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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 5  May 2006

    Book Reviews


    Public Records bookThe Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook

    Edited by Melanie R. Swank (Madison, WI: State Bar of Wisconsin CLE Books & Government Lawyers Division, 2004). 310+ pgs. $29. Order, www.wisbar.org.

    Reviewed by Cara V. Coburn

    The Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook was ripe for its May 2004 release. Since the State Bar published Understanding the Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Laws in 1999, the Internet has gained acceptance as a place for storing and accessing records and for holding meetings, September 11 and the Patriot Act have changed the flow of public information, and Wisconsin has significantly amended its public records laws to account for Woznicki.

    If Woznicki means nothing to you, refer to the handbook's index, which will point you to discussions of the case in various contexts. This speaks to two of the handbook's strengths: a functional index that leads you to what interests you and, when you get to the appropriate section, a comprehensive discussion.

    The handbook does not hesitate to repeat information and thus eliminates the need for extensive cross-referencing, as a good handbook should. Where relevant law exists, the handbook cites it; and where there is an absence of relevant law, the handbook confirms this. When discussing uncharted territory, such as meetings conducted through email, the handbook makes good use of both formal and informal attorney general opinions and law from other jurisdictions and opines on the likely status of the law in Wisconsin. The handbook further assists practitioners with its practice tips. Sprinkled throughout the text, these tips highlight important concepts or procedural issues. Finally, useful appendices provide numerous state and federal rules and statutes, a sample notification of public records request letter, key cases, a table of statutory exceptions, and a sample public meeting notice.

    Whether you are a government attorney, a private practitioner, a law student trying to make sense of public records and open meetings laws, or a citizen in quest of public records-type information or about whom information is being sought, The Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook offers you a tool for navigating the public records and open meetings environment.

    Cara V. Coburn, U.W. 2005, does policy analysis at the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. She also is chair of the Legal Association for Women program committee.

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    eDiscovery & Digital Evidence

    By Jay E. Grenig & William C. Gleisner III (Eagan, MN: Thomson*West, 2005). 2 vols. 2,000+ pgs. Forms on CD-ROM. $259. Order, (800) 344-5009.

    Reviewed by Kevin L. Ferguson

    Whether you are an experienced lawyer or a new associate conducting discovery for more experienced attorneys in your office, you should become familiar with eDiscovery & Digital Evidence, a comprehensive two-volume treatise by Jay Grenig and William Gleisner. Although no one expects a book on electronic discovery to be either a page turner or an easy read, the authors have skillfully addressed a technologically complex issue for both computer-literate and nontechnologically-oriented litigators. In a foreshadowing of the book's purpose and scope, the authors begin by reminding the reader that digital information is found in numerous places and is now a central part of civil litigation.

    In volume 1, the authors provide straightforward strategies on how to deal effectively with the broad categories of electronic discovery and how to obtain this valuable information. Their practical advice ranges from discovery and disclosure to admissibility. In a chapter entitled "Responding to eDiscovery Requests," the authors educate the reader about the possible impediments to production of digital data and address various objections to its discovery. All of this information is presented in a way that is fully comprehensible to the lawyer who does not have a background in computer science.

    Volume 2 is devoted to appendices, which provide checklists and forms that guide the user through the discovery process with sample documents that can be used by all parties.

    The bottom line is that this highly useful and comprehensive treatment of electronic discovery is a must for any attorney who wants to be on the cutting edge of modern discovery practices.

    Kevin L. Ferguson, Marquette 1996, is a senior staff attorney with American Family Mutual Insurance Co, and is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

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    Legal Strategy

    By Paul J. Zwier (Notre Dame, IN: NITA, 2005). 188 pgs. $65. Order, (800) 225-6482.

    Reviewed by Maria S. Lazar

    "Today's litigators need to be able to think strategically. Not only must they understand how to put a case together for trial, they also need to understand the client's business and long term goals in order to be able to give their clients wise advice."

    Thus begins Legal Strategy, an easy-to-read handbook that teaches lawyers - step by step - how to focus their litigation to achieve the best result for their clients, even if that result is not to litigate but to settle. While at times the book is a bit simplistic, it could assist even the most seasoned litigator in reexamining the legal process from start to finish, and it has useful items of advice that every practitioner could use.

