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Protests in Madison making life rough on city’s attorneys

Capital Police officer Greg Friberg of Milwaukee looks at a poster on display at the state Capitol in Madison on Sunday. Opponents to the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are on their sixth day of protesting. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Capital Police officer Greg Friberg of Milwaukee looks at a poster on display at the state Capitol in Madison on Sunday. Opponents to the governor's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are on their sixth day of protesting. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

By Jack Zemlicka

Attorneys trying to take clients to lunch near the state Capitol this week haven’t had much success.

Protesters, numbering in the thousands, have descended on the square during the last three days in opposition of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that would strip collective bargaining power from most of the state’s public employees.

While the protests haven’t forced law firms near the Capitol to close or resulted in absentee lawyers, the demonstrations are certainly a distraction, and for some, a nuisance.

Protestors gather outside of the state Capitol in Madison to voice their opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Protesters gather outside of the state Capitol in Madison to voice their opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Real estate attorney Jason A. Greller planned on meeting a new client Friday afternoon at his office at 121 South Picnkey St. in Madison. But rather than submit his client to the parking chaos in the area, he rescheduled for Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. even with a deadline looming for the client that afternoon.

“Time is ticking,” Greller said. “But if you are looking to attract new business to come on down, forget about it.”

Law firm staff have also encountered unexpected obstacles in taking care of routine duties for attorneys.

Axley Brynelson legal assistant Deb Dawson wasn’t able to print an invoice at a local supply store because they had run out of paper and their delivery truck could not make the a delivery due to the crowds.

Fellow Axley Legal Assistant Theresa Doty found that providing lunch for a client meeting was more problematic than usual.

After learning that a delivery from a local sandwich shop mere blocks away would take upward of two hours, Doty elected to navigate the crowd herself to retrieve the lunch.

The Dane County Courthouse is off the square, but has also felt the impact, though not necessarily in a bad way.

Judge Richard G. Niess is serving as duty judge this week, which means he is essentially on-call for injunctions and other time-sensitive matters.

But his workload has dramatically dropped with much of the police force monitoring the protests.

“I think, basically, it has been all hands on deck for police,” he said. “I’m not seeing the volume of warrants I normally see as duty judge.”

Axley Brynelson

A view out the window of Axley Brynelson's law office at 2 E. Mifflin St. in Madison shows a growing crowd of protesters. (Photo courtesy of Axley Brynelson LLP)

One comment

  1. Constance Schneider

    You’ve got to be kidding me. This is depth of your concern? Wow, great legal minds at work. Good thing you boys have a voice in a “union.”

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