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VIEW FROM AROUND THE STATE: Recount of close Supreme Court race makes plenty of sense

The race for Wisconsin Supreme Court produced one of the closest results in recent state history. With an unofficial count of the more than 1.2 million votes cast in Tuesday's election for the open seat, Judge Brian Hagedorn, a favorite of conservatives, leads Judge Lisa Neubauer, the chief judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals who drew substantial backing from liberals, by roughly 6,000 votes.

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CRITIC’S CORNER: Weird science in Wisconsin courts

Steven Avery was convicted of murder in 2007. At his trial, the state called numerous scientific experts to help seal his fate. Then, a few years later, Wisconsin adopted the stricter Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert testimony. Had this supposedly tougher standard been in effect earlier, how would it have affected Avery’s trial?

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THE DARK SIDE: Lawyers need to be more like carnies

Hanging out with some of the carnies who came to town this year, I was astonished at how, in a mere 10 years, the carnival industry had become so professional. And they did it without even spending mandatory carnie dues on a public image campaign.

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THE DARK SIDE: When good unions go bad

This is an example of what is wrong with public sector unions. I’m not attacking public sector unions here. They have their pros and cons. But this case is a good example of one of the cons — excessive litigation that private sector unions and employers wouldn’t pursue. It is a 188-page decision from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. It ...

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Commentary: Intern laws can be tough to navigate

In these difficult economic times, when many employers have had to cut their workforce and make do with less, it may be tempting for businesses to engage the services of unpaid interns – students or recent graduates who are willing to work for nothing in order to gain some work experience. With young adults being especially hard hit by unemployment, ...

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Commentary: Ruling sets bar for full payment

Last year in this column, I raised the question of whether the costs for violating a court order, including attorney fees, would constitute “continuing contempt” in order to assure that a victim would be made whole. (“When is Contempt Continuing?” Wisconsin Law Journal, Aug. 24, 2009.) While not directly addressing the issue of continuing contempt, a recent decision by the ...

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Commentary: BP money could mean murky waters

The continuing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has been the subject of a lot of discussion. A tax lawyer, however, will also start thinking about the tax consequences that may flow from the disaster. In the past several weeks, it was announced that BP would establish a substantial fund to ensure that all parties with legitimate injuries would ...

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Commentary: Follow the money, find the fraud

Forensic accounting has been around for decades, but only in the last ten years have people become aware of the profession on a wide scale. Many of the techniques used by forensic accountants to investigate fraud and analyze the numbers are the same today as they were decades ago. Computers have made things easier, as we can track, sort, and ...

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Commentary: Silver Lining in the Cloud

Microsoft recently launched the suite of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 tools and services to business customers, and, at the same time, announced its Office Web Apps strategy. Office applications are a huge part of Microsoft’s revenue, and the software giant currently owns about eighty-five percent of the business productivity solutions market. That’s a huge chunk of that market, but ...

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Law firms: Produce value or perish

For the past two decades, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel, there has been an unrelenting drive by companies and their suppliers to reduce costs while increasing quality and value in their products and services. The only outlier seems to be law firms. This observation seemingly is confirmed in a recent issue of the California Bar Journal, which contained ...

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Commentary: Family law still needs to follow rules

Every once in a while, it seems, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals needs to remind trial courts that family-law cases are really lawsuits. While they differ from other areas of law in certain ways, namely the familiarity of the parties with each other, they are still court proceedings and as a result, certain rules apply — such as court orders ...

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Commentary: Raging rhetoric can overshadow issues

We’ve all experienced it: You receive a motion, you begin to read its supporting brief, and the words slap your eyes: “spurious,” “not worthy of belief,” “incredible,” “utterly without foundation,” “wholesale abdication.” And that’s just the first page. Many lawyers believe that a brief must contain extremely aggressive language to be convincing to the court. It is true that a ...

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Bio

Diane Slomowitz is a shareholder with the law firm of Fox, O’Neill & Shannon, SC in Milwaukee. She concentrates her practice on legal research, legal writing and appellate brief writing for the firm’s business and individual clients. Diane can be reached at 414-273-3939 or dslomowitz@foslaw.com.

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Commentary: Outdated Concepts of the Guild

Lawyers risk discipline for using traditional marketing tactics to reach prospective clients. The rules of professional conduct are replete with restrictions on marketing, advertising, solicitation, the use of social media, and more. Bar associations will not provide professional education credit to lawyers for programs on how to be profitable, let alone how to be more effective in their marketing. I ...

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Red flags pointed directly to Madoff

It’s hard to believe that a Ponzi scheme as massive as the one perpetrated by Bernard Madoff got by anyone. Surely he was the most clever criminal alive, and was ingenious at hiding his fraud. There couldn’t have been any signs of the scam he was running. Or were there? It turns out there were plenty of red flags pointing ...

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Commentary: Interviewing pitfalls

Last summer, an Internet article on msn.careerbuilder.com offered a list of forty-three remarks made by applicants during an interview which gave pause to human resources. Some of these remarks were an obvious reason to bar employment, including the following: I’ve never heard such a stupid question. Can we wrap this up quickly? I have someplace to go. My old boss ...

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Up Close: Needles 4.8

Needles case management software by Needles Inc. (formerly Chesapeake Interlink) is one of the longest-enduring applications of its type. Originally introduced as the DOS-based Personal Injury Negligence System in 1985, Needles 4.8 is a stable and flexible case management application that supports a broad range of matter types. As the senior statesman amongst case management systems, Needles’ foundation has been ...

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Commentary: Addressing employee misconduct: Another option

It is not uncommon for an employer to discover that it is the victim of an illegal scheme involving a rogue employee. Is it a viable option for that employer to report the matter to the federal government? Consider the following hypothetical, which assumes that the company does not have mandatory reporting requirements: A national retailer learns that its purchasing ...

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True-blue Americans read beatnik poetry, too

As you can imagine, last week’s column about the poetry of John Milton went over well on The Dark Side. What you may not guess, though, is that in my social circles any discussion of poetry inevitably leads to the leftist poet, Delmore Schwartz. It matters not whether it occurs in a high-brow salon or a low-brow saloon: Schwartz remains ...

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Court of Appeals case creates pension division problem

As a male, if I ever get divorced, I want Judge Kenneth W. Forbeck from Rock County assigned to my case. As a family law attorney, if I have a case on appeal, I don’t want District IV of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals if there is a pension or tax issue involved. For years, Wisconsin appellate courts have wrestled ...

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Bar associations should do what’s right for their members

My recent column about the unresponsiveness of state bar associations to the needs of small law firms and sole practitioners brought strong comments from the presidents of the Minnesota State and Hennepin County Bar Associations, asserting and demonstrating that they do have the interests of these lawyers at heart. Just as there are good and less-than-good lawyers, so are there ...

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Adopt a ‘Groups Mentality’ for free marketing

LinkedIn occasionally e-mails me updates about what the members of my professional network are up to, and I noticed the last time around that the e-mail always informs me about a few of the groups people have joined. This got me thinking about groups as a free marketing tool for lawyers. After spending a little time on Google, I discovered ...

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Commentary: Online search for Wisconsin law firms reveals ranking issues

I recently conducted a simple Google search for "Wisconsin Law Firms.” Only Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C. (Milwaukee) and Axley Brynelson, LLP (Madison) appeared on page one. The No. 1 spot was occupied by FindLaw.com, which lists Wisconsin attorneys by location within the state. Ranked No. 3 is HG.org, which lists attorneys by Wisconsin city and practice focus. The rest of ...

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