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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    March 01, 2013

    Meet Our Contributors

    Q: What book are you reading now? What is your favorite genre?

    Kelli ThompsonKelli Thompson, Wisconsin State Public Defender

    "Reading with my daughter is very special to me as a mom."

    I am currently reading the classic Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Continuing a tradition I have carried on with all of my children (I have three daughters), I read every night to my youngest daughter at her bedtime. My 4-year-old gets to choose the book, and Love You Forever is one of her favorites. And though I have it practically memorized, you won’t hear one complaint from me as this reading time is very special to me as a mom.

    After her bedtime, I do get an opportunity to read adult books and find myself drawn to biographies and memoirs more than anything else. I always come away with new insights and inspiration found in these stories.

    Q: What is the best career advice you ever received?

    Jeffrey SalasJeffrey M. Salas, Salas Wang LLC

    "You should be the most prepared person in the room."

    The best advice I ever received was that in any situation, you should be the most prepared person in the room. This person noted that all lawyers are smart; being the most prepared, however, gives you a much better chance for success. As a corollary, from what I have learned in my career (and something that young lawyers usually need to learn), is that the practice of law involves a real attention to specifics. Law school is taught in the abstract; the issues lawyers face every day are much trickier than what the legal education system can cover. 

    The level of detail (facts or law) present in every facet of law practice can be staggering – regardless of the type of matter. Once a lawyer learns that any vagueness or ambiguity is insufficient, the rest of the practice becomes much easier. If a lawyer does not take great care to present the details of the facts or law, the opposing side will surely use that as an advantage.

    Q: People have asked me, what’s the deal with your unusual name?

    Teague DevittTeague Devitt, Soffa & Devitt LLC

    "I discovered my name was an ethnic slur!"

    People frequently ask about my given name. Is it a family name? (It is not.) How is it pronounced? (It rhymes with “league.”) What does it mean?

    I am given to understand that Teague was a compromise of sorts between my Irish father and my lit-major mother. It is a standard Anglicization of the Gaelic Tadgh, which is generally accepted to mean “philosopher-poet” or “storyteller”; it also makes several appearances in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. (According to Wikipedia, an alternative theory has its derivation in the Celtic for “badger” – which, true or not, appeals to me as a U.W.-Madison B.A./J.D.)

    But it turns out that Teague is not so innocuous as that, as I discovered as a high school senior while leafing through my grandfather’s old Webster’s Unabridged. There – between entries for “tea gown” and “teak” – was this: “Teague: An Irishman; used in contempt.” My name was an ethnic slur!

    I have confirmed this derogatory usage in other sources, including Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (“A name of contempt used for an Irishman”) and The Oxford English Dictionary (“In Northern Ireland, a Protestant term of contempt for a Roman Catholic”). The term seems to have fallen into disuse, failing to make an appearance in more recent unabridged dictionaries; I know because I check for it in every dictionary I come across.

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