Complete the sentence: I never leave home without ___, because ___.
com mark goldsteinsc Mark Goldstein, Goldstein Law Group S.C.
"Reminding ourselves … that there are loved ones in our corner, is an important daily affirmation."
Hugging the kids (if they are awake) or kissing them (if they are asleep). Ours is not the most arduous profession, but it does present its share of challenges. Reminding ourselves what we are playing for, and that there are loved ones in our corner, is an important daily affirmation. All that said, when I posed this question to the kids, their answer (on my behalf) was ... your phone.
Sometimes you just can’t win.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
gov richard.sankovitz wicourts Hon. Richard J. Sankovitz, Milwaukee County Circuit Court
"I was advised to develop a pro bono practice as early in my careen as I could."
I was advised to develop a pro bono practice as early in my career as I could, before other professional commitments crowded out time for it.
Many avenues open themselves to eager new lawyers: work, marketing, professional development, community involvement, and so on. But because what we pursue most tends to be what we pursued first, if a new lawyer doesn’t commit to pro bono early on, it may be too late to develop a satisfying practice later. “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken,” Warren Buffett once said.
I began at Jenner & Block, one of the top firms in the country and distinguished by its deep commitment to public service. At Jenner, the pro bono ethic is inculcated from day one.
As a result, I’ve had a long time to savor the fruits of a pro bono practice. And, based on the type of cases I took on, I learned a side specialty, landlord-tenant law, which has paid handsome dividends over the years. (I’ve certainly been much more of a help to friends, relatives, and clients with lease disputes than I possibly could have by resort to my primary expertise – antitrust law.)
Because I started early, I have been able to reap what we call the three P’s in pro bono: the practical, personal, and professional satisfaction that come with helping people who truly appreciate your help because they’re in no position to command it.
What would you be doing if you were not practicing law?
com kcarlson carlsondash Kurt M. Carlson, CarlsonDash
This is a great question. In the midst of difficult workweeks, it is that very idea that I most often fantasize about. If I were not practicing law, I would be a writer. I honestly don’t know who would pay me to be the kind of writer I’d like to be, which is to say someone who enjoys writing without deadlines. The process of writing, though, is something that is so enjoyable to me that I would not view it as work.
I have written articles, short stories, and poems and for the past dozen years, I have been trying to finish writing my first novel. Having a very large and active family I love spending time with, while building a law practice, has not helped me with this goal, but it has given me plenty of material – truth is much stranger than fiction! So, if I could choose to do something else right now, I would love to be able to finish that book.
Writing allows me to creatively relax. I really enjoy all forms of writing, from pure fiction to poetry and from legal briefs to satire – sometimes intermingling them all into one inappropriately funny brief draft, from which I edit out the fun stuff. I also use writing as a tool. When I am overwhelmed, I write about the things that are weighing on me, and the exercise itself gives me the perspective and organization I need to tackle what I must, embrace what I enjoy, and let go of what is unnecessary.
Someday I will finish that book; until then, the material that comes both from my wife and me keeping up with our kids and with practicing law keeps pouring in.
What kind of legal matter do you find most rewarding, personally satisfying?
com bpaterick neiderboucher Barbara Block Paterick, Neider & Boucher S.C.
"Facilitative mediation is the most gratifying; … it's akin to the work of a musical conductor."
I am a people person. I thrive on interaction, especially when there is an academic or analytic component. For this reason, until recently, I would have answered this question by stating that civil litigation was the most satisfying aspect of practicing law. As a litigator you fulfill multiple roles, many mirrored in the film industry: investigator, producer, director, editor, and actor. Filling these roles leaves few dull moments.
Now, after spending a year studying mediation, my answer is that facilitative mediation is the most gratifying. Instead of analogizing to the film industry, I see mediation as akin to the work of a musical conductor. Contrary to determining the lawsuit’s presentation, the mediator hears the discord of the parties’ versions of the dispute, encourages them to explore their repertoire of interests (notes and scales), and guides them through the difficult passages so that the parties, like the musicians, arrive at a harmonious product. It is most rewarding to help the parties look broadly at their dispute and find new, creative ways to resolve it and move forward. Parties are more satisfied with facilitative mediation than litigation. I find it rewarding to assist them in reaching this endpoint.
You served as a public defender before practicing civil litigation at a large Florida firm for several years. What was that like? What brought you back to Wisconsin and the change in focus of your practice?
com nbjorkquist dmgr J. Nels Bjorkquist, Mawicke & Goisman S.C.
My law school work with the Wisconsin Innocence Project redirected me from employment law into criminal defense work. As a public defender in Sarasota, the heavy caseload provided intense training in creative and relentless advocacy, such as in the “ants-in-the-pants” case (ask me later).
A chance meeting at a bar function yielded a job offer from a large statewide firm seeking someone capable of arguing before a judge. My new boss, an old-school litigator and entrepreneur, became a mentor who taught me to wade into messy disputes, master the facts and law regarding unfamiliar industries and issues, and make winning presentations on paper and in person.
A love for the sun and sailing had lured my wife and me to Florida, but our family ties and fading memories of long, dreary winters drew us back north. My homecoming started with a clerkship at the Wisconsin Supreme Court – an eye-opening experience, given the court’s internal tumult.
