The Costs of Janus v. AFSCME

Posted on Categories Business Regulation, Constitutional Interpretation, Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Labor & Employment Law, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public, Speakers at Marquette, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on The Costs of Janus v. AFSCME

Photo of statue depicting a bust of Janus, the two-headed Roman God.On April 10 I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Law School Chapter of the Federalist Society.  The presentation was entitled “Lawyers, Plaintiffs, and Professors, Oh My!: Janus v. AFSCME.”  The other panelists were Adjunct Professor and Director of the Law Library Elana Olson, Alumnus Daniel Suhr from the Liberty Justice Center , and Mark Janus, the name plaintiff in the case of Janus v. AFSCME.  What follows are my prepared remarks.

In June of 2018 the United States Supreme Court held, in the case of Janus v. AFSCME, that it is a violation of the First Amendment for State and public sector unions to assess mandatory agency fees to non-consenting employees.  The majority of the Court held that forcing non-union workers to contribute money to support non-political activities which benefit all workers violates the Free Speech rights of non-consenting employees.

In so holding, the Court overruled a precedent of over 40 years, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 1977 case that had upheld the practice against a First Amendment challenge.

Opposition to labor unions and collective bargaining rights is a policy choice held by many political conservatives today, but it was not always the position of the Republican Party.  One of the early icons of the conservative political movement in the United States, Whittaker Chambers, was himself a union member at times in his career, he was supportive of the labor movement, and his wife and many of his relatives were union members.

This icon of political conservatism in the 1950s and 1960s supported collective bargaining rights so much, that when the parent of the conservative National Review Magazine gave an award named after Whittaker Chambers to our guest Mark Janus, in recognition of his participation in the Janus v. AFSCME litigation, the family of Whittaker Chambers objected to their father’s name being associated with the case. Continue reading “The Costs of Janus v. AFSCME”

3L Shannon Strombom Wins State Bar Outstanding Public Interest Law Student of Year Award

Posted on Categories Immigration Law, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Poverty & Law, Public1 Comment on 3L Shannon Strombom Wins State Bar Outstanding Public Interest Law Student of Year Award

head shot of Shannon StrombomShannon Strombom (3L) has been chosen as the winner of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Outstanding Public Interest Law Student of the Year.

The criteria used to determine a winner of this award includes a demonstrated commitment to working in the public interest, public interest involvement before and during law school, exceptional volunteer work or activism in the community, and a commitment to helping others.

Strombom came to law school with a mission to help others, and she wasted no time getting involved. She started doing pro bono work in her first weeks as a 1L and has performed nearly 250 pro bono hours in seven different pro bono projects including the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics, Milwaukee Justice Center, Eviction Defense Project, Guardianship Clinic, Domestic Violence Project, U-Visa Project, and Youth Law Day. In other words, if a pro bono project is offered to students, Strombom signs up to do it.

Strombom is also the two-time recipient of a Public Interest Law Society fellowship. She has focused her fellowship work on immigration law, working one summer with Catholic Charities Legal Services for Immigrants and the next summer in the Arlington, Virginia, Immigration Court.

As for her plans after graduation, Strombom plans to build upon past experience and practice immigration law in a government, non-profit or small firm setting. Strombom particularly hopes to focus on family-based immigration law or humanitarian immigration law, such as asylum.

Strombom is an inspiration to us all. We are proud she will soon be a Marquette Lawyer.

NAAC Teams Win Third and Fourth Best Briefs, Advance to Regional Semifinal Rounds at Boston Regional

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on NAAC Teams Win Third and Fourth Best Briefs, Advance to Regional Semifinal Rounds at Boston Regional
one woman and two men, all law students, stand before a courtroom door
Lizzy King, Jad Itani, and Travis Yang
three women, all law students, stand in front of a courtroom door
Anna Meulbroek, Zeinat Hindi, and Libby Grabow

Thirty teams from across the country arrived in Boston at the Boston Municipal Court Department on February 28, all prepared to present oral arguments in the National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) regional. Two Marquette Law teams were among those and both made an impact.

