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  • ‘Best Interests’ of the Child: Custody Litigation and Modifications in First Two Years

    May parties stipulate to a lower standard for modification of custody and placement in the initial years following a judgment? James C.W. Bock explores case law and legislative intent involving the “best interest of the child” custodial standard.

    James C.W. Bock

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    In a recent case in western Wisconsin, the issue of whether or not the parties could agree to a lower standard for placement modification came before a distinguished circuit court judge.

    While one party’s attorney and the appointed guardian ad litem argued it was permissible, the issue caused the circuit court pause in accepting the parties’ stipulated divorce agreement. The court directed the parties to brief the issue.

    Necessary or Best Interest?

    Wis. Stat. section 767.451(1)(a) states:

    Within 2 years after final judgment.Except as provided under sub. (2), a court may not modify any of the following orders before 2 years after the final judgment determining legal custody or physical placement is entered under s.767.41, unless a party seeking the modification, upon petition, motion, or order to show cause, shows by substantial evidence that the modification is necessary because the current custodial conditions are physically or emotionally harmful to the best interest of the child:
    1. An order of legal custody.
    2. An order of physical placement if the modification would substantially alter the time a parent may spend with his or her child.

    As the annotated statutes detail, Wisconsin appellate courts have opined on the differences in the language of section 767.451, subsection (a), versus subsection (b) ‘After two-year period’ a number of times.

    With regard to the term “necessary,” for instance, in Millikin v. Millikin,1 the Supreme Court wrote:

    James C. W. Bock com james jcwbesq James Carson Whedbee Bock, Minnesota 1998, is principal of JCWB ESQ LLC, Hudson, where he concentrates his practice on sports and family law and on criminal, civil, and appellate proceedings in state and federal courts.

    “[a]lthough we cannot define with precision the word ‘necessary’ for purposes of a change in custody determination, we note that the ‘necessary’ standard has a higher threshold than a simple showing of ‘best interest,’ but a lower threshold than ‘essential.’”2

    In a more recent case, Paternity of Stephanie R.N.,3 citing Millikin, the Supreme Court wrote:

    “‘Necessary’ embodies at least two concepts. First, the modification must operate to protect the child from the alleged harmful ‘custodial conditions.’ Second, the physical or emotional harm threatened by the ‘current custodial conditions’ must be severe enough to warrant modification.”4

    Authority to Circumvent and Legislative Intent

    The authority to circumvent the legislature’s intent with regard to “substantial modifications” within two years of the issuance of a judgment regarding custody and placement would seem to have been decided as settled law.

    In Herrell v. Herrell,5 citing Millikin, the Supreme Court wrote: “[t]he legislature imposed this greater standard (necessity) to promote stability in the child’s life and to minimize custody litigation after a divorce.”6

    The Herrell court held the circuit court erroneously applied the lower “best interest” standard, inappropriately applied as a result of the parties’ stipulation at the start of the proceedings, because the legislature explicitly prescribed a higher judicial standard to protect the child.7

    In other words, parties cannot stipulate to circumvent the legislature’s intent on public policy concerns. Further, acceptance of a stipulation is not mandatory.8

    However, in Lawrence v. Lawrence,9 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals was confronted with a situation where the parties stipulated, and such was incorporated into the judgment, to provide “the guardian ad litem and family court counselor ‘the right to break any impasse between the parties as to where (the minor child) should attend school.’”10

    The Lawrence court distinguished its decision from the Herrell court.11 The court of appeals held “the provision does not contemplate court review of the impasse-breaking decision and we conclude it does not violate applicable statutes or public policy.”12

    The Law Is Settled

    Consequently, it appears the law is settled on whether or not parties may stipulate to a lower standard for modification of custody and placement during the first two years after issuance of a judgment: they may not.

    However, a finely crafted stipulation may empower decision-making authority on disputed issues with the parties at an impasse, as such may not require judicial review – and avoid a modification of custody and/or placement within two years of a judgment, if incorporated into a judgment.

    Endnotes

    1 115 Wis. 2d 16,339 N.W.2d 573(1983)

    2 Id., at 23.

    3 174 Wis. 2d 745,488 N.W.2d 235(1993)

    4 Id. at 761.

    5 144 Wis. 2d 479, 424 N.W.2d 403 (1988)

    6 Id., at 482.

    7 Id., at 488.

    8 See Paternity of S.A.165 Wis. 2d 530478 N.W.2d 21 (Ct. App. 1991); see also Wis. Stat. §767.461.

    9 2004 WI App. 170, 276 Wis 2d 403, 687 N.W.2d 748

    10 Id., at ¶1.

    11 Id., at ¶¶ 9-12.

    12 Id.




  • Tip of the Month:
    Failure to Pay Forfeiture Suspensions and Low-income Clients

    In the September 2018 Tip of the Month, Susan Lund discusses alternatives to driver’s license suspension for low income individuals unable to pay forfeitures in circuit and municipal courts.

    Susan C. Lund

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    In Wisconsin, most driver’s license suspensions are not caused by unsafe driving, but by unpaid traffic tickets.

    The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported that there were 206,729 failure to pay forfeiture (FPF) suspensions ordered in 2017, making up 56 percent of all suspensions – more than the other 84 types of driver’s license suspensions combined.1

    Susan Lund org scl legalaction Susan Lund, U.W. 2011, is an attorney in the Milwaukee offices of Legal Action of Wisconsin, where her practice includes removing legal barriers to family-sustaining employment for low income clients.

    FPF suspensions are remedial sanctions, meant to help a court coerce payment from a willfully noncompliant defendant.2 Recognizing that some defendants will be unable to pay forfeitures in full due to poverty, our statutes provide protections for indigent defendants seeking to avoid or resolve FPF suspensions.

    Circuit Courts

    A circuit court may suspend a driver’s license for up to one year for every unpaid traffic ticket.3 However, a circuit court is required to notify defendants that they will be granted an affordable installment plan to avoid suspension if they meet the statutory poverty criteria.4

    If a suspension has already been ordered, a circuit court must lift each FPF suspension at least one time for an indigent defendant who petitions the court for an affordable installment plan.5

    Although there is no explicit mention of community service to prevent or lift a driver’s license suspension in the circuit court statutes, many circuit courts allow community service as a payment arrangement for defendants with no discretionary income.

    Municipal Courts

    A municipal court may also suspend a driver’s license for up to one year for every unpaid traffic ticket.6

    However, a municipal court is required to notify defendants that they may complete community service in lieu of payment or have a payment arrangement to avoid sanctions for nonpayment if they meet the statutory poverty criteria.7

    If a suspension has already been ordered, a municipal court must lift the FPF suspension and provide an alternative to sanctions upon receiving the request of an indigent defendant.8

    Alternatives to suspension include, but are not limited to

    • community service,9
    • due date extension,10
    • affordable installment plan,11
    • permanent stay,12 and/or
    • modification of the judgment.13

    A valid driver’s license can help individuals obtain employment and meet work, family, and community obligations.

    By educating low-income clients and courts about these poverty protections, attorneys can do a great service for our communities.

    Endnotes

    1Wisconsin Department of Transportation Revocation and Suspension Statistics

    2 City of Milwaukee v. Kilgore, 193 Wis. 2d 168, 187, 532 N.W.2d 690, 697 (1995)

    3 Wis. Stat. § 345.47(1)(b)

    4 Wis. Stat. § 345.47(1)

    5 Wis. Stat. § 345.47(4)(b)

    6 Wis. Stat. § 800.095(1)(a)

    7 Wis. Stat. § 800.09(1g)

    8 Wis. Stat. § 800.095(1)(a)5

    9 Wis. Stats. §§ 800.095(1)(a)5; 800.095(1)(d); 800.095(4)

    10 Wis. Stats. §§ 800.095(1)(a)5; 800.095(4)

    11 Wis. Stats. §§ 800.09(3)(b); 800.095(4)

    12 Wis. Stat. § 800.095(4)

    13 Wis. Stat. § 800.095(4)




  • Investing in Qualified Wisconsin Businesses: A Closer Look

    Investing in a qualified Wisconsin business may provide certain tax benefits to individuals. Thomas J. Nichols and James W. DeCleene discuss these benefits and some potential pitfalls.

