Probably the highest recognition of excellence that could be bestowed on an appellate attorney cannot come from a trade journal, but from the court itself hiring the attorney when it needs counsel.
That recognition recently went to Gass Weber Mullins attorney Beth Hanan. She has been retained by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to represent it in a lawsuit, challenging whether the court has the authority to impose sanctions on appellate counsel for violations of the appendix regulations.
Hanan began her legal career before even attending law school, working about 30 trials as a paralegal. After graduation, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Janine P. Geske, and has been in private practice since, currently spending more than half her time doing appellate work.
Some of the cases she has litigated in the Supreme Court are fundamental to the practice of law in Wisconsin.
She successfully argued in Sands v. Menard Inc., 2010 WI 96, that an employer could not be ordered to reinstate in-house counsel as a remedy for discrimination.
Hanan also was involved in the Teague cases, 2000 WI 79, and 2003 WI 118, which involved what court should exercise jurisdiction when concurrent litigation is pending between parties over the same matter in both state and tribal courts. The cases led to protocols being developed between various Indian tribes, and the 9th and 10th court administrative districts.
In a pro bono criminal case before the court, Hanan even made arrangements so her imprisoned client could listen live to the oral argument for the first time in the court’s history.
In addition, Hanan has served as a member of the Wisconsin Judicial Council for the past nine years, and chaired the council for the past two. She successfully presented to the Supreme Court the petition to permit citation to unpublished opinions, and another petition to make it easier to depose out-of-state witnesses.
Michael Brennan, another member of Gass Weber Mullins, said of Hanan, “What I like about having an appellate specialist in the firm is that she keeps up with changes to the substantive and procedural law, allowing quick answers to the inevitable questions that arise. You don’t have to go back to the books, when someone has such expertise.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYd7u5ZnIP4