February Issue is Amazing
The February issue of Wisconsin Lawyer is absolutely amazing. At our Inns of Court meeting in February, Judge Markson asked U.W. Law School Dean Raymond to give the toast. She chose to center her comments on the findings from the feature article on drinking problems and mental health issues in the profession and ways in which we must take action given the findings. (See “Landmark Study: U.S. Lawyers Face Higher Rates of Problem Drinking and Mental Health Issues,” Wisconsin Lawyer, February 2016.)
The whole issue is full of very helpful and insightful info on this “elephant in the room” that no one likes to talk about but pretty much everyone is affected by. Thanks for your part in eroding the stigma of mental health treatment and addressing the prevalence of need among lawyers. As a survivor of suicide, I know how deeply mental illness impacts families, colleagues, and communities in addition to those directly affected. I agree with Paula Davis-Laack and past State Bar President Gary Bakke (both of whom have articles in the February issue) that we must act on the new data and renew attention to a longstanding problem.
Jessica E. Ozalp
Wisconsin Legislative Council, Madison
Trial Experience is Indispensable to Young Lawyers’ Legal Careers
I would like to comment on an article that appeared in the September 2015 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer: “Earn Your Stripes, Part 1: How to Get Civil Trial Experience.”
I found the article to be extremely insightful and very well written. I, too, have noticed a dearth of trial experience available within the pool of civil and criminal lawyers. Having practiced law for almost 36 years and been involved in literally hundreds of trials – both criminal and civil – I have found that trial experience is on the wane.
I am the proud father of both a son and a daughter who chose a career in law, and I have concerns that they will receive adequate trial experience. Trial experience is acutely important in defending your client’s cause. I have found that upon “getting into the ring,” I often find that a young lawyer acting as opposing counsel has little to no knowledge of the rules of evidence, and a very weak understanding of the fundamentals of civil procedure. “Anything goes” seems to be the mantra of many young lawyers appearing in today’s courtrooms. I realize that I am painting with a very broad brush, and I do not mean to insult some of the very bright and outstanding litigators existing in our profession.
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However, time and time again, I find young lawyers willing to accept cases on a losing proposition simply as a means to obtain the necessary fees to pay their expenses. I agree with many of the statements contained within the article, including the quote that a lawyer “is a warrior in the ring.” While we do not fight to the death, we must give it our all – including the weeks preceding trial, during trial and, certainly, in the aftermath of the trial. It is an all-encompassing mental and emotional experience that few in the legal profession are able to sustain.
I do not have an answer. I do know that we “old timers” owe it to the profession to reach out and mentor young lawyers as to the “ins and outs” of trial practice, some of the tricks of the trade not written in the rules of evidence or civil procedure, and simply how to conduct oneself in the courtroom. During my tenure as district attorney of Waukesha County and in my present position as owner of Bucher Law Group LLC, the adage of “no crying in the courtroom” still stands. The lawyer is a warrior, and the only defense between the government and your client in a criminal case, and between moderate financial success of your client and possible financial ruin in civil cases. It is an honor to be a member of this profession, but I do have concerns about the future of legitimate litigation, and not simply dilatory tactics and unnecessary and “grandstanding” discovery tactics.
I am hopeful that our community of young lawyers will realize that gaining trial experience is a necessary and indispensable tool to a successful legal career.
Paul E. Bucher
Bucher Law Group LLC, Delafield and Wauwatosa
Our Youngest Fan (That We Know Of)
On February 15, I wrongly assumed my son, Dexter, was sound asleep in his own bed. I went up to go to bed around 10:30 p.m. and found him wide awake in my bed reading the January 2016 Wisconsin Lawyer. This was the first time I’d caught him reading the magazine, which is on my nightstand for my own bedtime reading, but he now tells me it’s his favorite magazine!
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Madison