If you won an enormous lottery prize tomorrow, what would you be doing next month?
com james.p.anderson5 gmail Jimmy Anderson, Cottage Grove
If I won a huge lottery, I think I would focus more on my passions. I love to write, and it would be great to have the time to write a book about my life, my experiences, and my family. I love politics, and I think it would be fun to work on a campaign. My wife and I love animals, so we would open a shelter. I could also spend more time working on my nonprofit, the Victims of Impaired Driving Project, which assists people impacted by impaired driving. And lastly, robot legs. Definitely robot legs.
You started out as a sports writer. How did you end up as a legal writer?
org jforward wisbar Joe Forward, State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison
It’s a good question, one I sometimes ask myself. Weighing my options after college – and lounging a bit like Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate” at my parent’s house – I learned that the local newspaper, the Oconomowoc Focus, wanted a “sports reporter.” I got the job. For a year I covered high school sports. Then I moved across the country to Oregon and covered high school and college sports for another newspaper, outside Portland.
During that time, the newspaper industry began changing immensely with the rise of online publishing. I reassessed my career goals. Law school had always been on the radar, and I decided to explore it. But when I graduated in 2010, law school graduates faced abysmal job prospects. I had to set myself apart from the countless other new lawyers entering the legal field.
I thought a career in legal publishing would allow me to combine my law degree with my journalism skills. To my great surprise, the State Bar of Wisconsin was hiring a “legal writer” around this same time. If I had some career advice for Benjamin Braddock, it would be legal writing, not plastics.
What kind of legal matter do you find most rewarding, personally satisfying?
com brennan gasswebermullins Michael B. Brennan, Gass Weber Mullins LLC, Milwaukee
Since leaving the bench, one of the most interesting undertakings I’ve participated in has been jury simulations. Before a case goes to trial our firm uses focus groups to test issues, witnesses, arguments, and themes. The results can change the way a case is tried.
A statement of neutral facts about the case is drafted. These are followed by the arguments from the plaintiff, from the defense, and then a brief rebuttal from the plaintiff. Key jury instructions are also included.
Then I read this “stimulus” in a neutral voice, as if I was reading jury instructions, to the mock jurors. The simulation takes place in the venue county, and the mock jurors demographically represent that venue. A slide presentation with pictures, graphics, and so on, is shown contemporaneous with the reading of the script. Excerpts from video depositions are also played to give the participants a “feel” for key witnesses.
The mock jurors’ evaluations on important issues and witnesses are gathered and analyzed, as well as their pre-deliberation leanings on liability and damages. Then the participants are separated into groups to deliberate using a verdict form while the lawyers watch via closed-circuit TV.
The mock jurors get as involved in the case as actual jurors do – sometimes more so. Their thoughts on and insights into the case, the witnesses, and the push-and-pull of the arguments inform us, the trial lawyers, as we gauge the strengths and weaknesses of our case and that of our opponent.
How do you get through winter in northern Wisconsin?
com gbakke bakkenorman Gary L. Bakke, Bakke Norman SC, New Richmond
Recreation in Wisconsin is seasonal for all of us. Winter brings snow. That’s a good thing. It brings cold. We can dress for that. It brings long hours of darkness. That’s a real problem. My basic winter exercise is on my bicycle trainer at home or on the equipment at the Centre, our local health club. But I yearn to be outdoors.
Modern clothing allows me to be comfortable outdoors in almost any weather so skiing, both downhill and cross country, is on the menu. I also enjoy occasional ice skating and the little bit of running that my knees will tolerate.
But the winter activity that has me certified as totally crazy is winter bicycling. An international group, called Randonneurs, regularly rides long distances. Measured in kilometers, our standard routes are 200k (124 miles), 300k, 400k, and 600k (372 miles). We stop only for food, not sleep. Some of my friends also do 1,000 and 1,200 kilometer rides but I’ve never finished a 600k thinking it would be fun to continue on for another 600.
Then comes winter. Several of us committed to ride at least one 200k ride every month of the year. I made it for 19 consecutive months before missing one – in July.
How do you stimulate the right side of your brain?
com mmt srtf-law Marna Tess-Mattner, Schmidt, Rupke, Tess-Mattner & Fox SC, Brookfield
Although my father is an artist, I inherited none of his skill. I appreciate art in all forms, but I can’t paint or draw my way out of a paper bag. Whenever I’ve played Pictionary, my drawings generated guffaws or blank stares.
I do, however, enjoy music, whether listening, learning or performing. I sang with choirs in high school and college, and for nearly 20 years have sung with the Master Singers of Milwaukee. Our 30 or so singers rehearse weekly and present four concerts per year, plus a number of private and public “special request” performances. The sacred and secular repertoire ranges from the medieval era to the 21st century, including great choral masterpieces, traditional folk songs and hymns, jazz, Broadway, and lovely choral gems. I have sung in approximately 19 languages (phonetic translations are invaluable).
Repetition helps me learn music quickly and thoroughly, but because I never formally studied music, music theory is not my forte. Asking me which voice is singing the third in the C#diminished chord will cause me to look like a deer in the headlights. Consequently, I have to focus on the music in rehearsals, and that means I cannot think about work or anything else.
It’s good to get away from the rest of your life regularly, and music lets me escape.
What is your fondest holiday memory?
com hanan gasswebermullins Beth Ermatinger Hanan, Gass Weber Mullins LLC, Milwaukee
In 2005, my family and two of my brothers’ families went to Rome for Christmas. A third brother was being ordained a priest there, on Christmas Eve. During the week in Rome, we were in and out of a multitude of beautiful churches, crypts, ancient ruins, and of course some truly delicious Italian restaurants.
Our daughter, then a teenager, summed it up as “too many churches, not enough shopping.” But she was the proudest to use her Latin training to translate ancient headstones and historic arches, even correcting her uncle priest. Our 15-year-old son usually carried one of his younger cousins on his shoulders as we trouped over the cobblestone streets.
The three families stayed in cell-like rooms in a former convent close to the Vatican, and on Christmas morning we shared some very small gifts before walking over to St. Peter’s Square to hear Pope Benedict’s first Christmas Day address. It rained much of our visit, so our clothes seldom dried and the soles of our shoes wore thin from all the walking.
Looking back now, I realize that our three families have not shared another Christmas together in one place. But none of us can celebrate Christmas without remembering that one. In our house, we now make Italian food for each Christmas dinner, preceded by a pilgrimage to Glorioso’s and Sciortino’s on Brady Street (Milwaukee). And when some of those store clerks speak with Italian accents, we are almost transported to 2005. Buon natale!