    Thomas J. Nichols and James DeCleene

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    Wisconsin law currently provides tax-favored status to certain investments made in qualified Wisconsin businesses.

    First, where an individual realizes long-term capital gain from the sale of an investment in a qualified Wisconsin business made after 2010 and held for 5 or more years, that individual may be entitled to exclude all or a part of that gain in determining his or her Wisconsin taxable income.1

    Thomas J. Nichols com tjn mtfn Thomas J. Nichols, Marquette 1979, is a shareholder with Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C., Milwaukee, where he focuses his practice on business law and tax law.

    James W. DeCleene com jwd mtfn James W. DeCleene, Marquette 2015, is an attorney with Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C., Milwaukee, where he practices in business law, estate planning, health care law, and intellectual property law.

    Second, where an individual realizes long-term capital gain from the sale of any capital asset, that individual may be entitled to defer that gain so long as he or she invests all of the gain in a qualified Wisconsin business within 180 days of the sale.2

    Qualified Wisconsin Businesses

    A business is treated as a qualified Wisconsin business for a given year only if it is registered with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.3

    Importantly, the registration filing must be made before the end of the calendar year when takes effect.4 The sole exception to this deadline is that, for the first year in which an entity begins doing business in Wisconsin, that business must register in the following calendar year.5

    Since each filing only covers one calendar year, businesses desiring continuous qualified status should file every year.6 These filing requirements create hard and fast deadlines. There are no procedures for retroactive filings.

    Only certain businesses can register with the Department as a qualified Wisconsin business. In particular, a business must, with respect to its taxable year ending immediately prior to its registration, meet the following requirements:

    1) The business must have had 2 or more full-time employees.
    2) 50 percent or more of the business’s payroll must have been paid in Wisconsin.
    3) 50 percent or more of the value of the business’s real and tangible personal property (owned or rented) must be located in Wisconsin.7

    With respect to the year in which a business first starts doing business in Wisconsin, these requirements are deemed satisfied if the business registered for the following year.

    For purposes of the two 50-percent requirements listed above, persons employed by a professional employer organization or group are considered as employed by the organization’s or group’s client, and property owned by the business is valued at its cost, while property rented by the business is valued by taking the annual rental paid by the business for such property, subtracting out the annual sub-rental received by the business for such property and multiplying by 8.8

    Lists of the businesses that have requested to be classified as qualified Wisconsin businesses for calendar years 2011-18 can be found on the Department of Revenue website.

    Businesses are automatically added to these lists as part of the registration process for a given year.9

    Since a business’s registration for its first year is determined by reference to the following year, a business must request to be added to the list for the first year in which it does business in Wisconsin. This request is made by sending an email to gov DORISETechnicalServices wisconsin wisconsin DORISETechnicalServices gov and providing the business’s legal name as well as the confirmation number for its registration for the following calendar year.

    Be aware that these lists do not signal the department’s acknowledgement that a business is in fact a qualified Wisconsin business for a given year. Rather, it merely identifies those businesses that have self-identified as meeting the above requirements.

    Accordingly, obtain representations, covenants, or other assurances as to a business’s qualified status when helping clients identify a qualified Wisconsin business in which to make an investment.

    Exclusion on Sale of Investment

    As noted above, one of the benefits of investing in a qualified Wisconsin business is that the long-term capital gain on the eventual sale of that investment may be wholly excluded.10

    To qualify for this exclusion, the business must be a qualified Wisconsin business “for the year of investment” and “at least two of the four subsequent” calendar years, provided that the investment was made after 2010 and held for at least five uninterrupted years.11 To claim this exclusion, an individual must file a Schedule QI with his or her Wisconsin tax return.

    There are a number of issues to be aware of in applying this provision. To start, this exclusion only applies after the sale of an “investment” in a qualified Wisconsin business.12 For these purposes, an investment is defined as an “amount[] paid to acquire stock or other ownership interest in a partnership, corporation, tax-option corporation, or limited liability company treated as a partnership or corporation.”13

    While the statute requires an “amount[] [to be] paid” for such stock or ownership interest, we confirmed in a phone call with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that this definition is broad enough to cover transactions involving noncash consideration. We also confirmed that the statute should also apply to cross-purchases where the ownership interest is being acquired from an owner of the entity, rather than from the entity itself. In order for an investment in a single member LLC to qualify, the LLC must have elected to be treated as an S or C corporation for Wisconsin purposes. 2017 Form I-177.

    Be aware that late-year investments in entities that have not yet started doing business in Wisconsin may not be eligible for gain exclusion. For example, take the situation where an individual invested in an LLC in November 2017, but the LLC did not actually start doing business in Wisconsin until March 2018. Under those facts, the LLC would be prohibited from registering with the Department as a qualified Wisconsin business for calendar year 2017 since it would not have started doing business in Wisconsin until 2018.14

    Because of this, the business could not be qualified during the year of the investment, and no exclusion would apply on the eventual sale of the investment, even if the business registered as a qualified Wisconsin business for each calendar year in which it did business in Wisconsin.15 Thus, it’s good to advise clients whether to wait to invest in a business until the calendar year in which the entity starts doing business in Wisconsin.

    Note that gain passed through to an individual from a partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, tax-option corporation, trust or estate can qualify for the exclusion.16 As an example, an individual investing in a limited partnership that made an investment in an LLC would be able to exclude the gain passed through from the limited partnership’s sale of its interest in the LLC, provided that the limited partnership held the interest for five years and all other requirements are satisfied.

    Deferral upon Rollover

    Taxpayers may also be able to defer long-term capital gain so long as all of the gain is invested in a qualified Wisconsin business within 180 days of the sale of the capital asset.17 In addition to rolling the gain over into a qualified Wisconsin business, the individual must also file a Schedule CG with his or her tax return in order to claim this deferral.18 Note that this gain deferral provision is applicable to a large number of transactions, given that it could be used to defer any long-term capital gain.19

    As with the gain exclusion provision above, there are a number of issues to be aware of when applying this deferral provision. For example, this deferral provision uses the same definition of “investment” noted above, so be aware that the investment in the qualified Wisconsin business for these purposes could also be made with noncash consideration or in a cross-purchase transaction.20

    Additionally, the same problem with respect to late year investments in an entity that has not yet started doing business in Wisconsin is also applicable to this deferral provision. Further, gain passed through to an individual from a partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or tax-option corporation qualifies for deferral as well.21

    For purposes of the deferral provision, however, it is unclear whether gain passed through from a trust or estate could be deferred since the instructions to Schedule CG are silent on this point. That being said, Form I-177, the instruction form for Schedule QI, allows for the exclusion of gain passed through from trusts and estates, and both the exclusion provision and the deferral provision have an identical definition of “claimant,” so it seems likely that an individual could defer gain passed through from such entities as well.22

    On top of these overlapping issues, when advising a client with respect to the deferral provision, be careful to ensure that your client “invests all of the gain [from the sale] in a qualified Wisconsin business.”23 No partial deferral is allowed.

    Also, given that this investment must be made within 180 days of the sale, apprise clients before the sale closing of this potential deferral opportunity and the relatively short deadline associated with it, in order to give clients time to make arrangements to acquire an interest in a qualified Wisconsin business.

    Last, note that gain deferred under this provision will eventually be recognized. The statute accomplishes this by reducing the individual’s basis in the investment in the qualified Wisconsin business by the amount of gain deferred.24 Then, to prevent any slippage between the exclusion and deferral provisions, the statute prevents the deferred gain from being treated as qualifying gain for purposes of the gain exclusion provision.25

    Note, however, that if the investment in the qualified Wisconsin business is held in a manner sufficient to qualify for the exclusion above, the gain on the eventual sale of the investment could qualify for exclusion to the extent it exceeds the gain previously deferred.

    Conclusion

    Investing in a qualified Wisconsin business provides clear benefits to individual taxpayers. If the investment is held long enough and all other requirements are met, the gain could be wholly excluded in determining the individual’s Wisconsin taxable income.

