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    WL Sneak Peek: Zombies, Whistleblowers, and Sales and Use Tax in E-Commerce

    Learn about efforts to contain zombie properties, managing the threat of whistleblower claims, and what might be in store for taxing online commerce. This issue can help you through your first civil trial, and urges you to sleep your way to being healthy.

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    November 2015 Wisconsin Lawyer magazineOct. 13, 2015 – Real-life vacant houses don’t actually shelter ghosts or poltergeists, but the problems they cause can be as daunting to vanquish as any fictional apparition.

    In this month’s cover article, “Foreclosures in Limbo: Zombie Properties,” Justin Mertz, Benjamin Payne, and Kail Decker explore a recent supreme court case that illuminates the effect of zombie properties – houses left vacant and moldering for years – on homeowners, lenders, and surrounding communities.

    “Any good zombie extermination plan should begin with a containment strategy, because zombies beget zombies,” they write in their article. But the problem is that some of these strategies backfire with disastrous consequences.

    So whose job is it to eradicate the zombie problem, and will you need an axe? Find out more in this month’s Wisconsin Lawyer.

    Whistleblower Claims and E-Commerce Taxes

    Do the names Edward Snowden and Julian Assange make you shiver? Whistleblowing should be a concern for any organization, writes Patrick Coffey in “Managing the Threat of Whistleblower Claims.”

    Laws protecting and rewarding employees or other individuals who report companies’ internal problems present risks of legal, financial, and business reputational costs and damage too large to ignore. Learn helpful suggestions for managing risk based on hard lessons learned by companies exposed to enforcement action.

    Crossing state lines to escape sales tax may become a ghost of the past. In “Changes on the Horizon: Sales and Use Tax in the E-Commerce Era,” Andy Pascaly discusses the current sales and use tax treatment of e-commerce transactions across state lines. Are legislative changes looming? The flurry of Supreme Court, state, and congressional activity may have a lasting effect on all commerce that crosses state lines.

    Columns and Viewpoints

    101 Column: Now that you’re in the courtroom, experienced trial lawyers Michael Cerjak, Jesse Blocher, and Andrew Wier give you some basic steps to help you succeed at your first civil trial, in “Earn Your Stripes, Part 2: How to Get Through a Civil Trial.”

    Have some first-jury-trial jitters? Martha Thelen – who conducted her first jury trial in August 2015 – offers advice on getting past them to your first win.

    Ethics: Have you been contacted by someone purporting to be a “potential client” but whose story seems suspect? In “Lawyers Don’t Owe Confidentiality to Scammers,” Wausau attorney Dean Dietrich, chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee, explains in most instances the information you obtain from someone trying to scam you would not be considered confidential.

    On Balance: The advice to “Sleep Your Way to Success” is sound. Paula Davis-Laack, founder and CEO of the Davis Laack Stress and Resilience Institute, says that an adequate amount of sleep should be part of your busy schedule: It helps you remain healthy, resilient, and on top of things.

    Solutions: Is your mea culpa sincere enough? In “Apologizing as Part of a Litigation Strategy,” Alan Tuerkheimer, founder of Trial Methods, says a well-crafted and sincere “I’m sorry” can’t undo an error, but it can keep an honest mistake from becoming a lawsuit.

    Managing Risk: Do you understand the duties of a notary public? Tom Watson of Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company challenges you to “Test Your Notary Public I.Q.

    Final Thought: “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” when that messenger is telling you something vital, says Milwaukee family law attorney Diane Diel. Successful lawyers listen to those discussing the need for changes in how the public accesses legal services, and will “tune their practices accordingly.”