Jad Itani, Elizabeth (Lizzy) King, and Travis Yang were seeded 13th after three rounds of argument. They advanced to the fourth (regional semifinal) round but faced a tough bench while arguing respondent’s side, a tough argument in the context of the Eighth Amendment issues presented. They lost that fourth round. King had a strong performance at oral argument in the second round, despite battling some unfortunate shellfish poisoning; Itani had to sub in for her in the third and fourth rounds, despite not having argued that side at all. Their team’s brief was named third best in the region.

Elizabeth (Libby) Grabow, Zeinat Hindi, and Anna Meulbroek were seeded 3rd after three rounds, but they, too, faced a tough bench in the fourth round. Unfortunately, they lost that round, but delivered consistently high-quality oral arguments in every round. After the third round, the judges commended them for their winning performance and encouraged each of them to continue with litigation work. Their team’s brief was named fourth best in the region.

This year was the first in memory where both teams advanced to the regional semifinal round and both teams received brief awards. Marquette has much to be proud of.

Both teams were assisted by practitioner coaches Elleny Christopolous, Kate Maternowski, and Zachary Willenbrink (L’11). Thank you, too, to practice judges Professors Ed Fallone and Elana Olson; Judge J.P. Stadtmueller (L’67), law clerk Nathan Bader and law clerk Joan Harms; City of Milwaukee attorneys James Carroll (L’08), Bill Davidson (L’17), Patricia Fricker, Katryna Rhodes; Meredith Donaldson (L’18); and former NAAC competitors Lucas Bennewitz (L’15), Ali Klimko (L’17), Andrew Lawton (L’18), and Adam Woodside (L’18).

Congratulations to team members for their outstanding representation of Marquette Law.

 

 

 

Interview with PILS Fellow Kylie Kaltenberg

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on Interview with PILS Fellow Kylie Kaltenberg

This year’s 26th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do Gooders Auction to support the Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will take place on February 15, 2019 at Marquette Law School.  Here is a link to details about the event.  Attendees may purchase tickets online and check out items that are being auctioned.  The theme this year is Game On!  The proceeds from the auction go to support scholarships for Marquette law students to engage in public interest work during the summer.   This is an interview with 2L Kylie Kaltenberg, who had a PILS Fellowship last summer.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

I worked at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee this past summer.

What kind of work did you do there?

The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee helps low income individuals with a variety of civil legal matters. I was able to help attorneys and clients with various landlord/tenant disputes. I was also able to see firsthand how Wisconsin law has changed regarding the protections afforded to tenants. I also worked a great deal with the Milwaukee Jail ensuring the inmates were being housed in suitable conditions. For me, to generalize all that I was able experience this past summer:  my experience was like seeing in real life the cases I had read about during my 1L year.

Continue reading “Interview with PILS Fellow Kylie Kaltenberg”

Interview with Marquette PILS Auction Volunteers Charles Bowen and Alexander Sterling

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on Interview with Marquette PILS Auction Volunteers Charles Bowen and Alexander Sterling

This year’s 26th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders Auction to benefit Marquette’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will take place on February 15, 2019 at Marquette Law School.  Here is a link to details about the event.  Attendees may purchase tickets online and check out items that will be auctioned.  The theme this year is Game On!  The proceeds from the auction go to support scholarships for Marquette law students to engage in public interest work during the summer.   This is an interview with 2Ls Charles Bowen and Alexander Sterling, who are Co-Vice Presidents of Solicitation for the Auction this year.  Charles had a PILS Fellowship last summer with the ACLU of Wisconsin.

What is the Do-Gooders Auction?

It is the main fundraiser of the PILS Program, raising money to fund PILS Fellowships for law students interested in summer internships at nonprofit or government agencies that cannot afford to pay their interns. You can earn up to $5,000 for the summer.

How does the Auction support these Fellowships?

Every single dollar earned from the event goes toward the fellowships. We have a silent auction where you can bid on items, and games you can play to win great prizes. This year there’s even a roulette table. So the money people spend playing games and having fun actually goes towards helping students. It’s a two for one.

