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  • July 21, 2021

    Make a Greater Impact: Wisconsin Law Foundation Donations Double Through June 2022

    Now through June 2022, new donor contributions to the Wisconsin Law Foundation will be doubled, thanks to a generous pledge from the Kevin & Roseann Lyons Fund with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

    July 21, 2021 – Thanks to a generous pledge from the Kevin & Roseann Lyons Fund with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, all donations from individuals who have not contributed to the Wisconsin Law Foundation since July 1, 2018, will be matched for a cumulative dollar total of up to $25,000.

    “Donate now through June 30, 2022, and your donation will have twice the impact, thanks to Kevin and Roseann’s generous donation,” said Margaret Ahne Herlitzka, Wisconsin Law Foundation president.

    Affected by the Pandemic

    The Law Foundation needs our support now more than ever, said Herlitzka.

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Law Foundation saw a dramatic increase in applications for support of charitable and educational programs and projects that promote greater understanding of the law and improve the administration of justice in communities across our state.

    “To meet the demand and help address issues caused by the pandemic, the Law Foundation is working hard to increase our funding, but we cannot do it without your support,” Herlitzka said.

    “For those who have thought about making a donation, this is a great time to do so,” she said.

    The Foundation Makes a Difference Across Wisconsin

    Thanks to a Law Foundation grant in 2020, ABC for Health was able to provide guidance during the pandemic to the newly unemployed as to what access they would have to health care.

    In Crawford County, a grant kept its teen court program going – helping children stay out of the justice system.

    In Madison, a Foundation grant helped immigrants receive affordable legal representation through the Catholic Multicultural Center.

    Other recent grants include funding to:

    • Briarpatch Youth Services Inc., Madison, for its Restorative Justice Program/Youth Peer Court;

    • Centro Legal, Milwaukee, for a family law consultation program;

    • Milwaukee Justice Center to help create a touch-free intake process due to COVID-19;

    • RISE Law Center to support its End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin initiative;

    • Boys and Girls Club of Portage County for programming for underprivileged children;

    • State Public Defender’s Office for the Student Expulsion Prevention Project;

    • Wisconsin Teen Court Association for its Restorative Justice Summit; and

    • Teen courts in Grant and Winnebago counties.

    “We were able to respond to these needs because of the past generosity of our donors,” Herlitzka said. “Thanks to our donors, we are able to continue providing funding for critically needed programs and services at a time when demand has never been higher.”

    “And by donating today, you will double your impact, thanks to the generosity of the Lyons’ matching challenge gift.”

    To Donate

    • Mail a check to: Wisconsin Law Foundation, 5302 Eastpark Blvd., Madison, WI 53718-7158 (write MATCH on the memo line);
    • Call (608) 250-6171 or (800) 444-9404 ext. 6171 to make a donation by credit card; or
    • Make a donation online via justgiving.com/wisconsinlawfoundationinc.

    About the Wisconsin Law Foundation

    Wisconsin Law Foundation logo

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation is the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and through its mission has a rich history of promoting:

    • public understanding of the law,

    • improvement of the administration of justice, and

    • law-related public service through funding of innovative and creative programs that improve the vision of the American justice system.

    The Foundation is a nonprofit, nonstock organization, and is open to all State Bar of Wisconsin members. Founded by five visionary attorneys, it was incorporated in 1951 as the Wisconsin Bar Foundation, and through the charitable contributions of our members, has grown into the vital philanthropic law-related organization it is today.

    Find out more in the Foundation’s Impact newsletter.




  • July 21, 2021

    Legal Blogging with Stacie Rosenzweig

    ​ARTICLE COMING




  • July 21, 2021

    Dilemma: Estate-planning Clients, a Divorce, and Potential Conflicts

    After a client's divorce, can I represent that client in an estate planning matter if I previously represented both former spouses together on an estate plan?

    Timothy J. Pierce

    divorce house divided by gavel

    July 21, 2021 – What conflicts arise when a former client contacts you to update his or her estate plan post-divorce, if you previously drafted an estate plan for the client and the now ex-spouse when they were married?

    Question

    I did a simple estate plan for a married couple several years ago in which the surviving spouse inherited from the deceased spouse.

    The couple subsequently divorced, and they each had separate counsel – I had no involvement in the divorce proceedings. Now that the divorce is final, I have been approached by the husband to revise his estate plan to remove his now former wife as a beneficiary.

    May I undertake this representation or is it a former client conflict?

    Need Ethics Advice?

    As a State Bar member, you have access to informal guidance and help in resolving questions regarding Wisconsin’s Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys.

    Ethics Hotline: To informally discuss an ethics question, contact State Bar ethics counselors Timothy Pierce or Aviva Kaiser. They can be reached at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m to 4 p.m.

    Answer

    SCR 20:1.9(a) governs former client conflicts and states:

    A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person's interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in a writing signed by the client.

    There are thus two elements to former client conflict analysis:

    • material adversity of interests; and

    • substantial relationship between the prior and current representations.

    Tim PierceTim Pierce is ethics counsel with the State Bar of Wisconsin. Reach him by email or through the Ethics Hotline at (608) 229-2017 or (800) 254-9154.

    The proposed estate planning work for the husband is clearly substantially related to the estate planning work the lawyer did for the couple when they were married (see ABA Comment [3] to SCR 20:1.9), so the question is whether disinheriting the former wife is materially adverse to the interests of the former wife.

