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  • Wisconsin Lawyer
    March 31, 2008

    Book Reviews

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 12, December 2003

    Book Reviews

    Attorney & Law Firm Guide to the Business of Law: Planning and Operating for Survival & Growth, 2d ed.

    By Edward Poll (Chicago, IL.: ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section, 2002). 642 pgs., diskette of forms. $119.95. Order, (800) 285-2221.

    Reviewed by Nicholas C. Zales

    Every new lawyer should read this book. It is full of excellent advice and practical legal tips that seasoned lawyers call common sense. Experienced lawyers will find it a valuable resource, particularly those who want to change their practice to make more money or find more personal satisfaction. Geared to the small firm lawyer, Poll covers the basics - starting a practice, overhead and billing, knowing the law, negotiating, getting organized, and managing time. Then he goes far beyond into topics such as marketing, the Internet, financial planning, hiring and firing, attorney self-analysis, and client satisfaction surveys. The book comes with a floppy disk full of organizational forms. The basic flaw with this book is that it covers so much that it fails to cover anything in great detail. Nevertheless, it provides a rock-solid foundation of fundamental practical information all lawyers should know or be aware of.

    Poll begins each chapter with a clever legal cartoon related to the chapter topic and two prescient quotations to make you think. My favorite was "Failing to plan is planning to fail," by John Wooden. Poll precedes each chapter with a checklist of essential items to remember and then plunges into the details. He describes a myriad of common business practices, which are uncommon to lawyers, and then shows how to adapt and apply them to your practice.

    Poll's book is based on the premise that law as a business depends upon strict attention to detail in all aspects of planning and organization. After showing how to do this, he turns to the fundamental question for experienced lawyers: How does one find the time or motivation to make major changes in the way one practices law? Poll notes it is not easy, because busy lawyers may lack the time or motivation to carry out his complex and detailed ideas of running a law office like a business. Poll convincingly argues, though, that lawyers must change through better organization and the learning of skills other businesses have carried out for years or suffer the consequences. Change is not easy, but if you want to, this book is full of clever and insightful ideas that will get you going down that path.

    Nicholas C. Zales, Marquette 1989, is a sole practitioner, practicing in litigation, appeals, and intellectual property. He is a member of the State Bar Board of Governors representing District 2, Milwaukee County.

    Terms of Enforcement: Making Men Pay for What They've Done

    By Steven S. Richmond (Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2002). 220 pgs. $19.95. Order,

    Reviewed by Samuel F. Algozin

    In Terms of Enforcement, Steven Richmond provides a highly personal account of his experience being charged with and convicted of domestic violence. Armed with this experience, Richmond argues that the laws established to combat domestic violence have created a vast imbalance of power in favor of female complainants. He asserts that lawyers advise female clients to use abuse prevention statutes (specifically, restraining orders) to strengthen the clients' positions in divorce proceedings and child custody matters.

    In the midst of divorce proceedings, Richmond's wife obtained a restraining order against him, and he later was charged with violating the order. While Richmond does acknowledge erratic behavior, he asserts that he never threatened or abused his wife. In essence, Richmond argues that he became the victim of a legal system gone mad in which accused men have no legal remedies. As a result of violating the restraining order, Richmond spent time both in jail and in a state mental institution.

    While Richmond acknowledges the need for laws to remedy the problem of domestic violence, he asserts that the current laws only serve to remedy one imbalance in social justice and power relationships by creating a new one. To Richmond, the legal pendulum has swung too far in the direction of protecting women from domestic abuse. The domestic violence laws view men as "bombs waiting to go off" and deprive them of their constitutional rights.

    Richmond, a psychotherapist and social worker by trade, himself formerly counseled male domestic abusers. The book reads as part memoir, part therapy session, and part call for reform. However, Richmond fails to provide much insight beyond his own subjective experience. He makes the objective assertion that restraining orders are used as weapons and are used to exact revenge against men, yet he fails to provide a basis for this allegation. While this book may have provided Richmond with the opportunity to finally tell his side of the story, he fails to give any lasting insight into the issue of how the legal system should deal with the continuing problem of domestic violence.

    Samuel F. Algozin, U.W. 1996, is an attorney with the Illinois State Appellate Defenders Office, Chicago.

    Book: The Election Law Primer for   CorporationsGender on Trial: Sexual Stereotypes and Work/Life Balance in the Legal Workplace

    By Holly English (New York, NY: American Lawyer Media, 2003). 324 pgs. $44.95. Order, (800) 603-6571.

