This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Jad Itani.
The legal profession is profoundly focused on formalities and professionalism to the point that the ABA has dedicated a section of its website for professionalism. There are even unspoken protocols regarding who is addressed first in an email.
Accordingly, the legal profession is sure to be a very precise and particular field with very formal structures, right? My curiosity today arises from considering the professionalism and formalities of practice as a first-year associate. My experiences working with practicing attorneys and even interviewing with them have provided me with conflicting responses.
Growing up, I am sure most of us were raised with the lesson that we show respect by addressing people by their appropriate title: Ms., Mr., Attorney, Dr., Professor, etc. However, on a number of occasions, when addressing future employers by their appropriate title, I have received conflicting responses.
On a few occasions, when I have addressed some attorneys by saying “Attorney [last name],” they seemed uncomfortable with the formalities and requested I address them by their first name. Is that the threshold that provides a person with the opportunities to drop the formalities? When this occurred, the questions of formalities and professionalism started rapidly running through my mind. Continue reading “The Landmines of Practice: Formalities and Professionalism”
Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition, Olivia Garman and Sarita Olson. Congratulations also go to finalists Killian Commers and William Ruffing. Killian Commers and William Ruffing additionally won the Franz C. Eschweiler Prize for Best Brief. Olivia Garman won the Ramon A. Klitzke Prize for Best Oralist.
The competitors argued before a large audience in the Lubar Center. Presiding over the final round were Hon. Goodwin Liu, Hon. Stephen Murphy, and Hon. Lisa Neubauer.
Many thanks to the judges and competitors for their hard work, enthusiasm, and sportsmanship in all the rounds of competition, as well as to the moot court executive board and Law School administration and staff for their work in putting on the event. Special thanks to Dean Kearney for his support of the competition. Thank you as well to the Moot Court Association for its work in putting this event together, and especially 3L executive board members Tsz King Tse, who organized the competition, and Chief Justice Nathan Oesch.
Students are selected to participate in the competition based on their success in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy class at the Law School.
This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 3L Naomi Tovar.
As of earlier this week, I was one of the few people in law school that had never watched Making a Murderer. I did not even know what it was about. Then last night, I decided to watch the first episode. I thought it was finally time to watch the show, considering that I had recently decided the criminal law field is where I want to grow professionally.
Those decisions (to pursue criminal law and to watch the documentary) were easy. The more difficult decision I have to face, however, is whether I should be a prosecutor or a defense attorney. At first blush, the answer is simple: defense. A defense attorney protects the rights of those who, according the founding law of our country, are innocent until proven guilty. Many times, defense attorneys represent the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised of our society. I came to law school to do exactly that.
Congratulations to the students in the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition who advanced from the quarterfinal round to the semifinal round. These students will be competing at 1 p.m. today:
William Ruffing & Killian Commers v. Alexander Hensley & Claudia Ayala
Jehona Osmani & Emily Gaertner v. Sarita Olson & Olivia Garman
Congratulations to all the teams who competed in the quarterfinals. We appreciated the judges coming out to hear the oralists. Among the judges were a number of Jenkins and moot court alumni, including Natalie Schiferl, who came all the way from Minnesota to judge with her Jenkins partner, Mary Youssi.
This semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 3L Corey Westfall.
A lawyer wears—what does a lawyer wear? I ask you that question after my roommate professed that “we are going to be lawyers soon, so we should dress like lawyers.”
If the 2017 American Bar Association (“ABA”) annual conference provided an entire session focused solely on fashion, fashion must be a real legal issue! ABA paid for a Brooks Brothers session that provided modeling, lectures, and a pamphlet.
And while Brooks Brothers used that session to advertise their “relatively affordable pieces” (do not be duped; there are more affordable options), Brooks Brothers also provided some useful tips: (1) stick to dark grey and dark blue suits/skirts; and (2) limit shirts to solid blue and solid white, and lightly patterned versions of blue and white. (Number (2) for women may have some slight variations in color, but not much.) Conservative tips, but safe nonetheless.
Just over fourteen months have passed since I first appeared in a Milwaukee County courtroom as a newly minted (Marquette) lawyer. Rolling the clock back another two and a half years, I recall my first few days as a law student. In all, I’m nearly four years into what I hope will be a long and eventful career in the law.
Over these last four years—this last year, in particular—I’ve found myself often making the same two observations. Though I don’t suspect that either of my observations are especially unique, both are surely the product of spending so many of my days in and around our state’s most active courthouse.
Congratulations to the students in the Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition who have moved on to the inaugural quarterfinal round of the competition. The students will be competing on Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m. to determine who will be advancing to the semifinal round on April 15 at 1:00 p.m.
The teams will be paired as follows:
Emily Gaertner and Jehona Osmani v. Simone Haugen and Anne O’Meara
Olivia Garman and Sarita Olson v. Katie Bakunowicz and Kelsey Stefka
Claudia Ayala Tabares and Alexander Hensley v. Elizabeth Grabow and Zeinat Hindi
Killian Commers and William Ruffing v. Be’Jan Edmonds and Ian Pomplin
Congratulations to all the participants in the competition. We also very much appreciate the judges who grade briefs and participate in the preliminary rounds. This year we had two Jenkins alums, Attorneys Lindsey Anderson and Averi Niemuth, judging together in the preliminary rounds. One of the great things about moot court is how active our alums and volunteers are, and we appreciate their time and assistance every year.