    There is little authority on this precise question, but Example 1.9-1 to the ACTEC Commentary to MR 1.91 addresses it squarely:

    Example 1.9-1. Lawyer (L) represented Husband (H) and Wife (W) jointly in connection with estate planning matters. Subsequently H and W were divorced in an action in which each of them was separately represented by counsel other than L. L has continued to represent H in estate planning and other matters. Because W is a former client, MRPC 1.9 imposes limitations upon L’s representation of H or others. Thus, unless W gives informed consent, confirmed in writing, MRPC 1.9(a) would prevent L from representing H in a matter substantially related to the prior representation in which H’s interests are materially adverse to W’s, such as an attempt to modify or terminate an irrevocable trust of which W was a beneficiary. However, after the marital dissolution is final, amending H’s estate plan to remove W as a beneficiary, consistent with state law and the dissolution decree, should not be considered a conflict. Also, under MRPC 1.9(c), L could not disclose or use to W’s disadvantage information that L obtained during the former representation of H and W in estate planning matters without W’s informed consent, confirmed in writing (emphasis added).

    The reason this “should not be considered” a conflict, as alluded to above, is that there is no adversity of interests.

    This is explained more fully in ABA Formal Ethics Op. 05-434, which discusses whether it is a conflict to disinherit a client a lawyer currently represents on an unrelated matter:

    Direct adversity requires a conflict as to the legal rights and duties of the clients, not merely conflicting economic interests. There may be direct adversity even though there is no overt confrontation between the clients, as, for example, where one client seeks the lawyer's advice as to his legal rights against another client whom the lawyer represents on a wholly unrelated matter. Thus, for example, a lawyer would be precluded by Rule 1.7(a) from advising a client as to his rights under a contract with another client of the lawyer, or as to whether the statute of limitations has run on potential claims against, or by, another client of the lawyer. Such conflict involves the legal rights and duties of the two clients vis-à-vis one another.

    Applying this analysis to the circumstances dealt with in this opinion, a testator is, unless limited by contractual or quasi-contractual obligationsor by state law,free to dispose of his estate as he chooses, or to consume his entire estate during his lifetime or give it all away, leaving nothing to pass under his will. A potential beneficiary, even one who has been informed by the testator that he has been named in a testamentary instrument, has no legal right to that bequest but has, instead, merely an expectancy.Thus, except where the testator has a legal duty to make the bequest that is to be revoked or altered, there is no conflict of legal rights and duties as between the testator and the beneficiary and there is no direct adversity (emphasis added and footnotes omitted)2

    Thus, because the former wife has no legal right to inherit from the former husband, there is no conflict between the “legal rights and duties” of the now former spouses, and thus it is not a conflict under SCR 20:1.9(a).

    This scenario assumes there is no obligation on the part of the husband to provide for the former spouse, in which case there would be a conflict (as well as other problems) in undertaking the representation.

    Further, as discussed in ABA Formal Ethics Op. 05-434, there are some additional considerations involved when a lawyer is asked to disinherit a currently represented a client. On these basic facts, however, the lawyer may represent the husband.

    In Case You Missed It: Read Past Ethical Dilemmas

    Ethical Dilemmas appears monthly in InsideTrack. Check out these topics from recent issues:

    Endnotes

    1 The ACTEC COMMENTARIES, FIFTH EDITION 2016 is published by The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Foundation and is available at actecfoundation.org.

    2 SCR 20:1.7 uses the term “direct adverse” while SCR 20:1.9 uses the term “materially adverse” but neither rule articulates a difference between the terms. The recently issued ABA Formal Op. 21-497 noted that “(m)aterial adverseness, referred to by the Gillette court, “requires a conflict as to the legal right and duties of the clients, not merely conflicting or competing economic interests.”




  • July 21, 2021

    'A Family Reunion': Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference Set for October

    The 2021 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (WSSFC) features a hybrid model, giving you the flexibility to choose the type of attendance that best fits your professional and personal needs.
    WSSFC 2021 logo

    July 21, 2021 – Registration is now open for this year’s Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (WSSFC), which lets attendees decide how they want to attend.

    Set for Oct. 28-30, 2021, WSSFC takes place both in person at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, and online on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

    “We’re looking forward to gathering for our ‘family reunion’ for Wisconsin solo and small-firm attorneys – both in person and virtually,” said Wauwatosa attorney Kate Knowlton, chair of this year’s planning committee.

    Your Choice: In Person or Online

    This year’s hybrid conference gives you the flexibility to choose the type of attendance that best fits your needs. Either way, “it’s the best way to earn CLE credits as well as connect with colleagues,” said Knowlton.

    The conference schedule includes a mix of CLE sessions on a wide variety of topics of interest to solo and small-firm lawyers, and lawyers from larger firms, paralegals, and legal administrators will find useful sessions, too. As usual, CLE sessions will focus on substantive law, practice management, technology, and ethics/quality of life topics. One technology session will offer attendees help on updating their firm websites for the post-COVID-19 world.

    Find out more about the sessions and presenters by visiting the website at WisBar.org/WSSFC.

    Plenary CLE sessions this year focus on what lawyers need to learn about the dark web, common ethical mistakes, and tax considerations for starting or growing your firm. Returning plenary favorites include “CLE at Sunrise” and “Gadgets and Gizmos.”

    Also returning for the in-person conference are the Legal Expo, an attendee reception, “dine arounds” with speakers, and social events such as a Green Bay Packers viewing party. Virtual attendees will have access to plenary sessions, select track sessions, the Legal Expo, contests, social events, and more.

    Reserve Your Spot

    Register via WisBar.org’s Marketplace – choose in-person seminar or webcast seminar for how you wish to attend. See the tuition options for those attending in person or online. For more information, visit WisBar.org/WSSFC.

    The conference will offer up to an estimated 16.5 hours of continuing legal education. Additionally, earn even more credits watching select complimentary webcast replays in November and December. Webcast replays of 16 sessions will be available to attendees of both the in-person and the virtual conference.




  • July 21, 2021

    Honor Service to Solo and Small-firm Lawyers: Nominations for Lederer Award Due Sept. 10

    Honor a leader in solo and small-firm practice: The State Bar of Wisconsin Solo/Small Firm & General Practice Section is seeking nominations for their 2021 John Lederer Service Award. Nominations are due Sept. 10.
    star walk

    July 21, 2021 – Now is the time to honor a lawyer who helps solo and small-firm lawyers in Wisconsin.

    Do you know an attorney who has taken time away from his or her own firm to “give back” to the professional community of solo and small-firm attorneys in Wisconsin?

    Consider nominating that person for the 2021 John Lederer Service Award, sponsored by the State Bar of Wisconsin Solo/Small Firm & General Practice Section. The award is presented in October at the Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference 2021.

    The deadline for nominations is Friday, Sept. 10. Nominations may be submitted via the nomination form.

    About the John Lederer Service Award

    The section’s Lederer Award recognizes lawyers focused on improving the lives and practices of solo and small firm attorneys in Wisconsin.

    It is presented annually to an individual, group, or organization exemplifying the leadership, spirit, and dedication of Oregon, Wisconsin, attorney John Lederer, who saw it as his mission to help solo and small firm lawyers master the skills and technology needed to build their practices. Lederer, who passed away in March 2009, helped spearhead many of the things Wisconsin lawyers may take for granted in their work today – such as the Uniform Citations System.

    The only criteria for a Lederer Service Award is that the nominee shows leadership in furthering the mission of the Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference – which is to educate and support solo and small-firm attorneys as they practice law, manage their businesses, and enjoy their lives.

    Nominations are evaluated on the nominee’s continued, selfless service to projects, efforts or organizations of benefit to solo and small-firm practitioners across Wisconsin.

    Nominations Due Sept. 10

    Nominations may be submitted via the nomination form, and should include:

    • name and contact information of the person making the nomination;

    • name and contact information of the individual, group, or organization being nominated;

    • a one-paragraph statement on how the nominee meets the criteria for the award; and

    • three letters of recommendation may be submitted with the nomination.

    Return nomination form by Friday, Sept. 10, to Solo/Small Firm & General Practice and Lederer selection committee member Kate Knowlton, at kate@knowltonlawgroup.com.

    Who was John Lederer?

    alt text  

    Lederer was a visionary when it came to integrating technology into the practice of law. He chaired the State Bar’s Technology Resource Committee (TRC). While serving on the TRC, he took on the copyright controversy with Westlaw and facilitated Wisconsin’s universal citation program.

    The universal citation, issued by courts, prevents any company from claiming a copyright on the publication of cases, making them available to attorneys at no cost.

    Lederer was key in creating the Solo & Small Firm Conference and saw it as an opportunity to better the practices and lives of Wisconsin’s attorneys.

    Past Recipients of the John F. Lederer Service Award




  • July 21, 2021

    Reserve Your Spot: Virtual Family Law Workshop is Aug. 5-6

    Registration is open for the 40th Annual Family Law Workshop. This year's event on Aug. 5 and 6 will be held virtually, and features the latest issues in the family law.

    July 21, 2021 – Registration is open for the 40th Annual Family Law Workshop on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6, 2021.

    Hosted by the State Bar of Wisconsin Family Law Section, the event returns after it was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID​-19 pandemic.

    This year’s event, held virtually, offers flexibility – there is no need to drive to Sturgeon Bay to attend. You can connect from wherever you are, and can choose to attend one or both days.

    Latest Issues in Family Law

    nameThis year’s workshop provides two half-days of CLE programming on the latest issues in the family law field, including Thursday’s opening session on “Race and Equity in Family Law – an Introduction,” presented by Monica Cail, Robert Held, and Korey Lundin, of Legal Action of Wisconsin.

    Race equity, they say, is needed to achieve justice. But colorblindness is not the answer to racism. “While the current family law system enforces racial inequalities, family law can be used as a tool to achieve better racial equity,” say the presenters, who will discuss the issue of child support, the idea that marriage is a solution to poverty, and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported murder as the third most common cause of death for Native American and Alaskan Native women.

    “America’s history of racism is complex, and remains deeply rooted in its legal framework,” say the presenters. “Those policies have real consequences on people living in the U.S. today.”

    Other sessions include:

    • The Challenging World of Surrogacy: Here and Abroad;

    • Dealing with Difficult Lawyers and Clients;

    • Navigating the Maze of Personal and Business Tax Returns to Determine Income Available for Support;

    • Ethical Minefields - 20 Hypothetical Considerations for Family Lawyers;

    • Legislative and case law updates.

