Sept. 3, 2014 – Tison Rhine, who joined the State Bar as the Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) advisor in early August, looks forward to his new role as the “go-to guy” at the State Bar for lawyers with technology and practice management questions.
Rhine, who was general counsel for an Indiana energy company, has an engineering and economics background. “The intersection of law, technology, and business has always interested me,” said Rhine. “My areas of experience and training use different methodologies, but they all share creative problem solving as the core motivation – and when an answer isn’t immediately available, that’s when I encourage people to come to me.”
After gaining practice experience handling family law matters at a civil practice clinic, Rhine worked at a small firm focusing on energy law, real estate law, and commercial litigation. There, he found he had an appetite for more than just traditional legal work. In one particular project, he found a creative way to use Graphical Information System mapping tools to help monitor and present real estate issues for a carbon capture project candidate site located in central Illinois. “At the time, [the carbon capture project] helped me realize that I am most professionally content when given opportunities to apply technical problem solving to legal and business issues,” said Rhine. “I didn’t want to have to choose between technology, law, and business. I wanted to do it all.”
As general counsel for the Indiana energy company for several years, he got the chance. In addition to his wide range of legal duties, which included corporate, contract, employment, and environmental law, Rhine eagerly got involved whenever office tech matters arose. Whether it was building a new website, upgrading the server and file management system, or merely advising the company on what software and hardware to buy, Rhine was there to assist.
The Law, Like Technology, is Always Changing
“There is such a wide array of issues that legal practitioners face today, and a great many technological tools and business methods to consider. There isn’t always a stock answer,” said Rhine, “and even though the legal profession often moves slowly when compared to other industries, what you did yesterday to solve a problem isn’t necessarily going to be the best solution today. It can all be overwhelming, but luckily for Wisconsin lawyers, every State Bar member automatically has access to this great Law Office Management Assistance Program. I look forward to combining my passions for technology, business, and the law to help Wisconsin lawyers be successful business owners and managers.”
Trained for Problem Solving
After earning his B.S with a double major in Engineering Science and Economics at Vanderbilt University with a focus on the management of technology, Rhine headed to the University of Minnesota for his J.D.
When asked why he became a lawyer if technology is such a natural fit, Rhine said he doesn’t see the two fields as mutually exclusive. “Technology is pervasive in all types of businesses, and the law is no exception. The legal industry relies heavily on the research, analysis, and communication of information – all tasks that can benefit greatly from technology. And that is just the practice side of things – lawyers benefit from new methods and technology at least as much as anyone when it comes to marketing, billing, payroll, etc. Every lawyer is a part-time technologist in a sense. It’s just that some enjoy that aspect of being a lawyer and some do not. Practice411™ is here to help both those with no tech background or interest as well as those with more experience who want to fine tune their practice.”
“Though practical business training has lately begun to seep into a handful of law school curriculums, most of us were never taught the business and technology side of running a successful practice,” said Rhine. “State Bar members have this great tool in Practice411. I look forward to hearing from members. I also look forward to reaching out to members who need service support and don’t necessarily use us.”
Whether you have been practicing for 15 years or more or if you are new to hanging a shingle, Rhine is available to offer individualized consultations to help lawyers get the business end of their practice where it needs to be.
Rhine will be at the Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference, Oct. 23-25, in Wisconsin Dells. Contact Rhine at org practicehelp wisbar wisbar practicehelp org or call (800) 444-9404, ext. 6131.