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Commentary: Law school rankings a dangerous game

Some of the biggest law firms in the country have canceled or drastically cut back their law school recruiting, leaving students wondering why they have gone $200,000 or more into debt for a J.D. degree that suddenly appears to be less valuable. There are more than 1.1 million lawyers licensed to practice in the United States. According to the ABA, ...

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'Litigation prenup' can help avoid nasty disputes

The concept of efficient litigation may seem a bit foreign to attorneys. “It’s been the Holy Grail,” said Milwaukee lawyer Paul F. Heaton. To that end, Heaton and others are embracing an evolving concept which attempts to curb litigation costs prior to trial. An agreement in advance of a dispute, or “litigation prenup,” can set parameters for expensive elements involved ...

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Women in the Law 2010 Event

Join us as we celebrate an extraordinary group of female legal professionals at the 2010 Women in the Law luncheon and awards event on May 21, 2010, 11:30 a.m., at the Italian Community Center. For more information, click here.

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Lack of websites not a big concern for some courts

Phone numbers, forms and even courtroom etiquette policies can often be found on circuit court websites. On a daily basis, Waukesha attorney Paul E. Bucher references the local court site, as well as surrounding counties, to browse the “mundane” or even electronically file court documents. “In this day and age, it’s imperative for us to have access to as much ...

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State lacks jurisdiction over foreign trust

Wisconsin lacks personal jurisdiction over a trust, even though the trust owned real property here and the trustee had sufficient contacts with the state. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals found April 29 that even though the requirements of Wisconsin’s long-arm statute, sec. 801.05, were met, it would offend due process to assert jurisdiction. The trust was established by Mary Godlewski, ...

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Commentary: More than one road to enlightenment

So, I had to go to church last week for a niece's first Communion. Readers who are also parishioners at Lumen Christi Catholic Church in Mequon will be happy to know the place wasn't struck by lightning during my visit. Fortunately, it was a Catholic church, so the mass is comparatively short and all goes according to rigid procedural rules. ...

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New Supreme Court cases

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to grant review in one case. The case number, issue, and county of origin are listed below. 2009AP688 Foley-Ciccantelli v. Bishop’s Grove This certification asks the Supreme Court to examine several issues related to legal representation in a civil suit: the right of a party to be represented by counsel of choice; the right ...

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Judge upholds local bid preference

Milwaukee's local bidder preference Monday withstood legal challenges filed by sewer contractors that lost projects because of the law. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William Pocan ruled the city of Milwaukee can apply the preference to sewer and water projects that receive low-interest loans from the state's Clean Water Fund. Contractors that sued the city over the local preference argue ...

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No bona fide error defense for legal errors

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Pursuant to that rule, attorneys and debt collectors in Wisconsin will no longer be able to escape liability for a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by arguing that the violation was the result of a mistaken interpretation of the law. The U.S. Supreme Court held (PDF) on April 21 ...

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Commentary: Ooma is funny name, serious savings

Goodbye landline. Hello ooma. With my new ooma telephone system, Google Voice and my cell phone, I should save a lot of cash. Occasionally I update topics I’ve previously covered, and that’s what I’m doing here. Ooma, a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system, received a glowing recommendation from Milwaukee attorney Joe Seifert in an article I wrote in December. ...

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DNA backlog eliminated – for now

Now that the Wisconsin Department of Justice has solved the DNA backlog that has plagued local crime labs, criminal defense attorneys wonder what the future holds. While some are optimistic that the solution will help move cases more quickly through the system, others are skeptical as to how long the state’s crime labs will be able to keep pace, given ...

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Trustee who withdraws must wait for fees

If a trustee withdraws from a bankruptcy case, he has to wait until the case is finished to be paid. Earlier this year, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert D. Martin rejected an application for payment from a trustee who withdrew due to a conflict of interest after making significant disbursements, concluding it would not be fair to the successor trustee. David ...

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Eastern District Bar Association 8th Annual Meeting

A record crowd of more than 250 people attended the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association’s 8th Annual meeting and presentation on April 29 at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. The annual awards were highlighted by a heartfelt introduction of the Myron L. Gordon Lifetime Achievement Award by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Richard J. Sankovitz to 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ...

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Brennan wins State Bar election

A record number of candidates in the State Bar of Wisconsin President-elect race did little to motivate members to vote. Attorney James M. Brennan, of Catholic Charities, topped three other candidates and won the 2010 race with 1,718 votes. He will begin his one-year term on July 1. About one-fifth of those eligible to vote cast their ballots. Margaret Wrenn ...

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Dispute over car payments headed to Supreme Court

A long-running dispute in the bankruptcy courts will finally be resolved definitively. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on Monday to decide whether a debtor with an income above median and no monthly car payment can nevertheless claim a vehicle expense deduction when calculating his disposable income. In the case, Ransom v. MBNA, America Bank, N.A., No 09-907, the Ninth ...

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Senior lawyer is partner, not creditor

A contract attorney from a law firm that went bankrupt is a partner, not a creditor, under the firm’s bankruptcy plan, the Seventh Circuit held on April 15. Because there wasn’t enough money to pay the other creditors, attorney Mark H. Berens will get nothing from the bankruptcy of his former firm, Altheimer & Gray. The firm, founded in Chicago ...

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WHEDA pursues hiring, contracting law

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority is trying to prevent its hiring and contracting standards from disappearing when control of state government changes hands. A bill that received public hearings Monday and Tuesday requires the agency ensure minority- and women-owned companies work on projects that receive tax credits and that people living near the developments get construction jobs. The ...

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Women Judges’ Night

Almost 300 attorneys, law students, members of the judiciary and other legal professionals mingled during the 30th Annual Women Judges’ Night in Milwaukee on April 20. The dinner featured recognition of more than two dozen female judges, including state Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson and fellow justices Annette K. Ziegler, Ann Walsh Bradley and Patience D. Roggensack, who ...

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Out-of-state prescription no defense to marijuana charge

A prescription from an out-of-state doctor for medical marijuana is no defense to an illegal possession charge. Section 961.41(3g) permits possession of controlled substances if it is obtained pursuant to a valid prescription from a “practitioner.” But, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals read the definition of “practitioner” in sec. 961.01(19)(a) narrowly to include only physicians licensed “in this state.” Accordingly, ...

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Justices wrestle with limits of judicial campaign speech

Wisconsin voters got a break this spring from the cantankerous back-and-forth common to recent state Supreme Court campaigns. Before a possible race next year, the court has the opportunity to shape the limitations of judicial campaign speech prior to the expiration of Justice David T. Prosser's term. The court heard testimony on April 16 from the Wisconsin Judicial Commission (WJC), ...

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Insurer not on hook for toy claims

Boston — A commercial liability insurer was not required to defend class actions alleging that its insured negligently sold toys containing lead that were made in China, the 7th Circuit has ruled in reversing judgment. The defendant designs and markets “Thomas and Friends” toys based on the popular children’s program. The toys are primarily manufactured in China. The defendant recalled ...

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Magistrate Goodstein to retire in June

After 31 years on the bench, federal magistrate judge Aaron E. Goodstein will be retiring in June. His office confirmed that the Eastern District Court Judge will retire on June 30, assume recall status – essentially the equivalent of senior status – and take occasional cases. Chief Judge Charles N. Clevert has appointed a panel to review applicants. Members of ...

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