    There will also be legislative and case law update, two ethics presentations, and some time for socializing, too. See the schedule on WisBar.org.

    How to Register for the 2021 Family Law Workshop

    The State Bar will be applying to the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners for up to 9.0 CLE credits, including 2.0 EPR credits, as well as judicial legal education credits.

    Family Law in the Pandemic

    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YX8QaRs6o6E" width="525" height="295" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Shutdowns and social distancing triggered a lot of issues in the family law area, especially for those with child custody and placement orders in place. Moving forward, what types of issues will family law attorneys be dealing with? Donna Ginzl, a family law attorney at the Anderson O'Brien Law Firm in Stevens Point, says she saw placement and parental disputes about whether children should be in school, summer camps, and day care program environments amid COVID-19.

    Learn more: Don't miss the 40th Annual Family Law Section Workshop, which will take place virtually, Aug.5-6, 2021.




  • July 21, 2021

    Law Foundation Grants Support New Lawyers Representing the Underserved – Apply by Aug. 20

    Are you a new lawyer who works with the underserved in Wisconsin? The Wisconsin Law Foundation provides grants to those who represent underserved populations – people who have difficulty affording legal services and those in rural areas with limited access to legal services. Apply by Aug. 20.
    seed money

    July 21, 2021 – New lawyers: Would you like to receive $2,400 to help pay law school debt or for your practice?

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation in 2021 will provide Belle Case La Follette Awards to three new Wisconsin lawyers who currently represent underserved populations.

    These populations include clients in Wisconsin whose legal needs are historically unmet or who live and work in rural areas with limited access to legal services.

    “The awards are part of the Foundation’s mission to improve access to justice,” says Joe Troy, chair of the Foundation’s Awards Committee.

    The awards help attorneys meet the needs of residents in rural areas in northern Wisconsin – where attorneys often have to cover multiple counties and spend numerous hours driving.

    “They also assist attorneys in urban areas helping those of modest means and where language barriers limit access to legal services,” Troy said.

    Recipients may use the awards at their own discretion – whether that's school loans, office expenses, or to meet other financial needs.

    How to Apply – Deadline is Aug. 20

    One award each is given to a graduate of the U.W. and Marquette University law schools, and to a graduate of an out-of-state law school who is practicing in Wisconsin. Applicants must be sworn in as Wisconsin lawyers between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2020.

    The Foundation Awards Committee considers a number of factors, including the applicant’s professional reputation and achievements, as well as how the applicant represents underserved populations.

    Visit the scholarships and awards information page on WisBar.org for more information and to learn how to apply.

    About the Wisconsin Law Foundation

    The Belle Case La Follette Awards are made possible by generous contributions to the Wisconsin Law Foundation.

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation is the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and through its mission has a rich history of promoting:

    • public understanding of the law,

    • improvement of the administration of justice, and

    • law-related public service through funding of innovative and creative programs that improve the vision of the American justice system.

    The Foundation is a nonprofit, nonstock organization, and is open to all State Bar of Wisconsin members. Founded by five visionary attorneys, it was incorporated in 1951 as the Wisconsin Bar Foundation, and through the charitable contributions of our members, has grown into the vital philanthropic law-related organization it is today.

    Find out more in the Foundation’s Impact newsletter.

    Meet the 2020 Recipients

    Meet the three Wisconsin lawyers who are the recipients of the 2020 awards:

    Brent EisbernerBrent Eisberner: Taking on Pro Bono Cases for Veterans

    With the help of his Belle Case La Follette Award from the Law Foundation, Brent Eisberner is able help more veterans with disability and unemployment issues. “The award allowed me to worry less about doing pro bono work while also trying to build and maintain a small firm.” Eisberner is a shareholder attorney with Levine Eisberner, Madison, and founder and president of American Veteran Attorneys Association Inc.

    J.J. MooreJ.J. Moore: 400+ Free Answers

    Since 2014, Milwaukee attorney J.J. Moore, of Legal Action of Wisconsin, has answered over 400 questions via the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers virtual clinic. That’s a lot of answers – and he’s covered topics on Indian law, debts and collections, insurance, expungement, and more.

    Thanks to the award, he could fully represent clients from the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics, rather than simply advising them on their next steps. “I was able to redraft a client’s divorce decree to fix the tax language for her, for example,” Moore said. “I’m truly grateful to expand my ability to serve those that otherwise would not be able to be served.”

    Deborah RichterDeborah Richter: Rural Attorney

    Deborah Richter opened her solo practice in Park Falls in 2017. She provides legal services in rural Price County – often pro bono for those unable to pay. Thanks to the award, she was able to fully represent clients from the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics.





  • July 21, 2021

    First Woman Lawyer: Janesville Walking Tour Follows Lavinia Goodell's Path in 1800s

    Thanks to a team of Wisconsin lawyers, you can now take a walking tour in Janesville that follows in the footsteps of Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin's first woman lawyer.
    alt text

    Colleen Ball and Nancy Kopp hold a photo of Lavinia Goodell (circa 1870). To preserve Goodell’s legacy, they’re telling her story through blog posts at the website, “Lavinia Goodell: The Private Life and Public Trials of Wisconsin’s First Woman Lawyer,” www.laviniagoodell.com.

    July 21, 2021 – It is walking in the footsteps of history.

