Sign In
    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 08, 2019


    We want to hear from you! Post a comment, find us on social media, or send us your thoughts.

    A Lawyer’s Journey to Sobriety

    In “You Are Not Alone, and You Can Recover” (Final Thought, Wisconsin Lawyer, Oct. 2019), Allison Ritter shared her journey to sobriety with help from the State Bar’s Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP). She wrote, “I went from being a hard worker with a drinking problem to a hard drinker with problems working.” Eventually, her daughter reached out to her godparents, both lawyers, and they called WisLAP for help. WisLAP volunteers showed up the next day.

    Ritter urges other struggling lawyers to contact the WisLAP 24-hour helpline, (800) 543-2625. She said, “Being an alcoholic is not necessarily a career ender, but it very well could be a life ender if it’s not treated.”

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: Allison, thank you for telling your story, and encouraging others to reexamine their relationship with alcohol. Alcohol and other addictive substances are at the heart of any criminal defense practice, but too often practitioners themselves miss the signs of their own struggle with it. Good luck today. May your story be an inspiration to even one person today, one lawyer wondering why and when they got where they are and how they climb out of their own personal hellhole.

    Christopher Van Wagner

    We Want to Hear from You! Submit a Letter to the Editor

    Wisconsin Lawyer provides a forum for members to express ideas, concerns, and opinions on law-related subjects. Send comments to (include “Letters” in the subject line), or mail to Wisconsin Lawyer “Letters,” P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158. Limit to 500 words. Writing guidelines available.

    Connect With Us Online. Post comments to articles online, and find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

    Checking Backgrounds of Prospective and Current Employees

    mug shot of job applicant

    In “Employment Law: Using CCAP to Search Arrest and Conviction Records” (InsideTrack, Oct. 2, 2019), Jessica Kramer explained that employers, and their lawyers, must be prepared to use Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) within the parameters of the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA).

    The WFEA provides, as is summarized in a CCAP notice, that it is illegal discrimination for an employer to refuse to hire an applicant (or to terminate or take other adverse action against an employee) based on an arrest or conviction record. There is an exception: Unlawful discrimination does not occur if an employer bases its decision not to hire or to terminate on a conviction that is “substantially related” to the job. However, there is no clear-cut statutory definition of “substantially related” to the job.

    Readers posted comments:

    Reader: All of this is nice until the hiring employer is colorably sued for a respondeat superior act, such as assault and battery, or negligent hiring/negligent entrustment. That background will become relevant to a plaintiff arguing “known or should have known.” These cases arise routinely throughout the United States. And, as we all know, the employer will be the primary target due to considerations of collectability – the offending employee or agent is quite likely “judgment proof.” This is a particularly important consideration in matters pursued on a contingency basis.

    Tim Kittle
    Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, Tulsa, Okla.

    Reader: A very good article. Another commenter’s concerns about negligent hiring/supervision liability is not misplaced. However, CCAP is rife with errors and reliance solely on CCAP may get an employer in as much hot water as not using it. The article’s indication to use some professional search company is well taken.

    It is disappointing that the article failed to mention the role of municipal ordinances in the regulation of arrest record and conviction record discrimination. The Madison Equal Opportunities Ordinance, which contains stricter provisions as to how long a record may be considered, is important for employers in Madison to know about.

    Clifford Blackwell
    City of Madison Department of Civil Rights

    Smaller Communities Also Offer Opportunities

    <iframe src="//" width="525" height="295" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    In “Why Being a Rural Lawyer is a Great Opportunity” (InsideTrack, Oct. 2, 2019), District III Wisconsin Appeals Court Judge Lisa Stark, Wausau, said, “There are great advantages to being a lawyer in a smaller community. It helps you be involved in your community. You want to attract clients, but you also want to give back.”

    Judge Stark said lawyers working in smaller communities develop relationships with other attorneys in the area, which helps lawyers develop referral networks. She noted a lack of lawyers in the northwest part of the state in particular and encouraged lawyers to go to those communities.

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: The thought of living and working in small-town Wisconsin is quite appealing. However, this article does not address 1) the level of debt many are accumulating in obtaining a law degree, and 2) the startup costs, particularly if one intends to “hang the shingle” and begin a solo practice. One other consideration: Law schools are horrendous at preparing their newest graduates for the day-to-day practical aspects of the legal practice, such as how to file cases. These are some of the reasons new lawyers gravitate to urban areas. It would be quite beneficial to initiate some rural-lawyer mentoring programs to initiate the new practitioners to the practical aspects of conducting a legal career in these idyllic locales.

    Tim Kittle
    Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, Tulsa, Okla.

Join the conversation! Log in to comment.

News & Pubs Search

Format: MM/DD/YYYY