    Additionally, if the investment closely follows the sale of a capital asset, the gain from that sale could be wholly deferred.

    In either event, it’s good to bear these considerations in mind when navigating these provisions.

    Endnotes

    1 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(b).

    2 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(bm)(1).

    3 Wis. Stat. §§ 71.05(25)(a)(1s), 73.03(69)(a).

    4 Tax § 2.986(4)(a).

    5 Tax § 2.986(4)(b).

    6 Tax § 2.986(4)(a).

    7 Wis. Stat. § 73.03(69)(b)(1)-(2).

    8 Wis. Stat. § 73.03(69)(b)(1); Tax § 2.986(3).

    9 Wis. Stat. § 73.03(69)(d).

    10 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(b).

    11 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(2).

    12 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(2).

    13 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(1m).

    14 Tax § 2.986(2), (4)(b); see Wis. Stat. § 71.22(1r) (defining “[d]oing business in this state” for this purpose).

    15 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(2).

    16 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(1); see 2017 Form I-177 (listing trusts and estates as well).

    17 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(bm)(1).

    18 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(bm)(2).

    19 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(bm).

    20 Compare Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(a)(2m), with Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(1m).

    21 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(a)(1).

    22 Compare Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(a)(1), with Wis. Stat. § 71.05(25)(a)(1); see 2017 Form I-177.

    23 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(bm)(1) (emphasis added).

    24 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(c).

    25 Wis. Stat. § 71.05(26)(f).​




  • Final Order 13-15: Petition to Establish Pilot Project and Create Rule Governing Appointment of Counsel in Civil Cases

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    Wisconsin Supreme Court Notice

    Final Order 13-15: Petition to Establish Pilot Project and Create Rule Governing Appointment of Counsel in Civil Cases

    The above-captioned rule petition has been pending for some time as a result of interrelated events, including the extensive work of a Legislative Council Study Committee, which submitted proposed legislation during the 2017-18 legislative session, but at the conclusion of the session had not been adopted into law. The Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Service having concluded its report, the court deems it appropriate to dismiss this long pending rule petition.

    ORDER ISSUED: Sept. 7, 2018

    DISPOSITION: Petition dismissed.

    Quick Reference for Official Notices

    Visit the Official Notices page for a quick reference for locating recent official notices of Wisconsin Supreme Court orders adopting, amending, or repealing rules, statutes, or policies related to Supreme Court rules and State Bar of Wisconsin rules and bylaws. SCR 10.12 allows the State Bar to provide these notices to members through print or electronic media, including the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, WisBar InsideTrack, or WisBar.org.

    For a comprehensive collection of all official notices, including pending rule petitions, court orders, and other material such as audio of public hearings, visit the Wisconsin Court System’s website or use the quick links on this page. Refer to the Publication Plan for more information on how the State Bar delivers notices to its members.

    Quick Links to Wisconsin Court System




  • Final Order 12-09A: Publication of Supreme Court Orders

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    Wisconsin Supreme Court Notice

    Final Order 12-09A: Publication of Supreme Court Orders – Creation of rules Under SCR Ch. 80 and Amendment of SCR 98.07, Publication of Rules

    On Aug. 7, 2015, the supreme court issued a rule order in the above-captioned matte, amending SCR Ch. 80 (Publications of Opinions and Orders) and SCR 98.07 (Publication of Rule Orders) to establish guidelines for publication of supreme court orders and opinions issued in cases and orders issued in administrative rule matters. After a three-year period, the court has reviewed the rules and concluded that the amendments were operating as expected and that no action was required.

    ORDER ISSUED: Sept. 7, 2018

    DISPOSITION: No action is taken with respect to the amendments adopted pursuant to S. Ct. Order 12-09, 2015 WI 86.

    Quick Reference for Official Notices

    Visit the Official Notices page for a quick reference for locating recent official notices of Wisconsin Supreme Court orders adopting, amending, or repealing rules, statutes, or policies related to Supreme Court rules and State Bar of Wisconsin rules and bylaws. SCR 10.12 allows the State Bar to provide these notices to members through print or electronic media, including the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, WisBar InsideTrack, or WisBar.org.

    For a comprehensive collection of all official notices, including pending rule petitions, court orders, and other material such as audio of public hearings, visit the Wisconsin Court System’s website or use the quick links on this page. Refer to the Publication Plan for more information on how the State Bar delivers notices to its members.

    Quick Links to Wisconsin Court System




  • Ethical Dilemma:
    Is it OK to Accept Gifts from Clients?

    A very grateful client has given you an expensive gift as thanks after the successful conclusion of a hard-fought case. Is it OK to accept it?

    Timothy J. Pierce

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    business gift

    Sept. 19, 2018 – When your hard work for a client ends in a successful outcome, what do you do when that client offers you an expensive gift as thanks?

    Question

    I represented an owner of a small business in bitter dispute with his now former partner.

    The matter eventually went to trial and we were successful, but we had to fight every inch of the way. The opposing side has appealed. I have a very good relationship with the client, who was very grateful about the outcome of the trial.

    A week after the trial, a client sent a package to my office addressed to me. It contained a kind note, thanking me for all my hard work. It also contained a beautiful watch. I looked up the make and model of the watch. It was quite expensive, costing several thousand dollars.

    My partner is concerned that it is improper to accept such an expensive gift from a client. Is it permissible to accept this gift?

    Need Ethics Advice?

    As a State Bar member, you have access to informal guidance and help in resolving questions regarding Wisconsin’s Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys.

    Ethics Hotline: To informally discuss an ethics question, contact State Bar ethics counselors org tpierce wisbar Timothy Pierce or org akaiser wisbar Aviva Kaiser. They can be reached at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m to 4 p.m.

    Answer

    Restrictions on gifts from clients are governed by SCR 20:1.8(c), which states:

    (c) A lawyer shall not solicit any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, nor prepare an instrument giving the lawyer or a person related to the lawyer any substantial gift from a client, including a testamentary gift, except where (1) the client is related to the donee, (2) the donee is a natural object of the bounty of the client, (3) there is no reasonable ground to anticipate a contest, or a claim of undue influence or for the public to lose confidence in the integrity of the bar, and (4) the amount of the gift or bequest is reasonable and natural under the circumstances. For purposes of this paragraph, related persons include a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or other relative or individual with whom the lawyer or the client maintains a close, familial relationship

    This rule prohibits soliciting substantial gifts or, in most circumstances, drafting an instrument giving a substantial gift to the lawyer or lawyer’s family, but does not prohibit a lawyer from accepting a gift.

    Tim Pierceorg tpierce wisbar Tim Pierce is ethics counsel with the State Bar of Wisconsin. Reach him by org tpierce wisbar email or through the Ethics Hotline at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154.

    ABA Comment [6] explains:

    [6] A lawyer may accept a gift from a client, if the transaction meets general standards of fairness. For example, a simple gift such as a present given at a holiday or as a token of appreciation is permitted. If a client offers the lawyer a more substantial gift, paragraph (c) does not prohibit the lawyer from accepting it, although such a gift may be voidable by the client under the doctrine of undue influence, which treats client gifts as presumptively fraudulent. In any event, due to concerns about overreaching and imposition on clients, a lawyer may not suggest that a substantial gift be made to the lawyer or for the lawyer's benefit, except where the lawyer is related to the client as set forth in paragraph (c).

    Thus, there is no prohibition in the rules on accepting a gift from a client.

    Small vs. Substantial Gift: There’s a Difference

    But substantial gifts bring risks. For this reason, Section 127 of the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers takes a more restrictive view by requiring lawyers to suggest that the client receive independent advice before accepting any substantial gift from a client.1

    The comment to this section explains:

    b. Rationale. A client's valuable gift to a lawyer invites suspicion that the lawyer overreached or used undue influence. It would be difficult to reach any other conclusion when a lawyer has solicited the gift. Testamentary gifts are a subject of particular concern, both because the client is often of advanced age at the time the will is written and because it will often be difficult to establish the client's true intentions after the client's death. At the same time, the client-lawyer relationship in which a gift is made is often extended and personal. A genuine feeling of gratitude and admiration can motivate a client to confer a gift on the lawyer. The rule of this Section respects such genuine wishes while guarding against overreaching by lawyers.