    Thanks to a team that includes two Wisconsin lawyers, there are two new self-guided walking tours that allow you to view the sites, the life, and career of Wisconsin’s first woman lawyer.

    Lavinia Goodell (1839-1880) fought a tough but successful battle to become the state’s first female lawyer. She was admitted in 1874 to practice law in Rock County Circuit Court, and, in 1879, was the first female lawyer admitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    She had earlier been denied admission because of her gender. Goodell was instrumental in getting the Wisconsin governor to sign a law allowing women to be attorneys in 1877.

    In 2019, Goodell was recognized as a State Bar of Wisconsin Legal Innovator.

    You can read more about Goodell by Wisconsin lawyers Colleen Ball and Nancy Kopp, who have conducted extensive research into Goodell’s life. They are telling Goodell’s story through blog posts at the website, “Lavinia Goodell: The Private Life and Public Trials of Wisconsin’s First Woman Lawyer.”

    “She was a whirling dervish,” Kopp says of Goodell’s life. “She packed so much into the short life she lived. She was very smart. She was a great writer. She was witty. She could have a sharp tongue. She didn’t suffer fools gladly. She didn’t shy away from speaking truth to power.”

    Two New Walking Tours

    The tours explore important locations in Goodell’s life. The first tour involves “Lavinia’s daily stomping grounds,” and the second stops at the courthouse, the jail, the newspaper office, and the opera house.

    While many of the buildings from her day no longer exist, the tour’s guide includes vintage photos of the locations where available.

    “We hope that people visiting southern Wisconsin take the time to look up these sites and see life as Lavinia lived it in the 1870s,” said the tour’s authors.

    Read more about the tours in the blog on WisLawNOW, and view and download the walking tour’s free PDF.

    Lavinia Goodell walking tour 

    ​​



  • July 21, 2021

    West's Jury Verdicts, Bench Decisions, Settlements, and Arbitration Awards

    A selection of recent Wisconsin case verdicts are shared below.

    July 21, 2021 – A selection of recent Wisconsin case verdicts are shared below. The information is provided as a service to State Bar of Wisconsin members in cooperation with Westlaw's® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, a Thomson Reuters business.

    Featured Cases

    Cuna-Ruiz v. Allstate (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Vehicle Negligence - Verdict: $175,000
    Jury Awards $175K for Left Turn MVA

    Bangura v. State Farm (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Vehicle Negligence - Verdict: $2,865
    Rear-Ender Returns $2.8K

    In Re the Minor Settlement of L.K. (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Premises Liability - Settlement: $36,000
    Coffee Placed Near High Chair Burns Minor

    State Bar members can:

    • Request a full case summary, free of charge
    • Submit their own case results for online publication in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Order a paid online subscription to Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports
    • Contact West: west.juryverdicts@thomsonreuters.com or (800) 689-9378

    For State Bar members submitting their own results for publication, West will:

    • Send each submitter a pdf of his/her published case as it appears online in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Consider featuring the case in the State Bar’s WisBar InsideTrack publication

    © 2021 Thomson Reuters/West. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this Web site for their own personal and noncommercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters/West content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters/West.




  • July 21, 2021

    Executive Committee Takes Up Keller Dues Evaluation Aug. 20 for Fiscal Year 2023

    State Bar members are invited to attend Executive Committee meeting conducted annually to evaluate the amount of dues members may deduct for activities that are not reasonably related to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.

    July 21, 2021 – On Aug. 20, the State Bar of Wisconsin Executive Committee will conduct its annual Keller dues reduction evaluation of fiscal year 2021 (FY21) activity for the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) reduction calculation.

    FY23 begins July 1, 2022, and runs through June 30, 2023.

    Under Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), the State Bar may not use the compulsory dues of objecting members for activities that are not reasonably related to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.

    Each year the State Bar Board of Governors approves an annual reduction amount for members who object to certain State Bar expenditures as identified by the Executive Committee.

    The calculation is completed using financial statements and activities for the State Bar’s most recently audited fiscal year; for FY23, it is FY21 (July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021).

    The Executive Committee invites members to attend the meeting that will determine the optional amount that members can deduct from State Bar dues for FY23.

    The meeting will be held at the State Bar Center in Madison. Members who plan to attend the meeting should contact Jan Marks by email or by phone at (608) 250-6106 by Aug. 18, 2021.




  • August 04, 2021

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Stats with Prof. Alan Ball

    Aug. 4, 2020 – Marquette University History Professor Alan Ball has a hobby that helps lawyers and the public better understand the Wisconsin Supreme Court: he researches the court’s decisions each term and publishes statistics at SCOWstats.com.

    For instance, Prof. Ball looks at how justices aligned in criminal and civil cases, how frequently a justice was in the majority, and which justices wrote the most dissents or concurrences. This information provides insights on the composition of the court.

    His research, thus far, goes back to the 1956-57 term. In this video, Prof. Ball provides some insights and findings from the 2020-21 term, which just concluded last month.

    ​ ​



  • August 04, 2021

    Client Protection Fund: More than $18k Reimbursed for Lawyer Theft

    The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Committee reimbursed more than $46K to 14 victims of lawyer theft over the past year. Committee Chair Amy Wochos makes a request: Seek help when you can't properly represent your client.

