickman, S.C. for his entire career. His practice areas include criminal defense, family law, personal injury, municipal law, estate planning, business formation, and civil litigation, among others. He has handled jury trials and has argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Tyler lives in the Ashland area with his wife, Michaela, and their five children. He is living the dream with a beautiful family, in a beautiful area, with a satisfying career.

Karen Heineman

Our Student Blogger of the Month is Karen Heineman. Karen grew up in a small college town in western New York. She prefers to say that because no one understands what upstate New York refers to.

She graduated from Williams College with a degree in chemistry. Although her goal was to attend veterinary school, at the time there were only 27 schools (only 31 now, I think) with class sizes around 80, so there were/are few opportunities open to those pursuing that profession. She looked for back-up plans and took the LSAT with some thoughts of law school. Fortunately, she was able to pursue her primary goal, so the possibility of law school was dropped for the time being. She received her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota. Continue reading “Welcome May Bloggers!”

Team Based Learning in ADR

Posted on Categories Arbitration, Legal Education, Mediation, Negotiation, Public, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Team Based Learning in ADR

Black and white photo of a group of men in gymnast uniforms in a formation where some stand on the shoulders of others.Hi all–I talked about this at the ABA meeting resource share but also wanted to blog about this in a little more detail.  Apologies for the length–do reach out if you are interested in learning more and I’d be happy to walk you through what I did.  In short, this was totally worth it and I felt like the class organization and teamwork reflected exactly what we are trying to achieve.  Let me explain:

Team-Based Learning, or TBL, is a concept that I first learned that about in an article by Melissa Weresh applying TBL in the legal writing classroom. After reading Weresh’s article, I thought it would be an interesting concept to incorporate in my Alternative Dispute Resolution course. The ability for students to work together in groups is something that I have done for years, but this added a different flavor to it as the groups were for the entire semester—allowing for developing chemistry and comfort with working with the same group members for an extended period of time (much like they will once they graduate.)

Up to this last year, I would teach the ADR course in three sections (1) negotiation, (2) mediation, and (3) arbitration. Three quizzes for each section acted as “mini-capstones” to end a section. This both allowed for a more focused assessment on the content area and a clear division between the material for the students.  But, I felt like students crammed for the one-time quiz as opposed to reading throughout the semester. Additionally, taking a whole class period to quiz the students and then time to review the quiz in the next class felt like too much time devoted to assessment versus learning.

So, I decided to try the TBL ideology. Continue reading “Team Based Learning in ADR”

Israel Reflections–Final Thoughts…Leave with More Questions

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Religion & Law, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Israel Reflections–Final Thoughts…Leave with More Questions

Most of this blog post is from my colleagues Alex Lemann and Rebecca Blemberg who joined Natalie Fleury (our fabulous DR program coordinator) and me on the trip. It was such a delight to have them with us on this great and educational adventure. And, as they note, we are all likely returning with more questions rather than less. Here is one last group pic:

About 40 law students pose in casual clothes with the green hills of Israel in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

It is hard to believe that a month has gone by since we returned from Israel. On one hand, the experience was so intense and meaningful that it feels like it just ended. On the other hand, it was so far outside our normal experience that it immediately felt foreign, such that looking back now it almost feels like it was all a dream.

We have all had time to rest and reflect since we got home, and we even got the chance to gather socially for a potluck dinner. Seeing everyone again has been a great joy; there is a special bond between us now that we hope will be lasting. Initially, we wondered what it would be like to travel with 40 students. To our delight, we were warmly received by students and welcomed into serious conversations, joyful silliness, and everything in between. (We are grateful we got to travel with such wonderful students.)

One thing that has been particularly interesting upon our return has been following the news from Israel. Many students have been sending articles on current events to our (still vibrant!) group chat. Much of the news from the Middle East has a new immediacy that it lacked before our visit. We also feel informed and aware of the issues in a much deeper way than we were before. Reading that the Trump administration recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights mere days after being there ourselves, for instance, was almost surreal. And Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection, a week after he promised to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has given us all a lot to think about.

Alex: I still haven’t been able to shake something we heard on our very first night in Israel, from Dr. Alick Isaacs. Dr. Isaacs is the co-director of Siach Shalom, which works to create a dialogue about peace that builds on a foundation of deep respect for and understanding of the fervently-held religious beliefs of people on both sides. This type of emphasis feels very foreign to us as Americans, something Michael Karayanni, Dean of the faculty of law at Hebrew University, echoed on our very last day. To many Americans, the problem of peace between Israel and Palestine (and in the region more generally) can seem like an interesting puzzle, one whose solution lies in figuring out how to fit the pieces together (or perhaps divide them up) in just the right way. Dr. Isaacs suggested that to people of faith, the Holy Land cannot simply be divided up. It is as if, he said, two people found a Torah (a bible scroll) at the same time. Cutting the Torah in half is simply unthinkable; another way to share must be found.

Rebecca: The question that stays with me also came up at Dr. Isaacs’ talk, after he gave a powerful account of people meeting together after an act of violence and finding empathy for one another. Student Shayla Sanders asked how peacemakers can bring that deep empathy we experience when we interact as individuals into more large-scale political questions that consider group interests. That question stayed with me when we heard Adam Waddell from EcoPeace speak about sharing resources and social space and “being human with one another” despite differences. I thought about it again when Genevieve Begue from the Shutafot Coalition for Economic Equality spoke to us at Juha’s Guesthouse in Jisr al Zarqa and stated that sharing personal and even painful experiences bridged some cultural divides and helped create trust needed for a social business seeking to empower impoverished women and children.  Again it came up at Kuchinate, a refugee women’s collective, in Jaffa. Refugees shared their personal stories with our group, and I will never again think about political questions concerning refugees and status without remembering these two brave women.

Where thoughts like these lead us is open to interpretation. One benefit of understanding a problem more deeply is that easy answers are no longer satisfying. At the very least we all feel that we all understand so much more than we did when we left, not only about Israel but maybe also about the human condition.

We can’t resist closing with a big Thank You to Professors Andrea Schneider and Natalie Fleury for all the work they put into this incredible class trip!

And thanks to all of our students for their wonderful reflections and our blog readers for their attention–feel free to reach out with any comments or questions. We hope that the blogs gave you a sense of the range of our trip and what we learned. What you might not have picked up is how much fun this was (for me too!) and how much I enjoyed. With much appreciation to Marquette Law School and our extra trip funders for supporting this!

Cross-posted at Indisputably.org .

Israel Reflections 2019–Feminism & Women

Posted on Categories Feminism, International Law & Diplomacy, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Religion & Law, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Israel Reflections 2019–Feminism & Women

Our last chunk of speakers were strong women who work to make Israel more inclusive and safer. Kylie Owens shared her thoughts on our first speaker.

Professor Halperin-Kaddari is a renowned expert in family law, who earned both her L.L.M. and J.S.D. from Yale Law School. Our visit with Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, a family law professor from Bar-Ilan University, was truly enlightening. Israel has a unique system of law that regulates marriage, divorce, and child custody issues. Under this system, mainly governed by religious courts, women can be oppressed, the courts completely prevent interfaith marriage, and domestic abuse can be overlooked. Professor Halperin-Kaddari discussed some of these problems in detail and offered a look at the current state of the opposition and efforts to change the system to allow the possibility of civil marriages in Israel.

Our second speaker Keren Greenblatt immediately connected to all of us  when she started speaking having fun when you go out at night.  She then talked about her organization Layla Tov (Hebrew for good night), which organizes bars and clubs to combat harassment.   (News story here.Continue reading “Israel Reflections 2019–Feminism & Women”