Student Lessons on Distance Mediation

Picture of person hanging up a telephone“Could we try and mediate over the phone?” I was a bit surprised by the response from the attorney when I called to let him know that the Small Claims Mediation Clinic’s courthouse mediation options had been curtailed by the Coronavirus. The Clinic, which was started by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice and retired MULS Professor Janine Geske, has been in operation since 1998. A typical Clinic day revolves around same day referrals for mediation cases from Court Commissioners in Room 400 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Cases are mediated then and there. In addition to the typical same-day referrals, this semester the Clinic received a number of referrals from judges dealing with civil cases. This particular case, a dispute between relatives, seemed tailor-made for mediation. I hesitated for just a second before saying yes, we would try mediating the case by phone.

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Client Skills Board Students Excel in Competitions


It was a busy weekend for the Marquette University Law School Clients Skills Board, the organization focused on building client-focused practice skills.

Cassie Van Gompel and Zach Geren finished 3rd, and Megan Marqusee and David Karp finished 4th, at the ABA Regional Representation in Mediation Competition at Quinnipiac School of Law on Saturday, February 27th. Cassie and Zach had initially tied for 2nd place, missing the semi-final round in the tiebreaker by less than 4 points.

Closer to home, 1st-year students Cody Hallowell, Keegan Girodo, Kelsey Schanke, and Ben Lucarelli beat out ten other 1L and 2L teams to win the Marquette University Law School Intramural Negotiation Competition, also on Saturday, February 27th. Local attorneys, many of them MULS alums, came to Eckstein Hall to judge the competition, providing great feedback to all the teams working to enhance their negotiation abilities.  Cody, Keegan, Kelsey, and Ben will represent Marquette in the ABA Regional Negotiation Competition next fall.

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Commerce Claws

There are more than 50 polydactl (6 toed) cats at the Hemingway Museum in Key West Florida. The cats are descended from six-toed felines raised by Hemingway at his house in Key West, which is now a museum. The cats roam the grounds and the house at will. Several years ago, a visitor became concerned about the cats’ welfare, and reported the issue to the US Department of Agriculture. Long story short, the USDA decided the cats fell under the Animal Welfare Act with its accompanying regulations and requirements. The museum filed suit stating that the USDA did not have authority over the cats, the judge disagreed, and the Museum appealed.

Last week a three-judge appeals court panel (11th Circuit) decided the case using a broad interpretation of the Animal Welfare Act. The court also evaluated whether the cats “substantially affect” interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause. One part of the analysis determined that the Hemingway Museum purposefully uses the cats for marketing campaigns to attract visitors from outside of Florida, and as such, their exhibition has a commercial purpose and affects interstate commerce. You can see more about the case here and here.

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