    Aug. 4, 2021 – The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection is an important and vital way to restore faith in the legal system for clients who are victims of lawyer theft and misconduct.

    “When a lawyer steals money from their client, uncommon as that is, the client and those around them lose faith in lawyers and the legal system,” says Amy Wochos, chair of the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Committee.

    “As lawyers, we need for the public to have faith in the integrity of lawyers and the functioning of the system. Ensuring those clients are reimbursed for their losses restores that faith. We have had some recipients say just that,” she said.

    The committee’s task is to pay back funds taken dishonestly from clients by their lawyer. Over the past fiscal year (2020-21), the committee paid $411,905.02 to 23 clients who were victims of dishonest conduct by 10 Wisconsin lawyers, including unearned advanced fees and dishonest conduct.

    It takes time for a claim to be reimbursed. Over the past year, the committee received 27 new claims – down from 47 new claims the previous year.

    “We hope that this signals a trend but, historically, claim filings have been cyclical,” Wochos said. “It is also too soon to determine the effect the COVID 19 pandemic may have on claims. It will be a couple of years before we can identify actual trend lines.”

    Amy Wochos

    “As lawyers, we need for the public to have faith in the integrity ​of lawyers and the functioning of the system. Ensuring those clients are reimbursed for their losses restores that faith,” says Amy Wochos​, chair of the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Committee.​

    Serving the Bar, Helping People, Assisting Colleagues

    While Wochos has served on a number of State Bar committees and the Board of Governors, “this is my favorite assignment. There is a real sense of helping people and doing good with our work. The committee members and staff make the hard work enjoyable,” she said.

    She has a message for her colleagues who may feel overwhelmed. “It is important to ask for help as early as possible,” she said.

    Many of the reimbursements the committee makes involve lawyers who report to Office of Lawyer Regulation that they had health issues, addiction issues, mental health crises, or are solo/small firm attorneys who seem to have become overwhelmed by their work, Wochos said.

    Seeking help when overwhelmed benefits both the attorney and their clients. “The State Bar has a number of very helpful resources,” including the Wisconsin Lawyer Assistance Program (WisLAP) – which offers free confidential assistance – as well as Practice411 for practice management help, and the Solo/Small Firm & General Practice Section and other substantive practice sections and their elists. “Wisconsin lawyers are generous with their expertise and willingness to assist in a colleague’s time of need,” Wochos said.

    Compensating Victims of Lawyer Misconduct

    Since 1981, more than $6.5 million has been returned to more than 1,012 victims of lawyer misconduct in Wisconsin.

    Each claim is individually investigated, and reimbursement decisions are made at the discretion of the committee, which meets three times a year. Some of the money is returned to the fund via court-ordered restitution or voluntary payments from the lawyers who have approved claims against them.

    The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1981, reimburses clients who incur financial losses from the dishonest conduct of their attorneys.

    Wisconsin lawyers share in the efforts to make victims whole: the fee of $25 is assessed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and collected by the State Bar of Wisconsin with annual dues statements. The amount of the assessments determined by the committee each year by Supreme Court Rule.

    The Details: Claims for 2020-21

    Between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection Committee considered 27 new claims involving 22 attorneys. During the fiscal year, the committee approved 23 claims – with 21 filed in previous years – reimbursing a total of $411,905.02.

    The 23 approved claims were reimbursements for unearned advanced fees and dishonest conduct against 10 attorneys. Claims were approved for clients of:

    • Joan Boyd: 1 claim for $2,000; dishonest conduct;
    • Terry Constant: 1 claim for $5,757.87; dishonest conduct;
    • Stanley Davis: 2 claims for a total of $19,000; dishonest conduct;
    • Jesse Johansen: 1 claim for $2,000; unearned advance fees;
    • Theodore Mazza: 3 claims for a total of $22,851.97; dishonest conduct;
    • Robert Menard: 6 claims for a total of $189,759.76; dishonest conduct;
    • Jeffrey Murrell: 1 claim for $6,500; unearned advance fees;
    • James Runyon: 1 claim for $135,785.42; dishonest conduct;
    • Walter Stern: 1 claim for $17,000; unearned advance fees; and
    • Cole J. White: 6 claims for $11,250; unearned advance fees.



  • August 04, 2021

    50-Year Member: Marty Greenberg's Career in Sports Law

    Marty Greenberg brought sports law to Wisconsin and made Marquette University Law School's National Sports Law Institute one of the nation's top programs.

    Joe Forward

    Martin J. Greenberg

    Aug. 4, 2021 – One the highest honors at the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School is the Martin J. Greenberg Award for Excellence in the Study of Sports Law, which honors Martin “Marty” Greenberg’s contributions to the program.

    Greenberg, who founded the nationally recognized Sports Law Institute, now celebrates 50 years as a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, class of 1971.

    In this article, Greenberg recalls his path to sports law during his 50-year career, as well as other contributions along the way – including revitalization of the Wisconsin State Fair, recruiter for Marquette basketball, and sports agent for coaches and players.

    Greenberg is one of numerous 50-year members from the classes of 1970 and 1971 that the State Bar is highlighting in the 50-year member series this year.

    It Started with Real Estate

    Greenberg is a Wisconsinite through and through. He attended Washington High School in Milwaukee and was the first member of his family to attend college.