    The book discusses the stages of a case from fact investigation and issue formulation to client counseling to implementing a client's decision through either dispute resolution or adjudication. It provides practical pointers, outlines theories, and contains client interview questions and charts for position bargaining and for setting an economic value on a case.

    Zwier writes persuasively about the use and danger of analogies in a trial. He sets forth a powerful example and then details how a quick-witted opposing counsel could turn the analogy against the litigator. Zwier also focuses on the lawyer's role in strategic decision making, discussing how to give the client bad news about the case and how to identify alternatives and predict consequences. He explains what every good litigator knows: words are powerful. Litigators should carefully consider the choice of words in their arguments and when formulating the theory of their cases.

    The book concludes with a chapter on how to test negotiation and mediation strategies, and while there are some interesting insights, much of this section is not truly applicable to actual mediation.

    Overall, while this book would be a good starting text for new litigators, it contains enough practical and well-presented insights to be well-received by experienced lawyers. At any level of practice, it is good to step back and reevaluate why we are in the profession anyway - to assist the client and provide well-thought out advice and counsel. This book hits home on those points.

    Maria S. Lazar, Georgetown 1989, is a shareholder with Galanis, Pollack, Jacobs & Johnson S.C., Milwaukee. Her practice in business, corporate, and bankruptcy law centers on all aspects of litigation from trial to appellate practice.

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    Flexible Trusts and Estates for Uncertain Times, 2nd ed.

    By Jerold I. Horn (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2005). 812 pgs. $169. Order, 253-6397.

    Reviewed by Melinda A. Gustafson

    "Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity." - R. I. Fitzhenry

    Keeping with the quote's premise, Jerold I. Horn seeks creative answers to current uncertainty within the world of trust and estate planning. Flexible Trusts and Estates for Uncertain Times, second edition, addresses the uncertainty created by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Commonly referred to as EGTRRA, it resulted in significant changes to income tax rates, retirement plans, and estate and gift tax rates. Designed to be phased in over nine years, EGTRRA contains a sunset provision that reverts tax levels to prelegislation amounts. Uncertainty stems from the Act's phase-in time, anticipated reversions, and the possibility that subsequent legislation could repeal the sunset clause.

    Horn aims to help readers identify estate planning problems post-EGTRRA and provides drafting solutions. The book is comprised of 14 chapters, ranging in topics from beneficiary payment options to allocation of death costs to trust management. Chapters have a uniform format: a legal issue is stated, the purpose is explained, the problem is articulated, and drafting solutions within various scenarios are provided. The standard format allows the reader to easily move through the rather concentrated subject matter. Of most use to the reader is the accompanying CD-ROM, which contains about 150 model forms, including: wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney for property management, and health care and beneficiary designations. Another of the book's beneficial features is the consistent inclusion of cross references to relevant code sections and case law.

    While the book is thorough in its scope, the format is not user friendly. The book's design is more academic than practical, oftentimes not providing adequate margins or space for notes or comments the reader may wish to make. Overall, established estate planning practitioners are the readers most likely to appreciate the book for its interesting viewpoint on estate planning post-EGTRRA and for its model forms that a planner may incorporate into his or her practice.

    Melinda A. Gustafson, U.W. 2001, focuses on estate planning and probate in 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.

    Publications and videos available for review

    • The Art of Mediation, 2nd ed., by Mark D. Bennett & Scott Hughes (South Bend, IN: NITA, 2006). 269 pgs.
    • High Conflict People in Legal Disputes, by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Janis Publications Inc., 2005). 272 pgs.
    • Overcoming the 6-Minute Life: How and Why the Legal Profession Should Free Itself from Billable Hours, by Bentley J. Tolk (The 6-Minute Life LLC, 2005). 258 pgs.
    • When Courts & Congress Collide: The Struggle for Control of America's Judicial System, by Charles Gardner Geyh (Ann Arbor, MI: Univ. of Michigan Press, 2006). 332 pgs.

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