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  • WisBar News
    February 10, 2016

    February Wisconsin Lawyer: Find Out What’s Hot and What’s Not in 2016

    The February Wisconsin Lawyer, now available online and in mailboxes soon, also highlights a major study of substance use and mental health issues among U.S. lawyers, needed research that will help formulate responses moving forward.

    Feb. 10, 2016 – Are you positioned to turn pressures on the legal profession into opportunities for growth? Learn which practice areas are trending hot, hotter, and red hot, and which are cooling down from a global, national, and state perspective.

    The February Wisconsin Lawyer, available online and in mailboxes soon, includes Robert Denney’s annual “What’s Hot, What’s Not: National and Global Practice Trends,” and “What’s Hot, What’s Not: Wisconsin Practice Trends 2016,” from Dianne Molvig.

    Denney, who has consulted with law firms for nearly 40 years and has published an annual practice trends report the last 27 years, notes that cybersecurity will continue to be red hot in 2016, and all law firms should be paying attention to security issues.

    Labor and employment, elder law, and health care law, among others, will stay “hot” in 2016, and real estate and construction law will start heating up. Sorry bankruptcy. It looks like you are “cold” as the economy continues its upward swing.

    Denney also digs into firm management, business development, and other legal profession-related trends that are impacting the legal industry as a whole. And he advises lawyers and law firms to take action now to keep up with the pace of change.

    “The 2015 report was the most difficult to write,” he says. “Attorneys face growing challenges as they strive to adapt to our technology-driven, fast-paced, increasingly ethnically diverse, and aging society.”

    Closer to home, writer Dianne Molvig draws on Denney’s report and includes perspectives from Wisconsin and regional attorneys, as well as practice management experts, to secure a snapshot of hot practice areas and trends in Wisconsin.

    For instance, more firms are moving toward a cost analysis to set pricing, rather than just raising rates by a certain percentage. They are also deepening relationships with clients and training new lawyers to practice business development skills. And pro bono work is heating up as law firms use it as an alternate way to train their new lawyers.

    New Lawyer Study: Substance Abuse and Mental Health

    According to a comprehensive survey of nearly 13,000 lawyers in 19 states, including Wisconsin, lawyers experience a significant degree of problematic substance use and mental health issues, and many of them note barriers to seeking help.

    In “Landmark Study: U.S. Lawyers Face Higher Rates of Problem Drinking and Mental Health Issues,” State Bar legal writer Joe Forward digs into the released research, a joint study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

    The article also highlights Wisconsin lawyers who have struggled with these issues, includes comments from the study’s authors, and perspectives from the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation and the Wisconsin of Board of Bar Examiners.

    The survey results are crucial in understanding the nature and scope of the problems lawyers are experiencing, and provide a basis for developing a response. Also, don’t miss the Web Extra, a video with Linda Albert, program manager of the State Bar’s Wisconsin Lawyer Assistance Program and a member of the research team.

    What Else is Inside? Columns and Insights

    As I See It: In “Applying to the Bar: Fit to Practice?” attorney Aaron Loudenslager says the character and fitness questions asked of Wisconsin bar applicants concerning their mental health are likely overbroad and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Marketing: In 7 Tips to Find Content to Engage Clients Online,” attorney Larry Bodine offers tips on “content marketing” to help attract potential clients to firm websites.

    On Balance: Stress and resiliency expert Paula Davis-Laack, in “Reboot: 10 Questions to Jump Start 2016,” will help you self-review and promote goal-setting and resilience.

    Solutions: “So, You Want To … Plan for Succession?” State Bar Practice Management Advisor Tison Rhine gets you started with a checklist of things to consider.

    Managing Risk: Tom Watson, an attorney and senior vice president at Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, will help you “Sleep Better in 2016: Reduce Malpractice Risk.” In it, he notes the top four areas producing malpractice claims.

    Final Thought: In “Old Problems Need New Solutions,” former State Bar President Gary Bakke notes that substance use and mental health issues are not new for lawyers. But he offers some new solutions to help attorneys deal with them.

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