    So, the lawyer in the scenario above may accept the watch without violating any rule.

    Suggestion: Make a Policy

    Notwithstanding the lack of any prohibition in the rules, I find that many of the lawyers who call me for advice are very uneasy when offered gifts by clients – many, frankly, state that they are hoping that I will tell them that they cannot accept the gift.

    This is understandable, given the risks, and I usually suggest that they develop a written policy on gifts from clients.

    There is no reason to prohibit simple expressions of gratitude or greetings – such as a fruit basket at the holidays – but a policy that either prohibits or requires approval before acceptance of any substantial gift from a client can protect the firm.

    It also allows lawyers who are uncomfortable when a client offers a gift to politely thank the client but state that they may not accept it.

    In Case You Missed It: Read Past Ethical Dilemmas

    Ethical Dilemmas appears monthly in InsideTrack. Check out these topics from recent issues:

    Endnotes

    1 Note that the Restatement is persuasive, not binding, authority. The Rules of Professional Conduct are binding authority on lawyers.




  • Realizing Their Dreams: Welcome to 69 New Wisconsin Lawyers

    They come from across the U.S. and the world – and are ready to start the next step in their lives. The State Bar welcomes 69 new Wisconsin lawyers.

    Shannon Green

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    The oath

    Sixty-nine new lawyers took the Attorney’s Oath in two ceremonies on Sept. 17, 2018.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos from the ceremony and reception.

    Sept. 18, 2018 – Only after all six of her children were finished with college and – in one case, law school for Benjamin – did Roxanne Lutgen of Wausau pursue her own dream of becoming a lawyer. “I went to school after everybody else did,” she said.

    org sgreen wisbar Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by org sgreen wisbar email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.

    She earned her degree in Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s hybrid J.D. program – which allowed her to take classes and study most of the time while working full time. It took the complete support of her husband, Tim, who handled day-to-day tasks for the three years she was in school. “This was a fantastic program,” Roxanne said.

    Benjamin graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2009 and practices in Brookfield. “I’m the oldest of six children. My parents both supported us to realize our dreams. It was very special to see her realize her own dream today,” Benjamin said.

    Already a certified public accountant, Lutgen is vice president of finance and CFO with Northcentral Technical College in Wausau. She will expand the work she does in her current position – and wants to do pro bono work with Judicare. “I look forward to seeing what I can do for my community.”

    Does Benjamin have advice for his mother as a more experienced attorney? “I’m still learning from her,” he said. “But I may have a little bit of advice for her, too.”

    Roxanne Lutgen

    Roxanne Lutgen points to her name on the list of new attorneys.

    Roxanne Lutgen is one of sixty-nine new lawyers who took the Attorney’s Oath on Sept. 17, 2018, before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, listened to words of wisdom from their new colleagues, and signed the Attorney’s Roll. They were 60 who passed the bar exam, joined by lawyers from other states joining via reciprocity, and five graduates of the U.W. Law School.

    Of those taking the bar exam, 65 percent passed; 69 percent of those taking it for a first time passed the exam, said Jaqueline Rothstein, director of the Board of Bar Examiners.

    And all have a reason to celebrate the beginning of a new stage in their lives.

    The ceremony

    Friends and family stand in the back of a full house to watch the 10 a.m. admissions ceremony.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos from the ceremony and reception.

    New Wisconsin Lawyers

    There’s Ahmad Murrar of Milwaukee, who graduated in May from Georgetown University Law School. His mother, Hannah Murrar, was proud to watch him take the oath and become a lawyer. He wanted to become lawyer since high school. “He’s quiet, so everybody said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ He never changed his mind,” she said.

    Ahmad studied about 13 hours a day for two months for the bar exam – and passed it on his first attempt. In October, he starts his position in Milwaukee with Foley and Lardner – where he had worked as a law clerk while a student.

    “He worked hard, until he achieved want he wanted to do,” Hannah said.

    John Shaft and Grant Shaft

    John Shaft smiles as his father, Grant Shaft, an attorney in Minnesota and North Dakota, acts as movant for him. “He is the fourth generation of lawyers in our family,” Grant said.

    Tatiana Shirasaki is a lawyer again after 20 years. Before coming to the U.S., she practiced in Brazil. She has one more step to go before all is done: She will complete her LLM-SJD next year. Having passed the bar exam, she is now a Wisconsin lawyer, and ultimately hopes to practice in immigration law. “I’m looking forward to it,” she said.

    Lauren Zenk discovered she wanted to be a lawyer when taking a political science class in college. “A friend said, ‘Let’s try this out,’” said her mother, Kelly Zenk. And she was hooked. Lauren obtained her law degree from the University of Minnesota, and will practice in corporate litigation with Quarles and Brady in Milwaukee.

    Tatiana Shirasaki

    Tatiana Shirasaki, third from left, surrounded by family and friends at the reception.

    U.W. Law School graduate Bethesda Zewdie’s two friends, Sarjo Barrow and Tanya Salman – both practicing in Madison – stood up as movants for her.

    Zewdie’s experience growing up in Ethiopia – she emigrated at age 16 – was a reason to become a lawyer. “I grew up with the law not being helpful to people,” she said. “Having moved here, and knowing what I can do as a lawyer, it was important to me.”

    Zewdie works in immigration law, personal injury, and consumer protection with Lawton and Cates in Madison.

    Bethesda Zewdie signs the book

    Bethesda Zewdie signs the Supreme Court Roll book – a final step in becoming a Wisconsin lawyer.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos from the ceremony and reception.

    Raquel Garcia Posada is from California, but chose to attend U.W. Law School. “It’s has a great program,” she said. She took the bar exam in California in July, where she still awaits the results. “They said the pass rate was 27 percent,” she said.

    She wanted to be an attorney since she was 17 years old. “I read a lot about it, and thought that it will be a good way to use my influence to help others.”

    She aims to practice in international law, especially human rights. “I want to use my education to empower others,” she said.

    Brian Dollhopf of Milwaukee went to law school at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. “He is the eighth person in our family to get a degree from that school,” said his mother, Louise Damiano of Green Bay. He will practice in business litigation with Foley and Lardner.

    Dollhopf’s ambitions to become a lawyer started with an introduction to law class in high school. “After that, his course was set and he never wavered,” Damiano said. “He did is research. He said, ‘I know this is not going to be like the television show Law and Order.’”

