Sign In
  • WisBar News
    July 22, 2015

    The July/August Wisconsin Lawyer: Water Conflicts and Adverse Possession

    In this issue, learn about the legal implications of a diminishing resource in Wisconsin: groundwater. Also, get an update on adverse possession law, and explore an important question in trusts and estate matters: who is your client? Finally, don’t miss 10 questions with the Brewers’ general counsel, and other insights and columns.

    July/August 2015 Wisconsin LawyerJuly 22, 2015 – You’ve been waiting for this moment. Wait no more. The July/August Wisconsin Lawyer is now online, and will be in your mailbox shortly. So what’s inside?

    To get things started, meet Ralph Cagle, who on July 1 began his one-year term as the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 60th president. You learn about Cagle’s life, his career, and his presidential aspirations for the upcoming year in “Ralph Cagle: ‘A Perfect Fit.’”

    Before settling into this month’s feature articles, don’t miss 10 Questions with Marti Wronski, general counsel for the Milwaukee Brewers. As baseball season heats up, Wronski discusses the job as baseball lawyer in “Marti Wronski: At Bat for the Brewers.”

    A Groundwater Conflict

    Think Wisconsin, and you might think about dairy farms and lakes. Will a groundwater conflict make us choose one or the other? Christa Westerberg’s article, “Groundwater: Diminishing Resource, Increasing Conflict,” gets readers thinking about this.

    Westerberg (U.W. 2002), a Madison attorney, notes that Wisconsin has long protected its bodies of water, but those waters are now being dried from the bottom up. In recent years, more high-capacity water wells, often used for agricultural purposes, are diverting groundwater from the lakes and streams that live nearby, which can harm water health.

    “As high-capacity wells proliferate in Wisconsin, water in groundwater-fed streams and lakes is being diverted to these wells beneath the surface, reducing surface water levels and stream flows,” said Westerberg, who represents parties in well permitting actions.

    Her article explains the legal basis for Wisconsin’s groundwater regulations and legal developments on the high-capacity well permitting process. It also previews potential legislative action concerning this increasingly consequential natural resource.

    Who is the Client? A Trust and Estate Question

    In “Identifying the Client: Trust and Estate Matters,” Milwaukee attorney Douglas Frazer highlights important and unanswered questions: If a lawyer is retained to assist in the administration of a probate estate or a trust, who does the lawyer represent? The fiduciary or the estate? And does the lawyer owe special duties to the beneficiaries?

    Frazer (Northwestern 1985) notes that Wisconsin law on client identity in trust or estate matters is unsettled. But he draws on cases, disciplinary proceedings, and ethics opinions from other states to provide some degree of guidance.

    “Until Wisconsin adopts a default rule concerning client identity in the context of representing a decedent or trust estate, lawyers in this area should be cautious,” he writes.

    Legal Developments on Adverse Possession Law

    Web Extra on Adverse Possession


    Good fences make good neighbors; bad ones might lead neighbors into court to battle over mismarked boundaries and “true” ownership of property. Jessica Shrestha overviews adverse possession, and what lawyers should consider, in this Web Extra video in Wisconsin Lawyer.

    In 2010, Madison attorney Jessica Shrestha (U.W. 2009) wrote a Wisconsin Lawyer article on adverse possession titled “Hey! That’s My Land! Understanding Adverse Possession,” one of the magazine’s most popular articles in recent years (read it here).

    Now, in “Wait! Is that My Land? More on Adverse Possession,” Shrestha offers an update, noting three recent adverse possession decisions. “Almost any adverse possession dispute will likely be affected by one or more of these cases,” she writes. “Lawyers who may encounter adverse possession issues, whether in a real estate transaction or in a heated boundary dispute, should be aware of these developments.”

    An ancient legal doctrine? Perhaps. But Shrestha says adverse possession law continues to affect property owners who might suddenly find themselves in disputes with their neighbors over seemingly inconsequential land, or worse – valuable land.

    Columns and Insights

    101 column: In “Part 3: Care and Feeding of Your Referral Network,” attorney Mary Lokensgard explains how to maintain your referral network after you have created the referral network (Part 1), and learned how to get and give referrals (Part 2).

    Managing Risk column: “In Estate Planning: Beware Unhappy Beneficiaries,” attorney Tom Watson, vice president at Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, notes that third-party claims by beneficiaries are becoming more frequent in estate planning.

    Technology column: Trying to go paperless? “Encourage scanning and shredding, and discourage printing,” says State Bar Practice Management Advisor Tison Rhine in “Easily Scan and Shred as Part of Your Paperless Workflow.” In it, Rhine reviews some scanning and shredding models you might want to consider, if going that route.

    On Balance column: Lawyers have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it, as Willy Wonka would say, and one easily sees why lawyers are a stress-filled bunch. But in “Rethinking Stress: The Upside that Gets Ignored,” attorney and stress guru Paula Davis-Laack explains that stress can be harnessed in positive ways.

    Ethics column: Dean Dietrich, past chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee, cautions lawyers who talk about cases on social media platforms in “Facebook Posts Can Violate Ethics Rules.”

    Final Thought column: Does your case involve statutory interpretation? “Ditch the Canons of Construction,” says attorney Eric Pearson, noting a recent survey of federal judges. “[M]ost judges think that the canons are not much more than window-dressing.”

Join the conversation! Log in to leave a comment.

News & Pubs Search

Format: MM/DD/YYYY