Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Wisconsin attorneys publish first-ever Civil Procedure book

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//March 13, 2024//

Monte Weiss (right), attorney Kristen Scheuerman (middle) and attorney Erik Pless with One Law Group, S.C. (left) Weiss Law submitted photo.

Wisconsin attorneys publish first-ever Civil Procedure book

By: Steve Schuster, [email protected]//March 13, 2024//

Listen to this article

Most attorneys at some point in their careers have authored articles for publication. However, only the chosen ones will have a book published by a large organization such as LexisNexis.

Count Wisconsin attorneys Monte Weiss, Kristen Scheuerman and Erik Pless among the chosen ones who have successfully published a book for wide distribution among Wisconsin attorneys.

LexisNexis Photo

Published by LexisNexis on March 7, 2024, the newly released book by three Wisconsin attorneys provides the next-generation of tools for civil practitioners.

The new book “Wisconsin Pretrial Civil Procedure” went on sale to the public on March 7, 2024, and is currently only available for purchase directly from LexisNexis.

The goal of the book is to arm the next generation of attorneys with the knowledge and efficiency needed to provide clients with the best possible outcome.

“It was written to decrease the grade of the learning curve,” Weiss said during an exclusive interview with the Wisconsin Law Journal on Tuesday.

“It will save young practitioners from going down rabbit holes resulting in unnecessary billable hours,” he added.

Pless agreed.

“It’s an excellent roadmap for where you need to go, with some real-life experience,” Pless said.

“The secret sauce that we bring is 80 years of collective trial practice,” he added.

Unlike other Wisconsin civil procedure books, the newly published LexisNexis book allows readers to obtain sample pleadings, forms, and other documents in a paint-by-numbers fill in the blank manner.

The State Bar’s “Books UnBound are great, but what they don’t have that we tried to include are sample motions based on our practice experience or form pleadings or what you’re going to actually need to include in a brief,” Scheuerman said, noting that the new book fills a gap in guidance for young attorneys.

“I thought to myself that our target audience is likely solo practitioners or young lawyers who are trying to figure out civil litigation,” Pless added.

Weiss, who has also worked on an Office of Lawyer Regulation committee, went a step further.

“In the back of my mind the book will also benefit the solo practitioner or young lawyer who is trying to stay out of a legal situation where a malpractice suit could ensue if they don’t understand what to do,” Weiss said.

“The book will really benefit younger practitioners who may not be in a large firm with partners to rely on and ask, hey what do I do here,” Weiss added.

All three Wisconsin attorneys who authored the newly published book said writing and editing took hundreds of hours. Add in editing and Scheuerman said, the project easily totaled 1,000 hours for the group collectively.

The attorneys did not do it for the money.

“It was a labor of love,” Pless said.

The three authors noted LexisNexis set the retail price of the book at $475, but paid the authors a flat fee, plus modest royalties based on sales.

“I consciously and personally did not keep track of the hours I was spending because I did not want to be depressed that I was working for less than $15 an hour,” Pless said, noting that LexisNexis paid the three authors a flat fee, plus a small percentage on book sales.

Weiss agreed and joked, “I’m counting on the smidgen of residuals to buy me cups of coffee in my 60s,” Weiss said.

All three attorneys said in writing the book they all “learned a lot,” and the process has been fulfilling.

“I can’t believe I’ve practiced as long as I have without knowing some of this,” Scheuerman said.

Birth of a book and challenges

Pless said the idea for the book first originated in a western Wisconsin pub where he settled a case with opposing counsel, and was then invited to collaborate on a civil procedure primer project. The other attorney later backed out of the book deal but Pless roped in Scheuerman who agreed to write and edit, and then she included her colleague, Weiss. From that point, it took the three attorneys approximately two years to write and edit all of the content. The bulk of the editing was completed by Scheuerman.

Initially, Scheuerman drafted and sent out a table of contents and the three Wisconsin attorneys divided and conquered.

However, the project was not without challenges.  All three attorneys noted they went through six different editors at LexisNexis during the project, while still having to manage their normal caseloads.

