Ah, yes, the Baby Lawyer™. The finished product of the intense demands of law school, crisp diploma freshly in hand, joining the fray of the courtroom or the boardroom, ready and oh-so-willing to tackle each and every problem he or she is about to face. So full of life and hope, chock full of caselaw, best practices, tidbits from internships, faculty blessings and encouragement, and an undying love for the Oxford comma. We are blindingly sure that all of our preparation will be enough as we strut into the hallowed halls of the legal profession, away from the strictly regimented last three years . . . and its safety net of office hours and a curved grading scale.
I can say with some certainty that the baby lawyer experience is relatively similar throughout the generations. Some new attorneys begin in the proverbial “mail room,” getting coffee, delivering senior attorney mail, and living in a three by three foot cubicle that they have determined to make their own with pictures of friends and motivational quotes from Target. Baby Lawyer is our name, legal research is our game, and we have embraced “other duties as assigned” as our personal motto.
Some First Year Associates (i.e. the Baby Lawyer With A Title) may have a trial by fire. They will be handed a brown accordion folder, a case of their very own.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing an incredible colleague — and friend — Isioma Nwabuzor. This intelligent, passionate, and compassionate woman has served as a role model for many youth of color in the Milwaukee’s legal and social communities. Please enjoy her thoughts and insight into the good work she is doing for our city and for the future of the legal profession.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Isioma Nwabuzor and I am a transactional attorney at Baird. I am originally from Nigeria, West Africa, but was raised and lived in Milwaukee for as long as I can remember. I am a member of several professional and/or service organizations, including Rotary International, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Association of Corporate Counsel.
How has your journey to and through the legal profession been influenced by your life and roots?
My maternal grandfather was a high-court judge in the country of Nigeria. I come from a long line of attorneys on my mother’s side, so my family always jokes that my inclination towards a career in the legal profession is hereditary. However, from a different facet, all that I am motivates me to give a voice to the voiceless. My experiences as a member of several minority demographics (I’m a Black woman and an immigrant) has inspired a passion and fight in me that, I believe, lends itself well to adversarial careers, such as the legal profession.
Tell us about Dreamer Next Door, your new 501(c)(3).
During the off-season, there are big projects, small projects, legal research, and the expected minutiae of the practice of law. But as the sun begins to peek through the Midwest haze that is winter, all hell breaks loose.
“Oh a music festival? That sounds fun. But what do you DO every day?”
“It’s only 11 days. What do you do during the rest of the year? Vacation!?”
“I bet you get to meet all the famous people, right?”
The daily life of a music festival attorney is likely similar to your own. There are big projects, small projects, legal research, and the expected minutiae of the practice of law. I have written briefs and legal research memos with the customary headings and content, appeared in administrative court, push a not-insignificant amount of paperwork, and manage a team. The difference between practicing law to benefit a client and practicing law to benefit thousands of screaming concertgoers is complicated; my job is governed by the courts of this land and the court of public opinion, with one delivering a much swifter, and less researched, judgment in the modern age. The stakes are huge; my company is responsible for the safety of each and every guest on the festival grounds, as well as the thousands of employees operating the festival at any given time. Within this pursuit for a perfect show, I have contributed to multi-million dollar capital stage construction projects and, just a few hours prior, stood in front of a group of Milwaukee’s underserved job-seekers, recruiting hopeful employees at the Department of Workforce Development. I have researched the nuances of the Americans with Disabilities Act to better serve all festival patrons, while simultaneously approving marketing images of a (very cute) cartoon feline for our mobile marketing team. I have opined on topics from acceptable marketplace vendors to high-level sponsorships to recycling bins to golf-cart safety. I have filed and renewed trademarks, while fielding phone calls regarding worker’s compensation claims. To put it simply, what I do every day is advance the world’s largest music festival. Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Music Festival Attorney”
Attorneys often speak of mentorship as an essential building block to a career in the legal profession.
Indeed, one of the first pieces of advice bestowed upon young attorneys is to find a mentor, cultivate that relationship, and soak up all advice like a sponge. Mentorship roundtables, “speed networking” events, and student-attorney mixers are stylish events celebrating these connections, encouraging both sides to learn, grow, and expand one’s worldview. And yes, mentorship should be important to legal practitioners across the board, from students fresh from their first briefs to attorneys with long, successful, and active careers.
But why does one need a mentor or a mentee and how does one find a perfect match? Do I click my heels together three times, whisper “Please help me,” and one will magically appear like a fairy lawmother? What if my mentor or mentee doesn’t suit me or even like me? Let’s discuss. Continue reading “The Art of Mentorship”
Please join me in welcoming our guest bloggers for the month of September!