    Welcome to These New Wisconsin Lawyers

    Via Bar Exam

    John R. Abendroth Elburn, Illinois

    Patrick Anderl, Milwaukee  

    Peter Anderson, Fort Atkinson

    Andrew Auderieth, Hudson,  

    Joseph Bauer, Chippewa Falls

    Mary N. Beall, Madison

    Veronica Canton, Buffalo Grove, Illinois

    Theresa Anne Carey, Viroqua  

    Thomas Chmielnik, Milwaukee  

    Colleen Cullen, Milwaukee  

    Evan J. Dahl, Oshkosh

    Jon Derenne, Milwaukee  

    Brian Kenneth Dollhopf, Milwaukee  

    Alexander Dunn, Milwaukee  

    Travis S. Gaetz, Elk Mound

    Biswajit Ghose, Mequon

    Tanner Gille, Janesville  

    Benjamin Gillig, Chicago

    Heba Hazzaa, Brookfield  

    Katherine A. Headley, Woodstock, Illinois

    Daniel J. Hood, Gurnee, Illinois

    Ashley Hornung, Milwaukee  

    Corey R. Hoze, Milwaukee  

    Kourtney Imig, Elcho  

    Timothy Michael Johnson, Chicago

    Matthew Douglas Jones, Kenosha  

    Kourtney Lynn Klassa, Shell Lake  

    Emma Lawton, Wausau  

    Kelsey Ann Leopold, Milwaukee  

    Roxanne Marie Lutgen, Wausau  

    Hannah Lutz, Milwaukee  

    Marissa Adriana Rodriguez, San Antonio

    John Shaft, Madison

    Tatiana Tamae Soares Shirasaki, Mayville  

    Tiffany Ann Biedermann, Appleton

    Katherine Mayer, Manitowoc  

    Anne Claire McDonald, Oshkosh  

    Kathleen Ann McStay, Oak Brook, Illinois

    Helaina D. Metcalf, Milwaukee  

    Ahmad Khalid Murrar, Milwaukee  

    Kyle Olsen, Madison

    Samuel J. Olson, Oconomowoc  

    David Palay, Madison

    Nicholas Paul, Chicago

    Aude Sylvanna Peden, Madison

    Trevor J. Peterson, Wausau  

    Elizabeth M. Pierson, Milwaukee  

    Emrah Polat, Schofield  

    Morgan Rae, Grand Chute  

    Ryan Riffle, Milwaukee  

    Christopher T. Ruska, Grafton  

    Joseph M. Ruth, Port Washington  

    Amanda Marion Marie Schamens, Milwaukee  

    Andrew T. Stoker, Oconomowoc  

    Chris Terris, Milwaukee  

    Erika M. Tribuzi, Madison

    Sarah Watson, Madison

    Saralinda R. Watts, Baraboo  

    Evan James York, New Berlin  

    Lauren N. Zenk, Milwaukee  

    Via Foreign License

    Alec Hillbo , Madison

    Renagh O’Leary, Madison

    Timothy Poodiack, Milwaukee

    Michael Stimson, Middleton  

    Via U.W. Diploma

    Sara A. Heyn, Castle Rock, Colorado

    Raquel Garcia Posada, Los Angeles

    Mary Katherine Salutz, Madison

    Bethesda Zewdie, Madison

    Natalie Sophia Zibolski, Madison




  • West's Jury Verdicts, Bench Decisions, Settlements, and Arbitration Awards

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    Sept. 19, 2018 – As a service to its members, the State Bar of Wisconsin has entered into an alliance agreement with West, a Thomson Reuters business, to provide award information on Wisconsin civil jury trials, bench trials, settlements, and arbitrations. West's editorial staff selects a few key Wisconsin cases from Westlaw's® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports to highlight in each issue of WisBar InsideTrack.

    This Edition’s Featured Cases

    Levins v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co. (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Waukesha County)

    Insurance - Verdict: $703,282
    Jury Awards $700K in UIM Claim

    Hinterhuer v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co. (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Vehicle Negligence - Settlement: $315,000
    $315K Settlement for Hwy. 41 MVA

    A.S. v. Nikodem (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Winnebago County)

    Premises Liability - Settlement: $170,000
    Minor Falls From Horse During Training

    State Bar members can:

    • Request a full case summary, free of charge
    • Submit their own case results for online publication in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Order a paid online subscription to Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports
    • Contact West: com west.juryverdicts thomsonreuters thomsonreuters west.juryverdicts com or (800) 689-9378

    For State Bar members submitting their own results for publication, West will:

    • Send each submitter a pdf of his/her published case as it appears online in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Consider featuring the case in the State Bar’s WisBar InsideTrack publication

    © 2018 Thomson Reuters/West. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this Web site for their own personal and noncommercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters/West content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters/West.




  • 1, 2, 3 … New Member Benefits to Help You Manage and Protect Your Practice

    New benefits for State Bar of Wisconsin members help you protect your practice against cyber threats, protect your trust account property, and provide you with expanded surety bond coverage options.
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    Sept. 19, 2018 – You’re in the business of practicing law. But managing the business of practicing law is time-consuming, complicated, and gets in the way of serving client needs.

    New benefits for State Bar of Wisconsin members help you spend more time practicing law and less time managing your business.

    Through the work of the State Bar Insurance and Member Benefits Committee led by Todd Martin, members can obtain these new benefits with M3 Insurance:

    • Cybersecurity insurance against cyber threats

    • Expanded crime coverage policy/bond

    • Expanded surety bond options for coverage for your client needs

    Coverage is tailored to your firm size and resources. M3 Insurance offers preferred pricing, lower deductibles, and an easy application process.

    See more information on WisBar.org.

    Cyber Security Coverage

    As of April 2017, as many as 14 million businesses – half – of the 28 million small businesses nationwide have been hacked over the past 12 months.1 According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, as many as 60 percent of small businesses go out of business within six months of experiencing a data breach.2

    To protect your practice, Identity Fraud Inc. offers protection through its BIZLock cybercrime insurance program specially designed for small businesses.3 Coverage is tailored to your firm’s size and needs, and can include these areas:

    • Cyber extortion (such as ransomware)

    • Business identity insurance and monitoring

    • Business interruption

    • Data reconstruction

    • Website liability

    • Breach response mitigation expenses

    • And more

    For more information, visit BIZLock’s webpage for State Bar members.

    Optional Bond or Crime Policy

    In 2016, the Wisconsin Supreme Court amended trust account rule SCR 20:1.15(f)(3) to permit electronic banking and to provide options for trust account management. For more information, see Options for Trust Account Management.

    One of the options includes situations in which “the lawyer or law firm maintains a bond or crime policy in an amount sufficient to cover the maximum daily account balance during the prior calendar year.”4

    However, such coverage was not available at the time. As a result, this new insurance coverage was developed through joint discussions with CapSpecialty Insurance Company and the Office of Lawyer Regulation.5

    The policy, underwritten by CapSpecialty Insurance Co.6, includes comprehensive coverage that encompasses:

    • Employee dishonesty, forgery, or alteration

    • Computer fraud

    • Money orders and counterfeit currency

    Special endorsements approved by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance ensure that the coverage is compliant with the Wisconsin Trust Account Rule (SCR 20:1.15(f)(3)c.2, and provides coverage for:

    • Funds transfer fraud

    • Partners inclusion endorsement

    • Social engineering fraud

    • Loss of client’s property

    For more information, visit Saving on Insurance in the Member Benefits section of WisBar.org.

    For specific questions about SCR 20:1.15(f)(3)c.2, contact the State Bar of Wisconsin Ethics Hotline at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154, or the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

    Expanded Bond Coverage

    The State Bar also offers expanded bond coverage for the following areas:

    • Court bonds (appeal, attachment, bankruptcy trustee, injunction, receivership, release of lien, replevin, sheriff indemnity, TRO)

    • Probate bonds (administrator, conservator, guardian, trustee)

    • Notary bonds (individual)

    • Notary error & omission (individual or business)

    • Title agency/agent bond

    These new bond coverages are also being underwritten by CapSpecialty Insurance Co.

    For more information about all insurance and coverage options, visit Saving on Insurance in the Member Benefits section of WisBar.org.

    Endnotes

    1 Congress addresses Cyberwar On Small Business: 14 Million Hacked Over Last 12 Months. CNBC, April 5, 2017.

    2 60 Percent of Small Companies That Suffer a Cyber-Attack Are Out of Business Within Six Months. The Denver Post, Oct. 23, 2016.

    3 Identity Fraud, Inc. is an insurance intermediary and cyber insurance program administrator operating nationwide. As an original pioneer of consumer identity fraud protection and cyber insurance solutions dating back to 1997, Identity Fraud, Inc., provides a variety of risk management and insurance solutions to protect individuals and businesses against identity crimes and data theft risks.

    4 SCR 20:1.15(f)(3)c.2. (emphasis added).

    5 According to Travis J. Stieren, trust account program administrator, “the Office of Lawyer Regulation reviewed the crime coverage policy and concluded that it meets the requirements of SCR 20:1.15(f)(3)c.2., as effective July 1, 2016. Of course, OLR reserves judgment in case future grievances involve any future modifications to the Supreme Court Rules or to the language of the crime coverage insurance policy.”

    6 CapSpecialty has provided surety bonding since 1959 and is a national underwriter of surety and fidelity as well as specialty insurance products in commercial property and casualty and professional lines. CapSpecialty has an A (“Excellent”) rating from A.M. Best and its operating entities are subsidiaries of Alleghany Insurance Holdings LLC, whose parent company, Alleghany Corporation, is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol “Y”). For more information about CapSpecialty, please visit www.CapSpecialty.com. For more information about Alleghany, visit www.alleghany.com.

    ​​



  • Get Tips for Your Mobile Lawyer Toolkit at Solo & Small Firm Conference in October

    What do a law office, home office, car, courtroom, meeting space, coffee shop, beach, and law library have in common? Thanks to today's technology, they're all places you can work. Learn tips to help you practice from anywhere at the Solo & Small Firm Conference, Oct. 25-27 in Wisconsin Dells.
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    WSSFC 2018

    Sept. 19, 2018 – Practicing while mobile is a now necessity. How should you handle mobile hotspots? What’s a great password manager? How do you deal with keeping all your devices charged and ready to go?

    Get answers at "The Mobile Lawyer Toolkit" CLE session on Friday, Oct. 26, at the 2018 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

    Learn about the best tools and tricks to make practicing on-the-go easier and more efficient from Brent Hoeft of Hoeft Law LLC and FirmLock Consulting LLC, as well as State Bar of Wisconsin Practice411 Manager Christopher Shattuck.

    “Given our current state of technology, clients expect lawyers to always be on the clock,” Shattuck said. “We’ll outline the tools and technologies that will allow you to efficiently practice from anywhere.”

    Shattuck offers these tips for mobile professionals:

    1. Do you have multiple devices that connect to a USB port, but not enough port spaces on your device? Use a USB Hub Adapter.

    2. Are you having difficulties viewing all of your applications and browsers on your screen? Use a wireless second screen to efficiently organize your work.

    Plenaries and CLE

    At the Solo & Small Firm Conference, you'll learn practice tips, earn CLE, EPR, LPM, and LAU credits, and make new connections. Discover how you can feel better, work smarter, and reduce strain in an atmosphere of learning, networking, and fun.

    Choose from 32 CLE sessions in four tracks: Substantive Law, Practice Management, Technology, and Quality of Life/Ethics. Sessions discuss topics such as protecting your practice from cyber threats, everyday ethical issues, organizing your practice, setting client boundaries, and updating your firm website.

    Plus, free access to recorded sessions after the conference ends means the chance to earn even more CLE credits.

    Plenaries include:

    • Five Key Skills to Improve Your Negotiation Effectiveness

    • Women in the Law – A Candid Discussion

    • Gadgets, Gizmos, and Widgets

    • What You Need to Learn Now to Prepare for 2023

    • How to Avoid Disciplinary and Malpractice Claims

    Expo, Networking, Luncheons, Receptions, and More

    There’s more to the conference than plenaries and CLE seminars. You'll find plenty of opportunities for networking and fun:

    • On Thursday, visit the Legal Expo for lunch – compliments of Habush, Habush & Rottier, S.C. – while gathering great information on tools, services, and ideas from exhibitors.

    • Enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, and soda, thanks to WILMIC and West Bend Mutual Insurance, at the reception on Thursday.

    • Sign up for one of multiple dine-arounds at local restaurants where you'll meet and network with fellow conference-goers.

    • Celebrate the recipient of the John Lederer Service Award at lunch on Friday.

    • Relax and enjoy the hospitality suite and refreshments sponsored by Krekeler Strother S.C.

    Plus, Support Legal Action of Wisconsin by bidding on items at the Silent Auction throughout the day on Thursday.

    First-time Attendees Save $50 on Registration

    First-time registrant? Take $50 off the regular tuition rate of $349. Plus, register by Oct. 3 to save an additional $50.

    Become an Ultimate Pass Gold subscriber and get free tuition, or use the Ultimate Pass Silver, which gives you 50 percent off tuition.

    There’s four ways to register:

    • On WisBar’s Marketplace (credit card or Ultimate Pass only)

    • By phone: (800) 728-7788 (credit card or Ultimate Pass only)

    • By fax: (608) 250-6020 (credit card or Ultimate Pass only)

    • By mail: State Bar PINNACLE Registrations, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158 (check, credit card, passbooks, or Ultimate Pass)

    Already registered? Be sure to join the conference’s Facebook page for updates about the event.

    At the Kalahari Resort – Register by Sept. 24 for Best Rate

    Bring your family for a mini-vacation at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells. Ideally located in the heart of Wisconsin, the Kalahari Resort features a 27-hole golf club, spa, dining, retail shopping, movie theater, and waterparks. To reserve your room, call (877) 253-5466 by Sept. 24 for the best rate – and be sure to mention you’re with the 2018 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference.




  • CLE in Cuba: Journey on a Cross-cultural Educational Exchange this February

    Join your colleagues this February and gain a greater understanding of Cuba's legal, political, and economic cultures as you earn CLE in Cuba. Sign up by Oct. 5.
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    journey to cuba

    Sept. 19, 2018 – Is a visit to Cuba on your bucket list? How about a trip that lets you earn 4.5 CLE credits while exploring the island nation’s legal and cultural systems?

    With the expanding relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, now is the chance to learn and experience this complex neighbor.

    “This is a great opportunity to learn about the Cuban legal system, make connections with legal professionals in Cuba, and get to know other Wisconsin lawyers,” said State Bar President Chris Rogers. “This is a trip that’s on my bucket list.”

    State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® is partnering with Cuba Cultural Travel for a cross-cultural exchange and CLE program in Havana, Cuba, on Feb. 7-11, 2019. Cuba Cultural Travel has organized professional education tours for more than 15 years, including for other state bars across the U.S.

    A Once-in-a-lifetime Trip

    Here’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a detailed look at the Cuban legal system while also experiencing Cuba’s cultural attractions.

    The specially designed CLE program goes beyond tourist corridors and explores Cuba’s rich and varied cultural heritage. Engage with local scholars, attorneys, musicians, and artists who offer in-depth commentary on the Cuban legal system, history, art, architecture, and religion. Topics include the rule of law, their legal and business practices, and the emerging private sector.

    Optional side excursions include a tour of a cigar factory, performing arts center and architectural experiences, and a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home and fishing village, which he used as the setting for The Old Man and the Sea.

    This exclusive opportunity for State Bar of Wisconsin members includes:

    • Thought-provoking lectures by renowned intellectuals, scholars, and legal experts

    • Reception and private performances by prominent dance companies and musicians

    • Exploration of the fascinating neighborhoods of Havana in the company of an architect and historian

    • A trip to Pinar del Rio province and the stunning Viñales Valley – known for producing the finest tobacco in the world

    Sign Up by Oct. 5

    Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and space is limited. A deposit is required to hold your place and must be received by Oct. 5, 2018.

    For more information, see the program brochure and registration materials for a detailed description of pricing options, trip inclusions, and trip exclusions.

    Please note: No State Bar member dues will be used to fund this program.

    Journey to Cuba and Earn CLE, Feb. 7-11, 2019 – Sign Up by Oct. 5

    Trip highlights:

    • Five days and four nights in Havana, Cuba

    • Earn up to 4.5 CLE credits with thought-provoking lectures by renowned intellectuals, scholars, and legal experts

    • Cost is $2,460 to $3,835 depending upon accommodations

    • Price includes a full-time private tour escort, accommodations, meals, and ground transportation

    • Price does not include airfare to and from Cuba

    • Deposit due Oct. 5, 2018; balance due by Nov. 9, 2018




  • Film Screening and Panel Explores Unconscious Bias and Obstacles Women Face in Legal Profession

    The Madison chapter of the Legal Association for Women will show the film "Balancing the Scales," exploring unconscious bias and the experience of women in the legal profession. This free CLE event takes place on Sept. 27 on the U.W. Madison campus.
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    Sept. 19, 2018 – When Rebecca Markert stumbled across the trailer for a film on Facebook, she was immediately determined to bring it to Madison.

    One year later, her vision is a reality, and she hopes you will attend a screening and panel discussion involving the film Balancing the Scales: A Film by Sharon Rowen.

    “The film explores issues common to any woman who is a working professional,” said Rebecca Markert, president of the Legal Association of Women (LAW), which organized the event.

