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  • WisBar News
    April 08, 2014

    INNOVATION: April Magazine Highlights Legal Innovators, Provokes New Ideas

    The April Wisconsin Lawyer highlights legal innovation in Wisconsin, discusses why legal innovation is important, and solicits nominations for Wisconsin legal innovators. This month’s issue also has features on representing veterans, and governmental immunity.

    April 2014 Wisconsin LawyerApril 8, 2014 – Technology, economics, regulatory issues, and client expectations are driving historic changes in the practice of law. Are you ready to tackle the change necessary to help you survive and thrive? Are you ready to embrace innovation?

    Lawyers who find ways to innovate will be in a better position to ride the tides of change, say legal consultants in the April Wisconsin Lawyer. Many lawyers currently innovate to provide better service, efficiency, and outcomes, even if they don’t know it.

    Several of these legal innovators, attorneys and judges in Wisconsin, are highlighted in this month’s cover story, “Legal Innovation: Ideas that Spark Change.” In it, writer Dianne Molvig speaks with thought leaders who explain the importance of legal innovation.

    This month, the State Bar of Wisconsin kicks off an initiative to identify innovators who promote positive change in Wisconsin’s legal community. Through “That’s a Fine Idea! Legal Innovation Wisconsin,” the State Bar is seeking nominations for legal innovators.

    Innovators break tradition to do things better, find new solutions to client problems, and use technology to drive efficiencies and deliver cost-effective legal services. Innovators are risk takers who take chances despite the barriers, hoping to change the status quo.

    What is Legal Innovation?

    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.

    “This isn’t about change for change’s sake because it’s cool and sexy,” says Joshua Kubicki, a legal business model consultant. “That’s meaningless. It’s about finding ways to solve a problem.” One impetus for innovation, he says, is “friction in the marketplace.”

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    Do you know a legal innovator? Someone who finds new, creative solutions to problems? Are you one? Nominate them today! Visit

    Today, lawyers face more competition. Changing regulations have opened doors for nonlawyer entities and nonlawyers to offer do-it-yourself and limited legal services, says Jordan Furlong, an attorney and law firm consultant in Canada.

    Instead of fighting to quash the vast array of nontraditional legal services out there, lawyers must find ways to tap consumer need, he says. Innovation can help.

    For instance, Madison lawyer Zeshan Usman is using technology to be ultra-responsive to clients, showing the value of his in-person, customized legal services. Others are using new formats, such as collaborative divorce, to give clients more options. And still others, like judges and DAs, are using innovative ideas to improve the legal system.

    Molvig’s article highlights the efforts of lawyers and judges to create efficiencies and better outcomes. And the State Bar is soliciting more of these innovative ideas. To nominate a legal innovator, visit

    Other Features: Representing Military Veterans and Governmental Immunity Law

    There are more than 400,000 military veterans in Wisconsin. Behind this number are individuals who are struggling to maintain their jobs, homes, and families. Some are struggling to stay alive while they wait for VA benefits, notes Waunakee attorney Shana Dunn in her article, “Opportunity for Service and Growth: Representing Veterans.”

    “Although these numbers demonstrate a failure of the bureaucracy, they also indicate an opportunity for attorneys to serve an underserved community while building their practices,” writes Dunn, who represents veterans seeking service-connected benefits.

    In her article, Dunn describes the legal issues that veterans face, and the different ways attorneys can help them obtain the statutory benefits they’ve earned through military service. Dunn also describes the accreditation process and how representation works.

    Switching gears, Assistant Attorney General Gabe Johnson-Karp, in “Returning to First Principles? Governmental Immunity in Wisconsin,” explains the state of governmental immunity law in light of three recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions.

    Most attorneys are aware that a state statute and case law afford some immunity to governmental actors for actions that cause harm to other individuals and entities. However, as Johnson-Karp explains, the contours of its protection are not clear.

    “The purpose of this article is to inform the legal community about these recent cases and to note some practical considerations for the bench and bar when analyzing immunity issues going forward,” writes Johnson-Karp in his article.


    • 10 Questions with Jessa Nicholson “On Defending an Unpopular Client in a High-Profile Trial.” Nicholson, of Madison, was the primary defense attorney for Chad Chritton, a man accused of locking his teenage daughter in a basement and starving her. In this column, Nicholson imparts some lessons learned.

    • An As I See It column from Milwaukee lawyer Mike Hanna titled, “Some Native Americans Unaware they Risk Firearm Charges.” Hanna explains that indigent Native Americans charged with domestic violence in tribal court will probably not receive a lawyer and may never know they cannot possess firearms if convicted.

    • A Marketing column from Jenna Weber focused on “Growing Your Practice with Content Marketing.” Weber explains how content marketing can help lawyers capture people’s attention and turn them into revenue-generating clients.

    • A Solutions column by lawyer and consultant Jordan Furlong titled “Law Firm Innovation: From Idea to Implementation.” In it, Furlong expands on the innovation concept, notes the obstacles involved, and explains the five increasingly difficult steps to take an idea from concept to implementation.

    • An Ethics column titled “Online Banking Not Allowed for Trust Account Transactions.” In it, Dean Dietrich, vice chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee, explains the rules against online banking involving trust account transactions, but notes that change might be coming in the near future.

    • A Final Thought from Neenah attorney Ben Adams titled “Advanced Directives: Let’s Start the Conversation … Now.” Adams notes that April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, which provides an opportunity to discuss health care planning with your families, your clients, and your communities.

    April Wisconsin Lawyer

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