Wisconsin Lawyer: Book Reviews:

State Bar of Wisconsin

Sign In

Top Link Bar

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer

News & Pubs Search

Advanced

    Book Reviews

    Jennifer Lee Edmondson; Mark Mathias; Suzanne Lowe; Doug Baker; Inna Pullin

    Share This:

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 78, No. 3, March 2005

    Book Reviews

    Book: The Winning ArgumentEducation Law: An Essential Guide for Attorneys, Teachers, Administrators, Parents and Students

    By Ralph M. & Lois Gerstein (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2004). 790 pgs. $110. Order, (800) 209-7109.

    Reviewed by Jennifer Lee Edmondson

    This book provides a good general overview of education law for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. Lawyers and nonlawyers will find this book very easy to use. But because the book excludes some important areas of education law, it cannot be considered a truly "essential" guide.

    Its best sections are those devoted to the law governing education for students with learning disabilities. Read the 230-plus pages on special education, and you will learn all about IDEA, IEPs, FARE, LRE, ADD, and ADHD pretty darn ASAP! The authors probably are most knowledgeable in this part of education law because their son is "a former special education student who has made a successful transition to college."

    However, Education Law is lacking in a number of areas. For example, it does not adequately address the laws regarding gifted students, who are on the other end of the educational needs continuum. Sparse discussions of gifted education law are scattered throughout the book. A single chapter devoted to the laws on gifted education should have been included, even if only individual state laws govern this topic.

    The book is silent regarding common everyday situations faced by teachers, administrators, parents, and students (four of the five types of people included in the title). Such issues as administering medication/medical treatment to students, disclosure of communicable diseases, and even the duty of school staff to report suspected abuse are not discussed.

    If the authors had included discussions about the laws of gifted education and the laws governing common everyday situations faced in schools, then this book would have been a truly "essential guide" to education law.

    Jennifer Lee Edmondson, U.W. 1986, recently returned to practicing law following a seven-year absence during which she was a stay-at-home mom and active school volunteer. She is a member of the Appleton Education Foundation board of directors and grants committee and is in charge of a school-wide volunteer reading program at Huntley Elementary School in Appleton.

    Drafter's Guide to Wisconsin Condominium Documents

    By Jesse S. Ishikawa & Brian W. Mullins (Madison, WI: State Bar CLE Books, 2004). CD of forms. 325 pgs. $50. Order, (800) 728-7788.

    Reviewed by Mark N. Mathias

    The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. The elephant in this instance is the documentation requirements of the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act, and the Drafter's Guide to Wisconsin Condominium Documents makes these requirements readily digestible. This book is easy to read, easy to comprehend, and easy to use as a substantive reference source (and includes forms on a CD-ROM, which are always welcomed).

    In the first two chapters attorneys Ishikawa and Mullins establish some baseline information and issues for the reader to consider before devoting their attention to the key operative condominiumuments. Chapters 3 through 7 are devoted to the statutorily required con docdominium documents, and the final chapter pulls the book together by explaining the disclosures required by a seller of a condo unit, whether that seller is the declarant (that is, condo developer) or a unit owner. The latter portion of the book includes appendices of the documents themselves. The content is current and includes the applicable revisions to the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act by 2003 Wisconsin Act 283, which became effective Nov. 1, 2004.

    Each chapter that specifically focuses on one particular document starts with a general explanation and then in an outline fashion moves through the document, explaining in increasing detail the purposes behind the various provisions and referencing the statutory bases for them. Along the way, sample language and the occasional practice tip or note are provided. The authors also point out instances where they believe the statutory language of the Wisconsin Condominium Ownership Act is confusing or ambiguous and offer drafting ideas to avoid potential problems.

    The book's vantage point is from the perspective of the drafter of the condominium documents, which means the condo developer's attorney. However, this book can be a valuable resource to attorneys who may have occasion to represent condo buyers (and even condo sellers). Understanding the various provisions of the disclosed documents will better equip buyers' attorneys to counsel their clients regarding the ownership interest being considered. Moreover, understanding why certain provisions were drafted as they were can help attorneys fully educate clients as to the potential legal and financial risks associated with ownership in a particular condo development.

    The authors state that the book's objective is to "save Wisconsin lawyers a lot of time and headaches as they work their way through the sometimes arcane and often confounding field of condominium law." Ishikawa and Mullins have achieved this goal. I recommend this book as a primer to attorneys (and law students) who want or need to become familiar with the basics of condominium documentation.

    Mark N. Mathias, Thomas M. Cooley 1985 with distinction, practices in Eau Claire. He also holds law licenses in Michigan and Illinois.

    Book: The Winning ArgumentMarketplace Masters: How Professional Service Firms Compete to Win

    By Suzanne C. Lowe (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004). 252 pgs. $39.95. Order, (800) 225-5800.

    Reviewed by Suzanne C. Lowe

    You can't be in private practice these days without being flooded with messages about marketing. Articles drop like fall leaves from professional journals telling us how we need to network better, use the Internet better, develop a real Web page better. Everything "better, better, and better," with an occasional "how to," all feeding on the insecurity most lawyers feel about marketing their practices. Whatever we see in those articles probably doesn't resemble what we, ourselves, do to market. So we worry. About marketing (and keeping our practices going). All the time.

    That nagging worry is what would compel a lawyer to pick up Suzanne Lowe's Marketplace Masters: How Professional Service Firms Compete to Win. For most practitioners, scratching that itch would be a mistake.

    The book's title suggests sure and concrete ways to market professional services. It really doesn't give any. In fact, the book is more of an academic marketing study based on a survey of service businesses in a variety of areas, including, but just including, the legal profession. Recognizing that there is a generally mature market for professional services, Lowe looks to determine, based on her survey, what techniques these firms developed to come up with successful marketing plans in their respective fields.

    Lowe asserts there are three effective "building blocks of a market-driven infrastructure." These are: 1) looking out, 2) digging deeper, and 3) embedding innovation. That's about as exciting and specific as it gets.

    Lowe does cite specific case studies, including one large, Southwestern law firm's use of a Web site to conduct a more thorough review of its marketing practices. But the book is thin on the kind of practical advice and ideas that practitioners, particularly those in smaller practices, would find useful.

    Frederic (Fritz) W. Knaak, Minnesota 1978, practices with Knaak & Kantrud P.S. in Vadnais Heights, Minn. He is licensed in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Colorado.

    Book: The Winning ArgumentThe Shadow of Justice

    By Milton Hirsch (Chicago, IL: ABA, 2004) (novel). 205 pgs. $14. Order, (800) 285-2221.

    Reviewed by Doug Baker

    The Shadow of Justice

    In another jurisdiction, long ago and far away, I had the privilege of clerking for a federal district court judge. During a break in a particularly tedious trial to the bench, I mentioned to the judge, in chambers, that there were 96 lights in the ceiling of his courtroom. I made that observation with some hesitation, half expecting to be admonished about letting my attention wander from the testimony and the matter at hand. "No," replied my judge, "there are 98. You forgot those two in the back corner, above the door."

    This half-forgotten colloquy came to mind when I came across the following lines in Milton Hirsh's short novel The Shadow of Justice: "There isn't a judge in the courthouse who couldn't tell you the number of tiles in his courtroom ceiling, from side to side, from front to back, and diagonally." With those words Hirsch showed his credentials as someone with real understanding of the nuances of the legal system. That understanding permeates his book, a clever, compelling, and basically well-written little legal mystery, in the tradition of Scott Turow.

    Hirsch, an experienced criminal defense attorney and legal writer, has taken on the persona of a Miami circuit judge who finds himself entangled in a criminal conspiracy involving one of his oldest legal friends. Hirsch's obvious familiarity with courtroom and legal routine shines throughout the book. He does a masterful job of describing the interaction between lawyers and judges (albeit with a bit of forgivable poetic license) and explaining various courtroom procedures, from voir dire through closing argument, all within the context of the story and all without being boring or pedantic. The central story is well done, subtle and carefully constructed, drawing the reader in, ultimately leaving him or her with the feeling that the clues were all there and the answer should have been obvious from the first page. That is the hallmark of a good story.

    That is not to say that the book is without flaws. In many places it has an artificially structured feel to it, as though Hirsch were forcing his premise into the mold of a how-to book on "how to write a novel." He is at his best when he is talking of, and explaining, things he knows, like the law and characters he has encountered; and he is at his worst when he reaches too far into the realm of what he apparently imagines to be the art of literature. One doesn't have to read far before coming across such verbal clunkers as "His face puckered as if he had french-kissed a lemon" or "The place gave the impression of a doll's house, owned and operated by down-and-out dolls," lines that, try as they might, can never amount to more than a parody of the hard-boiled detective genre, and a poor parody at that. Most bit players, and all too often the primary ones, are more cliché than character, and at least one interrogation scene is really a restatement of an urban legend involving a copy machine impersonating a lie detector, a scene that has been bouncing around for years.

    Douglas E. Baker, Creighton 1989, is a legal editor with the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Book: The Winning ArgumentWomen-at-Law: Lessons Learned Along the Pathways to Success

    By Phyllis Horn Epstein (Chicago, IL: ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2004). 376 pgs. $49.95. Order, (800) 285-2221.

    Reviewed by Inna Pullin

    In Women-at-Law: Lessons Learned Along the Pathways to Success, Phyllis Horn Epstein chronicles the historic and modern experiences of women lawyers and provides advice on dealing with likely challenges women face when navigating the legal world. On balance, Epstein does a good job.

    The book coveInna Pullin range of issues, discussing such disparate topics as finding mentors and proper court attire. As I read, I found myself remembering conversations I had with my female peers about the same subjects. Most refreshing is that Epstein does not bemoan her decision to become a lawyer, and, rightfully, reminds her readers that practicing law is a privilege and honor, regardless of your gender.

    My main criticism is that Epstein relies mostly on anecdotal evidence and her own experiences. Not bad in itself, but it forms the basis for her general advice to women attorneys. Moreover, Epstein seems to manipulate her anecdotes to validate the decision she made to work in a small firm. For example, the women quoted who worked in large law firms, whether married or single, seem to have undesirable lifestyles, forcing them to sacrifice children and social lives for their careers. My own experiences and anecdotal observations provide several counter examples. Anecdotes aside, however, Epstein reminds her readers that there are women, like men, who can make any type of law practice work for them. The key is that women must recognize that they have choices.

    For women who are thinking of entering the legal world, the book outlines potential career paths and presents realistic challenges woman face. For women already in the profession, it presents workable options and strategies for practicing law. Overall, Epstein has written a valuable and useful book.

    Inna Pullin, Illinois 1998, is an associate at Kasdorf, Lewis & Swietlik S.C., Milwaukee.

    To Review a Book...

    The following books are available for review. Please request the book and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127, org klester wisbar wisbar klester org.

    Publications and videos available for review

    • Americans with Disabilities Act, Title 42, Chapter 126, Commentaries and Statutes, by Elizabeth G. Russell (Notre Dame, IN: NITA, 2004). 72 pgs.
    • Annotated Model Code of Judicial Conduct, Art Garwin, editor (Chicago, IL: ABA Center for Professional Responsibility Judicial Division, 2004). 507 pgs.
    • The Arbitrator's Handbook, by John W. Cooley (Notre Dame, IN: National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2005. 494 pgs.
    • Brown at 50: The Unfinished Legacy, Deborah L. Rhode & Charles J. Ogletree Jr., eds. (Chicago, IL: ABA Division for Public Education, 2004). 212 pgs.
    • Co-Parenting Guidelines: What Every Parent Needs to Know Before Getting Divorced, by Nadine Pierre-Louis, LMFT, CAP, CAPP (Boomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2004). 86 pgs.
    • Corporate Finance and the Securities Laws, 3d. ed., by Charles J. Johnson Jr. & Joseph McLaughlin (New York, NY: Aspen Publishers, 2004). 1,091 pgs.
    • Creating Winning Trial Strategies and Graphics, by G. Christopher Ritter (Chicago, IL: Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, 2004). 435 pgs.
    • The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice, by Bill Kurtis (New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2004). 192 pgs.
    • Democracy and New Media, edited by Henry Jenkins & David Thorburn (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004). 440 pgs.
    • Does God Belong in Public Schools? by Kent Greenawalt (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2005). 296 pgs.
    • Innovation and Incentives, by Suzanne Scotchmer (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2005). 357 pgs.
    • Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights, by Alan Dershowitz (Boulder, CO: Perseus Books Group, 2004). 250 pgs.
    • Terrorism, Freedom, and Security: Winning Without War, by Philip B. Heymann (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004). 227 pgs.
    • When Duty Calls: Military Leave and Veterans' Rights, by Cynthia L. Hackerott, Kathleen Kapusta & Ronald Miller (Riverwoods, IL: CCH Inc., 2003). 229 pgs.
    • Wisconsin Insurance Law, 5th Edition, by Arnold P. Anderson (Madison, WI: State Bar CLE Books, 2004). Two vols., 1,300+ pgs.
    • Workplace Injury Litigation, edited by Todd McFarren & Glen J. Grossman (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2004). 510 pgs.



To view or add comment, Login