    The film has an important message. “Despite all the strides we’ve made – with women making up more than half the population of law students, with more than half of women in private practice – there are still obstacles and challenges,” Markert said. “Women leave the profession in higher numbers than men. And the rates of women as partners and general counsel at larger corporations are still very low.”

    “We’re still not breaking that glass ceiling,” she said. “The legal profession can still very much be a boy’s club.”

    Two Decades in the Making

    The film, produced by Georgia lawyer Sharon Rowen, is based on two decades of interviews with women lawyers. Interviewees include state supreme court and appellate court justices, women equity partners, minority women, associates, and students. It also includes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, and Roe v. Wade attorney Margie Pitts Hames.

    In this time of #metoo and the Women’s March, “this is the perfect time to look at the obstacles and challenges that women face in the workplace,” Markert said. “LAW members want to continue this conversation in our state.”

    Panel Discussion: Unconscious Bias

    A panel discussion follows the film’s screening, moderated by Rowen, with judges JoAnne Kloppenburg, Kristy Yang, and Susan Steingass; and attorney Tamara Packard.

    “We will talk about how unconscious bias surfaces in legal workplaces and how to take steps to eradicate it,” Markert said. “You’re going to walk away with steps to promote equality in workplace hiring and promotion practices.”

    Panelists will also discuss their experiences as women attorneys in Wisconsin.

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation and State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® are two of the sponsors of the event, which takes place on Thursday, Sept. 27 in Madison.

    About the Event

    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed//DPhwyZtih7Y" width="525" height="295" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    What: A showing and panel discussion on Balancing the Scales: A Film by Sharon Rowen – an insightful look at the story of women lawyers in America, presented by the Legal Association for Women, Madison

    Where: 975 Bascom Mall, Room 2260, Madison

    When: Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

    • 5 p.m. – Doors open

    • 6 p.m. – Film showing

    • 7 p.m. – Panel discussion with Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, Judge Kristy Yang, Judge Susan Steingass, and attorney Tamara Packard. The panel is moderated by the film’s producer, Georgia attorney Sharon Rowen.

    Cost: Free and open to the public. RSVP is not necessary.

    CLE: The event is approved for 2.0 CLE credits.




  • 55 New Fellows Inducted into the Law Foundation

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation celebrates 55 new Fellows, members of the legal profession who show a commitment to the profession and community service. Congratulations!

    Shannon Green

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    Congratulations to these new Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos of this event, or click here.

    Sept. 19, 2018 – It was a night of celebration, as 55 new Fellows were inducted into the Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation in Milwaukee.

    The Fellows are lawyers who join by invitation as a result of their service to the profession, to their communities, and to justice.

    “Welcome, and congratulations,” said Hon. Louis Butler Jr., president of the Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation.

    “This is our best and our brightest,” Hon. Butler said. “We look at the service they have done – to the profession and to the community. It takes into account all that they do. Those honored as Fellows do tremendous service to their communities, and to the bar.”

    Kori Ashley, Elise Libbey, and Jill Kastner

    From left: two new Fellows, Kori Ashley and Elise Libbey; with State Bar President-elect and Fellow Jill Kastner.

    The Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation

    The Fellows program recognizes members of the profession who are known by their peers for high professional achievements and outstanding contributions to the advancement and improvement of the administration of justice in Wisconsin. New Fellows are elected by the Fellows Board of Trustees.

    “Fellows are recognized by their peers,” Hon. Butler said.

    org sgreen wisbar Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by org sgreen wisbar email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.

    The program supports the mission of the Wisconsin Law Foundation, the State Bar of Wisconsin’s charitable and educational organization. The Foundation promotes public understanding of the law, improvement of the administration of justice, and other law-related public service by funding innovative and creative programs that improve the vision of the American justice system.

    The Foundation funds more than $34,000 in grants to programs, projects, and services across Wisconsin. And, with strong support from the Fellows and donations from State Bar members, the Foundation gave its highest amount in 2019 – more than $50,000.

    With the support of the Fellows and member donations, the Foundation in 2018 granted nearly $43,000 to programs, scholarships, projects, and services in Wisconsin that assist public understanding of the law and improve access to justice. "In 2019, we anticipate granting over $50,000 — our highest grant year to date," said Kevin Lonergan, Foundation president.

    Recipients of its grant money include Wisconsin’s High School Mock Trial Program, programs providing for teen and peer courts, education programs helping low-income individuals better navigate the health care system, and programs to educate pro se litigants about the family court process.

    “The Foundation is also growing its Diversity Designated Fund, allowing more support for innovative projects and programs in this critically important area,” Lonergan said.

    Hon. Butler said the Fellows program has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos of this event, or click here.

    Learn more about the 2018 recipient of the Foundation's Charles A. Goldberg Award of Excellence, Dean Dietrich, who received his award at the event.

    JGini Hendrickson and Odalo Ohiku

    New Fellows Gini Hendrickson of Madison and Odalo Ohiku of Milwaukee.

    Welcome to the following Wisconsin Law Foundation Fellows:

    Michael Aldana, Milwaukee

    Kori L. Ashley, Milwaukee

    Daniel Philip Bach, Madison

    Ave Maria Bie, Madison

    Kristin Marie Cafferty, Racine

    Hon. Howard W. Cameron Jr., Hudson

    Hon. George S. Curry, Platteville

    I. Gregg Curry IV, Appleton

    Bradley I. Dallet, Milwaukee

    Jesse Dill, Milwaukee

    Christine Deann Esser, Sheboygan

    Emily M. Feinstein, Madison

    Hon. C. William Foust, McFarland

    Hon. Douglas T. Fox, Phillips

    Hon. Daniel S. George, Portage

    Steven Eric Grimm, Madison

    Douglas D. Hahn, Appleton

    Edward A. Hannan, Greendale

    Michael J. Happe, Eau Claire

    Charles I. Henderson, Milwaukee

    Gini L. Hendrickson, Madison

    Hon. Paul B. Higginbotham, Middleton

    Hon. Michael W. Hoover, Wausau

    Roberta F. Howell, Madison

    Michelle L. Jacobs, Mequon

    Robert J. Kaiser Jr., Madison

    Jason Knutson, Madison

    Deanne M. Koll, Menomonie

    Christopher Sean Krimmer, Madison

    Hon. Elsa C. Lamelas, Milwaukee

    Elise Emeline Libbey, Waukesha

    Alexander M. Lodge, Madison

    Matthew R. Lynch, Madison

    Hon. Mark A. Mangerson, Rhinelander

    Todd Wayne Martin, Minneapolis

    Michael Alexander McCaskey, Chicago

    Hon. Margaret Dee McGarity, Milwaukee

    Hon. Dennis J. Mleziva, Casco

    Odalo J. Ohiku, Milwaukee

    Aaron Thomas Olejniczak, Milwaukee

    Hon. Dale T. Pasell, Onalaska

    Randall W. Petrouske II, Green Bay

    Catherine M. Priebe, Milwaukee

    Hon. Michael J. Rosborough, Madison

    Eric J. Ryberg, Madison

    Thomas R. Schumacher, New Richmond

    Hon. James E. Shapiro, Milwaukee

    Carol Nolan Skinner, Hudson

    Joel D. Skinner Jr., Hudson

    Brian R. Smigelski, Brookfield

    Hon. Timothy M. Van Akkeren, Sheboygan

    John Wesley Warren, Milwaukee

    Sam Wayne, Madison

    Nancy C. Wettersten, Madison

    Bradley Yanke, Stevens Point

    ​​​​



  • Dean Dietrich: Love of Community and Profession are Inseparable

    For his years of service to his community and to the profession, Dean Dietrich is recipient of the Wisconsin Law Foundation's Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award.

    Shannon Green

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    Dean Dietrich with family

    Dean Dietrich, center, with family members after receiving the Goldberg Award on Sept. 13.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos of this event, or click here.

    Sept. 19, 2018 – Dean Dietrich has a vision: that Marathon County becomes the best place to raise children.

    To that end, he’s bolstered Marathon County Early Years Coalition – a partnership of local organizations dedicated to ensuring a great start for the county’s young children. Dietrich is chair of the coalition – and plans to become even more involved.

