The Challenges of Being a Bad Lawyer

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public1 Comment on The Challenges of Being a Bad Lawyer

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”

The Myth About Practicing IP

Posted on Categories Intellectual Property Law, Legal Practice, Pro Bono, Public1 Comment on The Myth About Practicing IP

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”

New Magazine Focuses on Opening the Door for More Work Addressing Big Questions

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on New Magazine Focuses on Opening the Door for More Work Addressing Big Questions

Marquette Lawyer Magazine Cover Fall 2017The 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.

In one article, which can be read by clicking here, the magazine describes the development of the public policy initiative and looks at what lies ahead. A second article, which can be read by clicking here, profiles the Lubars, who have had great impact on the Milwaukee area as business and civic leaders. Continue reading “New Magazine Focuses on Opening the Door for More Work Addressing Big Questions”

“Diversity” in the Law: Savvy Business, Self-Motivation, or Both?

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public, Race & LawLeave a comment» on “Diversity” in the Law: Savvy Business, Self-Motivation, or Both?

“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?”

The Benefits of Bar Associations

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A gavel with scalesPicture 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”

The Importance of Legal Apprenticeship: Why There is no Substitute for the Master-Student Relationship

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, PublicLeave a comment» on The Importance of Legal Apprenticeship: Why There is no Substitute for the Master-Student Relationship

“Never trust a teacher who does not have a teacher.”

-Unknown

On the first day of my Summer Clerkship in 2016 at the firm of Anspach Meeks Ellenberger LLP in Toledo, Ohio, Mark Meeks, a partner at the firm, sat me down in his office to give me the rundown of what I could expect during my twelve weeks there.  At that meeting, he stressed the importance of the work I would be doing, as well as the fact that most of it would be spent on what was going to turn out to be one of the most important cases the firm would try in years.  He also said something I will never forget: “What you learn in law school is a mile wide and an inch deep.”  He told me I would likely learn more during that summer than I did in my entire first year of law school.  I was skeptical, but by the end of the summer, I would come to understand what he meant.

My father, Robert Anspach, is founder and managing partner of the firm.  In his office there is a picture hanging on the wall of a man no older than my father is today.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed it was his father.  It is, however, not a blood relative: it is a picture of Charlie W. Peckinpaugh, Jr., the man who mentored my father during his early, formative years as a practicing attorney, into the effective lawyer he is today. (Pictured above.)

The Master-Apprentice relationship has been around for millennia. (Consider, for example, one of the most well-known teacher-student relationships of Socrates and Plato).  In the study of Yoga (capital “Y,” for union of mind, body, and spirit), those who want to become teachers (or better yet, who are called to be teachers), learn to master their art by studying under this sort of tutelage. Continue reading “The Importance of Legal Apprenticeship: Why There is no Substitute for the Master-Student Relationship”

After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments

Statue entitled "The Spirit of Justice" outside of the Rayburn Huse Office Building in Washington, D.C., showing a seated woman with a small child.I’ve been asked to be the alumni blogger for the month of May. It’s about time!

For those who don’t know me, I am a criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin. I am currently the President of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (WACDL). Because of this position, and the fact that I’ve practiced exclusively in the criminal defense field for 12 years, my posts will generally focus on defense-related issues.

In that vein, perhaps the most pressing criminal defense-related issue in Wisconsin remains the unconscionably low rate of compensation paid to lawyers who take appointments from the State Public Defender’s Office (SPD).

Here’s the nutshell version of what currently happens. Indigent defendants are constitutionally guaranteed representation by lawyers who work for the SPD. But the SPD obviously can’t handle all of the cases assigned to the agency. For one, there are cases with co-defendants, where ethical rules preventing conflicts of interest would preclude one “firm” from representing both defendants. In other situations, a flood of criminal prosecutions renders the SPD staff unable to handle all of the cases. Consequently, private attorneys will sometimes step up to the plate, and agree to take these cases.

These cases, known as SPD appointments, are paid at a rate of $40 an hour. Continue reading “After Thirty Years, It Is Time To Raise The Compensation for SPD Appointments”

Law School is Life-Changing—and about Changing Lives

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on Law School is Life-Changing—and about Changing Lives

Law school is hard. In your first year, you’re scared and unsure about what to expect. You know that “on-call” is a thing that happens, but you don’t know whether it’s like the movies you’ve seen or if that was just Hollywood. You know you have more reading assigned than you’ve ever had, and you don’t know how in the world you will get it all done. You don’t know anyone, or at least don’t know them well, as you go through the hardest task you have ever taken on.

Law school is hard. In your second year, you understand the process, but you’re starting to wear down. You have figured out how to read hundreds of pages a week—and mostly retain it—but you don’t know how to balance working and extra-curriculars and dramatic interpersonal relationships at the same time. You’re starting to get worried about having a job after graduation. The rankings roll in and you aren’t sure whether you’re succeeding, based on your own standards or those imposed on you.

Law school is hard. In your third year, you have a job . . . or you don’t. You’re tired—mentally, physically, and emotionally. You’re so excited to be done, but that light at the end of the tunnel is still so far away, and even that is scary. Sure, you’re ready to be done with law school—but maybe not ready to be a full-time, practicing attorney. You hope the work is done—after all, the three years are up—but you know that practice won’t be any easier.

Law school is hard. It is frustrating, challenging, infuriating, scary, soul-crushingly busy. Continue reading “Law School is Life-Changing—and about Changing Lives”

2017 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Finals

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on 2017 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition Finals

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition, Nate Oesch and Elisabeth Thompson. Congratulations also go to finalists A.J. Lawton and Ashley Smith.  Nate Oesch and Elisabeth Thompson additionally won the Franz C. Eschweiler Prize for Best Brief.  Ashley Smith won the Ramon A. Klitzke Prize for Best Oralist.

The competitors argued before a large audience in the Appellate Courtroom. Presiding over the final round were Hon. Paul J. Watford, Hon. James D. Peterson, Hon. Amy J. St. Eve.

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 Samuel (Micah) Woo, who organized the competition, and Chief Justice Barry Braatz.

Students are selected to participate in the competition based on their success in the fall Appellate Writing and Advocacy class at the Law School.

The final round may be viewed here.

Marquette Wagner Moot Court Team–2017 Semifinalists

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law, Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on Marquette Wagner Moot Court Team–2017 Semifinalists

Marquette’s labor and employment moot court team had an incredibly successful performance at New York Law School’s Wagner Moot Court Competition.  On March 24th and 25th, Carly Gerards, Nick Sulpizio, and Corey Swinick competed and performed very well in both their oral advocacy and brief writing.

After the preliminary rounds, the team advanced to the octofinals with the 8th best score of the 40 teams competing.  The team then advanced to the quarterfinals and eventually the semifinals–a Final Four team for Marquette.

In addition to advancing to the top four of the entire competition, the team took home the award for best overall Petitioner Brief.  The team worked exceptionally hard on the brief and in their advocacy practices, and that hard work paid off.  Great job, team!

The team is advised by Professor Paul Secunda and coached by Attorney Laurie Frey.

24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley

The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) was held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  David Conley, a current law student, shares his experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

The Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office—Juvenile Division Milwaukee County

What kind of work did you do there?

The Law Offices of the Wisconsin State Public Defender represents indigent people who face criminal charges. However, the State Public Defender’s Office actually covers a variety of different cases where people are in need of legal representation. Milwaukee County is divided into two main offices. One office, (MKE Trial) handles adult criminal cases. The other office, (MKE Juvenile) represents juvenile clients facing a variety of life obstacles. These obstacles could be: (1) a juvenile delinquency petition, (2) a CHIPS (child in need of protective services) petition, or (3) a JIPS (juvenile in need of protective services) petition. The public defenders office advocates for juveniles who are in desperate need of legal help. The juvenile office also handles TPR (termination of parental rights) cases, and mental health commitment cases. As a Public Interest Law Society Fellow, it was my responsibility to assist the staff attorneys in the successful representation of these clients.

Continue reading “24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley”

24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger

The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) was held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Corinne Frutiger, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

Milwaukee Justice Center.

What kind of work did you do there?

I got to continue a lot of the pro bono work that I was already very involved with, including meeting one on one with clients in the Family Forms Clinic and side by side with volunteer attorneys in the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC).  In the Family Forms Clinic I worked one on one with clients to help them navigate the family law process, whether that be the starting of an action, or jumping back into an existing case.

I also worked with attorneys in the MVLC to provide brief legal advice to clients on a range of matters, including such matters as family law, small/large claims, probate, landlord-tenant, and guardianships.  I was given the opportunity to be fully integrated with the MJC staff and sit in on meetings to discuss what more we could do to better serve our clients and the Milwaukee community.  It was truly incredible to see and be a part of a group that works tirelessly to continue to improve their services for the benefit of the community.  Watching the MJC staff, volunteer attorneys, and even some of the other volunteer students work so hard and brainstorm together to serve the full extent of a client’s needs was truly memorable and an experience I am truly grateful for.

Continue reading “24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger”