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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 10, October 2006

    Book Reviews


    High Conflict People in Legal Disputes

    High Conflict People book

    By Bill Eddy (Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Janis Publications Inc., 2006). 272 pgs. $19.95. Order, www.janispublications.com.

    Reviewed by Dustin Woehl

    Doesn't this book's title seem to describe all litigation attorneys and most litigators? While the author focuses on understanding and managing four types of personality disorders that he characterizes as "high conflict" personalities, his observations and suggestions apply broadly to the extent high conflict personality traits are found to varying degrees in anyone involved in litigation.

    The author discusses personality disorders generally and provides a detailed discussion of four high conflict personality types. For each, the author explains the basics of the disorder using identifying characteristics, formal diagnostic criteria, and examples. The author then discusses how each personality type creates problems in dispute resolution and how the personality type affects the person's relationships with professionals such as lawyers and mediators.

    The second half of the book presents a four-step method for managing persons with high conflict personalities. For each step, the author describes specific, concrete skills to effectively manage relationships with such individuals. The author offers suggestions tailored for advocates, dispute resolvers (mediators and judges), and "targets of blame."

    High Conflict People in Legal Disputes uses an accessible conversational style. The mental health jargon is balanced with concrete examples from case law and the author's experience as a dispute resolver. The book's organization is superb. The chapter headings are informative and descriptive. Each chapter begins with a cartoon and ends with a succinct chapter summary. Thus, a quick look at the table of contents and chapter summaries provides a useful recap of the entire book.

    I highly recommend this book for all mediators and for attorneys who practice in family law, where the effect of high conflict personality types is most obvious. I also recommend the book to any attorney as a useful tool for understanding and managing professional relationships with "difficult" clients, whose personality disorders might distort their expectations of their attorneys and of the litigation process.

    Dustin Woehl, Pennsylvania 2000, practices with Kasdorf, Lewis & Swietlik S.C., Milwaukee.

    The ABA Guide to Marriage, Divorce & Families: Everything You Need to Know About the Law and Marriage, Domestic Partnerships, and Child Custody & Support

    Edited by Robert A. Stein (Chicago, IL: ABA, 2006). 240 pgs. $16.95. Order, (800) 285-2221.

    Reviewed by Sara Kornely

    Marriage, cohabitation, raising children, divorce _ each of these major life events has great emotional significance as well as important legal and financial consequences for everyone involved. Most often, people experiencing key life changes are consumed by the stress and intense feelings associated with these changes. The ABA's family law guide provides a matter-of-fact summary of law and money issues that are coupled with these intense circumstances.

    Updated from a prior version to address same-sex unions and domestic partnerships, the guide also presents basic legal information on a variety of family law subjects. The book addresses premarital agreements, requirements for marriage, wills, marital property, taxes, children, abortion, adoption, property division, maintenance and support, custody, and the various ways to end a marriage. Especially helpful are the bullet points included at the end of each chapter that briefly summarize the chapter's most important lessons.

    The book also includes a chapter on deciding whether to divorce that discusses personal considerations as well as legal and financial issues. The ABA's sensitivity to all facets of life change makes the guide accessible to a wide range of people.

    The ABA designed this book for the nonlawyer, and it is indeed a basic primer. Practicing attorneys will not find in-depth discussions of cases or comprehensive descriptions of each state's laws. As such, this guide likely is not a must-have for the lawyer's library. However, attorneys may wish to point new clients to this book in preparation for a first consultation. Clients can ready themselves for attorney meetings by reading a chapter entitled "Working With an Attorney." Also, inexperienced attorneys may consult this guide to gain a basic understanding of the issues and vocabulary surrounding family law.

    In all, the ABA produced a comprehensive yet understandable survey of family law for nonlawyers.

    Sara Kornely received her J.D. from the U.W. in 2002.

    Overcoming the 6-Minute Life: How and Why the Legal Profession Should Free Itself from Billable Hours

    By Bently J. Tolk (The 6-Minute Life LLC, 2005). 258 pgs. $29.95. Order, www.6minutelife.com.

    Reviewed by Richard E. Garrow

    The theme of The 6-Minute Life is that there are many unhappy lawyers. The author argues that the scheme of billing in six-minute increments is the major reason for this unhappiness. A few times, he also mentions the quarter-hour measurement.

    Author Tolk says the billable hour measurement was created by lawyers for lawyers beginning in the 1950s. He identifies three centers of income revenue: partners, associates, and paralegals. The follow-up question is how many billable hours are there per year: Tolk has a range of 1,500 to 2,500 hours. The book is 258 pages of easy reading. Three-quarters of the book details, with many examples, the deleterious effect of the 1/10th hour measurement tool including long hours, shortened vacation time, lack of family life, no time for nonlawyering activities, no introspection time, and so on.

    Tolk has a chapter listing in descending order of satisfaction, lawyers' niches in the profession. The list begins with judges and continues with law professors, public interest or special interest lawyers, government lawyers, in-house lawyers, small firm lawyers, and solo practitioners and ends with lawyers at large law firms. Tolk's book focuses primarily on this last group.

    Tolk devotes 10 pages to reviewing American Bar Association efforts to promote alternatives to billable hours, with ABA works dated 1989, 1992, 1996, and 2002. Tolk posits that the ABA has not focused on his theme, which is the damaging effect of billable hours on the personal lives of attorneys who are required to use billable hours as a measuring tool.

    Although the book is an easy and quick read, I do not recommend that it be added to attorneys' libraries. While the book champions the author's view of the down side of this measuring tool, large law firms already know the pros and cons of keeping time in 1/10 of an hour segments.

    In the interest of full disclosure, the reviewer is a solo practitioner of many years and most often charges what he thinks clients will pay for his services. In contrast, the author has been in practice for 40 fewer years (than the reviewer) and is a member of a large law firm in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    Richard E. Garrow, U.W. 1951, is a solo practitioner in Manitowoc.

    Academic Freedom After September 11

    Academic Freedom bookEdited by Beshara Doumani (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006). 327 pgs. $21.95. Order, (800) 356-0343.

    Reviewed by Susan M. McCabe

    The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on targets in the United States have had far-reaching repercussions throughout our society. In Academic Freedom After September 11, a collection of essays by scholars and educators, the various authors argue that today academic freedom in the United States is confronting its most serious threat since the 1950s' McCarthy era. This collection of essays grew out of a 2004 conference, and focuses on how government agencies, private advocacy groups, and special interests are subjecting institutions of higher learning to an increasingly sophisticated infrastructure of surveillance, intervention, and control. The authors assert that this campaign of censorship and the increasing commercialization of knowledge are combining to "reshape the landscape of intellectual production" and erode civil liberties in education and the larger society.

    The essays address a variety of topics including the history and structure of the concept of academic freedom in higher education. One essay traces the impact of the global war on terrorism on both academic freedom and civil liberties and examines the chilling effects of government actions such as HR-3077 _ The International Studies in Higher Education Act (which would establish an advisory board of political appointees to monitor and control federally funded foreign language and area studies programs) and passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in October 2001. Another essay dissects the concepts of academic freedom _ derived from values that attach to the special professional role of the scholar such as freedom of teaching and freedom of research and publication _ and First Amendment rights that are held by every citizen. Other authors focus on the impact of government and special interest groups' responses to 9/11 on the study of languages, cultures, and the concept of multiculturalism in American academics, the availability of grants and funding for research, the role of foundations and think tanks in knowledge production and dissemination, the function of dissent in academics and the larger society, and the curtailment of student rights such as speech and affiliation.

    This book includes an appendix of materials such as the Ford Foundation's Memorandum on Grant Language and the American Association of University Professors 1940 Statement of Principals on Academic Freedom and Tenure that allow the reader to evaluate key sources discussed in the essays.

    Although written by scholars and intended for an academic audience, these essays raise legal, political, and philosophical issues central to notions of democracy and civil liberties that affect all Americans. These forcefully argued and carefully researched essays provide the reader with a road map of the central issues and questions that all Americans _ not only educators, students, and parents _ must address as we pursue the global war on terrorism while preserving our democratic and Constitutional freedoms.

    Susan M. McCabe, U.W. 1986, is the Paralegal Program coordinator at Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, Mich.

    The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice

    By Bill Kurtis (New York, NY: Public Affairs, 2004). 192 pgs. $25. Order, www.publicaffairsbooks.com.

    Reviewed by Douglas E. Baker

    When Walter Cronkite says a book is written with "a novelist's touch," and Scott Turow says it has "the hallmarks of the best journalism," the book is not likely to excel in either realm. The Death Penalty on Trial, though, comes close in both.

    Bill Kurtis, a member of the Kansas Bar, has spent his entire post-law school career (Washburn University 1966) as an investigative reporter, primarily in criminal law. He says the genesis for this book was the 2003 decision by then-Illinois Governor George Ryan to commute the death sentences of everyone on Illinois' death row. Ryan did so because, after the death penalty had been reinstated, at least 13 convictions had been reversed or commuted because of evidentiary or trial irregularities. Because that number was one more than the number of people who had been executed during the same period, it seemed to the governor that the entire process was (pardon the pun) fatally flawed. "I was shaken in the same way as George Ryan," Kurtis writes. "If these death row verdicts were wrong, how reliable was the system?" He set out to investigate death penalty cases, beginning with a general discussion of the system in Illinois, and ending with a recitation of the arguments against the death penalty across the nation. Those chapters bookmark specific stories of two men, each convicted, sentenced to death, and ultimately exonerated.

    The novelist in Kurtis emerges best as he describes crime scenes and the day-to-day life on death row. The first subject is Ray Krone, a once-respectable mailman charged with the heinous rape and murder of a barmaid. Krone is convicted, twice, but ultimately exonerated by DNA evidence. The defendant in the second case, Thomas Kimbell, is the dark counterpoint of Krone. He is a drug addict and petty criminal convicted of brutally murdering three children in a trailer park home, but ultimately released after a second trial. The prosecutor, in true novelistic style, emerges as a morally ambiguous character, not necessarily an evil person, but under considerable pressure to quickly resolve the case. The journalist side of Kurtis rises to the top as he describes the trials, including the frustrations of and the mistakes made by usually well-intentioned court-appointed defenders. Both cases, says Kurtis, are exemplars of how things can go wrong. That, he concludes, is the crux of the issue, and the dispositive argument against the death penalty: "Lawyers are human beings who make mistakes. But where death hangs in the balance, we can't afford mistakes."

    The book's strength is in forcing the reader to see _ since the death penalty had been reinstated _ the death penalty, and those sentenced to it, as more than abstractions and statistics. It also presents a brief overview of criminal procedure and a litany of tactics defense counsel should watch for and avoid. The book's weakness is its occasional lapse into inflammatory oversimplification, such as the assertion that "[t]he odds are still only 50-50 that the jury's judgment will be the truth." One would hope and expect that, whatever its flaws, the American jury system is still considerably better than a crapshoot. Likewise the statement that "a trial is all about selling your case to the jury.... It's all about razzle-dazzle." Maybe that's how they teach justice at Washburn (but I doubt it). In any event, few of us are in Kansas anymore, Toto.

    Finally, the following discussion of prison machismo seems to have experienced an editorial lapse: "And if a guy even acts like he's disrespecting you, you gotta flair up, you gotta do something about it." Unless we're talking peacock-type displays, the proper word is "flare."

    Douglas E. Baker, Creighton 1989, is a legal editor for State Bar of Wisconsin CLE Books, Madison.

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    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.

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