Vol. 79, No. 5 May
The Wisconsin Public Records and Open
Edited by Melanie R. Swank (Madison, WI: State Bar of Wisconsin CLE
Books & Government Lawyers Division, 2004). 310+ pgs. $29. Order, www.wisbar.org.
Reviewed by Cara V. Coburn
The Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook was
ripe for its May 2004 release. Since the State Bar published
Understanding the Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Laws in
1999, the Internet has gained acceptance as a place for storing and
accessing records and for holding meetings, September 11 and the Patriot
Act have changed the flow of public information, and Wisconsin has
significantly amended its public records laws to account for
If Woznicki means nothing to you, refer to the handbook's index,
which will point you to discussions of the case in various contexts.
This speaks to two of the handbook's strengths: a functional index that
leads you to what interests you and, when you get to the appropriate
section, a comprehensive discussion.
The handbook does not hesitate to repeat information and thus
eliminates the need for extensive cross-referencing, as a good handbook
should. Where relevant law exists, the handbook cites it; and where
there is an absence of relevant law, the handbook confirms this. When
discussing uncharted territory, such as meetings conducted through
email, the handbook makes good use of both formal and informal attorney
general opinions and law from other jurisdictions and opines on the
likely status of the law in Wisconsin. The handbook further assists
practitioners with its practice tips. Sprinkled throughout the text,
these tips highlight important concepts or procedural issues. Finally,
useful appendices provide numerous state and federal rules and statutes,
a sample notification of public records request letter, key cases, a
table of statutory exceptions, and a sample public meeting notice.
Whether you are a government attorney, a private practitioner, a law
student trying to make sense of public records and open meetings laws,
or a citizen in quest of public records-type information or about whom
information is being sought, The Wisconsin Public Records and Open
Meetings Handbook offers you a tool for navigating the public records
and open meetings environment.
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eDiscovery & Digital
By Jay E. Grenig & William C. Gleisner III (Eagan, MN:
Thomson*West, 2005). 2 vols. 2,000+ pgs. Forms on CD-ROM. $259. Order,
Reviewed by Kevin L. Ferguson
Whether you are an experienced lawyer or a new associate conducting
discovery for more experienced attorneys in your office, you should
become familiar with eDiscovery & Digital Evidence, a
comprehensive two-volume treatise by Jay Grenig and William Gleisner.
Although no one expects a book on electronic discovery to be either a
page turner or an easy read, the authors have skillfully addressed a
technologically complex issue for both computer-literate and
nontechnologically-oriented litigators. In a foreshadowing of the book's
purpose and scope, the authors begin by reminding the reader that
digital information is found in numerous places and is now a central
part of civil litigation.
In volume 1, the authors provide straightforward strategies on how to
deal effectively with the broad categories of electronic discovery and
how to obtain this valuable information. Their practical advice ranges
from discovery and disclosure to admissibility. In a chapter entitled
"Responding to eDiscovery Requests," the authors educate the reader
about the possible impediments to production of digital data and address
various objections to its discovery. All of this information is
presented in a way that is fully comprehensible to the lawyer who does
not have a background in computer science.
Volume 2 is devoted to appendices, which provide checklists and forms
that guide the user through the discovery process with sample documents
that can be used by all parties.
The bottom line is that this highly useful and comprehensive
treatment of electronic discovery is a must for any attorney who wants
to be on the cutting edge of modern discovery practices.
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By Paul J. Zwier (Notre Dame, IN: NITA, 2005). 188 pgs. $65.
Order, (800) 225-6482.
Reviewed by Maria S. Lazar
"Today's litigators need to be able to think strategically. Not only
must they understand how to put a case together for trial, they also
need to understand the client's business and long term goals in order to
be able to give their clients wise advice."
Thus begins Legal Strategy, an easy-to-read handbook that
teaches lawyers - step by step - how to focus their litigation to
achieve the best result for their clients, even if that result is not to
litigate but to settle. While at times the book is a bit simplistic, it
could assist even the most seasoned litigator in reexamining the legal
process from start to finish, and it has useful items of advice that
every practitioner could use.
The book discusses the stages of a case from fact investigation and
issue formulation to client counseling to implementing a client's
decision through either dispute resolution or adjudication. It provides
practical pointers, outlines theories, and contains client interview
questions and charts for position bargaining and for setting an economic
value on a case.
Zwier writes persuasively about the use and danger of analogies in a
trial. He sets forth a powerful example and then details how a
quick-witted opposing counsel could turn the analogy against the
litigator. Zwier also focuses on the lawyer's role in strategic decision
making, discussing how to give the client bad news about the case and
how to identify alternatives and predict consequences. He explains what
every good litigator knows: words are powerful. Litigators should
carefully consider the choice of words in their arguments and when
formulating the theory of their cases.
The book concludes with a chapter on how to test negotiation and
mediation strategies, and while there are some interesting insights,
much of this section is not truly applicable to actual mediation.
Overall, while this book would be a good starting text for new
litigators, it contains enough practical and well-presented insights to
be well-received by experienced lawyers. At any level of practice, it is
good to step back and reevaluate why we are in the profession anyway -
to assist the client and provide well-thought out advice and counsel.
This book hits home on those points.
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Flexible Trusts and Estates
for Uncertain Times, 2nd ed.
By Jerold I. Horn (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2005). 812 pgs.
$169. Order, 253-6397.
Reviewed by Melinda A. Gustafson
"Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare
you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity." - R. I.
Keeping with the quote's premise, Jerold I. Horn seeks creative
answers to current uncertainty within the world of trust and estate
planning. Flexible Trusts and Estates for Uncertain Times,
second edition, addresses the uncertainty created by the Economic Growth
and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Commonly referred to as
EGTRRA, it resulted in significant changes to income tax rates,
retirement plans, and estate and gift tax rates. Designed to be phased
in over nine years, EGTRRA contains a sunset provision that reverts tax
levels to prelegislation amounts. Uncertainty stems from the Act's
phase-in time, anticipated reversions, and the possibility that
subsequent legislation could repeal the sunset clause.
Horn aims to help readers identify estate planning problems
post-EGTRRA and provides drafting solutions. The book is comprised of 14
chapters, ranging in topics from beneficiary payment options to
allocation of death costs to trust management. Chapters have a uniform
format: a legal issue is stated, the purpose is explained, the problem
is articulated, and drafting solutions within various scenarios are
provided. The standard format allows the reader to easily move through
the rather concentrated subject matter. Of most use to the reader is the
accompanying CD-ROM, which contains about 150 model forms, including:
wills, revocable and irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney for property
management, and health care and beneficiary designations. Another of the
book's beneficial features is the consistent inclusion of cross
references to relevant code sections and case law.
While the book is thorough in its scope, the format is not user
friendly. The book's design is more academic than practical, oftentimes
not providing adequate margins or space for notes or comments the reader
may wish to make. Overall, established estate planning practitioners are
the readers most likely to appreciate the book for its interesting
viewpoint on estate planning post-EGTRRA and for its model forms that a
planner may incorporate into his or her practice.
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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)
Publications and videos available for review
- The Art of Mediation, 2nd ed., by Mark D. Bennett &
Scott Hughes (South Bend, IN: NITA, 2006). 269 pgs.
- High Conflict People in Legal Disputes, by Bill Eddy, LCSW,
Esq. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Janis Publications Inc., 2005). 272
- Overcoming the 6-Minute Life: How and Why the Legal Profession
Should Free Itself from Billable Hours, by Bentley J. Tolk (The
6-Minute Life LLC, 2005). 258 pgs.
- When Courts & Congress Collide: The Struggle for Control of
America's Judicial System, by Charles Gardner Geyh (Ann Arbor, MI:
Univ. of Michigan Press, 2006). 332 pgs.