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Commentary

Philanthropist Zilber dies at 92

One of Marquette University Law School Dean Joseph D. Kearney’s favorite lines is from one of the institution’s most distinguished alum, who never practiced law. Joseph J. Zilber graduated from the law school in 1941 at the top of his class, but opted to enter the business world instead and found long-term success. “He would often quip to faculty and ...

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Telling the brief tale

Most lawyers have neither the time nor the resources to produce extensively researched and intricately crafted legal briefs. The process is often viewed as a time-eating money loser, and so assigned to young, inexperienced associates. Briefs, however, and the research that goes into them, are critical to successful litigation. I know. For over 28 years, my work days, nights and ...

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Commentary: The changing odds of the tax audit lottery

It has almost become cliché to write an article discussing “these difficult economic times” and projecting a grim business climate. Certainly, budgets are smaller and belts are tightening. The federal and state governments need money too. Across the nation, we hear stories of politicians recommending tax increases and government employees facing pay reductions, pay freezes or even mandatory furlough days. ...

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Nutrient Database

Looking for the nutrient content of a particular food? Try the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 22. It “contains data on 7,538 food items for up to 143 components.” The mission of the data laboratory which compiles the information is “[t]o develop authoritative food composition databases and state of the art methods to acquire, evaluate, compile and ...

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Commentary: Something completely different, and yet the same

The other day my fellow Law Journal columnist, Jane Pribek, and I decided to swap columns. I would give advice on how to save a few bucks, and she would explore The Dark Side of the legal profession. “So, where do you get your column ideas?” I asked. “I spend lots of time on the Internet looking for new apps ...

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Badgerlink

On Tuesday morning I heard an advertisement for Badgerlink on my favorite classic rock radio station. I was so excited! If you are not familiar with it, Badgerlink is an amazing FREE service offered by the Department of Public Instruction. It provides online access to various quality resources and all you need is a library card! The website explains that ...

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Tracey Wood on sobriety checkpoints

What is a 'sobriety checkpoint'? A sobriety checkpoint is a police barricade set-up to snag drunk drivers. Discussion of noncompete clauses at the Wisconsin Business Law Blog.Link Capitalization in trial court briefs.Link Tracey Wood on sobriety checkpoints.Link

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Commentary: Transactional work can be high drama, too

Surely, one of the most remarkable events of the recent Winter Olympics was the emergence of women’s curling as must-see television. People would sit down and ask, “Why is this even on television?” Fifteen to twenty minutes later, they would be rebuffing attempts at conversation with, “I can’t talk now. I have to watch this shot by Cheryl Bernard [the ...

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Commentary: Departing your law firm

The tide is turning in law firms. The conventional practice of starting a career with a firm and remaining until retirement is no longer the norm. According to a recent National Law Journal article, “the market for lateral partners is the most robust it’s been in 22 years.” Whether it is a single attorney shifting laterally to another firm, attorneys ...

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Commentary: Can Avvo Answers help you get more clients?

As attorneys and counselors-at-law, you answer questions all day long for paying clients. But have you ever considered answering questions on the Web as a means of obtaining more paying clients? Some attorneys have had success using Avvo Answers, a free legal advice forum for consumers. Avvo says it’s “the world’s largest legal directory.” You likely received an e-mail from ...

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Company Organizational Charts

Ever need to find out the organizational structure, including specific individuals, for a company? A free online tool that may help is Cogmap. Cogmap is a wiki that houses organizational charts for thousands of companies. Like other wiki’s this tool is a collaborative effort where individuals can add information. It is a fairly new website so the amount of information ...

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Commentary: Some folks just can’t perceive the obvious

I read a riotously funny article the other day, about how state laws banning texting or talking on cell phones while driving have no effect whatsoever on the number of crashes. What’s so funny about that? What’s so funny is the inability of the “experts” to come up with an explanation for the data. One said that the data doesn’t ...

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Commentary: How to be a ‘virtually’ successful lawyer

A consulting colleague of mine recently observed that she believes too many lawyers are far behind the times; she said they don’t use the Internet for research or marketing and many don’t even use e-mail. Of course, few if any professions are more tradition-bound than the law and change can come slowly to lawyers. Yet by the same token, some ...

