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  • WisBar News
    November 10, 2015

    Sneak Peek: Legal Innovation and Bioscience Forge Path for Future Opportunity

    Legal innovators are forging a path into the future of law practice, while Wisconsin’s bioscience industry is already a new frontier for lawyers. And, while forensic sciences are critical components of the fact-finding process in criminal cases, they are no silver bullet.

    November 2015 Wisconsin Lawyer magazine

    Nov. 10, 2015 – Catching a serial rapist. De-escalating violence. Helping businesses to successfully go global. Easing the pain of divorce.

    Wisconsin’s legal innovators are putting new ideas to work to solve problems and improve the delivery of legal services to their clients and communities. Learn about their ideas in November’s Wisconsin Lawyer.

    That’s a Fine Idea!

    The State Bar of Wisconsin honors Wisconsin’s 2015 legal innovators – legal professionals who are solving problems creatively, finding new ways to serve clients and the general public, and transforming office culture to ensure that attorneys thrive.

    “While some in the legal community look at the changing legal marketplace as a looming crisis,” says Tom Watson, who chairs the Communications Committee’s Innovations Subcommittee, “others see an environment ripe for new ways of providing legal services.”

    Meet these movers and shakers of the legal field – and learn what drove them to put their new ideas to work. Dianne Molvig talks about how they are forging a path to the future in “That’s a Fine Idea! Wisconsin Legal Innovators 2015.”

    Meet nine colleagues: the lifetime award winner, three top legal innovators, and five other noteworthy examples – all setting an example to inspire readers and spark further innovation.

    The New Frontier: Wisconsin Biotech

    Wisconsin’s bioscience industry is booming, creating opportunity not just for the scientists that conduct bench research, but for lawyers too. In her article, “Wisconsin Biotech: A New Frontier for Lawyers,” Halina Zakowicz talks with lawyers serving in the bioscience arena, how they are making an impact, and how they got there.

    Learn how you can enter the field – training in science is not required. Lawyers can be vital partners in the biotech arena and have a profound effect on law touching intellectual property and patents, health care, bioethics, and regulatory affairs. There is much in the biotechnology business that is well-served by lawyers with skills in licensing, litigation, immigration law, and corporate law.

    Impressive dividends await lawyers who have the initiative, flexibility, and imagination to approach the world of biotechnology. Bioscience is represented in 70 out of 72 Wisconsin counties, so you don’t have to be a scientist – or have a starship – to explore this new frontier.

    Science Reformation

    Forensic science is a science that relies greatly on subjective interpretation, says Keith Findley in “As I See It: Reforming the ‘Science’ in Forensic Science.” Research in the past few decades indicates that most forensic identification disciplines are fundamentally unscientific and depend on subjective judgments, making them vulnerable to distortion by cognitive biases. The results in some cases is that the guilty go free and the innocent are wrongly convicted.

    Forensic sciences are critical components of the fact-finding process in criminal cases, but they are no silver bullet. To make forensic science evidence more reliable, a wide range of reforms must take place. Findley says with enhanced support, investments in research, and greater oversight, transparency and accessibility, the sciences we rely on to determine guilt or innocence can become as reliable as possible.

    Select Columns and Viewpoints

    Responding to a Public Records Request: With an enormous uptick in requests for records from all types of media outlets, responding to a public records request is becoming a greater challenge. Although Wisconsin’s public records law is broad in scope and application, the public’s right to access public records is not absolute.

    While almost every governmental entity is subject to the Public Records Law, there are hundreds of statutory and common-law exceptions to disclosure. Learn tips and online resources to help you structure and respond to public records requests in this 101 column, “How to Respond to a Public Records Request” from municipal attorney Peter Block.

    Standing Out from the Pack: Are you reaching all potential clients with your marketing plan? In the face of increasing competition, you must learn how to effectively market your skills to stand out from the pack. Do pay-per-click ads actually work for lawyers? Is it worth it to advertise on Facebook?

    Learn how to improve your online presence in “Your Practice – Marketing: 5 Best Steps to Stand Out From the Pack,” by Larry Bodine. 

    Managing Risk: Is your firm at risk of a cyber-attack? Even a modest-sized security breach could result in a huge legal liability that might bankrupt a small law firm. In “Managing Risk: Patching Holes: Cyber Security – Is Your Law Firm at Risk?” Thomas Watson of Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co. explains that purchasing liability insurance that cover law suits involving an information breach may be a good idea.

    Ethics: Leave it unsaid. In “Social Media: Responding to Clients’ Negative Comments Off Limits,” Dean Dietrich says attorney-client confidentiality rules make it hazardous for lawyers to post anything about specific client matters.

    President’s Message: State Bar President Ralph Cagle, in “The Many Things Lawyers Can Do,” says a law school education can pave the way for a variety of careers that benefit from lawyers’ knowledge, talent, and commitment to service.

    Your State Bar: It all started with beer, says State Bar Executive Director George Brown in “Wisconsin, Beer, and Biotechnology.” Wisconsin is a major site for biotechnology – and now lawyers can explore this growing practice area by attending next May’s first-ever Biotech and the Law Global Conference and Expo. The conference will bring three key communities together – science, business, law – to build relationships.

    Final Thought:  It’s human nature to avoid doing what you hate. So why do it? Deanne Koll, in “Do Things You Hate,” realizes that to get ahead, you must do the hard and boring things to make yourself and your firm a success – you will love the results.


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