Who Is/Was Thomas More?

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Thomas More was a very successful English lawyer (barrister — Lincoln’s Inn, 1501), a judge, and a Member of Parliament about the time of King Henry VIII. But he was much more than that. He came from a family of lawyers. His father, Sir John More, was a prominent lawyer and a judge.

We would probably not know about Sir Thomas More except for the fact that King Henry had appointed him Lord Chancellor of England and Wales in 1529, replacing Thomas Wolsey, but ultimately the King and Thomas did not see eye to eye with each other. As Lord Chancellor, he was the head of the judiciary and also the presiding officer of the House of Lords. We would call him the Chief Justice, as the House of Lords was the Supreme Court and in charge of regulating the judiciary. Sir Thomas was also one of the most respected people in England and Wales at the time — certainly the most respected lawyer then, and maybe one of the most respected lawyers of all time.

King Henry, you will recall, was married to Katherine of Aragon, his first wife. But he did not want to be married to her and in fact wanted to marry Anne Boleyn.  Continue reading “Who Is/Was Thomas More?”

Peace and Quiet

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lincoln cottageThe one thing that all good lawyers need periodically is peace and quiet. They might need peace and quiet to draft a will, prepare for trial, or prepare a pleading or a contract. They need peace and quiet to sort their thoughts and to make decisions.

We all respond differently to that need. We have lawyers who are morning persons and some who are night owls. Some need to get out of town to a cottage, while others have a favorite place in their office or home that satisfies the need. Peace and quiet is a personal thing that must meet the needs of the lawyer and no one else. It is peace in your head that we are looking for. Peace and quiet can be found in unusual places.

Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer, and he also needed peace and quiet.  Continue reading “Peace and Quiet”

It’s an Outrage

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The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, passed in the first year of the Bush 43 presidential term, was intended to respond to the cry for estate-tax repeal from numerous Republican lobbies.  The Act set in motion the gradual relaxation of the tax by going through a series of every-other-year increases in the amount of the exemption available to taxpayers, which was initially $1 million and reached $3.5 million in 2009. The Act also lowered the top tax rate starting in the first year from 55 percent to 45 percent. But then the Act provided for the elimination of the estate tax in 2010. Yes, the federal estate tax completely disappeared on January 1, 2010.

But that’s not the end of the story.

On January 1, 2011, the Estate Tax reappears.  The exemption level goes back to $1 million, as it was in 2001, and the rate goes back up to 55 percent.

The thought, of course, was that Congress would act. Continue reading “It’s an Outrage”

Don’t Forget the Small Towns

Posted on Categories Legal Practice3 Comments on Don’t Forget the Small Towns

It is a commonly held belief among law students that practicing law in a small town is boring and not sufficiently rewarding from a financial standpoint.

That simply is not true.

A really good lawyer will do well almost any place. If you are not going to strive to be a really good lawyer, you won’t do well any place.

If you go to a small town to practice you will be surprised, if you have patience, just what you will find.

For 43 years I have practiced in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, a town of about 45,000. For most of that time the majority of my practice was business law with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, but I also did a fair amount of estate planning and real estate. After my first five years of practice, this is all that I did.  Continue reading “Don’t Forget the Small Towns”