    Reviewed by Michael A. Salatka

    Should male attorneys be allowed to take paternity leave? Are assertive female attorneys viewed favorably in the profession? Are female lawyers as competent as men? If you answered "yes" to these questions, and believe that these are accepted norms in the workplace, then you are probably from another planet. Gender on Trial seeks to reshape the gender bias debate - and succeeds brilliantly. This book is intended for potential lawyers, practicing lawyers, and management groups, but the content is applicable to all professions.

    There are chapters devoted to leadership styles, part-time attorneys, "underground harassment," fatherhood/motherhood, gender segregation, "competency testing," commitment to the profession, stereotypes, and appearance. What makes this book different from most discussions on gender is how the author peppers each topic with candid interviews with people from around the country. Male and female practicing attorneys, psychologists, sociologists, recruiters, consultants, and former attorneys provide true-to-life experiences and observations on gender that are both insightful and astonishing. The reader is almost overwhelmed by "what people really think." Between the powerful interviews and extensive research by the author, it is clear that gender bias issues in the workplace are not a thing of the past.

    The author provides useful approaches for confronting gender challenges as well as methods that organizations can use to resolve gender bias issues, but there is no definitive conclusion in Gender on Trial. The book is meant to regenerate the gender debate and promote common goals between men and women. As the author intimates, the formidable task of thoroughly addressing and completely resolving gender issues in the workplace begins with each of us.

    Michael A. Salatka, Ohio Northern 1992, is a manager in the Reporting & Data Management Department (underwriting) at Medical Mutual in Cleveland, Ohio. (Before reading this book, he admits to answering "yes" to the questions posed in this review.)

    The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations

    By Randy Cohen (New York, NY: Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, 2002). 284 pgs. $14.

    Reviewed by Mary M. Kuhnmuench

    Is it ethical to bring your own snacks into a movie theater? When is a lie not a lie? Randy Cohen puts his considerable wit and street smarts to the test to answer those questions and many more like them in this book.

    Cohen's book is the latest entry into the popular arena of self-help books. And, while Dr. Phil may offer pithy advice on relationships, and Richard Carlson advises us not to sweat the small stuff, Randy Cohen's entry into this field provides us with witty sound bites masquerading as answers for those nasty little ethical dilemmas we sometimes encounter. The material for Cohen's book comes from real-life questions posed by real-life readers of his column, "The Ethicist," in the New York Times magazine.

    Cohen employs a question and answer format, and I must admit that the most intriguing part of the book for me was trying to follow, let alone understand, many of the submitted questions. For instance, the following question had the familiar ring of the dreaded word problems I remember from high school algebra: "Two of us at work travel to the same city to check on our project. One stays at an expensive upscale hotel and receives frequent-flyer credits. The other chooses to stay at a much cheaper hotel, closer to the job and equally nice, but without that bonus. Is the first person taking advantage of the corporation?" You will just have to read the book to learn the answer. But therein lies the problem. Do you really need this book to answer that question? Unfortunately, it is representative of the majority of questions found in Cohen's book and it lends itself to a very sophomoric answer.

    Cohen is, by his own admission, an accidental ethicist. He fell into his occupation by sheer happenstance. The editors of the New York Times magazine thought that he might make the "discussion illuminating, the analysis thoughtful, and the prose lively." Roughly translated, he was qualified to write a column on ethics because he might be able to take a seemingly antiseptic subject and turn it into a witty, entertaining, and above all else, quick read. Perfect for the morning commute. Fast food ethics for our fast food world. I'm left to wonder if something isn't amiss when we reduce moral rectitude to trite fortune cookie advice. I know that I like fast food, but I also know that a steady diet of it is not healthy.

    Mary M. Kuhnmuench, New England Law School 1983, is a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, presiding over a sexual assault and homicide calendar.

    To Review a Book...

    The following books are available for review. Please request the book and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127,

    Publications and videos available for review

    • Basic PowerPoint Exhibits, by Deanne C. Siemer & Frank D. Rothschild (Notre Dame, IN: National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2003). 178 pgs.
    • Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century, edited by Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, Michael S. Scott Morton (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003). 443 pgs.
    • Kids Going to Court: A Story and Activities that Prepare Children for Court, by Kidsrights (Indianapolis, IN: JIST Publishing Inc., 2004). 16 pgs.
    • Lease Negotiation Handbook, edited by Edward Chupack (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2003). 782 pgs., with CD-ROM.
    • Medical-Legal Aspects of Pain and Suffering, by Patricia W. Iyer (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2003). 544 pgs.
    • Patent Law & Practice, Fourth Edition, by Herbert F. Schwartz (Washington, DC: BNA Books, 2003). 330 pgs.

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