I have since fallen in with a firm of expert practitioners who support one another’s practices and exhibit a remarkable esprit de corps. Bringing all my experience together, I now advise clients primarily on employment law, commercial litigation, and civil appellate matters.
Who has most inspired you in your legal career?
com cpleas pleaswilliams Coral Pleas, Pleas Williams LLC
"I am inspired by the satisfaction I get from guiding people … and getting them the best results possible."
The people I have the privilege of representing have most inspired me in my legal career. In my practice I generally represent people who have accidentally caused injuries to others or those who have been accidentally injured. Either way, I deal with people during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
For people who have accidentally caused injuries, they are being sued by the time I am hired to represent them and their insurer. Most have never been sued before, and it can be a really scary time for them. For those who have been injured, they are facing medical uncertainties, loss of income, and medical expenses. I am inspired by the satisfaction I get from guiding people through the process and getting them the best results possible.
What is your favorite movie? What will you do with your time after you retire in June?
edu kmstreit wisc Kenneth M. Streit, Frank J. Remington Center, U.W. Law School
" … the warm memories of those many evenings together watching "It's A Wonderful Life" and appreciating each other's significance in this world."
I took a film class and saw a few Frank Capra movies for the first time, including “It Happened One Night” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Neither were the professor’s idea of cutting edge, but she generously helped us see why each was so good.
Later, when “It’s A Wonderful Life” became a staple of the December holiday season, I watched it with my wife, then with our best friends, and then with our kids and our best friends and their kids. So it’s not only the message of the movie and the wonderful acting of the stars and supporting actors, but also the warm memories of those many evenings together watching it and our appreciating each other’s significance in this world. Pretty schmaltzy.
I’m not sure I’ll have time for movies after I retire. I plan to make myself available to do GAL work for children and adult protective services cases, continue working with John Chisholm and judges on Milwaukee criminal justice reforms, and probably continue to research and write on sentencing and community corrections in Wisconsin.
In addition to spending time with our two granddaughters here in Madison, my wife and I will be going out to Seattle a lot when our third grandchild arrives in August. Then there is that two-foot pile of books received as gifts that still need reading and lots of home chores and exercise.
You’ve written quite a few articles for Wisconsin Lawyer and InsideTrack. How and why did you get started writing?
com mmoore moores-law Michael F. Moore, Moore’s Law
"My goal in writing … is to share these "best practices" ideas with as many lawyers as possible."
I was an English major in college and wrote many short stories trying to become a published author. When that failed, I decided to go to law school. My first legal publication occurred in 1993 at the Midwinter State Bar Convention when the State Bar of Wisconsin published my outline, “The Pushmi-Pullyu Conundrum and Other Ethical Dilemmas of Corporate Counsel.” In those days, all the program outlines were printed in a bound volume and handed out.
My current work helping law firms and lawyers create success allows me to see many examples of “best practices” in both individual practice and firm management. My goal in writing for the State Bar of Wisconsin is to share these ideas with as many lawyers as possible. Now that my practice has grown to a national level, my new book, The Lawyer’s Toolkit for Creating Both Personal and Professional Success (due out late this spring from ThomsonWest publishers), will extend that information to an even broader audience.
How can you be both a Bears fan and a Packers fan?
com jmcneilly carlsondash James W. McNeilly Jr., CarlsonDash
"Unbeknownst to my family (even my mother), my father had always wanted to be a farmer."
The answer is: I am both an Illini and a Badger.
I was born and lived on the south side of Chicago until age 14, when my family moved to a farm near Viroqua, Wis.
In Chicago, I took in all that was Chicago – including spending Saturdays downtown taking art and music lessons on Michigan Avenue, attending Cubs, Bulls, and White Sox games, and watching the Blackhawks and Bears on TV.
Unbeknownst to my family (even my mother), my father had always wanted to be a farmer. So, despite the fact that none of us knew how to farm, after moving to Wisconsin, we started dairy farming. I learned to farm, hunt, and fish, among lots of other things – quite a switch!
Yet I remained a die-hard Bears fan, and when they won the Super Bowl in 1985, I exclaimed “This is the best day of my life!”
In 1989 my best friend Jeff invited me to his house to watch Packers games with the admonition: “You live in Wisconsin now – you have to be a Packers fan!” I reluctantly agreed, and since then we have watched many games in his rec room, which we fondly call “Lambeau South.” I have never given up on the Bears, and I still have quite mixed feelings when the Packers and the Bears play!
Describe your greatest professional accomplishment to date.
com ddavis dgattorneys Daniel S. Davis, Davis & Gelshenen LLP
"I embraced my entreprenuerial spirit and took the leap into business ownership."
Ten years ago, my partner and I left our respective firms to start our own personal injury practice. After years of working with large corporations and insurance companies, we were interested in representing individuals, and we felt that our background in insurance defense made us uniquely qualified to do so. Running a firm was something I had always envisioned for myself, so I embraced my entrepreneurial spirit and took the leap into business ownership.
Now, Davis & Gelshenen LLP is a multistate firm with offices in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. I appreciate the opportunity to remain hands on with clients on any given day while also focusing on the management of the firm.
Owning a business comes with its own set of challenges. For me, though, it has been the most rewarding experience in my career.