The practice of law is undergoing historic change. That change is driven by many things, including technology, economics, regulatory issues, and changing client expectations. While some practitioners are proactively adapting or innovating their practices in response to this transformation, others, for a variety of reasons, are uncertain or unaware of the impact these trends have on tomorrow's practice.
Through this "That's a Fine Idea: Nominate a Wisconsin Legal Innovator" initiative, the State Bar of Wisconsin will showcase examples of legal innovation already underway. Help us tell that story. Through these examples of innovation, the State Bar seeks to facilitate a future where lawyers thrive in an evolving and competitive marketplace.
What is Legal Innovation?
Ever find yourself thinking, "That's a fine idea; I wish I had thought of it"? Quite simply, innovation means developing new ways of doing something to create value or an advantage. For the legal profession, an innovation improves the experience of consumers of legal services or the lawyers providing those services. A legal innovation can be a change in or a new service, product offering, business model, delivery system, or internal operation.
Meet the 2016 Wisconsin Legal Innovators
Meet last year’s movers and shakers—and learn what drove them to put new ideas to improve the delivery of legal services to their clients and communities. From left: William Caraher, Rebecca Scheller, Sam Owens, Mary Turke, Colleen Ball, and Sam Strauss (not pictured). Read more.
What Are We Looking For?
Tell us about the innovators and ideas that are changing Wisconsin's legal landscape, making it better for clients, for lawyers, and for the profession. We are looking for legal innovators who break with tradition to do it better, differently. Do you know a risk taker who, despite barriers, finds creative, new solutions to client problems? A visionary who is passionate about using technology to drive internal efficiencies to deliver cost-effective legal services? A trailblazer who is determined to transform a firm's culture to ensure the firm thrives in tomorrow's marketplace?
Innovation can come in many forms. It could mean:
- New ways to use technology to improve client service or serve a new market
- Best practices for promoting workplace diversity
- New marketing/business development strategies
- New ways of providing pro bono or reduced-cost services
- Changes in internal operations that result in greater efficiency
How Will We Showcase Legal Innovators?
The people behind the best examples of legal innovation will be prominently featured in an upcoming issue of the print and online Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, the State Bar's flagship publication. The print edition is widely distributed, reaching the nearly 25,000 Wisconsin-licensed lawyers and judges, as well with other legal professionals, law libraries, and law schools throughout the United States. In addition, Wisconsin Legal Innovators will be promoted through other State Bar communications and listed on the WisBar.org website, which experiences annual traffic of more than 3 million page views from legal professionals and the public.
Those selected as Wisconsin Legal Innovators will be notified on or about Sept. 1. Nominees must be willing to participate in interviews and to provide information to assist with the verification of the nomination.
Who Can Nominate or Be Nominated?
Legal innovation can occur anywhere in the legal system. Thus, anyone can nominate a Wisconsin Legal Innovator, and anyone providing services within Wisconsin's legal community is eligible for nomination. As examples, those eligible for nomination could include:
- State Bar of Wisconsin members, including nonresident members, who provide legal services in a variety of settings (private, corporate, government, nonprofit, business, and so on);
- Nonprofit legal service providers offering free or reduced-cost legal services;
- Those who provide necessary support for efficient law office operations (legal administrators, paralegals, law librarians, and so on);
- Judges, court commissioners, and court personnel; and
- Legal educators
Nominations may be for an individual, a team of individuals, or even a law firm or other group serving Wisconsin's legal community.
What is the Eligibility Period?
Norman Gahn, named the first Lifetime Legal Innovator in 2015, is a pioneer in courtroom rule of DNA evidence. He issued Milwaukee County’s first John Doe DNA arrest warrant in a sexual assault to keep a case open after the statute of limitation expired. Read his story.
The innovation must have occurred within two years prior to this submission; thus, for a 2017 nomination, the initiative must have been executed in part or in full between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2017. The innovation can be ongoing after the nomination is submitted.
How Do I Submit a Nomination?
Complete the nomination form available at www.wisbar.org/innovate, or just type ThatsaFineIdea.com in your Internet browser to get to the nomination form.
After completing this form, click on the "Submit" button to send your nomination. You may wish to print a copy for your records. Once the State Bar receives your entry, you will receive an email confirmation. The State Bar will notify those chosen as this year's legal innovators by Sept. 15, 2017, and the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine will feature the winners in the November issue.
Who Do I Contact for Questions?
If you have questions about the Wisconsin Legal Innovators initiative, please contact:
State Bar of Wisconsin
org pkraemer wisbar wisbar pkraemer org
(800) 444-9404, ext. 6139