Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bases covered

My monthly issue of the State Bar’s Wisconsin Lawyer went in the trash a little sooner than it normally does.  It wasn’t some overused top-ten title — like, “the top ten ways to upset your judge,” or “don’t do these ten things if you want to keep your judge happy” — that turned me off.  In fact, there might have even be some good material in it.  But I wouldn’t know because I never got that far.  Instead, I was completely grossed out by the cover.  For some reason, it featured a child’s bare feet, large as life, and I just couldn’t get beyond that.  To leave this monstrosity sitting out on my coffee table — even if only to collect dust — was simply not an option.

I didn’t even learn what the main article was about until I got a call from a colleague.  We had a chuckle over the bar’s latest topic of choice: “assistive reproductive technology & parentage law.”  I offered to refer all such cases that came my way to my colleague, if he would send me his “maritime law” clients in exchange.  I think it will be a mutually beneficial referral scheme.  

My beef here, of course, is not with the author of the article, but with the mandatory bar and its misleading motto, “your practice, our purpose.”  In reality, when the bar is not actively opposing its own membership, it’s using my dues to produce a monthly rag for which I have no use.  Admittedly, this is among the least harmful of the bar’s activities, but I still don’t want to pay for it.        

Meanwhile, at PrawfsBlawg, the law professors are covering equally important issues for the practicing lawyer, including these:  Should e-sports qualify as sports? [Here.]  How much fear, if any, is “optimal” for a first year law student to have? [Here.]  And my personal favorite, how many times was the word “undertheorization” used in law review articles compared to “under-theorization”?  [Here.]  My spell checker did not flag the hyphenated version, so I’ll go with that one should I ever be forced to choose.

So between the bar and the academy, I think they covered all of the major bases.  And me?  Well, I’ve just been putting together this resource page to help ensure that, before the state of Wisconsin can take a person’s liberty, it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the bar or the professoriate gets some spare time, maybe they can jump on this bandwagon and chip in.  I hear that writing about the burden of proof doesn’t qualify as a sport or even an e-sport, but it is a much “under-theorized” topic. 


  1. Michael
    Another home run of post on the insular ill-advised inanities of bar bureaucrats. The esoterica, “assistive reproductive technology & parentage law,” is not unlike the metaphysical inquiries rife among law review authors (Michael Cicchini, one of the few notable exceptions), who are always trying to ferret out the next tedious irrelevancy for a topic, along the lines of the medieval, how many angels can dance on the point of a pin? Who cares?

    Here in the desert, we have a very slickly produced, professionally formatted bar magazine, which the editor is quick to point out -- pays for itself with all the advertisements. Still, we pay over $500 in mandatory dues, which includes our monthly mandatory subscription to that purportedly self-funding publication.

    I recently mentioned to our bar executive director that except for a quick glance at the pelts page, i.e., the listing of lawyers reported disciplined, I toss the magazine in the circular file soon upon receipt. He feigned dismay at my insolence. After all, our "Arizona Attorney" magazine is "award-winning."

    Like you, I would rather have the option of a voluntary subscription to this award winner via elective membership in the bar association. Let those who enjoy it, pay for it. As for the rest of us, I can think of a lot better things to do with my mandatory magazine subscription money.

    1. Ha! That's the most common use for the bar magazine here as well: seeing who got disciplined and for what. I used to use it as a "what not to do" guide, but given some of the incredibly broad ethics rules (like 1.9), now I just hope I don't end up on those pages myself!