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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 11, 2022


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    Support for State Criminal Justice Budget Requests

    lady justice

    In “State Bar Supports Criminal Justice Agency Requests for Fiscal 2023-2025 Budget” (Rotunda Report, Oct. 10, 2022), State Bar of Wisconsin grassroots outreach coordinator Devin Martin summarized state agencies’ 2023-2025 fiscal requests to help shape the upcoming budget. The State Bar supports requests for increased investment in our criminal justice system.

    A reader posted a comment:

    Reader: Supporting our criminal justice system is the least we can do. In addition to supporting the circuit courts, we need to step up and support appropriate funding for the court of appeals. While the state continues to add circuit courts, it has been decades since the state increased the size of the court of appeals. More circuit courts means more appeals. That places stress on the appellate court system. The backlog there needs to be addressed as well as in the circuit courts.

    Nick Zales

    Representing the Interests of Pets in Divorce

    dog and cat

    In “Fighting For (and Like) Cats and Dogs in Divorce” (Family Law Section Blog, Oct. 4, 2022), Dane County court commissioner Mark R. Fremgen explored pet custody and placement agreements in Wisconsin. He wrote, “In Wisconsin, pets are property and treated no different from the TV, car, or lawn mower. Some states have started to consider pets in a separate regard than simply property.”

    Considering the law in Wisconsin, he wrote, it may not be necessary to change the law to address issues related to pets akin to children. Current property laws do not necessarily restrict how courts consider the division of property or the factors courts can consider in property division that would restrict considering the well-being of a companion animal in the property division.

    Readers posted comments:

    Reader: May I humbly suggest that whatever the state of the law, now or in the future, appointing a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the pet would not be the best use of scarce resources. As guardian ad litem, I was once asked to make a recommendation as to custody of a dog and I declined (although an argument could be made that the dog, like the boom box, might have been an “other” factor affecting the children’s placement).

    Gretchen Viney

    Reader: I do think it is time to reexamine how we treat pets in divorce, as far as determining how they are awarded. However, I do not think custody and placement options are the way to go. Most animals do not have the emotional capacity to be shared in more than one home (even when couples are amicable), going back and forth, and they do not understand why they are not seeing both their beloved owners every day. Many dogs adapt to change (for example, re-homing) a lot better in general than adapting to going back and forth or seeing their bonded owners only some of the time. But the courts should take into consideration why it’s more appropriate for one party to be awarded a pet and take testimony if necessary about the history and well-being of the animal. We cannot ignore that these are live creatures, not dining tables.

    Karyn Youso

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    How to Locate a Deceased Lawyer’s Succession Attorney


    In response to questions posted in late September to the Solo/Small Firm and General Practice elist (, State Bar practice management advisor Christopher Shattuck provided answers and clues to tracking down a deceased lawyer’s succession attorney.

    First, Shattuck noted the question highlights the need for solo practitioners to name successor attorneys or have succession plans in place. The State Bar of Wisconsin has created a succession planning registry that is easy to use and free. Second, Shattuck said, in situations in which there is not a successor attorney or succession plan, it can be difficult for surviving family members (many of whom are not lawyers), lawyers in the legal community, and clients to obtain necessary documents or information.

    Lawyers should first look to the State Bar’s registry. If there is no entry for the deceased lawyer, Shattuck recommends checking CCAP to determine if there was a probate or other type of case opened for the lawyer, and then determine whether another attorney made an appearance in the associated case. Sometimes, he wrote, the attorney representing the estate or personal representative can provide information about where client files may be located.

    Next, Shattuck recommends looking at the death notice or obituary for any additional information that might provide clues as to where client files might be located. Looking at tax records and conducting a Google search for the deceased lawyer might provide contact information for surviving family members. If phone records are not current, consider sending a letter to the residence or contacting the county or probate clerk in the appropriate jurisdiction.

    If you are a solo practitioner and have not named a successor attorney, please consider doing so.

    Here’s how to register for the State Bar of Wisconsin Law Practice Succession Planning Registry:

    Log in to and select the myStateBar tab. Click the myProfile tab, scroll down to the Advance Profile area, and enter the name(s) of your successors. Check the box to indicate you have reviewed the necessary information and had the appropriate discussions with your successor(s). Finally, click the Submit Advance Profile button to transmit the update to the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    For answers to questions and additional practice management resources, contact Practice411™ at (800) 957-4670 or

    » Cite this article: 95 Wis. Law. 6-7 (November 2022).

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