MULS Legal Education: Following Footsteps and Forging Your Own Path

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Legal Education, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Legal Writing, Marquette Law School, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on MULS Legal Education: Following Footsteps and Forging Your Own Path

Sensenbrenner Hall

zilber forum
From Sensenbrenner Hall (left) to the Zilber Forum at Eckstein Hall.

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).

Flash forward thirty years and imagine my pride when Micaela announced to us that she would be attending MULS. In fact, Micaela is officially a 3L and is on track to graduate in May 2020. While it may not be shocking for a child to follow in a parent’s footsteps, it didn’t look like that would be happening with Micaela. Continue reading “MULS Legal Education: Following Footsteps and Forging Your Own Path”

The Class of 2020: The First of a New Generation

Posted on Categories Immigration Law, Legal Education, Legal Ethics, Legal Profession, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Student Contributor, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on The Class of 2020: The First of a New Generation
Painting depicting four men dressed in suits grabbing and fighting each other.
By Blaine A. White – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73482463

I was recently posed an interesting question which I thought would make a great topic for discussion and,while I’m unsure of how this post will be received on the faculty blog, I hope it will spur conversations as interesting as those I’ve had about the subject over the past month.

Next year I will graduate from Marquette Law School along with my fellow classmates. What is particularly noteworthy about our class is that, having first come to campus in the summer of 2017, we will be the first class to graduate who started law school under the current presidential administration. Whether you voted for Donald Trump or not, one cannot deny that his presidency has created an interesting climate not just in politics, but for the law in general. So, I was left to ponder how that interesting factoid has colored my law school experience and might affect the legal field for first year lawyers next year and in the near future.

My first intuition when pondering that question was to discuss how divisive politics and social media appear to be impacting the teaching and practice of law, but I can’t presume that my class is novel in thinking that these are tumultuous times in the legal field. I can’t personally speak to the law school climate in the past, but in my own experience being a law student can be a bit a political minefield, especially outside of Eckstein Hall.  Throughout my time in law school, all of my friends and family have been eager to ask me about or to debate about constitutional issues the president has raised that month. But that is almost to be expected, as I have been told by some of my family members who are in the field.

What I was not prepared for was how politics would influence my interactions in my various intern experiences as well. Continue reading “The Class of 2020: The First of a New Generation”

Implicit Bias and the Gender Leadership Gap

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Feminism, Labor & Employment Law, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, PublicLeave a comment» on Implicit Bias and the Gender Leadership Gap
A woman carrying buckets looks up at a ladder leading to the sky; the ladders' rungs are labeled with the various opportunities that have been historically available to women, beginning with "Slavery" at the bottom and "Presidency" at the top.
E.A. Bushnell cartoon from the New York Times, October 1920

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”

The Rewards of Being a Small Town Lawyer

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Public, Uncategorized1 Comment on The Rewards of Being a Small Town Lawyer
A path forward with trees on either side going through a forest.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

When asked to write a blog for the Marquette University Law School blog, I was provided several general topics that I could have considered, as I have never blogged.  But it was also suggested that I have an interesting personal story:  I always wanted to be a lawyer in my hometown, a city with fewer people than are enrolled as students at Marquette.  I have always had a desire to return to Ashland, Wisconsin, and practice law, raise my family and live the lifestyle that I enjoy.  I don’t find my situation to be unique or interesting, but maybe that’s because northern Wisconsin is such a wonderful location that it pulls many people home, and my story isn’t unique among residents here.  However, someone who grew up in an urban area may be apprehensive that there will be “nothing to do” in a small town.  To that I say: only boring people get bored.  So rather than discuss a legal topic, I plan to discuss my legal practice, and why being a small-town lawyer is a fulfilling and interesting career.  The State Bar of Wisconsin has also recently encouraged small town practice and tried to connect new lawyers or those looking for a change with lawyers in rural areas. Small towns need lawyers.

I grew up in Ashland, located on the shores of Lake Superior, enjoying the big lake and the big woods (Chequamegon National Forest). In the summer and fall the activities were hunting and fishing, in winter it was hockey rinks and ski slopes, and the in the spring, well that was just mud season.  I have been teased for the pride I take in talking about my home, my high school, and the general area I grew up in.  Unlike larger areas, my high school represents my community and is smaller than most.  Ashland has just over 8,000 people and the county has just twice that many.  There was no other high school, so it represented us as an area.  It represents my home, so I take pride in its success and sorrow in its failures.

In law school I had academic success having offers from large firms and was a summer associate at one.  I graduated magna cum laude and moved back to Ashland the day after being sworn in to the Bar.  While my big firm experience was positive, I knew my long-term happiness was north.  When asked why would you want to live up there, my response was typically the same: “Why do you vacation in northern Wisconsin?”  To many people, Elkhart Lake was “up north,” while I consider Highway 8 to be the dividing line between north and south Wisconsin.   I find cities great places to visit on weekends but I find the small town is the place to live.   I think many lawyers would find small town practice rewarding both professionally and personally. Continue reading “The Rewards of Being a Small Town Lawyer”

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 Court1 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”