Eventually, James Hardin became the final editor. “He did a nice job keeping us on track,” said Pless, noting Scheuerman “did an equally nice job keeping us on track.”

However, that did not mitigate the work/life balance challenge each attorney faced while writing the book, nor did it assist with the balance of booming law practice demands.

“We still had to stay on top of deadlines, attend hearings and have briefs written while we were editing and writing the book,” Weiss said, noting he wished he could have had the luxury of taking off several weeks from his law practice to focus exclusively on the book.

Scheuerman went one step further, saying it would have been ideal to have taken years off her practice to write.

“I wish we could have put our practices on hold for two years. We could have gone further in the weeds. I learned so much as it was, but it was frustrating. We would hit the tip of iceberg while writing, and then we had to get back to our regular law practice,” Scheuerman said.

The challenges did not end there. The three attorneys also had to stay in close contact with the Judicial Council in Madison to make sure the current Wisconsin Statutes pertaining to civil procedure were not going to be modified anytime soon.

Backing up three or four years ago, “there was some indication from the Judicial Counsel that they would overhaul Wisconsin’s civil procedure chapter,” Scheuerman said. However, the project never came to fruition and there were many changes the council itself, she noted. Without any firm date on the horizon for an overhaul, the authors began writing.

Scheuerman also noted Wisconsin’s current civil procedure laws contain “inconsistent Band-aids for e-filing.”

“It could really use a systematic overhaul,” Scheuerman added.

All three authors have extensive civil litigation experience:

Erik Pless

Pless is an attorney with One Law Group SC, where he primarily focuses on insurance defense in northeastern Wisconsin.

Pless is AV rated through Martindale-Hubbell, and for decades has consistently been named in Wisconsin Super Lawyers. He is also board certified as a Civil Trial Specialist since 2004 by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Trial law board certification is a comprehensive evaluation that officially recognizes extensive education, training, courtroom experience and actual trial experience as lead counsel.

Kristen Scheuerman

Scheuerman has more than a decade of experience, including successfully arguing cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In 2014, her successful representation determined the rights of injured parties to access UIM and UM insurance coverages during the “Truth in Auto” era. The outcome of matter and its companion-cases remains to this day one of Scheuerman’s proudest achievements because of the impact that decision had on Wisconsin law and injured parties throughout the State.

Although the bulk of her experience has been in personal injury and civil litigation, she has also served as a municipal prosecutor and currently serves as a mediator and GAL in minor settlement matters.

Scheuerman said having worked in both insurance defense and on the plaintiff’s side, “makes me a better lawyer. I have good working relationships with both sides.”

Authoring and editing “Wisconsin Pretrial Civil Procedure” seemed natural for Scheuerman, as one of her greatest passions is legal education. In 2019, she was regularly featured on WHBY’s radio segment, The Lawyers, with Josh Dukelow and the two co-hosted a podcast called Civic Revival.

Monte Weiss

Weiss is the founding partner of Weiss Law Office S.C., where for the past several decades he has focused almost exclusively on the defense of bodily injury, property damage, and products liability cases on behalf of insurance companies and self-insured entities.

His courtroom experience includes a myriad of jury and court trials throughout the Badger State, including arguing cases before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Weiss has a proven track record for drafting multiple personal lines property and casualty insurance policies, including homeowner and automobile policies.

In 2009, he received a request from then-Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to assist with the regulatory system that governs the conduct of Wisconsin’s attorneys.

After his acceptance, he has since served on District Investigation Committee Two of the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Weiss’ involvement with District Investigation Committee Two helps him to effectively serve his clients in the defense of legal malpractice claims as well as grievances with and complaints filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

Team Effort

According to Pless, both Scheuerman and his paralegal Alicia Stern were assets making the book publication a reality. Pless noted Stern is a State Bar of Wisconsin Certified Paralegal.

Future

Pless said at this point he does not have plans to author another book, but says it’s reasonably foreseeable there will be future updates to the March 7, 2024, edition.

Polls

What kind of stories do you want to read more of?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Legal News

See All Legal News

Case Digests

Sea all WLJ People

Opinion Digests