Vol. 75, No. 10, October
Tax Guide for Journalists
By Mark Luscombe (Riverwoods, IL: CCH Inc., 2001). 68 pgs.
Reviewed by Scott B. Franklin
Tax Guide For Journalists is a quick reference for
reporters, freelance writers, and photographers on the various tax
issues that might affect them as either an employee or an independent
contractor. Most of the information, though, is more useful to freelance
journalists; employees of a media company with an accounting department
will have less risk of running afoul of the tax rules. The guide also is
a source for common tax information that might be needed for a story.
The current edition of the publication has been updated to reflect 2002
tax law changes.
The 68-page booklet is quick and easy to read. It starts with the
rules related to the two types of employment status: independent
contractor and employee. After next covering different classes of income
(such as compensation or scholarships, and so on) and whether it is
taxable, the guide briefly discusses estimated tax payments and payroll
The author also reviews the deductibility of business expenses and
spends considerable time on car expenses and the home office deduction,
two items that almost certainly affect freelance journalists. Other
expense categories covered include meals and entertainment, travel, and
Particularly noteworthy is the section on record keeping
requirements. The best way to win an audit is documentation, and the
author does a good job discussing this. The publication also provides a
detailed discussion of retirement plans and health insurance options.
The text concludes with general tax planning issues and thoughts on how
to choose a tax preparer and handling an audit. A glossary of common tax
terms completes the booklet.
While a skilled tax practitioner will find this book not detailed
enough and not distinct from other professional tax titles, it is
perfect for the journalist just starting out in the industry and in need
of beginner's guidance. Every client who is a journalist should have a
copy of this booklet, and it can be ordered free through the CCH Web
A Practical Guide to Commercial Real Estate
Transactions: From Contract to Closing
By Gregory M. Stein, Morton P. Fisher Jr. & Gail M. Stern
(Chicago, IL: ABA Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section, 2001).
391 pgs., with disk. $139.95. Order, (800) 285-2221.
Reviewed by Martin J. Gregorcich
The plot is predictable - the title says it all. But there is great
character development while the hero and heroine courageously negotiate
one challenge after another, until they fulfill the quest for a
successful closing. This book transports the reader to a frightening,
yet exciting time and place: Fresh out of law school, handed a file, and
told to negotiate a contract and carry it through to closing. You
remember general concepts from property law class, but they didn't
prepare you for this! Where to start?
The ABA Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section has come to
the rescue. Based on the exploits of three practitioners with teaching
credentials, this book bridges the gap between school and practice, and
helps you navigate through your first commercial real estate deals,
mindful of the differing concerns of counsel for the buyer, seller,
lender, and title insurer.
It has four main sections: 1) the sale contract, with emphasis on
representations, conditions precedent to closing, and the allocation of
various risks among the parties; 2) due diligence, including title and
survey matters, lease review and estoppel, physical condition of
property, and remedies for problems discovered; 3) the loan documents;
and 4) preparing for closing, running a closing, and post-closing
Who needs this book? Not lawyers who already have handled a few
transactions, unless they want to shorten tremendously the learning
curve when training new hires. With this book, a neophyte can be
expected to know as much as the teacher, except for the common sense
that comes from experience. It is written at a level that can be
understood by almost anyone motivated to learn and is perfect as a
textbook for paralegals or nonlawyer employees of a mortgage lender or
any corporate real estate department. Do not be surprised if you see it
distributed as a promotional item by title or professional liability
insurers for new attorneys to identify and resolve title problems and
avoid malpractice mistakes.
The authors gleaned the best forms from their own practice and
incorporated them into the text, appendices, and disk. Even the table of
contents functions as a useful checklist of issues. This amazingly
concise field manual will be your trusty map and compass as you venture
into new territory.
Triumph Over Terror
By Shawn T. Shallow (Victoria, B.C., Canada: Trafford
Publishing, 2001). 122 pgs. $12.95. Order, (888) 254-4444.
Reviewed by Kathryn M. Bullon
America lost more than lives on Sept. 11. It lost the innocent belief
that people were safe within its borders and the confidence that its
intelligence agencies can keep the homeland safe from foreign
terrorists. Triumph Over Terror was published swiftly in the
aftermath of the fall of the World Trade Center. The author, a Wisconsin
native with undergraduate and graduate degrees from Marquette
University, apparently intends to reassure a shocked nation that it will
defeat terrorism and will persevere, despite the stunning loss of
civilian life, an unfathomable breach of national security, and the
exceedingly uncomfortable realization that no one and no place,
including America, is beyond terrorists' reach. Unfortunately, the
reader is left with the feeling that the rush to publication superseded
the usual need for logical consistency, objectivity, documented facts,
and even minimal copy editing that are essential if the author is to
credibly build a case for the eventual triumph of America.
Triumph Over Terror is a series of "snapshots" purporting to
chronicle the history of terrorism against America and, in each case,
America's triumph over the activities that were intended to destroy its
spirit or economic viability. Beginning with Black Beard and continuing
through Desert Storm (with a very brief nod to 9/11 and Osama bin
Laden), the author describes pirate raids, British reactions to colonial
uprisings, airline hijackings, the Tehran hostage crisis, and similar
incidents, labeling all such incidents "terrorist" attacks on America.
Each snapshot ends with an enthusiastic description of how America
overcame the terrorists. The author's use of the term "snapshot" is apt:
each incident is described in brief. Like a snapshot, Triumph Over
Terror lacks depth and as a result risks its credibility.
The author describes Black Beard as a terrorist, attacking the
American colonies for economic gain. He later defines terrorism as an
act of terror to further a religious or political goal. How, then, the
reader asks, does Black Beard qualify as a terrorist? The British
deployment of the ship the Gaspee to raid American colonial
vessels and populations in response to the colonists' acts of revolt is
"terrorism," but John Paul Jones' raids against British vessels,
financed in part by the French, are not. The author cites alleged U.S.
intelligence covert operations in response to the bombing of Marine
barracks in Lebanon and say it's "reassuring to know that they're being
implemented on behalf of the terrorist's victims," after conceding that
the truth of whether such covert operations took place may never be
known. The author either doesn't recognize the many inconsistencies in
Triumph or is simply unconcerned with them.
There is a similar lack of concern for any outside factual
documentation. The aforementioned description of the alleged covert
operations is only one example of the numerous unsubstantiated "facts"
described in each snapshot. The author lists a brief "Bibliography and
Recommended Reading" at the end of the book, but there is not a single
citation to any outside source in Triumph. This is especially
troubling given the complexity of the evolution of modern terrorist
organizations, anti-terrorist intelligence gathering, and America's
various responses to terrorist attacks - all of which the author
describes in a factual context, leaving the reader to assume the
accuracy of his statements.
A minor but extremely annoying issue for the reader of
Triumph is the lack of careful editing and proofreading of the
book, which is replete with typographical errors, misspelled words,
incorrect and inconsistent spellings of proper names, and grammatical
Shallow closes with a brief discussion of the five "weapons" in
America's "arsenal" against terrorism: the law; economic power; military
strength; the no-concession policy; and America's foundation in
democracy. In his attempt to bolster the American spirit, he ignores the
obvious - America had all of these so-called weapons in place on 9/11,
and the Trade Towers still came down. There is little comfort in knowing
that these weapons did nothing to prevent the worst act of terrorism
against America in its history. Triumph Over Terror would have
had a better chance of providing an emotional shot in the arm had the
author taken more time to develop his thesis, document his facts, and
posit how America might improve upon the "weapons in its arsenal" to
ensure that there is never another 9/11.
Assessing Damages in Injuries and Deaths of
By Thomas R. Ireland & John O. Ward (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers
& Judges Publishing Co., 2002). 407 pgs. $65. Order, (800)
Reviewed by Laura C. Suess
This book is a valuable resource for personal injury practitioners
and those interested in how the legal system predicts the financial
impact of injuries to children.
Written to show how a forensic economist would assess damages and
testify in cases on the subject, the book is divided into 21 chapters
that cover the role of an economic expert, methods to project lost
future economic contributions of a female child, parental influence in a
child's future earnings, data on the costs of raising a child, and a
variety of other subjects that demonstrate the difficulty of assessing
damages in this type of case.
The economic analysis for determining a child's personal injury
damages, according to the authors, is based on the same factors that
practitioners consider for an adult. The evaluation of a child's
earnings loss is uniquely complicated by several factors. The
uncertainty arises from the child's age at the time of the injury; the
different educational and career scenarios the child might have followed
if not for the injury or death, and the resulting income; and most
significantly, the child's gender and likely future marital status,
factors that may influence the degree to which the child may have spent
time in the labor market. The authors emphasize the unique problems that
arise in the case of a female child. The problem with evaluating the
financial impact of injuries involving female children is that the
values of future possible child-rearing and household services often are
ignored in calculating lost economic contributions. Determining this
value for predicting lost earnings also depends on assumptions about the
female child's highly uncertain future marital state, because the
parties cannot know whether she would have married, stayed single, had
children in the future, and/or chosen a lucrative career path.
The book also contains a chapter on the subject of damages in
wrongful pregnancy tort actions. Such actions have been instituted by
parents of healthy children whose birth resulted from unwanted
pregnancies that would not have occurred but for a health care worker's
negligent behavior. In most courts the damages awarded are divergent and
may include such losses as medical expenses, the mother's lost income
and career opportunity costs during and immediately after the pregnancy,
emotional distress, and pain and suffering. Wisconsin (in Marciniak
v. Lundberg, 450 N.W.2d 243 (Wis. 1990)) and New Mexico allow
recovery for the full cost of raising a healthy child. Other states
offset child-rearing costs by the value of the child's aid, comfort,
society, and assistance. Probability charts compare the parents' lost
income stream had the birth of the child been delayed by specified
years, and the chapter includes a separate discussion of teenage females
whose failed contraception resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.
This is an insightful and thought-provoking resource.
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, org klester wisbar wisbar klester org.
Publications and videos available for review
- All They'll Need to Know: A Comprehensive Account of My
Financial Records and Personal Requests, by Joyce Pierce
(Houston, TX: Emerson Publications, 2002). 32 pgs.
- The Art & Science of Trial Advocacy, by L.
Timothy Perrin, H. Mitchell Caldwell, & Carol A. Chase (Cincinnati,
OH: Anderson Publishing Co., 2003). 531 pgs.
- Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court and the Unmaking of
American Law, by Martin Garbus (New York, NY: Times
Books/Henry Holt Co., 2002). 322 pgs.
- Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual 2002,
6th ed., by Kendall F. Svengalis (Westerly, RI: Rhode
Island LawPress, 2002). 636 pgs.
- Legally Speaking: 40 Powerful Presentation Principles
Lawyers Need to Know, by David J. Dempsey (Atlanta, GA:
Miranda Publishing, 2002). 336 pgs.
- Litigants Without Lawyers: Courts and Lawyers Meeting the
Challenges of Self-Representation, by Patricia A. Garcia
(Chicago, IL: ABA Coalition for Justice, 2002). 32 pgs.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: Law and Explanation,
by James Hamilton & Ted Trautmann (Riverwoods, IL: CCH Inc.,
2002). 235 pgs.
- Viatical Litigation: Principles & Practice,
edited by Gloria Grening Wolk (Laguna Hills, CA: Bialkin Books,
2002). 320 pgs.
- Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour: Strategies That
Work, second edition, edited by James A. Calloway &
Mark A. Roberston (Chicago, IL: ABA Law Practice Management Section,
2002). 286 pgs., with diskette.