Getting an Education on Being a Lawyer, and Not Just on the Law

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What is your personal conception of professional success and satisfaction for yourself as a lawyer?  How will you know when (or whether) you achieve your conception of success and satisfaction?  These are important existential questions for anyone working in a professional setting to reflect upon, but especially for me, as a 3L gearing up for my last semester of law school.  Yet, I was struggling.  I always knew I wanted to go to law school.  I always knew I wanted to litigate, and I had always planned on going into criminal law.  I have known these things for years.  Why had I never gone a step further, and thought about how I viewed success and satisfaction, and at what point I would feel I achieved those goals?

The questions were posed to those of us in Professor Peter Rofes’ Lawyers & Life course during the Fall 2018 semester.  They were the first of what would be scores of questions, each one seemingly simple in language and length, but digging deeper than many of us had ever been asked to do in our law school careers.  What parts of your legal education have you found to be the most rewarding?  What makes you stand out from other soon-to-be new lawyers?  What do you look for in an employer’s organizational culture? What aspects of your career, disposition, or accomplishments would you want emphasized in your “career obituary”? Continue reading “Getting an Education on Being a Lawyer, and Not Just on the Law”

Resume Booster

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Pen and ink caricature showing a lawyer arguing very strenuously while three judges are sitting at the bench, napping.While I was working into the evening on the third floor of Eckstein Hall, a friend stopped to catch up.  On the table in front of me were piles of handwritten notes, highlighted cases, outlined arguments, and cheat-sheets, organized by Petitioner or Respondent.  Color-coded flashcards were stacked in the corner. I was surrounded by seven-and-a-half weeks worth of sticky notes. I was a few days away from my moot court competition, and reviewing every single note card’s scribbled phrase, ensuring I was ready for any and all arguments from opposing counsel and questions from the judges.  She gave me a sympathetic look.  “Moot court,” I said.

She asked if I felt it was all worth it, for “just a resume booster.”

I looked at everything in front of me.  Seven-and-a-half weeks of color-coded chaos.  The disorganization reflected my anxiety.  But all of it also reflected an extraordinary amount of work and number of hours mastering an area of the law that just seven weeks ago I found foreign and intimidating.  I smiled.  Was it all worth it? Continue reading “Resume Booster”

Meet Our November Bloggers

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Marquette Law School, Public, Student Contributor, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Meet Our November Bloggers
Headshot photo of law student Emily Gaertner
Emily Gaertner
Headshot photo of attorney Alen Lagazo
Alen Lagazo

We are happy to have two guests submitting blog posts during November.

Our Student Blogger of the Month is Emily Gaertner.  Emily is a 3L at Marquette University Law School.  She is Chief Justice of the Marquette Moot Court Association and Vice President of the Legal Writing Society.  During her time at Marquette Law School, Emily has competed in the Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition, and will represent Marquette Law at the National Moot Court Competition.  Emily has also interned for Judge Paul Reilly at the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, and currently interns for Judge Diane Sykes at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Emily serves as a Student Ambassador and tour guide, and volunteers her time at the Domestic Violence Injunction Clinic.  Prior to coming to law school, Emily graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2015 and earned a dual baccalaureate in philosophy/pre-law and criminology.

Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Alen Lagazo.  Ioua Alen Marcyn Lagazo (“Alen”) serves as Compliance Counsel to CNH Industrial, a leading global manufacturing company for industrial equipment. In addition, he is a board member and co-Director of Social Media and Marketing for BYU Alumni Association – Chicago Chapter.

He is a 2018 graduate of Marquette University Law School, where he completed internships at SoftwareONE, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, BP Peterman Law Group, and CNH Industrial. He is a 2014 graduate of Brigham Young University, where he focused on international studies and business management. For 26 months between 2009 and 2011, Alen served a full-time voluntary assignment as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to that, in 2007, he received his Eagle Rank from the Boy Scouts of America.

Ioua Alen Marcyn has been married to Glenna for 6 years and together they have a daughter, Hermione, born just before entering law school. He enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his daughter’s soccer team, entertaining guests and networking. He also volunteers as an adult leader for the youth program for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Welcome Emily and Alen!

Wisconsin and the Startup Community: Why Attorneys and Law Students Should Become Engaged

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Next week from November 5th to November 11th, Wisconsin is celebrating its Startup Wisconsin Week. Cities across the entire state of Wisconsin will be hosting programs and events geared toward helping Wisconsin grow its startup community. For the entrepreneurial-minded, this week provides an array of opportunities to network, learn tricks of the trade, and become more involved in the startup process. For transitionally focused attorneys, this week offers a variety of opportunities to meet new potential clients and learn more about how entrepreneurs can affect Wisconsin.

Wisconsin itself has a lot of success with maintaining new businesses. According to the Kauffman Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship, out of the 25 largest states, Wisconsin ranks second in small business activity. Out of this same group of states, Wisconsin also ranks fourth for the highest rate of female business owners and fourth with the highest rate of business owners between the ages of twenty to thirty-two.  Continue reading “Wisconsin and the Startup Community: Why Attorneys and Law Students Should Become Engaged”

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”

Our Student Blogger This Month

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Headshot photo of law student Yamilett Lopez.Our Student Blogger for the month of October is Yamilett Lopez.   Yamilett is a 3L at Marquette University Law School and President of the Organization for Student Wellbeing. During her three years at Marquette Law School, Yamilett has been involved in a wide range of activities and organizations, including serving as a tour guide, being Comment Editor for the Marquette Law Review, and volunteering her time at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic. Prior to law school, Yamilett graduated summa cum laude from Marquette University in 2017 and received a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in marketing.

Yamilett’s first post is on the way!

Bitcoin and Money: An Advocate’s View

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Photo of a lampost with a paper flyer taped to it asking passerby to send bitcoins to pay for college.Some refer to Bitcoin as the internet of money. Why? Because they believe Bitcoin will revolutionize the way we transact with each other the same way the internet revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. Some critics argue otherwise. But, quite interestingly some of Bitcoin’s biggest critics are the same institutions and industries that stand to be disrupted by Bitcoin. To some, the idea of Bitcoin replacing our current mediums of exchange is too far-fetched. I would argue that our mediums of exchange throughout history have suffered arguably more drastic changes. As a human race we went from bartering, to exchanging precious metals, to paper money, and most recently to plastic cards with magnetic strips.  How do you think people reacted when they were told they would not be buying and selling goods with precious metals, but instead they would be using paper? This was a substantial aberration in the manner people transacted with each other, and it took hundreds of years for there to be consensus on this transition.

On that note, what is Bitcoin? Most people will say that Bitcoin is a digital currency. While at its essence this is not a false statement, if Bitcoin is simply a digital currency it would be inconsequential. Most of our currencies today are already digital. Bank accounts today are digital databases, and we use those bank account to transfer money to and from each other, in electronic form. That is digital money. The reality is that only about 8% of total world currencies exist in physical form. It would seem that if Bitcoin is as revolutionary as some claim, it would need to offer something beyond the digitalization of money, and it does. Let’s discuss some of these characteristics and possibilities. Continue reading “Bitcoin and Money: An Advocate’s View”

Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Smart Contracts – Part 2

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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

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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?”