Our Student Blogger of the Month is Kylie Owens. Kylie grew up in Ogden, Utah and later attended Weber State University where she earned a B.A. in History and Geography. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she taught AP Geography and U.S. History to junior high students for almost seven years before deciding to go to law school.
Since the outset of her legal career, Kylie has worked mainly in family law, and is interested in gaining experience in other practice areas. She is competing in the National Moot Court Competition and is also pursuing an ADR certificate. In the little free time that she does have, Kylie enjoys practicing meditation, finding all the best restaurants in Milwaukee, and traveling.
Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Molly Madonia. Molly is the Staff Attorney at Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., the producers of Summerfest™, the World’s Largest Music Festival™. Her primary areas of responsibility include managing MWF’s trademark portfolio, which includes the well-known Summerfest Smile™; liaising to Marketing teams on issues related to sponsorship, exhibitorship, and marketplace; advising the Human Resources department on compliance-related matters, including navigating the ADA and input on employee training; writing those Sweepstakes/Promotions rules for use on social media; and, of course, “other duties as assigned.”
She was honored to join the MULS graduating class of 2016, receiving her J.D. and the Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. For more work by Molly, please see her pieces published in the Marquette University Law School Intellectual Property Law Review.
Thanks for joining us and we look forward to your posts.
The Year 1989: The Berlin wall came down, the world wide web was invented, Seinfeld first aired, and, not quite as significant for the planet, my dad, Michael Haggenjos, graduated from Marquette Law School. (He also felt the need to remind me that it was the year certain celebrities, such as Taylor Swift and Danielle Radcliffe, were born.)
My dad devoted a large portion of his earlier blog post talking about some of the events in my life leading up to my decision to go to law school, and the subsequent direction my law school career has taken towards litigation. While it’s true that it took me longer to realize what I wanted to be when I grew up, I did eventually have that moment where I knew I wanted to go to law school. It happened around my junior year of college, when I was studying at UW-Madison.
I found myself at a crossroads: Do I go to grad school and get my doctorate in English Literature so that I can teach at the university level? Or, do I follow in my dad’s footsteps and go to law school? In order to find an answer, I decided to take the philosophy of logic at the suggestion of my advisor. It may sound cheesy, but after a single class I was hooked, and I knew from that moment on that I was going to attend law school.
We welcome our alumni and student bloggers for August.
Our alumni contributor is Rebeca López (L’12). Rebeca is an attorney on Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.’s Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group, where she counsels and assists clients in navigating complex legal issues arising in the employment relationship, including addressing disability and leave accommodation requests, wage and hour complaints, and employment discrimination allegations. Rebeca represents employers in matters before federal and state courts and equal rights agencies, and conducts internal investigations into employee complaints and allegations.
Rebeca also serves on various boards of directors in the legal and non-profit community; she was appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett to the Wisconsin Center District Board of Directors from 2016 to 2018 and was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to the Governor’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee in 2019. In 2015, Rebeca was named to Milwaukee Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” and in 2016, she was recognized as one of Wisconsin’s 48 most powerful Latinos by Madison 365.
Rebeca López worked as an immigration caseworker and a regional coordinator for seven years before attending Marquette Law School and graduating magna cum laude in 2012. While in law school, Rebeca served as Business Editor of the Marquette Law Review and interned at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin for Judge Lynn S. Adelman. Her student-written law review article was quoted by CNN in April.
Our student contributor is 2L Randal Finger. Randal was born and raised in Germantown, Wisconsin, and lives there now. He attended Ripon College and where he received a Politics & Government degree. While at Ripon College, Randal had a practicing attorney as an adjunct professor, which, he said, solidified his decision to attend law school. Over the summer, he worked downtown at Northwestern Mutual as a summer clerk, working on a variety of projects throughout the company. He noted that he has grown fond of real estate law throughout his short time in law school and his time at Northwestern and is the treasurer of the Real Estate Law Society at Marquette. As of now, Randal said he hopes to practice “somewhere in the real estate realm,” but is open to other areas. “I understand that my limited exposure to law in the real world could mean that there is something out there that I enjoy much more.”
Welcome to Rebeca and to Randal. We look forward to your contributions.
[The following is a guest post from Daniel Suhr ’08, a prior guest alumni contributor to the Blog.]
On June 25th the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down its decision in Koschkee v. Evers, 2019 WI 76, which is in many ways a rerun of questions raised in Coyne v. Walker, 2016 WI 38. Coyne was, to put it mildly, a jurisprudential mess: “Our mandate resulted from a one-justice lead opinion, a two-justice concurrence, and a one-justice concurrence, all of which agreed only on the outcome of the case” (Koschkee, ¶ 5), plus a principal dissent representing the views of three justices, and a secondary dissent representing the views of only two justices.