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Manuals Online

Manuals Online is a collection of user manuals, service manuals and instructional guides for a significant number of products. The search option allows the researcher to enter in a brand, model number, or keyword. The site also permits browsing by type of product. Items range from appliances to electronics to fitness equipment to lawn mowers. Over 5000 brands are represented. ...

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Judge DiMotto discusses the judge-jury relationship

The most important duty of a judge – the judicial gatekeeper – in a jury trial is to establish a relationship of trust with the jury panel from the moment the panel enters the courtroom. Judge DiMotto discusses the judge-jury relationship.Link Rick Esenberg on the Electoral College.Link Judicial notice of stock prices in the Seventh Circuit.Link

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Commentary: Cutting deals in smoky courtroom chambers

Within the species known as Attornius Wisconsinis, there exists a subspecies referred to derisively by those outside of it as “the courthouse crowd.” You can identify “the courthouse crowd” by their jadedness and cynicism; by their intimate familiarity with the taste of institutional coffee; by their chain-smoking; and by their innate ability to cut a shady backroom deal, manifesting mutual ...

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Commentary: Becoming ‘of counsel’ a win-win situation

The stereotypical of counsel attorney is the former partner who comes into the office to share his wisdom when he’s bored with retirement. Milwaukee attorney Jonathan P. Groth, in his 30s and the prime of his career, is proof that lawyers need not be AARP members to leverage successfully the of counsel relationship to maximize the bottom line of his ...

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Can we tape?

I love when I find websites that offer a 50 state survey on a particular topic. Can we tape? is a website published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The site provides a “practical guide to taping phone calls and in-person conversations.” Summaries regarding the ability to tape conversations are available for the 50 states. These summaries ...

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Commentary: Printing on one side of the page

Of all the slanders against attorneys and terrible suggestions for improving the profession, the most pernicious is that lawyers are tree killers for all the paper we use. They say we should use both sides of the paper when writing briefs and recycle as much paper as possible. Well, I don’t use both sides of the page for briefs. Let ...

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Commentary: The tricky thicket of hostile work environment claims

Imagine that you are a human resources director. An employee comes to you, claiming that she believes she is being subjected to sexual harassment in the form of a hostile work environment. She recounts how several of her fellow co-workers – they all work in a cluster of cubicles – enjoy listening to a certain morning radio program known for ...

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Commentary: How to get from plan to action

Not planning is not an option if a firm wants to survive, because a plan is the first responsibility of a business owner. The plan doesn’t have to be complicated — it can be as fundamental as identifying a desired business outcome, defining what is necessary to achieve that outcome and working toward it consistently. Too often the broad concept ...

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Real March Madness

I wouldn’t expect my college alma mater to feature archived video footage each May of me receiving my diploma. Then again, I attended a Division III school and had no aspirations of making a living playing professional basketball. But a former college hoopster who starred on the 1995 national champion UCLA Bruins team is arguing that the NCAA shouldn’t be ...

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Legal Research Skills

I recently read an interesting article by Sarah Valentine entitled, “Legal Research as a Fundamental Skill: A Lifeboat for Students and Law Schools.” It reminded me of several things I believe most of us know, but fail to implement when conducting research. Go Beyond Case Law – Why do we immediately start our research in case law? Many secondary sources ...

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Judge DiMotto on judicial substitution

In my last post, I discussed the procedure to remove a judge via recusal. Removal via recusal is dependent on the existence of a statutory impediment (757.19) or a statement by the individual judge that he/she does not believe he/she should be the adjudicator for the case for reasons certain. However, in Wisconsin every party has the right, for any ...

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Commentary: Lawyers should whine for tax credits too

Reading the local progressive newspaper the other day, I came across a story about some farmers and municipalities who want land designated as “agricultural enterprise areas.” If that were to happen, the farmers would get annual tax credits of $5 to $10 per acre, in exchange for agreeing to keep the land in farm production for at least 15 years. ...

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