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  • WisBar News
    September 12, 2016

    WL Sneak Peek: Drones, Dementia and Estate Litigation

    The September Wisconsin Lawyer looks in-depth at the patchwork of laws governing the private use of drones, considers the effect of a client’s age and behavior when creating or challenging wills, outlines major sources of law concerning e-transaction of real estate conveyances, and more.

    September 2016 Wisconsin Lawyer magazineSept. 12, 2016 – The September Wisconsin Lawyer, hitting mailboxes soon, is now online. This issue is packed with practical information, such as laws governing the private operation of drones, the effect of a client’s age and behavior when creating or challenging wills and other testamentary documents, how to ensure the validity of e-transactions of real estate conveyances, and a just-in-time-for-football-season Q&A with Badger legend Barry Alvarez.

    Regulating Private Drone Operation

    Don’t be fooled by drones’ size: these tiny aircraft bring with them major legal issues. In “Up, Up and Away: Rising Legal Regulation of Drone Operation,” Kevin Trost says as the private use of drones – for business and recreation – proliferates, individuals and institutions are scrambling to decide how to regulate their operation. Locally, a Green Bay ordinance and a Wisconsin law specifically apply to drones; nationally, the Federal Aviation Administration has released new rules regarding recreational and commercial drone use.

    Among the most significant substantive law issues is the application of privacy and trespass case law and current statutes. And not surprisingly, given the difficulty of identifying boundaries in the air, jurisdiction is the major procedural issue.

    Increases in Dementia and Estate Litigation

    Lawyers must be ready to identify and assist clients whose age-related declines impede their capacity to engage in estate planning or tempt family members to engage in undue influence. So says Randy Nash in “More to Come: Dementia and Estate Litigation.” The growing number of older people with cognitive challenges brings with it an increase in estate litigation. The facts of these cases, including details concerning competency and susceptibility to influence, are crucial and will vary from situation to situation.

    In a sidebar, “Testamentary Capacity: A Sliding-scale Approach,” Christa Wittenberg posits by applying a sliding-capacity scale, estate planning lawyers could embrace a range of possibilities for assisting clients with dementia or cognitive impairments, rather than the dichotomy of either agreeing to assist the client or turning him or her away.

    Conveying Real Estate via E-transaction

    In “Old Becomes New: Paperless Real Estate Conveyances Return,” Mike Tobin details what is needed to ensure the validity of real estate conveyances when you and clients electronically dot your i’s and cross your t’s. He highlights the major sources of law concerning e-transactions, including Wis. Stat. chapters 706 and 137, Wisconsin Realtors Association forms, and federal laws. And, he identifies inconsistencies and potential hazards that could invalidate a transaction.

    Leading on the Gridiron and in the Legal Profession

    Building relationships and trust with different people is about communication and honesty, following through, and being available. Whether you’re a football coach or a lawyer, serving athletes and clients is pretty much the same, as you’ll discover in Joe Forward’s Q&A, “Barry Alvarez: Drawing Parallels with a Badger Legend.” From leadership to mentorship, from networking to patience, legendary Badger Football coach and current U.W. Athletic Director Barry Alvarez draws parallels between football and the legal profession.

    Other Columns: Finding Free Alternatives to Microsoft Word, Practicing Out-of-state, Identifying Nonwaivable Conflicts of Interest

    Technology: If you do not already own Microsoft Word, you do not need to purchase it merely to submit documents in an Open XML format. In “So, You Want To … Find Free Alternatives to Microsoft Word,” State Bar Practice Management Advisor Tison Rhine lists free software options to help you comply with the Wisconsin court system’s new e-filing requirements.

    Managing Risk: In “Out-of-state Practice: Proceed with Caution!” Tom Watson advises lawyers contemplating adding new clients or cases to think globally but practice locally. The risks of expanding beyond your state’s borders to meet clients’ needs include lack of knowing another state’s procedures and laws, getting outside your own comfort zone, and not understanding the jurisdiction in which the case resides. The riskiest states for claims? Florida and California, where snow-birds flock.

    Ethics: In “Facts Matter: Identifying Nonwaivable Conflicts of Interest,” Dean Dietrich says determining which conflicts of interest cannot be waived by current clients requires a careful examination of each situation’s facts and circumstances.

    Marketing: In “Out: Bogus Digital Marketing; In: Quality Content,” Larry Bodine urges finding the sweet spot in legal marketing by writing timely, substantive content that satisfies search engines and human readers at the same time.

    Final Thought: Paying more attention to the road ahead and less to the rearview mirror will aid lawyers in navigating change in the profession and in society, says Michelle Behnke in “Strap On Our Goggles.”

    Your State Bar: In “Formula, Diapers, Pack ‘N Play … and a Divorce,” State Bar Executive Director George Brown says lawyers don’t need to practice inside big-box stores to take a page from retailers’ business model. To him, convenience, predictability, and a reasonable, known cost sound like a sensible client-focused business practice.

    Learn what your colleagues are doing in the “Members Only” column, get legal tidbits in the “Briefly” column, and find out what makes our authors tick in the “Meet Our Conributors” column. Check out the full September Wisconsin Lawyer for more content.

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