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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    October 07, 2020


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    Stepping Up for Racial Equity

    July/August 2020 Wisconsin Lawyer magazine

    In “Racial Equity: It’s Time to Step Up” (Wisconsin Lawyer, July/August 2020), State Bar Executive Director Larry Martin wrote, “As an organization, the State Bar is acting to ensure equal justice, but we can’t do that alone. We need your help.” Martin asked readers to take a moment to reflect on what they can do, as individuals and as members, and then do it.

    He suggested readers visit to learn how members can help address issues of institutional and systemic racism and ensure that justice in our society is truly equally applied.

    Readers continue to comment.

    Reader: I am an older, white Wisconsin lawyer. I want you to know how proud I am of the statements in your article in the July/August Wisconsin Lawyer. So often in my career I have had to apologize to my clients for the bigoted acts to which they are subjected. I recall, at this moment, having to ask my local police department to not stop a particular person for DWB – driving while black. I was ashamed to have to do that. Nowhere, however, did I see my profession take a public stand against this disease, this cancer at the heart of our striving for the American ideal.

    Then I read your article. “But let me be clear, we will act.” Those words mean the world to me. So let me be clear. Call on me, whenever, for whatever I can do to help you fulfill that promise. It is a huge and hugely important task, and I hope I can add some little bit to your effort.

    Michael H. Gillick
    Labor & Industry Review Commission, Madison

    Reader: As part of my job, I read Wisconsin Lawyer magazine and pass pertinent articles on to members of my firm. But this time, I found something of interest to me. I read and thoroughly enjoyed your July/August column. I just wanted to reach out and say kudos to you for writing from the heart. It was a very touching article, and I’m so pleased to know that the State Bar is making racial equity a priority. It makes me proud to be a Wisconsinite.

    Kate Thompson
    Fox, O’Neill & Shannon S.C., Milwaukee

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    A Word from the Wise: Appellate Briefs


    In “Good Writing Is Good Advocacy: Insights from Best Brief Competition” (InsideTrack, July 15, 2020), Melissa Love Koenig wrote, “Crafting a brief that conveys a compelling argument lies at the heart of effective appellate advocacy.”

    In the article, the State Bar of Wisconsin Appellate Practice Section recognized five outstanding appellate briefs in its third biennial brief-writing competition.

    Reader: After 40 years at the appellate bars of California and Wisconsin, I have learned these things. First, since an appellant’s opening brief must show basic unfairness in order to have any chance of convincing three judges to reverse, this brief must have a theme based on that basic unfairness; a theme around which everything in the brief is organized and on which the brief focuses.

    Second, counsel must write as though the reader of the brief is 12 years old and knows little or nothing about the law. This is not to insult the judges. Few counsel realize judges had specialties before taking the bench, just as we all have, and their knowledge of other specialties is going to be limited by what they have picked up on the bench. As your commentators in the article have noted, it’s important to write simply, avoiding $10 words in favor of words a layperson would understand.

    Third, one must get to the point without delay. In Wisconsin, judges must take briefs home at night to keep up with their workload, which means your brief will get no more than three to five minutes of a judge’s time. All of which means the briefs must be short. My opening briefs are usually less than 13 pages, including the mandatory front matter.

    Tim Provis
    Timothy A. Provis Esq. – Appellate Counsel, Port Washington

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