Continue reading “Interview with Marquette PILS Auction Volunteers Charles Bowen and Alexander Sterling”

Interview with Marquette PILS Fellow Kelsey McCarthy

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on Interview with Marquette PILS Fellow Kelsey McCarthy

This year’s 26th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do Gooders Auction to support the Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will take place on February 15, 2019 at Marquette Law School.  Here is a link to details about the event.  Attendees may purchase tickets online and check out items that will be auctioned.  The theme this year is Game On!  The proceeds from the auction go to support scholarships for Marquette law students to engage in public interest work during the summer.   This is an interview with 2L Kelsey McCarthy, who had a PILS Fellowship last summer.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

I worked at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.

Continue reading “Interview with Marquette PILS Fellow Kelsey McCarthy”

Compliance: The Emerging Career Path for Lawyers

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Business Regulation, Corporate Law, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, PublicLeave a comment» on Compliance: The Emerging Career Path for Lawyers
Political cartoon from Puck Magazine in 1908 showing Moses holding the Ten Commandments and various business and Wall Street figures reacting with alarm.
From Puck Magazine, 1908. Various Wall Street figures react to Moses and the Ten Commandments.

When entering law school, and sometimes even before law school, students are put in front of this metaphorical “fork-in-the-road.”

Transactional or litigation?

In most law schools today, those are the two apparent options. However, this is just not the case anymore. There is at least one more, and emerging, option: the compliance route. It’s not completely transactional nor is it at all litigation. In some cases it takes ideas from both, and involves a bit of work in areas that would not necessarily be considered “practicing law.”

Oh, I’m sure I just hit a nerve for many of you. “Why would you go to law school and get into mountains of debt, and then get a job where you’re not completely practicing law?”

Bear with me and let me explain.

o In June 2016, a car manufacturer was forced to spend $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers on its diesel vehicles.

o In September 2016, a banking giant was hit with $185 million in fines by governmental authorities after thousands of its employees illegally opened unauthorized bank accounts. Earlier this year, new regulatory restrictions were imposed against the bank essentially halting the growth of the business until there has been sufficient improvement in its business practices. Continue reading “Compliance: The Emerging Career Path for Lawyers”

Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Wellness in the Legal Profession: Change is Necessary

Posted on Categories Health Care, Legal Education, Legal Profession, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Wellness in the Legal Profession: Change is Necessary

Symbol of a heart with a jagged line representing an EKG printout superimposed over it, in order to represent the concept of "wellbeing"Last week, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) designated and celebrated October 10th, 2018 as National Mental Health Day for Law Schools.[1] This date coincided with the World Mental Health Day.[2] The ABA’s National Mental Health Day for Law Schools serves as a vital reminder that the legal profession is not immune from mental health problems. In fact, the numbers themselves highlight just how important discussing and tackling mental health and wellness are to both law schools and the legal profession in general. Both law students and lawyers suffer in large numbers from mental illness and substance abuse. Therefore, it is important to address these concerns and to help both law students and attorneys live a life that focuses on their wellbeing.

Statistics on Attorneys

In comparison to other professions, lawyers themselves experience higher rates of mental health issues and substance abuse. Attorneys are the most frequently depressed occupational group in the United States, and they are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression in comparison to non-lawyers.[3] In a study of roughly 13,000 practicing attorneys conducted by the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 28% of the attorneys reported experiencing depression, 23% reported experiencing stress, and 19% reported experiencing anxiety.[4] Of these participants, 21% are qualified as problem drinkers, and they “experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise generally consistent with alcohol use disorders at a rate much higher than other populations.”[5]

This same study found that younger attorneys, rather than older attorneys, are at a greater risk for experiencing these issues. Continue reading “Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Wellness in the Legal Profession: Change is Necessary”

Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Civil Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Race & Law1 Comment on Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality
A map of the city of Milwaukee and surrounding counties illustrating the racial segregation of residents per the 200 census.
Black residential segregation as reflected in 2000 Milwaukee Census

In his commentary on May 24, 2018, Bucks guard Sterling Brown is lucky he wasn’t killed by Milwaukee Police,” Martenzie Johnson casually observes that “Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America, is one of the worst cities for black Americans, economically, the worst city for African-American children to grow up in and is home to the zip code with the highest incarceration rate in the country.”

