Forget the Calories … We’ll Take the Honor!
What’s better than a Voodoo doughnut from Portland, Oregon? How about a doughnut and an award for the recent redesign of the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine? On Sept. 27, in Portland, the National Association of Bar Executives’ Communications Section honored the State Bar of Wisconsin with a Fastcase Luminary Award in publication excellence.
The magazine redesign was “a phenomenal rethinking of what was already a superior publication,” according to the award judges comprised of bar association communicators from across the country. Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Lawyer editorial board and publications team kicked off a new look and content mix for the print and online magazine.
Madison lawyer Nilesh Patel, who chaired the editorial board during the redesign process, wrote in his February column that one incentive for the redesign was to keep pace with changes in the publishing industry and readers’ expectations of this publication. “We want you to turn to the Wisconsin Lawyer, its readers, and contributors as a valued source for practice insight.”
It goes without saying that this magazine is what it is because of your contributions. Please keep that feedback coming. We really want to hear from you.
org jhastings wisbar Joyce Hastings, Editor
Wisconsin Lawyer magazine
True Pay Progression Needed for All Public Sector Lawyers
I was elated to see John S. Skilton’s editorial entitled “Pay Progression for Public Sector Attorneys: Progress in the Right Direction” (Sept. 2013). After completing the article, I was disappointed. Sadly, the article did not mention two unfortunate truths: 1) the pay progression plan in the governor’s budget covers only some state-employed attorneys; and excludes a significant group of Wisconsin’s state public sector lawyers; and 2) the pay progression plan does not provide true pay progression.
I am the current president of the Wisconsin State Attorney’s Association (WSAA), a public sector union representing attorneys employed by the executive branch and the Department of Justice. Our organization represents approximately 265 attorneys who ensure that government works properly on behalf of all Wisconsinites. WSAA attorneys are found in almost every state agency. We are administrative law judges, prosecutors, staff counsel, and litigators. While many of us do not fall into “public safety” or “criminal law” categories, we spend each and every day administering state laws in a manner that protects the public from professionals who act unprofessionally; protects the government from fraudulent acts and thievery; and allows the public to seek redress when necessary.
During the last budget cycle, the WSAA leadership learned that a plan for pay progression was included in the governor’s budget for ADAs, PDs, and AAGs. This plan set forth a process by which these public sector attorneys could receive an increase in pay solely at the discretion of management. Approximately 180 WSAA members were omitted from this plan for pay progression. The WSAA expended considerable time and resources lobbying the legislature, the governor’s office, and the Attorney General to support a true pay progression plan for all of our members, not just those who are employed as AAGs. This plan included a method that would allow reliable movement through the pay range for our members. Our plan would in turn allow the state to recruit and retain highly qualified lawyers to state service. Our efforts failed and to date, we have received no explanation as to why our efforts were ignored.
During the past seven years, the wages of WSAA members have remained stagnant. Many of our attorneys have left state service or transferred from agency to agency to achieve pay increases. Our members have been left with no alternatives to obtaining higher wages. The loss of experienced attorneys and their institutional knowledge has a negative impact on state agencies and their often precarious budgets. This is no way to run a business and make no mistake, state government is a business.
I am dismayed that Mr. Skilton and the State Bar of Wisconsin failed to recognize and understand the importance of a true pay progression for all public sector lawyers. Even more concerning is the lack of support for WSAA members who were intentionally omitted from the current plan for pay progression. After the last budget cycle, I can state with certainty that there is a lack of understanding of the important services provided by the WSAA membership to the citizens of Wisconsin. It is time for the education process to begin and we are starting with our colleagues at the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Cathy Lake, President
Wisconsin State Attorney’s Association
Section Addressing Digital Property Estate Planning Issues
As a follow up to the October issue’s cover article, “Tweets From Beyond: Planning for Digital Property After Death,” I would like to inform your readers that the State Bar’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section formally established a Digital Property subcommittee at its October Board meeting.
The primary task of the subcommittee, whose work is already underway, is to review all relevant resources in this area and work toward establishing a Wisconsin statute addressing digital property issues. In addition to reviewing Wisconsin-specific issues in their meetings, committee members are monitoring activity from an ACTEC (the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel) committee on digital property and the Uniform Law Commission Committee on Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets.
As committee work progresses, we will keep readers informed.
Laurene Brooks, Chair
Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section
Considering DNA Extraction
I was very impressed with Laurence Dupuis’s article, “DNA Extraction on Arrest: Maryland v. King and Wisconsin’s New Extraction Law” (Sept. 2013). It was well researched and well written, making the mix of science and the law very readable. Although I’ve had DNA testimony elicited in my courtroom, I found this article highly informative. Kudos!
Judge Jean DiMotto, Retired
Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Earn CLE Credit for Legal Writing in Electronic Publications
Good news! The Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) has expanded its definition of “published legal writing” beyond print publications to include materials published in electronic form. Additional criteria apply. See SCR Chapter 31 Appendix, CLE 7.06, at page 66 in this issue.
With the expanded definition, authors of substantive legal writings published in WisBar InsideTrack, for example, as well as in Wisconsin Lawyer, may qualify for up to 15 CLE credits in a reporting period. Lawyers may request CLE credit for approved published legal writings using CLE Form 4. The form and instructions are available from the BBE’s website.
If you have an article idea for Inside Track or Wisconsin Lawyer, we’d like to hear from you.
Karlé Lester, Managing Editor
Wisconsin Lawyer magazine