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    Letters to the Editor

    Michael AblanGary YoungFrank PasternakDaniel J. La FaveOwen S. Durigan

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 4, April 2003


    Letters to the editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer publishes as many letters in each issue as space permits. Please limit letters to 500 words; letters may be edited for length and clarity. Letters should address the issues, and not be a personal attack on others. Letters endorsing political candidates cannot be accepted. Please mail letters to "Letters to the Editor," Wisconsin Lawyer, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, fax them to (608) 257-4343, or email them to org wislawyer wisbar wisbar wislawyer org.

    Winning Ways to Get a Job

    In today's marketplace lawyer applicants have to distinguish themselves and demonstrate a likable personality. I cannot think of a better way to do it than did a bright young lawyer who recently applied to my firm. I asked her to write me her reasons why I should hire her in spite of her lack of experience, hence the poem below (submitted with permission of the author).

    People with these kinds of personalities are such an asset to the atmosphere in the law firm and to their clients, both directly with their creativity and indirectly by creating a pleasing ambience in their work environment. I think that these types of young lawyers create a positive image for the bar.

    Michael Ablan
    La Crosse

    When I came to interview,
    You assigned to me a task to do;
    I was to convey to you
    Why I'm your top girl E.S.Q.

    First of all, although I'm new,
    That can be a plus for you;
    My methodology is fresh and clean,
    Not stuck in a 20-year routine.

    The road less-traveled I have tread,
    And this has put me steps ahead;
    I can talk with most all, from the prince to the pauper,
    My relational abilities can add to your coffers.

    I love what I do, and I'm anxious to start,
    I don't shrink from hard work, I will give mind and heart;
    I earned my J.D. not just for a living,
    But to aid my community through service and giving.

    Last but not least I would like to make clear,
    That ethical standards I hold very dear;
    My parents instilled into me from my youth,
    To fear God, respect others, and speak naught but the truth.

    I trust that these couplets have not been a tedium,
    But rather an entertaining, informational medium;
    I hope that your query I've addressed and confirmed,
    That I'm the right gal for the Ablan Law Firm.

    DeShea Mabra
    Nevada, Missouri

    Readers Praise Appellate Brief Article

    I enjoyed Judge Eich's article on brief writing in the February issue, particularly his comments on conciseness. The problem for many, including me, is to write in such a manner. On the other hand, it seems to me that the opinions written by our appellate courts - particularly the supreme court - are much longer than they were a generation or so ago. Opinions from the 1960s and 1970s present an interesting contrast.

    Name withheld by request

    I've asked my legal writing students to read Judge Eich's fine article, and have passed it on to the interim director of the U.W. Law School legal writing program.

    Gary Young

    "Stream of Commerce" Article Biased

    The November 2002 article, "Wisconsin's 'Stream of Commerce' Theory of Personal Jurisdiction," should have added the personal injury lawyer's perspective or not been published. The article was better suited for a defense lawyer publication rather than one meant for the entire bar. Essentially, Wisconsin Lawyer permitted lead counsel for the insurance company defending a personal injury case to reargue for the fourth time why the Italian insurer should not have been subject to Wisconsin's jurisdiction. The caption alone sets forth biased language, stating that the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision in Kopke "expands the jurisdictional reach of Wisconsin courts by subjecting foreign companies to jurisdiction if they could have known that the goods they handle could injure Wisconsin citizens" signaling a "demise of 'minimum contacts' as a check on the state's power to exercise jurisdiction over foreign defendants in the personal injury setting." Apparently, the U.S. Supreme Court did not agree with the insurer's premise. In the future, when such articles are offered, WL should seek out both sides of the case or, at the least, require that the article be less subjective.

    Frank Pasternak

    I wouldn't agree with Mr. Pasternak's underlying premise (that all WL articles must be neutral, or must include input from opposing counsel). Moreover, I thought I fairly presented the majority decision, which pretty much tracked the plaintiff's position. To be sure, there is nothing preventing someone from submitting a follow-up letter substantively addressing whatever points one feels were underrepresented (or not represented) by an article.

    Daniel J. La Fave

    Consider Limited Bar Exams and Law Licenses

    I have been reading the articles and letters regarding the Wisconsin Bar exam with considerable interest, and have a suggestion that just may be the answer: a bar exam that would require new Wisconsin law school graduates, as well as new out-of-state attorneys, to take only those portions of the exam that pertain to the areas that they want to become licensed to practice in. Attorneys who later wanted to expand their practice, regardless of where they graduated from, would be required to take whatever portions of the exam that are applicable. This policy could also be extended to require all tested attorneys to retake the applicable portions of the bar exam periodically - perhaps every five years - to ensure that they are still qualified in these areas. If they are, the exam should not be any real burden, and would probably even be helpful to them in reviewing some things that they may have forgotten - even in their areas of specialization. As compensation for having to requalify periodically, the mandatory CLE requirements could be reduced or preferably eliminated. The new developments that occur in Wisconsin law and practice could be incorporated into the Bar exam to ensure that all attorneys are "keeping up". It would seem appropriate for the exam in each area to be more comprehensive than at present, since Attorneys would generally be taking only those portions of the exam that are of interest to them. This policy would put the burden on attorneys to demonstrate competence and knowledge in their practice areas, rather than relying on CLE courses that attorneys are forced to take just to meet their CLE requirements. Most attorneys would probably still want to attend certain CLE classes, but would not be under the threat of losing their law license to do so. A CLE class could also be offered that covers all of the new developments and changes in the previous five years, which most attorneys would probably want to take - perhaps even more frequently than every five years. Presently-licensed attorneys would be "grand-fathered" under this proposal, but would have the option of taking the bar exam in their practice areas to avoid the forced CLE requirements - which some may just want to do. If attorneys opting for this failed to pass their exam, they would lose nothing, and could either retake the exam, or continue practicing with no stigma or change in status. Over time, as present attorneys retired, this policy would eventually apply to all Wisconsin attorneys.

    The fact that Wisconsin is the only state in the union that does not require its graduates to pass a bar exam is, in my opinion, frankly shocking. The disparity in treatment between Wisconsin graduates and out-of-state attorneys is also shocking. This suggestion of partial exams for recent Wisconsin law school graduates and new out-of-state attorneys, I believe, solves both problems, whether or not retesting becomes part of the policy. Everyone would be treated fairly and equally. Also, since the majority of legal malpractice occurs when attorneys practice outside of their areas of specialization, this policy would have the added benefit of restricting a participating attorney's practice to areas of tested expertise, which should substantially reduce legal malpractice. Attorneys who practiced in areas not covered by their law license would be guilty of unauthorized practice and subject to the same sanctions as at present.

    Owen S. Durigan
    Brookfield, WI 53045