I moved to Milwaukee in 1984 to become a Marquette Lawyer.  I took my first law school exam on my 30th birthday – Torts by Professor James Ghiardi.  In May of 1987, like every Marquette lawyer graduating before me and after me, I took the attorney’s oath.  I swore to “support the Constitution of the United States,” the one ordained and established in order to “form a more perfect Union.”  I never left Milwaukee and I am proud to say I am from Milwaukee.  Yet I am at a complete loss of words to describe how it is that we, my law school and my fellow Marquette lawyers, go about our busy daily lives virtually unconscious of living in “one of the most segregated cities in America.”  If you believe you can frame the types of questions that, if answered properly and acted on, will help us deconstruct our segregated Milwaukee, then I strongly encourage you to write and to weigh in now.

In October 2015, I was involved in a three week medical malpractice trial in Outagamie County.  Judge Mark McGinnis was presiding, who is one of the best trial judges currently on the bench.  I came home Friday to rest and prepare for the final week of trial.  A little after 1 am on October 31, 2015 the incessant ring of the telephone pulled me from a deep slumber.  The voice of a woman said, “Mr. Thomsen, we tried for 45 minutes, but we couldn’t save your son.”  My wife, Grace, sitting up asks:  “What did they say?”  “He’s gone.”  “Noooooo…” turned into a mourning howl.  It is unforgettable.  And so it is that in one instant the eye of a category 5 hurricane shreds your bed, your son’s mother, your wife, his sister, his fiancé, his daughter, his uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, friends — my life and theirs too.  Judge McGinnis and defense counsel all agreed to a mistrial if I asked for one.  I returned to finish the trial.  The case had progressed and in a way that could not have been replicated.  The lawyer’s oath is a demanding one.

Yet somehow in the eye of the hurricane you can find love: the love of my son’s fiancé, of my now daughter-in-law Sydney, and my granddaughter, Sienna.  They are proudly biracial.  Sydney is considering law school.  I suggested that she become a Marquette Lawyer.  She said “no” because Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are too segregated.  The truth hurts so much. Continue reading “Deconstructing Our Segregated Reality”

Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers

scales of justiceThis 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 Desiree Geromini.

Being a lawyer comes with many associated preconceptions and many are not very positive. Though this is the case, from my experiences and discussions with fellow aspiring attorneys and those already in practice, the main motivator for entering the legal field is the desire to make a positive impact in people’s lives. In thinking about this discrepancy in public opinion and the motivating factors behind practicing and aspiring attorneys’ decision to become lawyers, it made me think about what I can do to spur a more positive spin on the profession.  Though this is an uphill battle, the best plan of action I can think of is to use my voice to initiate open conversations with friends, family, colleagues, clients, and anyone who is willing to listen. Continue reading “Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers”

California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Pro Bono, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Goodwin Liu, a justice of the California Supreme Court, came to Marquette Law School Thursday to be a judge of the Jenkins Honor Moot Court Competition Final Round. The widely-known justice also brought with him a fascinating personal story and provocative ideas for lawyers and law students on several subjects, presented during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall. I encourage you to listen to the program by clicking here. This blog item will on two of the messages Liu delivered.

Liu, then a professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school, was nominated in 2010 by President Barack Obama to be a federal appeals court judge. The nomination drew strong opposition from Republicans in the US Senate, largely because of controversial things Liu had written. After the nomination was held up for more than a year, Liu withdrew. He was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown to that state’s Supreme Court in 2011.

Did Liu regret the things he had written? Liu said there were  some specific things he would handle differently in retrospect, but overall, he was not sorry he had taken strong stands. He urged the law students in the audience not to fear taking positions on things they care about.

Liu said, “You should not just kind of live your life in an exceedingly cautious or antiseptic way, never saying anything, never doing anything that could cause someone else to disagree with you. No. That’s not a good way to live. You have to think about (and) remember why you came to law school — what were the things that motivated you – and, within reasonable ethical and prudent bounds, pursue those things. Because you’re not going to be happy if you don’t do that. . . .  or do anything. . . .