Chief Justice Roggensack’s Koschkee majority (which commanded four votes on everything except ¶ 17) briefly discussed the stare decisis weight of Coyne in an early footnote, stating, “When we are asked to overturn one of our prior decisions, lead opinions that have no common legal rationale with their concurrences are troublesome.” (¶ 8, n.5.) They are troublesome, the Court continues, because it is hard to run their rationale through the traditional stare decisis analysis when there is no definitive rationale to analyze.
Justice Bradley’s dissent, by contrast, says the majority “throws the doctrine of stare decisis out the window.” (¶ 62.) To the Court’s argument from the lack of a common rationale in Coyne, she replies, “[T]he split nature of the Coyne opinion is of no import. The mandate of Coyne was clear despite the fractured nature of the opinions. Although the four justices in the majority subscribed to differing rationales, they agreed on the essential conclusion….” (¶ 73.)
When I was asked if I would—together with my daughter Micaela—write a blog for the Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, I wanted to make sure it was known I haven’t practiced law full-time in fifteen years. So, fair warning, this is not going to be a technical legal discussion.
Let’s start with a short background: I graduated from MULS in 1989. In fact, I just celebrated my thirty-year reunion (quick shout out to my classmates: You guys rock! We had the highest turnout of any reunion class!). It was wonderful catching up with old friends, some I have kept in touch with; regrettably, some I have not.
As I stood in the Zilber Forum (as I have done several times previously, more on that later), I reflected on my law school experience at Sensenbrenner Hall, and, despite feeling envious of the students who are privileged to study law in such a marvelous facility, was transported in back thirty years to the year I graduated from MULS. I remember the hope, the promise, coupled with the uncertainty and anxiety I was feeling at the time. Not to mention the excitement of my impending marriage one month later to my beautiful wife of thirty years, Ellen, whom I met while we were both studying at Marquette (she was earning her Masters in Analytical Chemistry at the time).
For the month of July, we welcome father-daughter pair Mike and Micaela Haggenjos as our alumnus and student bloggers.
Mike grew up in Prophetstown, Illiniois, attended the University of Iowa and received a B.S. degree in Political Science and Economics. He graduated from Marquette Law in 1989. He was in private practice until 2004 at the Port Washington, Wisconsin law firm of Ansay & Haggenjos (now O’Neill, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing, S.C.). Mike left the practice of law to become an owner and officer of Voeller Mixers, Inc., in Port Washington, a manufacturer of equipment used to make concrete products. Mike has been married to Ellen for 30 years and has two children, Micaela and Matthew. Mike enjoys golf, boating and performing as the lead singer in a rock band that plays in Ozaukee and Washington County.
Micaela grew up in Port Washington, Wisconsin and received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her time at MULS, Micaela interned with the Honorable Rebecca Bradley of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and is currently working for the firm Alan C. Olson & Associates in New Berlin. Micaela is a member of the Association of Women in Law and the Business Law Society at MULS and has volunteered for the MJC Family Law Forms Clinic and the Eviction Defense Project. Micaela and her competition partner, Brooke Erickson, were the champions of Marquette’s 2019 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition and won the Franz C. Eschweiler Prize for Best Brief. She looks forward to representing MULS at the National Moot Court Competition this fall and serving on the 2019-2020 Moot Court Executive Board as Associate Justice of Intramural Competitions. Micaela hopes to work in litigation and appellate practice after graduation.
We hope that this is the first of many family pairings on the Faculty Blog.
On June 20, 2019, the United States Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Curtis Flowers. The most recent appeal marks the sixth time that Mr. Flowers has been tried for charges arising from a quadruple homicide that occurred at the Tardy Furniture Store in Winona, Mississippi. Mr. Flowers has been incarcerated for over 20 years, as he awaits trial. Throughout this time, Mr. Flowers has consistently maintained his innocence. By way of background, Mr. Flowers is black. Douglas Evans, the prosecuting attorney of all six trials, is white.
APM’s investigative podcast titled In the Dark conducted an in-depth analysis of the case. The podcast explores the nature of the circumstantial evidence that the prosecution relied upon. It scrutinizes the methodology of the investigating officers and explores alternative innocent interpretations of the evidence proffered. But, for the purpose of the appeal, sufficiency of evidence is not at issue. The narrator, Madeleine Baran, explains that “we’ve talked to hundreds of people who live in this part of Mississippi and it’s clear that the way people think about the Curtis Flowers case for the most part depends on whether they are white or black.” And it is the issue of race, which is at the heart of the appeal recently decided by the United States Supreme Court. Continue reading “Out of the Shadows: Peremptory Juror Strikes At Issue in Flowers v. Mississippi”
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”