April 7, 2015 – In 1986, when the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin (now Wisconsin Lawyer) published an article about women balancing law careers with parenthood, women made up 16 percent of lawyers nationwide. Since then, the number is up to 33 percent.
What does it mean? It means more women are working as lawyers. It also means more women are balancing their legal careers with raising families. But how are they doing it?
In this month’s issue of Wisconsin Lawyer, attorney and mother Kara Higdon Getter explored the issue in her cover article, “Bringing Up Baby: How Lawyer-Moms Make it Work,” talking to several lawyer-moms in Wisconsin to get their perspectives.
As Getter explains, a cultural shift – through maternity leave policies, technology, and employers that value work-life balance – makes it easier to be working moms (and working dads too, although the author chose to focus on working women-lawyers).
“Whether they use smartphones, tablets or laptops, today’s lawyer-moms recognize technology makes it possible to clock time and work remotely during nontraditional business hours,” Getter writes. “Drafting client emails or reviewing a contract might be done early in the morning or late at night, once the kids go to sleep.”
But that doesn’t mean lawyer-moms have it easier. Far from it. “When I had my first daughter in 2009, I worked right up until the time I delivered. I was literally dictating letters and writing emails during labor,” Brookfield attorney Jackie Nuckels explained.
Getter also catches up with several attorneys who were interviewed for the 1986 article on lawyer-moms. “Being interviewed for the 1986 article in the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin had a profound effect on my future career and family life,” said attorney Kathleen Schrader, who left the practice of law to raise her kids, but eventually returned.
No matter your practice area or the number of attorneys in your organization, you can’t afford to ignore legal innovations and their impacts on the legal profession.
In “The Cloud Has Landed: 10 Legal Tech Innovations and What They Mean,” Massachusetts attorney Robert Ambrogi – who covers technology for the ABA Journal, Law Practice magazine, and other publications – explains why paying attention matters.
For instance, Ambrogi says innovation and disruption have become the norm, competence in technology is no longer optional, and data security is essential.
“Surveys continue to show that lawyers fall woefully short in their use of encryption and other data security measures to protect privileged client communications,” he writes. “In 2015, encryption is a must-have tool for lawyers and data security is a top priority for law firms and legal organizations.”
Ambrogi’s article kicks off the State Bar of Wisconsin’s second annual campaign to showcase legal innovators and ideas that are sparking positive change in Wisconsin’s legal landscape through “That’s a Fine Idea: Legal Innovation Wisconsin.”
Switching gears, attorney Aaron Frederickson highlights the rights of Medicare Advantage Plans, under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, when Medicare beneficiaries receive worker’s compensation, insurance benefits, or damages awards.
Medicare Advantage Plans provide valuable insurance coverage for millions of Medicare beneficiaries and have grown in popularity.
In “Don’t Settle for Less: Protecting Medicare Advantage Plans’ Recovery Rights,” Frederickson notes that lawyers must ensure that the recovery rights of Medicare Advantage Plans are identified and protected during claim processing or litigation.
“In facing this challenge, it is important for attorneys to determine what coverage their clients have and understand an otherwise murky law,” Frederickson writes.
Columns and Insights
10 Questions column: She grew in communist Romania and made her way to the United States. Now Madison attorney Raluca Vais-Ottosen is heading the Immigration Group at Dewitt Ross & Stevens S.C. In “A Long Journey from Romania to Wisconsin,” learn how her personal experiences with immigration have influenced her professional life, and other interesting things.
Marketing column: In “Converting Blog Readers into Leads and New Clients,” attorney and editor Larry Bodine explains the importance of lawyer blogs for business development and what makes a blog successful.
Technology column: Are you sharing protected files? State Bar Practice Management Advisor Tyson Rhine will help you ensure those files are safe in “So You Want To … Share Files with Clients and Colleagues.” Hint: make sure they are locked in a secure portal, cloud-based repository, or encrypted email.
On Balance column:: Does your firm have resilient lawyers? In “Building Resilience in the Law Makes Good Business Sense,” Paula Davis-Laack explains how to develop resilient law firms and why it’s important.
Final Thought column:: In “Lawyers Innovate Every Day. What’s Holding You Back?” attorney Kelly Twigger inspires lawyers to find broader innovative solutions to problems they encounter every day. “You have ideas on which you want to build, and you’re hesitating. Stop hesitating,” says Twigger, one of five recipients of the State Bar’s 2014 Wisconsin Legal Innovators Award.
Check out the full April Wisconsin Lawyer