Dec. 19, 2018 – If you are a news consumer, you had your hands full this year, and there’s still 12 days remaining. In the haze of elections and hurricanes, in the flurry of Twitter politics and social movements, you saw the blur of mixed tidings.
org jforward wisbar 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 org jforward wisbar email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.
What you may have missed in 11 editions of the Wisconsin Lawyer™ magazine and 20 editions of the bimonthly InsideTrack™ online – both published by the State Bar of Wisconsin – were the issues that lawyers and the profession were dealing with in 2018.
Besides highlighting substantive and procedural changes in the law, Wisconsin Lawyer (WL) and InsideTrack (IT) reflect the voice of members on current issues such as the #MeToo movement, the status of women in the profession, lawyer wellness, disparate incarceration, attorney pay rates, legislative updates, and diversity and inclusion.
What follows is a list of 26 top articles, in no particular order, based on high reader engagement on important topics for the legal profession and society at large.
1) Sweeping Changes to Rules of Civil Procedure (WL, June)
An act passed late in the Wisconsin Legislature's 2017-18 session is notable not only for its amendments to the rules governing civil litigation practice but also for its divergence from the usual process for enacting such changes.
In this article, Ryan Billings, Robert Gegios, and Melinda Bialzik discussed the sweeping changes, and in July, Judge Eugene Gasiokiewicz and William Gleisner followed up with “Please, Not So Fast! The Haste to Alter Rules of Civil Procedure.”
2) Are You the Court Reporter? (WL, March)
Are you a woman who has been mistaken for the court reporter? Attorney Deane Koll has, numerous times, and she’s not shy about telling that story, why it matters, and why the legal profession must change its assumptions about women.
3) How Did We Get Here? Wisconsin’s Mass & Disparate Incarceration (WL, April)
The first in a series of articles, Mary Prosser and Shannon Toole explore the realities and costs of mass and disparate incarceration for Wisconsin residents and communities and discuss how Wisconsin might change its course.
In June, Marquette University Law Professor Michael O’Hear followed up with “Mass Incarceration: The Fiscal & Social Costs,” explaining how changes to state sentencing and corrections policies could significantly reduce corrections costs.
4) Dismissed Criminal, Eviction, Other Cases No Longer Displayed on Court Website After Two Years (IT, February)
A lot of readers were interested in this article, which explained that online court records of misdemeanor, felony, and small claims cases displayed on CCAP would be removed after two years from disposition if the case was dismissed or the individual was acquitted, applied retroactively, to address concerns of privacy and discrimination.
5) Naked and Unafraid (WL, December)
Criminal defense attorney Odalo Ohiku tells a story about his older brother, who is incarcerated, and the inspiration he provides to Ohiku’s daily work representing others. But it’s also a struggle. “This paradox I am living keeps me up at night,” he writes.
4 Final Thoughts You May Have Missed
Final Thought, the final column in each issue of Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, is a reflective and thought-provoking space for lawyers to share ideas and perspectives.
The Disappearing Asian J.D. Student – Amesia Ngialah Xiong
Law is becoming a more diverse profession but the experience of Asian American lawyers shows that barriers remain in law.
My Favorite Time of the Year – Roy Evans
Sharing your life experiences with children can give them the hope and inspiration they need to survive challenging circumstances.
Now Imagine … – Cynthia Herber
One of the best ways to be a better lawyer is to step into your clients’ shoes and look at the world through their eyes.
Email Decorum: No Excuses – Kristen Hardy
Improve the reputation of lawyers in one easy step: respond to email messages – in a timely manner.
6) Legislative Wrap-Up: 21 Bills that Could Impact Your Practice, Your Clients (IT, April)
The Wisconsin Legislature passed a barrage of bills to close the 2017-18 session. Numerous bills impact the work of lawyers in various areas of law, from tort reform and landlord-tenant law to child custody law, drone regulation, and traffic and OWI law. The article also highlight’s Sara’s Law, named in memory of Schofield attorney Sara Quirt Sann, one of four victims killed in shootings that took place in Wausau in 2017.
7) Transgender Rights in Wisconsin (WL, March)
In this article, Joseph Diedrich explains why awareness of the legal status and rights of transgender persons is vital for Wisconsin lawyers, whether their clients are individuals, businesses, or governmental entities.
8) Living in Sobriety (WL, November)
What might start out as fun at firm cocktail parties or law school weekly "bar reviews" turns into habit and then, for many of us, necessity. Michael Anspach tells a personal story to help lawyers understand how a necessity to self-medicate can manifest itself.
9) Women Leave Law Firms and the Legal Profession. Why? (IT, October)
About half of today's law school graduates are women. About half of law firm associates are women. Yet, only 20 percent of equity partners are women. What's at the root of this situation? Legal writer Joe Forward explored the issue, with outside perspectives.
