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    2002

    Legal News and Trends


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

    Legal News & Trends

    Nine Wisconsin lawyers cross finish line in Ironman Triathlon

    The August Wisconsin Lawyer profiled Wisconsin attorneys participating in the inaugural Wisconsin Ironman Triathlon in Madison on Sept. 15. Nine State Bar members were part of a field of 1,800 athletes from 25 countries competing in the swim-bike-run endurance event.

    "The race began with a mass swim start in front of a cheering crowd lined up three-deep on the Monona Terrace Convention Center," says Craig Witz, triathlon participant. "The bike route weaved through several communities southwest of Madison and took on an almost Tour de France-type atmosphere at various points. The dramatic home stretch of the marathon-distance run took the runners up State Street and around the state capitol. Beginning with a breathtaking sunrise over Lake Monona and finishing under a moonlit sky, the all-day event drew crowds estimated at between 50,000 to 75,000."

    Ironman Triathlon Results

    Ironman Lawyers, (Age)

    Time

    Jon Becker, Madison (31)

    11:20

    David Braithwaite, Madison (56)

    12:28

    Steven Cain, Grafton (28)

    14:10

    Stephen Hartman, Brookfield (53)

    14:50

    Donald Locke, Milwaukee (30)

    11:27

    Tom Larson, Madison (32)

    9:59

    Laura Macaulay, San Francisco (30)

    13:41

    Michael Miller, Madison (34)

    11:43

    Craig Witz, Madison (43)

    14:41

    All of the Ironman attorneys finished and some flourished on their home turf. Thomas Larson, competing in his second Ironman event, took third in the Men's 30-34 age group and qualified to enter the Hawaii Ironman in 2003. The Hawaii competition is considered the "big show" in triathlon - the same grueling distances (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run) but add in some ocean trade winds on the bike and 100-plus degree lava fields on the run to make things even more interesting. David Braithwaite, competing in his first Ironman, finished fourth in the Men's 55-59 category, missing a Hawaii slot by only two poll positions.

    "Our original list of Wisconsin Ironman attorneys grew by one," says Witz. "An alert Wisconsin Lawyer reader connected us with Laura Macaulay - a 1997 U.W. graduate and daughter of a U.W. Law School professor, who practices intellectual property and licensing law in San Francisco. This was Laura's first Ironman competition though she has competed in five previous marathons."

    The Ironman lawyer participants agreed the event was an incredible experience and about half will be back for more punishment in Wisconsin Ironman 2003.

    Seven Common CLE Reporting Errors

    Attorneys admitted to practice in even-numbered years should receive the 2002 - 2003 CLE Form 1, the continuing legal education reporting form, in mid-October. All active Wisconsin-licensed attorneys are required by SCR 31.03 to file a CLE Form 1 with the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) biennially. This year's filing deadline is Dec. 31. Attorneys admitted to practice in 2002 do not need to report until 2004.

    "It seems the most difficult aspects of earning CLE credits can be filling out CLE Form 1 accurately and submitting it early enough to catch a deficiency before it's too late to avoid the consequences," says Gene R. Rankin, BBE director. "Consequences can include a fine or even license suspension." Rankin urges attorneys to file early and to keep good records. "Attorneys who wait until the last minute to file can suddenly find they are short credits, and oftentimes there isn't enough time to earn those credits before the deadline. Another major problem is not keeping accurate records, which complicates filling out the form."

    Rankin outlines the seven most common CLE reporting form errors and offers ideas to make the process less complicated.

    1. Filing late. The earlier you file, the earlier your form is audited, and the more likely deficiencies will be detected while there's still time to make up missing credits. Filing late also can land your form in a huge pile of late-filers, which can result in a late audit and late fees if there are deficiencies.

    2. Form filled out by someone else. Take personal responsibility. Fill out the form yourself.

    3. Inaccurate information. Reporting the accurate date, title, and sponsor is critical. Many sponsors offer dozens of courses, and it is impossible for BBE staff to determine which course is being reported if the information is incomplete or inaccurate.

    4. Inaccurate mailing address. The BBE mails your form to the address on file with the State Bar. If you don't receive the form and therefore don't file, your license could be suspended.

    5. Unapproved courses. Never assume courses have been approved for Wisconsin credit. Check the BBE Web site to access a searchable database for approved CLE courses.

    "When you take a CLE course, write down the necessary information, file the course brochure and payment receipt in a folder, and record the course on your calendar," says Rankin. "When the CLE Form 1 arrives, the necessary information is easy to get to, and you are ready to go."

    6. Unsigned form. CLE Form 1 is a sworn document and requires a signature to testify to the truth of its contents.

    7. Read your mail. The BBE routinely sends out two CLE reporting forms, one in October and another in November. Attorneys who have not filed by the Dec. 31 deadline receive a warning in March.

    A certified mail notice is sent to attorneys not in compliance in April, warning them that failure to comply in 60 days will result in suspension. Certified mail notices of suspension
    are sent in June.

    "If the BBE sends you a deficiency notice, pay close attention," says Rankin. "If you filed and there is a deficiency in your report that is not corrected it will result in suspension. Earlier this year the State Bar began publishing attorneys' license status on its Web site, WisBar. Avoid the embarrassment of having your clients learn about your suspension through WisBar."

    For more information, contact BBE CLE Records Manager Tammy McMillen at (608) 261-2350.

    People's Law School educates the public about legal system

    The success of our justice system depends on people's knowledge and appreciation of its merits and worth. The Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers (WATL) recently began offering The People's Law School, a series of public education courses designed to clear up the mysteries surrounding the law and to create a public well-informed about its rights, privileges, and responsibilities under our judicial system.

    The People's Law School was first held in the late 1980s and the early 1990s in Madison and Superior. At press time, fall courses are scheduled in Fennimore, Janesville, La Crosse, Madison, Superior, and Wausau. Spring course development is under way in Oshkosh, Neenah, and Wisconsin Rapids.

    "The People's Law School has two objectives," says WATL Communications Director Ruth Simpson. "First, it allows the community access to lawyers who provide information on a general area of the law and who answer questions on specific topics." Local lawyers develop the courses and course topics, which may include: your courts and how they work; wills, estates, probate; family law; buying/selling real estate and landlord/tenant law; personal injury and insurance; bankruptcy and creditor/debtor law; constitutional law; or other areas of interest.

    "The second objective is to educate the public about their legal rights and the legal system," continues Simpson. "Attendees learn how they can protect these rights and have an opportunity to ask questions about legal stories that appear in the media. This provides a forum where the community can receive accurate information on legal issues confronting the public."

    The course runs four to six weeks for two hours one night a week. To learn more, contact WATL at (608) 257-5741, www.watl.org, or com WATL mailbag mailbag WATL com.




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