    For his efforts over a long career – in his community and in the legal profession – Dietrich is the recipient of the Wisconsin Law Foundation's 2018 Charles L. Goldberg Distinguished Service Award. The award is given for a lifetime of service to the profession and community and was presented at the 2018 Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation Annual Recognition Dinner in Milwaukee on Sept. 13. Read more about the event.

    Dietrich said that receiving the award is a very humbling experience. “All I know is that I get great joy out of doing things for the Bar, doing what I can to support attorneys, and for helping communities,” he said.

    Joseph Troy, a Foundation board member and chair of the Awards Committee, said Dietrich was chosen for his efforts to help lawyers advocate for justice while maintaining a high standard of professionalism and fairness. “His contributions have enhanced the ethical, responsible practice of law in Wisconsin,” he said.

    ‘The One You Want on Your Side’

    Dietrich’s leadership, say those who know him, spans not just the legal profession, but also his community.

    org sgreen wisbar Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by org sgreen wisbar email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.

    “In everything he does, he is a leader and an advocate, and his love of community and profession is inseparable,” said Stewart Etten of Ruder Ware in Wausau, who nominated Dietrich for the award.

    “I’ve done some things in my community that I’m proud of,” Dietrich said – including serving in the leadership of many community organizations. “And, I teach people how to be good civic board members.”

    Over the years, he has led or served on the boards of Aspirus Wausau Hospital, Inc.; Camp Manito-wish; Marathon County Start Right Program; Marathon County Youth Hockey Association; Wausau Early Bird Rotary Club; and Wisconsin Public Radio Association.

    “Dean’s leadership is sought because he takes the time to make a difference,” Etten said, “and because he is a tireless advocate of causes he believes in. He is the one you want on your side.”

    Dietrich has been recognized by organizations outside of the legal profession. In 2015, he became the first male recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award, from the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce, for enhancing leadership programs for women.

    “It’s yet another example of how Dean helps others achieve their fullest potential,” said Brad Karger, administrator of Marathon County, who has worked closely with Dietrich for more than 26 years.

    “What stands out about Dean is the time he devotes to the development of others, and providing assistance where ever he can,” said Joanne Kelly, executive director of United Way of Marathon County.

    “I guess there’s a theme here of teaching that I don’t often recognize,” Dietrich said. “I certainly get enjoyment out of something that is making our community or our lawyers better.”

    In his practice in municipal law – for Marathon County, among others, Dietrich ‘s advice “typically tracks toward what is really in the best interest of the county’s residents, and how they are best served,” Karger said. “It is a ‘people-first’ approach that has won him the admiration of many who see him as a problem solver with a heart.”

    Kevin Lonergan introduces Dean Dietrich

    Wisconsin Law Foundation President Kevin Lonergan, left, introduces Dean Dietrich, right, as recipient of the Foundation’s Goldberg Award.

    Two Passions Combined: Wisconsin Law Foundation

    Dietrich is active not only in his community, but also within the leadership of the State Bar, including as current president of the Senior Lawyers Division, and in the past as treasurer of the State Bar and president of the Wisconsin Law Foundation 2008-14.

    “I truly believe in what these organizations can do,” Dietrich said.

    The Foundation, Dietrich said, combines two of his passions – making positive impacts and the legal profession. During his time as its president, Dietrich witnessed the organization’s growth – and a concurrent increase in its ability to assist people, organizations, and the profession.

    “The Foundation’s programs are important for the future of the law profession and local communities,” Dietrich said. “For example, students participating in Mock Trial learn to be leaders and the importance of being involved in their community.”

    Dean Dietrich

    Giving his speech during the event, Dean Dietrich talks about the importance of community involvement to the legal profession.

    A Teacher of Ethics

    Dietrich has made the strongest impact, says Kevin Lonergan, current president of the Wisconsin Law Foundation, in educating Wisconsin lawyers on the ethics and practice of law. “Dean has made us better lawyers and made Wisconsin a better place to practice law,” Lonergan said.

    Dietrich has served for many years on the State Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee – including as its chair. He has written countless articles and participated as a speaker in innumerable CLE ethics programs.

    The sense of fulfillment he receives from teaching ethics at first surprised him. “I don’t have a good explanation for that,” Dietrich said. “But I know that I’m helping lawyers to be better professionals.”

    standing ovation

    Dietrich receives a standing ovation as he returns to his table.

    Ahead: No Ties or Early Morning Meetings

    A 1977 graduate of Marquette University Law School, Dietrich worked for two years in Fennimore with Nick Kremer, a “highly respected municipal lawyer.” He then moved to Mulcahy and Wherry in its Wausau office. For the past 28 years, he has been with Ruder Ware.

    His areas of practice include municipal and school law, employment law and labor relations, and professional responsibility and ethics.

    “I learned a lot at all three firms,” he said.

    Dietrich has just begun a new path – but don’t use the word “retirement.” “I’ve never been able to understand that word,” he said. Plus, that isn’t likely to happen, say those who know him. There’s just too much to do ahead.

    But, nearing age 66 and after surviving a heart attack, a stroke, and cancer in the past couple of years, he's making plans to spend more time with family and in service to the community he loves. 

    He took his first steps toward these new goals in the first week of September when began his new firm, Dietrich and VanderWaal in Wausau, with partner and shareholder Shane VanderWaal.

    “My goals are to not have a meeting before 7 a.m., to not wear a tie, and to read fewer emails when I’m traveling,” Dietrich said.

    He will also have more time for his passions: to focus his efforts on the Early Years Coalition in Marathon County. “If I could stop being active (as a lawyer) and just do that, I would. But being a lawyer is who I am, too,” Dietrich said.

    Dean Dietrich with colleagues from Ruder Ware

    Dean Dietrich, third from right, poses with colleagues from Ruder Ware, Wausau, on Sept. 13.

    Visit the State Bar’s Facebook page for more photos of this event, or click here.

    ​​



  • Current and Former Lawmakers Discuss Lawyers as Political Leaders

    Lawyers discuss how their law background helped them in politics, and encourage more lawyers to get involved in public service at the state and local levels.
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    Sep.19, 2018 – Although lawyers have unique education and training to understand the political system, fewer attorneys serve as political leaders today, at least in Wisconsin. For instance, of the 132 members of the Wisconsin Legislature, only 14 are lawyers.

    Recently, a panel of lawyers discussed how their law background has helped them in politics, and encouraged more lawyers to get involved in public service at the state and local levels. In this video, they provide some post-panel insight.

    “Attorneys can contribute so much to public life and to making our government work, including seeking election to public office,” said David Prosser, who served almost 20 years in the Wisconsin Assembly, rising to Assembly Speaker, before serving another 18 years as a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He retired in 2016.

    “Good intentions in writing legislation are not enough,” Prosser said. “You have to look at the words. Somebody is going to interpret those words.”

    Prosser, along with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, State Sen. Lena Taylor, and State Rep. Cody Horlacher – all lawyers – sat on a panel this summer at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Conference, to discuss their experiences.

    “I always felt it was a real advantage for me to have a law background, getting into politics,” said Mayor Barrett, who worked in the federal court system and in private practice before launching his political career. “It gives you a confidence and a competence to really be able to navigate the system. It gives you analytic skill and tools that make you looker deeper and ask more questions.”

    Sen. Taylor said voters were impressed to learn that she is a lawyer, when on the campaign trail, and her legal background made it easier to understand that people can agree to disagree, to keeping moving forward although opinions may differ.

    Rep. Horlacher said the law degree added to his credibility. “The law degree has been my biggest asset,” said Rep. Horlacher, who previously served as an assistant district attorney in Walworth County and worked in the Public Defender’s Office.

    “Anyone who wants to get involved in politics, whether directly or through commissions or boards, it’s a great way to get involved in your community,” Mayor Barrett said. “It’s a natural fit for people who like the law to get involved in lawmaking, or interpreting the laws.”

    Want to Watch the Panel Discussion?

    Watch the full panel discussion, in which six panelists discuss the nuts and bolts of campaigning and the challenges of public life, from ethical considerations and conflicts of interest, to transitioning and balancing a law practice with your political obligations.