I know this is technically a blog, but, if it were some other social media platform, that right there, my friends, would be “click bait.” What?? This guest blogger is going to talk about how difficult it is to be a lousy attorney? But, no, I don’t mean bad lawyer in the sense of legal incompetency or shaky professional ethics; I mean it in terms of being the bad-guy lawyer, the bearer of the bad news, the lawyer whose job it is to tell the client that he or she is not getting a settlement or can’t win the case or …any number of other unhappy communications.
It turns out that I am conflict averse. That this was news to me was pretty lame because I chose – at age 49! – to go into litigation after graduating law school. In fact, I chose to join the products liability defense litigation practice group when I joined a Milwaukee firm the September after graduation. For some reason, I imagined that being a litigator would suit my personality, which, as my husband will confirm, likes to win arguments. But it turns out I didn’t have a very good sense what litigation entailed: rather than using persuasive argument to prevail on some esoteric, high-minded point, litigation is really more like a bare-knuckled battle royale. For me anyway, there was just too much…conflict. And, I was too old for it. It was exhausting.
When I changed course in my legal career and became general counsel for a national insurance trade association, I thought I’d left my conflict days behind me. But, another epiphany here (and, yes, I really am getting to be too old for these), there is “conflict” even in a legal profession that is primarily transactional. Continue reading “The Challenges of Being a Bad Lawyer”
I was recently visiting a relative in the hospital when the attending physician struck up a conversation with my family. When he found out that I am an attorney, he asked about my area of practice. I told him that I practice product liability defense and intellectual property litigation. He then asked me the following question, a variation of which has been posed to me dozens of times over the past five years: “What type of engineer are you?”
I am an English major, and I practice IP litigation. Not only do I not have a science background, but I made a concerted effort to avoid science classes in college. Law schools precipitate a myth that you can’t practice IP without a science background. It’s a myth because it’s not true. I’m proof. (Disclaimer: it is true that you can’t prosecute patents before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office without a science background. But patent prosecution is only one part of IP.) Continue reading “The Myth About Practicing IP”
The illustration on the cover of the new Marquette Lawyer magazine shows people entering a large door shaped like the letter Q—or a comment bubble.
Consider the door a symbol for big questions—or the information that we might get from others to help answer them. It has been a goal of the public policy initiative of Marquette Law School for more than a decade to engage people in considering many of the major issues that face Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the world beyond. The Law School does not purport itself to provide the answers, but offers a platform for furthering awareness and knowledge about the questions and ways different people answer them.
A recent $5.5 million gift from Milwaukee philanthropists Sheldon and Marianne Lubar is “opening the door to much more” for the initiative, as the magazine cover says. Now named the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, the initiative is expanding its scope and offerings. This gift, added to a gift the Lubars made in 2010, has created a $7 million endowment to support the work.
“Diversity” is a term to qualify something diverse, which the American Heritage dictionary defines as “made up of distinct characteristics, qualities, or elements.” Diversity in the work environment of law firms, agencies, in-house counsels, and non-profits usually relates to the genetic makeup of the employees’ gender, race, national origin, and sexual orientation, but for purposes of brevity and, frankly, your time, this post focuses solely on race.
In 2007, per the ABA National Lawyer Population Survey, the racial demographic of the attorney population consisted of 77.6% Caucasian/White, 3.2% African American, 3.1% Hispanic and even lower numbers for the other categories of races and ethnicities. Not surprisingly, this disparity has not made much progress in the past decade which is displayed in the 2017 percentages that show attorneys consisting of 66.8% Caucasian/White, 4.1% African American, and 3.9% Hispanic. Accordingly, these statistics create more questions than answers, such as: Why is there such a low presence of minorities in the law? Is this disparity due to a systemic problem in the American education system or attributed to employers’ implicit bias? Do schools/employers care about these statistics? If not, should they? Continue reading ““Diversity” in the Law: Savvy Business, Self-Motivation, or Both?”
Picture this: you have finally been accepted as a member of the Bar in your respective state. Job offer in hand, you anxiously await the first day of the rest of your life – your first full time law position. The Sunday night before your first day of work, you peruse the attorney profiles on your new firm’s website. Viewing the profiles with a clear head, that is, a mind free of finals, bar prep, and interview details, a section catches your eye for the first time: PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS. The organizations that your colleagues belong to vary in category. Some groups appear to relate to practice areas, while others are seemingly dedicated to specific causes. Now you begin to wonder – do I need to join any specialty bar associations? What purpose will it serve? If I decided to join, how do I narrow down the best organizations for me?
It is commonplace for states across the country to have a bevy of specialty bar and legal associations that cater directly to a specific segment of the legal community. Attorneys’ specialties and practice areas vary, so it can be difficult to find your footing as a new lawyer outside of your specific firm or corporation. This is just one of the ways these organizations can help. While it isn’t necessary to join any specific organizations, the benefits are plentiful. Joining an association, whether local or national, generally provides you with the opportunity to network with your peers, grow your practice, continue your legal education, and commit yourself to work that is personally important to you.
When I graduated from law school, the first organization I committed myself to was the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL). Formerly known as the Wisconsin Association of Minority Attorneys (WAMA), WAAL was established in 1988 with the mission of dedicating itself to ensuring diversity in Wisconsin’s legal community. Since its inception, WAAL has been actively involved in community affairs throughout Wisconsin. My first introduction to WAAL was during my 1L year at its annual welcome reception, where Marquette and University of Wisconsin law students are invited to mingle with WAAL members. Through that reception, I met numerous Wisconsin attorneys, and formed relationships that have helped carry me through my career today. As a member of the Board of Directors since 2014, my admiration for the organization and its partners has only grown. Continue reading “The Benefits of Bar Associations”