    A graduate of U.W.-Madison, Greenberg interned with the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office as a Carnegie Scholar in his senior year, studying political financing. Bronson La Follette was the state’s attorney general, and Greenberg had a front row seat.

    “I travelled with him throughout the state and learned a lot about what lawyers did,” Greenberg said. “I thought it would be an interesting field. I had thought about entering politics but that changed. It was that experience that heightened my interest in law.”

    After law school, he started practicing real estate law exclusively, 15-hour days and a lot of library time on research. He worked for his former law professor, Robert Weiss, co-founder of the law firm that became Weiss Berzowski Brady LLP in Milwaukee.

    “I dove into real estate law so deeply that at some point, the dean of Marquette Law School asked if I would be their real estate law professor,” said Greenberg.

    He accepted the job so long as he could continue practicing law to use his law practice experiences in his teaching.

    Earl Tatum basketball photo

    Earl Tatum, an All-American at Marquette University (1972-76) who went on to the NBA, was one of Marty Greenberg's clients. Photo courtesy of Marty Greenberg.

    Rick Majerus and Fate in Florida

    While working as a law professor, Greenberg struck up a great friendship with Rick Majerus, who served as an assistant coach for Marquette’s Men’s Basketball before becoming head coach in 1983. Majerus put Greenberg to work as a recruiter.

    “I asked how I could help,” Greenber​g recalled. “He said, ‘you’re a lawyer, you’re a law professor. Maybe you could tell some of these potential recruits about life after basketball, and how Marquette is a great place to get an education.”

    “That’s what I did. My wife and I would travel around and we ended up recruiting some of the great players, including Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers. It really became a hobby.”

    One day, Greenberg saw a course being offered on how to become a sports agent in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He attended to see what they viewed as “sports law.”

    “I came back and said, this is probably going to be one of the biggest fields in the future for young lawyers in law school,” Greenberg said. “We need to get ahead of the game and set up an institute. We called it the National Sports Law Institute.”

    “We raised $500,000 from the teams that were in the Wisconsin area to start this. It was the first attempt to give credibility to sports law as an academic enterprise.”

    Greenberg was the first director of Marquette Law School’s National Sports Law Institute in 1989, which has drawn applicants from across the country, including Mike Sneathern, chief legal officer for the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks.

    Greenberg served as the director for a number of years. The program now has 14 courses, a law review, and numerous internship opportunities.

    “Today, Marquette is a leader in the country in the area of sports law,” he said. “The program is the oldest sports law program in the country, and probably the best.”

    Around the same time that the National Sports Law Institute was launching, Rick Majerus was in talks to be the next head coach at the University of Utah.

    “He asked me to represent him in his contract negotiations,” Greenberg recalled. “I said ‘Rick, I don’t know anything about negotiating a coaching contract. He just said ‘figure it out.’

    That launched Greenberg’s career representing players and coaches, and he has represented some big ones, including many Division I college football and basketball coaches and Dell Harris – former head coach of the Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

    “Then all of a sudden we get to the 2000s and there was this huge stadium boom,” Greenberg said. “Everybody was building a new stadium because they realized that stadiums make nothing but money.”

    Greenberg spent three years writing a book called the Stadium Game about financing, building, and monetizing stadiums. He started doing sports stadium consulting work, and often gets called as an expert witness in college coaching termination cases.

    Other Contributions

    When former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle came into office in 2003, he asked Greenberg to head the Wisconsin State Fair, which was in debt and annually losing money.

    Joe Forward Joe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.

    “I said I’d give two years to try and figure out how to make this right,” Greenberg said. “It took five years, but we got out of debt and State Fair was making a million dollars per year by the time I left. Then he appointed me to the Miller Park Baseball Board.”

    Greenberg also chaired the Wisconsin Sports Development Corporation, which runs the Badger State Games and other athletics-related events. His resume, too thick to recount here, includes involvement on various boards and committees over the years.

    In 2012 and 2013, Greenberg hosted $port$Biz – one of the first sports business TV shows in the U.S. at Time Warner Sports-Wisconsin. Greenberg interviewed many high-profile sports names in Wisconsin, such as Sen. Herb Kohl (former Bucks owner), Bud Selig (former MLB commissioner), Barry Alvarez (former U.W. Badger football coach and U.W. athletic director, and Charles Woodson (former Packer).

    Greenberg has enriched the public and the legal community’s understanding of sports law issues in Wisconsin and around the country through his extensive writings in books and articles, as well as teaching and public speaking.

    “I’ve shared my academic experiences with students and I love teaching,” he said. “I love lighting up bright minds. I’m at 49 years at Marquette. If God is willing and my health holds up, I will try to get to 50. I’m teaching sports facility development now.”

    “I think that has been one of my greatest contributions to the legal field, teaching students what I have learned and experienced through 50 years of practice.”




  • August 04, 2021

    West's Jury Verdicts, Bench Decisions, Settlements, and Arbitration Awards

    A selection of recent Wisconsin case verdicts are shared below.

    Aug. 4, 2021 – A selection of recent Wisconsin case verdicts are shared below. The information is provided as a service to State Bar of Wisconsin members in cooperation with Westlaw's® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, a Thomson Reuters business.