“I had a friend who told me a nice quote once, which was, ‘no one ever goes to his grave seeking an epitaph that reads, “He kept his options open.” I mean, that is no way to live.”

Gousha asked Liu if the nation was in a situation where there two justice systems, one for those who can afford lawyers and the other for those who can’t.

Liu said that was one of the biggest issues facing America. He spoke of the principle that everyone should have equal access to the legal system.

“The principle is an important one .We are so far away from that principle overall in society. Most of us, myself included, do lots of important transactions every year or every couple years where we probably should have a lawyer look things over. Did you ever buy a house? Did you ever read all of those documents? My guess is probably not, but you just signed a lot of your life away in those documents. Wouldn’t it be useful to make sure all those things were done right? This is a big thing.

“Two piece of concluding thought there. One is, of course, that I’ll offer an exhortation to the lawyers and the law students here that doing work for people who can’t afford legal services is so important. No matter whatever you do in your career, that has to be one of the things that you do.  . . . Especially for the younger people here, it is one of the things that will actually give you the greatest skill-building types of opportunities. . . .

“The other piece however, is more fundamental, which I think those of you who are in the public policy realm might give some thought to. And that is (that) law is a strange profession in so far as it is not a differentiated profession as, for example, the health care industry is. Not that our health care industry is any great paragon of success. However, it is the case that when you go to seek health care, it isn’t thar you only go and see a doctor, a physician. We have differentiated roles up and down the health care system. We have nurses, we have nurse’s assistants, we have physician’s assistants, we have technicians, we have all kinds of people where we are triaging your needs to the lowest-cost provider and allocating in an efficient way functions up and down the system and differentiating those functions up and down the system.

“In the legal system, we don’t have that. We have lawyers and nobody else, right? And it doesn’t seem to me that it’s absolutely necessary to have just this one model where, for many things like an eviction or a simple family law matter or immigration matter, whatever it , a lot of things are just about  navigating complicated forms or figuring out what building to go to, or how to do a process.

“There are a lot of roles there that could be filled by people who will not be as fancy as all of you will be when you graduate from this august institution, right? If we could bring the cost of those services down by having different kinds of roles to help people navigate the legal system, why, I think that would be a great service.

“The analogy I would give is: The cost of accessing this kind of basic legal service should be no greater—we should have a model where it’s no greater — than the cost of getting a plumber. If your toilet doesn’t work, you’re going to get it fixed and you’re going to pay the price of a plumber to get it fixed.

“Well, shouldn’t we have at least the same bargain available for very important things in people’s lives, like whether you’re buying a house, whether you’re negotiating a custody agreement, whether you’re trying to get special education for your kids, whatever it is? These are at least as important as your toilet. And so we need to have a market in which access to those kinds of things can be priced accordingly, so average people – average people, I’m not talking about low income people, I’m talking about average people –can afford them. . . .

“I think this is an idea whose time has come. And I think also, for the younger generation, technology is going to be a big part of this, too. Law firms remain brick and mortar enterprises in an age when most  legal services can be done pretty much at a home computer in many instances.“

Liu said that some say that the legal profession resists such ideas as a way to defend the profession. “I think that kind of mentality has a shelf life, because there is a greater and greater demand in our society for fair access to legal services.” Liu said. “As the world becomes more complicated, more and more people are going to need this and we as part of the legal profession should be part of the solution, not a hindrance to it.”

 

2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competitors Advance to Finals

Posted on Categories Legal Education, Legal Profession, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competitors Advance to Finals

Congratulations to the 2018 Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition finalists.  The teams advancing to the final rounds on April 19 are as follows:

Killian Commers and William Ruffing v. Olivia Garman and Sarita Olson

We appreciate the judging assistance in the semifinal round of the Hon. Michael Aprahamian, Hon. William Duffin, Hon. Beth Hanan, Hon. Michael Halfenger, Hon. Nancy Joseph, and Atty. Brent Nistler.