Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 2

Posted on Categories Business Regulation, Computer Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 2

Currency on a blockchain was the logical first step, and while it may well disrupt the way our financial systems operate, it was just that – the first step. Public and private industry adoption of blockchain and smart contracts is not dependent on the price or market capitalization of cryptocurrencies. Just this year blockchain popularity increased by 11% among large enterprises, while the cryptocurrency market capitalization, from early January to today, has decreased by an estimated $600 billion. Let’s talk emerging uses.  Continue reading “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 2”

Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 1

Posted on Categories Business Regulation, Computer Law, Corporate Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 1

Photo of a Bitcoin Cash wallet on a mobile phone and a copy of Mastering Bitcoin written by Andreas AntonopoulosOver the past year and a half Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been taken a place under the mainstream spotlight, meaning the public at large has witnessed the speculative behavior in the cryptocurrency market. In December 2017 the price of one Bitcoin surpassed $20,000, only to encounter a bear market where the market price today is around $6,500. This volatility is not new to Bitcoin. For example, on December 4, 2013, Bitcoin was $1,175 and shortly after, on February 10, 2014, the price hit a low $100.  I point out price volatility to show that the cryptocurrency market is a unique speculative market. With that being said, let’s put money to the side and focus on the technology on which the Bitcoin network runs – blockchain technology. As we will see, using blockchain to create and maintain a currency is only the beginning.

At its essence blockchain technology is linked data between computers. It is defined as a digital, decentralized, append-only, distributed ledger that allows unrelated individuals to transact with each other without the need for a third-party or controlling authority. Because no third-party transaction confirmation is needed, the network becomes trustless. I want to make a note on the ‘append-only’ characteristic because it is crucial to the high security value blockchain provides. Append only means that data can only be added to the blockchain, it cannot be removed. Blocks that are already on the chain cannot be altered in any way. You can only make a change by noting it on a future block that is not on the chain yet, and every participant of the blockchain can see this change. At very technical levels advanced cryptography is what allows blockchain to exist, but diving into a discussion of these technicalities requires a scientific discussion, which, while interesting, would not serve a legal purpose. However, something of high-relevance to the legal community is a discussion of smart contracts. Working closely with coders and blockchain experts, attorneys can draft smart contracts that provide a more efficient, secure, and cost-effective way of facilitating transactions between individuals. Continue reading “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 1”

Welcome Our Student Blogger for September

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Public, Student Contributor, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Welcome Our Student Blogger for September

Photo headshot of law student Jose Lazaro.Please join me in welcoming Jose Lazaro, our Student Blogger of the Month for the month of September.  Here is how Jose introduces himself:

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico where my entire family still resides. At age fourteen I was given the opportunity to play baseball at a boarding school in Philadelphia. I then moved to Florida, where I got drafted by the New York Yankees after my senior year of high school. Instead of pursuing professional baseball I chose to be a student-athlete and went on to play four years of college baseball. After battling injuries, my baseball career finally ended after shoulder surgery and an unsuccessful two-year long rehab attempt. I am now a second-year law-school student here at Marquette University pursuing a number of interests and focused on acquiring a set of skills that will allow me to have a positive impact on the lives of others and the community at large. This past summer I interned at Harley-Davidson, and I will be a summer associate at a Milwaukee law firm this upcoming summer 2019.

Thanks, and we look forward to your posts.

The Landmines of Practice: Formalities and Professionalism

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Public, Student Contributor1 Comment on The Landmines of Practice: Formalities and Professionalism

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.

cartoon alligator the litigator
Another example of an improper salutation. He’s a litigator, not an alligator. Address him properly. 

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”

Home is Where the Families Are: Open Adoption in Wisconsin?

Posted on Categories Family Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Home is Where the Families Are: Open Adoption in Wisconsin?

parent & child hands holding cut-out of houseThis 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 Brooklyn Kemp.

What makes a house a home is not merely the brick and mortar of a building, but the foundation of a family. As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is”–where one experiences love, support, and growth.

As a student in the Guardian Ad Litem workshop this semester, I have become more aware of the reality that some children do not have a place to call “home” until they are adopted, after their natural parents’ parental rights are terminated through a court order. This can be a lengthy and emotionally debilitating process. Although in some circumstances children get a happy ending with a nurturing family, other children are traumatized when they realize they will never see their parents again.

Even children who are able to manage the emotional turmoil may end up being stuck in foster care, a temporary home, for long periods of time as their parents oppose termination of their rights to the children.

Open adoption occurs when the natural parents still have ongoing contact with the child whom they have relinquished for the adoption. Some states have embraced the idea of open adoption, codifying it into statutory provisions.

Wisconsin currently does not legally recognize open adoption. Continue reading “Home is Where the Families Are: Open Adoption in Wisconsin?”

Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Human Rights, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs

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 Andrea Jahimiak.

On February 22, 2017, six individuals who identify as either Black or Latino filed a class‑action lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (“FPC”), and Police Chief Edward Flynn. The plaintiffs allege that their constitutional rights were violated when they were unlawfully stopped, frisked, or both, by Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) officers.

Together, the plaintiffs are seeking relief by way of the court: (1) declaring that the defendants’ stop and frisk policies, practices, and customs are unconstitutional; and, (2) ordering immediate and permanent suspension of such policies, practices, and customs.

Allegation of a Named Plaintiff

One of the plaintiffs alleged that her teenage son has been unlawfully stopped by an MPD officer on at least three occasions. The first unlawful stop took place when he was ten years old.

Around noon in October 2010, D.A. walked to his friend’s home. When D.A. arrived at his friend’s home, he rang the doorbell, but no one answered. D.A. then used his cellphone to call his friend.

While on the phone, an MPD officer walked up to D.A., put his arms around D.A. shoulder’s and walked D.A. to his squad car located in the nearby alley. The officer then forcibly removed D.A.’s phone from him, patted him down, and made D.A. put his hands on the hood of the squad car.

The father of D.A.’s friend, a white male, ran out of the home. The father immediately asked the officer what was going on and asked why he was searching a child. The officer replied that he was making sure nothing was wrong. The officer then left.

D.A.’s mother called the associated MPD district and spoke to the sergeant. D.A.’s mother demanded to know why a police officer stopped and frisked her ten-year-old son. The sergeant said that it was MPD policy to stop and frisk young men walking through alleys.

Expert Reports Confirming MPD

Almost a year after filing suit, the ACLU of Wisconsin released three expert reports regarding the MPD’s stop and frisk policies, practices, and customs. The expert reports were conducted in relation to the ongoing class‑action lawsuit.

The expert reports concluded that the MPD has unconstitutional policies, practices, and customs. And that MPD officers routinely conduct unconstitutional stops and frisks procedures, motivated by race and ethnicity. Continue reading “Class-Action Lawsuit Seeks Permanent Suspension of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Alleged Unconstitutional Policies, Practices, and Customs”

Right-to-Work or Right-to-Free Ride?

Posted on Categories Labor & Employment Law, Public, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on Right-to-Work or Right-to-Free Ride?

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 Frank Capria.

Labor and employment law is an area of law that is of high importance. However, it gets little coverage or recognition. It does not get the publicity like criminal law does in hit TV shows like “Better Call Saul.” But, the Supreme Court is about to decide Janus v. AFSCME, which could dramatically change the entire public sector and make it right-to-work. This case will have a serious impact on teachers, firemen, police officers, and other public employee union members. If the Supreme Court rules mandatory collection of agency fees is unconstitutional, public sector unions will be weakened.

Policy

Right-to-work is a policy that allows dissenting union members to not pay non-political dues, or agency fees, to unions. Because of the exclusivity provision in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), unions must still represent these dissenting members when negotiating the collective bargaining agreement or when the member is in an arbitration proceeding. The NLRA permits states to have right-to-work laws. Continue reading “Right-to-Work or Right-to-Free Ride?”

Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin 

Posted on Categories Constitutional Law, Criminal Law & Process, Public, Student Contributor1 Comment on Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin 

Have you ever heard something that, almost immediately after hearing it, bounced your thoughts from the possible benefits to the seriously questionable outcomes that might follow, and left you swinging back and forth between the two?  This is exactly what happened to me just recently after hearing about Marsy’s Law coming to Wisconsin.  As it stands, I can get behind the general idea of the law, but I do have some doubts—problems, even—with the way the law is being pushed forward. 

“Marsy’s Law” is the idea that crime victims, and the families of crime victims (who become victims by association) should have equal rights to those who are accused of victimizing the family.  According to the web site for Marsy’s Law for All, the law is named for Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a “beautiful, vibrant University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.” (Quote from Marsy’s Law for All) One week after Marsy’s  murder, some of her family members entered a grocery store and were confronted by the man who was accused of murdering Marsy.  Marsy’s alleged murderer had been let out on bail and the family had not known about it. 

Marsy’s Law for All argues that the United States Constitution and every state constitution have a detailed set of rights for people who are accused of crimes, but the United States Constitution and 15 state constitutions do not have a list of rights for victims of crime.  As I am writing this, the web site for Marsy’s Law argues that the United States Constitution has 20 individual rights for those accused of a crime, but none for the victims of crime.  States, on the other hand, have been making some progress.  California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Ohio have passed Marsy’s Law, with efforts to adopt the law currently underway in Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, Idaho, Oklahoma, and here in Wisconsin.    Continue reading “Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin “