Judicial Task Force: What Problem Is It Addressing?
The March 2014 Wisconsin Lawyer featured an article regarding the work of the Judicial Election Steering Committee promoting the idea that Wisconsin Supreme Court justices should be limited to a single 16-year term. It was also stated that the Board of Governors has endorsed the Judicial Task Force proposal. This is too important an issue to leave up to a small committee. The entire Wisconsin bar should take a vote on this proposal before it is presented to the Wisconsin Legislature. A small group should not speak for the entire Bar regarding a constitutional change.
The Task Force, however, does not make a case for a change in the present system. What problem are they addressing? They have never stated what problem is being solved by their solution. It seems to be a solution without a problem. If the concern is the alleged behavior of one of the justices and the court’s inability to deal with it, then the committee and the Board should be clear about identifying the problem, and then try to make a case about how the proposed change will address that specific problem.
The current system has produced some outstanding justices over the years. While the current system may be imperfect, it is the best system yet devised.
Terry W. Rose
Rose & Rose Attorneys, Kenosha
Response: Members of the Judicial Election Steering Committee appreciate any feedback regarding the proposal to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to change the term of office for Wisconsin Supreme Court justices to a single 16-year term. Committee members will be presenting at the annual Litigation, Dispute Resolution and Appellate Practice Institute on the afternoon of Thursday, May 23. At the State Bar’s Annual Meeting and Conference in June, committee members will give a brief update and presentation during the afternoon CLE breakout sessions on June 26.
Please seek out committee members at these events. Members of the committee are available to address local bars, attorney organizations, or local civic groups. We encourage people to visit http://wisbar.org/judicialelections to read the task force’s report, which provides a comprehensive description of the proposal. Contact information for committee members is located on the website; we welcome any direct comments or questions. Or email email@example.com with questions and comments or to schedule a speaking appearance.
Judicial Election Steering Committee members
Here’s What You May Have Missed
This month we highlight readers’ comments posted online to a WisBar InsideTrack article and to the Practice 411 elist. Let’s hear what you have to say. Post comments to articles online or respond to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts. Or simply email the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Budget Proposal Caps Loan Forgiveness, Could Impact Public Service Lawyers
President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 could impact the amount of loan forgiveness available to Wisconsin lawyers and other employees who work in public service jobs for 10 years or more. The budget proposal caps the amount of debt that can be forgiven at $57,500. (WisBar InsideTrack, April 2, 2014.)
This amount represents the maximum amount of federal student loans that independent, undergraduate students may borrow for a four-year degree. However, the cap presents potential challenges for graduate and professional students, including law students, who generally borrow much more to pay the increasing costs of advanced degrees but take public service jobs with typically lower salaries.
The article takes a look at whether the proposal will impact existing borrowers, how federal loans and repayment plans work, and eligibility for loan forgiveness for public service. It includes charts for estimated in-school debt accrual for law students borrowing $40,000 and $50,000 per year at 7.5 percent and estimated out-of-school debt accrual with principal loan amounts of $120,000 and $150,000 at 7.5 percent.
Several readers weighed in by posting the following comments.
While I disagree with the cap because it does make it difficult for nonprofits to adequately recruit and retain, the program is flawed to begin with. Many of my friends and I cannot even take advantage of this program. Not because we don’t qualify, but because even though we do, the amount we would be required to pay monthly rises drastically.
For me to participate in this program my monthly amount, as quoted by the federal loan service program worker and the online calculator, would double (so, yeah, of course I would pay off my 25-year loan in 10 years). It completely fails to take into consideration the six years I have already worked in the public sector and paid on my loan. ... More important, the only loans they focused on when considering our “income“ for income-based repayment were federal loans. They would not even listen to my plea that I had just as much out in private loans, so even though my “income“ appears to be on the higher end for public sector work, it has to be in order to try and pay all these other loans.
I agree it is a good program, but it should not be dubbed as a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It should be advertised for what it is – a program to help only those in the public sector who make very little. It can become difficult to devote yourself to public service work, but not receive assistance from anywhere you turn. The country as a whole needs to be focusing more on loan education, in my opinion. If I knew then (first generation to go to a four-year program or law school) what I know now, I would have made drastically different decisions.
I am concerned about the proposed cap on the amount of forgiveness because the debt load carried by recent law school graduates far exceeds the $57,500 cap. I have worked in public interest law for over 10 years. … Like many, I took out loans to pay for my law school tuition. Paying those loans back has not been easy, especially when trying to raise a family. I love my work but I could not continue to do it without the help of the public interest loan forgiveness program.
It is clear to me from working with many law school student interns … that these young lawyers would like to work in public or nonprofit sector jobs. … If loan forgiveness is capped as currently proposed, it could have devastating and dramatic consequences for many public interest lawyers, and hurt recruiting and retention of these attorneys in nonprofit organizations.
One way to work toward our collective goal of promoting equal access to justice is to provide more opportunities for new lawyers to work in public interest law. I feel like the cap is a step backwards in the progress that has been made in this regard.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Based Repayment plans make working for state government worth it. As a 2010 Marquette Law graduate who couldn’t find legal work in the recession job market, I rely on both. Without loan forgiveness, many of us with law degrees who work for state agencies (in legal and nonlegal positions) would make different career choices, taking our expertise and experience elsewhere.
Posted on Facebook
Even if you don’t work in those fields, this impacts nonprofit organizations’ abilities to recruit and retain great attorneys. It is an access to justice issue in my opinion. There is a petition on the White House website asking that this idea be reconsidered. [Editor’s Note: The White House website indicates the petition has expired, because it failed to meet the signature threshold.]
Surviving the Demise of Windows XP
A member of the Practice411™ elist asked, “How bad will it be if I just hang onto my XP version now that Microsoft stopped supporting it (whatever that means)?” State Bar practice management advisor Nerino Petro’s detailed response follows.
Response: First, XP will not explode or stop working. However, you will start getting pop-ups to upgrade. The issue is that when new vulnerabilities are found (and they will be) Microsoft will no longer offer any patches or updates. While there will be AV and other utilities that are still offered, they do not patch issues with the core operating system. From my perspective, it comes down to an ethics issue – if you know that the software will no longer be supported are you violating the Rules by using a product that you know is going to have issues? In my opinion, everyone should be working to upgrade from Windows XP as the number of vulnerabilities that exist increase and especially if you are dealing with HIPAA information.
I understand folks don’t like change, but XP has been out for over a decade. It was really good, but in all honesty, Windows 7 was much better and stable. The problem that you will face is that if you didn’t follow the upgrade path XP-Vista-7, you can’t do an in place upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP. However, if your computer is four or more years old, you are risking the odds for a hardware failure such as the hard drive going bad, the capacitors on the motherboard failing, the PCB of the motherboard itself cracking from age and breaking circuit, etc.
You will also need to upgrade your anti-virus, malware protection, and other programs. You can still get Windows 7 on some systems from companies like Dell that actually come with Windows 8.1 with downgrade rights to Windows 7. I would recommend going with the 64 bit version of Windows as it allows you to address more RAM, which is the working memory of the computer. However, even if you go with the 64 bit version of Windows (7 or 8), when you update MS Office you want to go with the 32 bit version (a lot of the available plug-ins for Office don’t work on the 64 bit version of Office). The 32 bit version of Office will work fine on 64 bit Windows. If you want to try an in place upgrade, LapLink does make a program that is supposed to allow you to do this: Check out Windows 7 or Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant from them. If you want to move to a new PC, then you want to take a look at PCMover Professional from LapLink. I haven’t used this program but I’ve heard that it does work.
If you are upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8 you are going to have a number of programs that will need to be upgraded, especially your anti-virus and similar programs. I’ve been using Windows 8 and now 8.1 for a while on my personal ultrabook. I am using a program called Classic Shell (free) to bring back the Start menu or you can also use Start8 from Stardock ($4.99).
You should also set Windows 8.1 to boot to the desktop rather than the Start Screen. You can find out how in this PCWorld article.
If you are running Windows XP, you can check software compatibility using the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. From Windows 7 or Windows 8, you can use the Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant.
As someone who is in the process of upgrading my machines from XP and office2000, I’ll put in a suggestion for Luddites to make the full jump to Windows 8.1. Microsoft has already announced it will stop supporting Windows 7 in six years. The life of 8.1 will be three years longer: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle. That means more time before you have to change again.