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    Book Reviews

    Scott FranklinLaura SuessMartin GregorcichKathryn Bullon

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 75, No. 10, October 2002

    Book Reviews

    Tax Guide for Journalists

    By Mark Luscombe (Riverwoods, IL: CCH Inc., 2001). 68 pgs. Free. Order.

    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 taxes.

    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 depreciation.

    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 site.

    Scott B. Franklin, CPA, Marquette 1995, is a tax manager with the Milwaukee accounting firm of Kohler & Franklin, CPAs.

    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 matters.

    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.

    Martin J. Gregorcich, CPA, Marquette 1974, who, through private practice and as acquisition manager for real estate companies, learned the hard way, wishes he had this type of book before his first transactions.

    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 errors.

    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.

    Kathryn M. Bullon, U.W. 1980, is a partner with Edgarton, St. Peter, Petak, Massey & Bullon in Fond du Lac, a past president of the Fond du Lac County Bar Association, and a member of the State Bar Local Bar Relations Committee.

    Assessing Damages in Injuries and Deaths of Minor Children

    By Thomas R. Ireland & John O. Ward (Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Co., 2002). 407 pgs. $65. Order, (800) 209-7109.

    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.

    Laura C. Suess, William Mitchell 1997, is an associate at the Milwaukee law firm of Shneidman Hawks & Ehlke S.C., where she practices in personal injury, labor law, and legal research.

    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.

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