    Featured Cases

    Roman-Pacheco v. Keystone Riverview LLC (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Construction - Settlement: $700,000
    Construction Fall Settles for $700K

    Wonn v. Federal Insurance Company (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Milwaukee County)

    Premises Liability - Settlement: $15,000
    Icy Slip, Fall Settles for $15K

    McKenney v. Howley (Wis. Cir. Ct. - Waukesha County)

    Premises Liability - Verdict: Defense
    No Negligence in Water Heater Move

    State Bar members can:

    • Request a full case summary, free of charge
    • Submit their own case results for online publication in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Order a paid online subscription to Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports
    • Contact West: west.juryverdicts@thomsonreuters.com or (800) 689-9378

    For State Bar members submitting their own results for publication, West will:

    • Send each submitter a pdf of his/her published case as it appears online in Westlaw’s® West's Jury Verdicts – Wisconsin Reports, free of charge
    • Consider featuring the case in the State Bar’s WisBar InsideTrack publication

    © 2021 Thomson Reuters/West. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this Web site for their own personal and noncommercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters/West content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters/West.




  • August 04, 2021

    Legal Research: Uncovering Liens in Wisconsin

    Searching for liens is a necessary and important step in financial legal research. Learn more about the best ways to seek out information on these types of claims.

    Carol Hassler

    house on top of coins

    Aug. 4, 2021 – Liens are claims against property or funds to fulfill a debt or for services rendered. Research liens before making financial or property transactions, or when investigating individuals or businesses.

    Searching for liens is an important step in many personal or business transactions. Publicly recorded liens are a rich source of information.

    Liens are also helpful for uncovering more information about the property upon which a lien has been placed. Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) filings, for example, can list specific assets held by a business, providing information about difficult-to-research private companies.

    Types of Liens

    There are two types of liens.

    Carol Hassler Carol Hassler is a law librarian at the Wisconsin State Law Library. She is a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW). LLAW's Public Relations Committee coordinates regular contributions by its members to InsideTrack.

    Voluntary liens are created with the consent of the party. These are liens like mortgages, vehicle and boat loans, and UCC filings connected to loans.

    Involuntary liens are formed without the consent of the party. These may include state or federal tax liens, construction or mechanics liens, child support, and liens formed from docketed judgments.

    While not all liens have statutory origins, a browse through the Wisconsin statutes index listing for liens on Wisconsin.gov ​shows the wide variety of codified liens in Wisconsin.

    Some statutory liens are required to be recorded with a particular office. Other records – like mechanics liens – may be kept between the parties.

    Liens are filed in the county where the property is located, the work was done, or the services were performed.

    For those liens that require or provide the option of recording, there are statewide databases or local offices to turn to for research.

    Public Records Sources

    Searching public record websites or offices charged with maintaining a record can be an important resource for lien research. Some liens are searchable in statewide databases, while others can be located in local county offices.

    Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Database

    Many liens are filed in local courthouses and searchable in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA or CCAP) database. In addition to docketed judgment liens, users can find construction and condominium liens, plus hospital, log and mining liens, and more.

    Search liens by going to the search menu in WCCA, and choosing the judgment search. Tailor your search by selecting a judgment/lien type, case type, or case classification code. Be sure to check the WCCA's Site help page for ways to run either broader or more specific searches.

    WCCA Judgment search

    The WCCA Judgment search lets you search by debtor name as well as type of lien.

    Child Support Lien Docket

    The Child Support Lien Docket by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is a searchable database containing the names of people who owe past due child support. Past due support constitutes a lien against real or titled property. Records will show the individual’s name, amount of the lien, filing information, and county.

    UCC Filings

    The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions maintains a website for searching UCC filings throughout the state. While the documents are viewable for a fee, you can create a free account to use the UCC and Trademark System to investigate whether a filing exists for a particular party.

    There are a few types of searches to try on this site. If you’re unfamiliar searching for UCC filings, try running quick searches first. These are free, more forgiving searches, allowing you to find names quickly and test alternative spellings. A UCC-11 search (fee applies) uses specific search logic, and will return a certified search certificate along with the results.

    Delinquent Taxpayers Search​​

    The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) provides an online database of delinquent taxpayers, searchable by name or location. DOR also keeps a list of “Top 100 Delinquent Taxpayers” on their website. Tax warrants for delinquent state tax are filed with the clerk of court, and are searchable through the WCCA website. Search by lien type, or look for the “TW” in the case number.

    Federal tax liens are recorded in the county Register of Deeds office, and questions about liens recorded there should be directed to the Internal Revenue Service.

    Register of Deeds Offices

    Local Register of Deeds offices keep records on transactions that transfer or encumber real property titles. These offices are sources for a variety of liens, including DNR liens for environmental cleanup, real estate liens, and federal tax liens or other federal liens. Researching liens that appear during a search may also require contacting the originating agency for more information.

    Further Research

    Find tips for locating and resolving liens in books or articles on broader topics like real property, tax collection, long-term care planning, and the UCC.

    Some specific books exist for specialized, yet common lien types. The Construction Lien Law Handbook from State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE®, for example, addresses the specific procedures and timelines of this particular type of lien. Other PINNACLE resources include:

    You can learn more about the UCC with PINNACLE’s OnDemand seminar, Secured Transactions: An Introduction to Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code 2017, which also includes a section on understanding the priority of liens.

    A law librarian can help you identify sources and strategies to make the most of your research time. If you still have questions or need additional research assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your local law librarian or the State Law Library Reference desk at (608) 267-9696 or wsll.ref@wicourts.gov.




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