10) Kimberley Motley: Spinning Playlists in Afghanistan and Beyond (WL, July)
Kimberley Motley is the only American litigating in Afghanistan's courts. The 2003 Marquette University Law School graduate, former Milwaukee public defender, and former Mrs. Wisconsin now has an international practice on six continents. Legal writer Joe Forward caught up with her to understand what drives her, despite the dangers.
11) Act 317: More Changes to Landlord-Tenant Law (WL, September)
New and revised statutory provisions affecting commercial and residential landlords and tenants took effect this year. In this article, Tristen Pettit and Jennifer Hayden explain the changes in Act 317, one of a number of landlord-tenant law changes since 2012.
12) #MeToo Marks a Changing Tide for Employers (WL, September)
Harassment and discrimination can and do occur in all types of workplaces, including in the legal profession. Julia Arnold provided recommendations that lawyers should share with their employer-clients – and take into account when assessing their own legal environments.
13) Frozen in Time: Criminal Justice System & Public Defender Pay (WL, June)
By all reasonable measures, Wisconsin's compensation for private-bar lawyers appointed to represent indigent criminal defendants is woefully inadequate – whether appointed by the SPD’s Office or by the circuit courts. In this article, Judge Thomas Walsh discussed why this is so and what is being proposed to rectify the problems.
In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court raised the hourly rate paid to lawyers for court-appointed cases, from $70 to $100, but declined to take action regarding the $40 rate paid to private bar attorneys who take public defender cases. Joe Forward reported.
14) No More Great Weight Deference to Administrative Agencies (WL, July)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ended its practice of deferring to state agencies' conclusions of law. But fractured opinions will leave practitioners to decipher the code, according to Jeffrey Mandell and Barbara Neider.
15) It’s the Right Thing to Do (WL, January)
Lawyers can pave the way for inclusion and equality in society generally by promoting diversity in their own workplaces, as Kathleen Chung explains.
16) Inside the Whistleblower’s World (WL, March)
Whistleblowers play a vital role in calling attention to bad behavior and trying to prevent its recurrence. In this article, Will Kramer discusses whistleblowers’ motivations and how lawyers can best represent their interests.
17) How ‘Trial Lawyer’ Became an Oxymoron (WL, March)
Many statistics suggest that civil jury trials are virtually on the brink of extinction. This lament for the disappearance of civil jury trials, by Wood Foster Jr., traces their decline and explores what has been lost in the process.
18) Toni Caldwell: Preserving Menominee Indian Culture (WL, April)
As the tribal attorney for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, located in Keshena, Toni Caldwell uses her legal skills in a wide variety of areas in tribal, state, and federal courts. But preserving Menominee culture and values is what drives her.
19) Prioritize Efficiency, Maximize Time: The Economics of Law Practice (WL, February)
Data reported in the State Bar's 2017 Economics of Law Practice Survey can guide you in making independent decisions about the business side of your law practice. For instance, you might be working on more non-billable work than you think. For a profession that thrives on billable work, which is tied to time, that’s important to know.
20) Summaries and Stats from the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 2017-18 Term (IT, August)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded its 2017-18 term, issuing its final substantive decisions this past summer. This article, by legal writer Joe Forward, provides statistics, summaries, and analysis from civil and criminal lawyers. Also, don’t miss the “Top 10 Recent Wisconsin Court Decisions,” by Lisa Lawless and Ketajh Brown.
21) A Primer: Wisconsin’s New Class Action Statute (WL, April)
The statutory amendment modernized Wisconsin’s class action statute, bringing needed clarity to class action practice in state courts. Precedent from the federal courts should help guide Wisconsin courts and litigators as they transition under the new rule, according to Michael Leffel, Elizabeth Haas, and Aaron Wegrzyn.
22) ‘Text A Lawyer’ App: More Uberization of Legal Services (WL, October)
New apps might make it as easy for consumers to find a lawyer as it is to hail a cab. But lawyers, like cab drivers, still must comply with the rules of the road when providing their services, as State Bar Ethics Counsel Aviva Kaiser explains.
23) Wisconsin’s Child Support Guidelines Change July 1 (IT, June)
Constance Chesnik, attorney with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, explains that the
formula for determining variable child support costs for shared placement between parents changed, along with other child-support related rules.
24) Why Lawyers Should Understand Blockchains and Smart Contracts (IT, September)
Blockchains and smart contracts, once mere buzzwords, are now a reality in business, legal, and other spheres. This article explores these concepts and how they may apply to the legal future, with a little help from technology guru Jeffrey Glazer.
25) Fiduciary Duties of LLC Members and Managers (WL, January)
In the absence of definitive guidance from the Wisconsin Legislature or the Wisconsin Supreme Court regarding the nature of the duties of LLC members and managers, lawyers should counsel clients setting up an LLC to define members’ duties in the entity’s operating agreement, explain Joseph Boucher and Andrew Kramer.
26) 12 Ways to Change the Status Quo (WL, May)
How can law firms drive greater operational efficiency and prepare for the future of law? Chris Cartrett provides 12 practical starting points. Hint: It starts at the top.