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  • WisBar News
    January 05, 2018

    Sneak Peek: When Criminal and Civil Law Meet, Representing Domestic Abuse Survivors

    The January Wisconsin Lawyer explores the intersection of criminal and civil laws in a personal injury context, considers how to best help clients who survive domestic abuse, and examines a commercial court pilot project. Planning a smartphone purchase? A comparison chart makes your decision easier.

    January 2018 Wisconsin Lawyer magazine coverJan. 5, 2018 – The print January Wisconsin Lawyer is now hitting mailboxes. But why wait? Check out the magazine online for issues criminal and civil lawyers need to address when their practice areas overlap in a personal injury context. Then, read why you should evaluate each plaintiff’s personal injury claim for Medicare Secondary Payer considerations. Learn how to effectively represent a client who experiences domestic abuse. And don’t overlook the annual smartphone roundup comparing models vying for your attention.

    Personal Injury Concerns

    Many clients’ legal problems are the traditional model: two parties, two lawyers (or firms), and one case. But others, such as ones deriving from motor vehicle accidents, might be more complex, drawing in a prosecutor, an insurance company and its counsel, and at least one more named party. The lawyer who looks only at the specific piece he or she is hired to resolve risks doing a disservice to the client.

    In “Personal Injury: When Criminal and Civil Law Intersect,” Erika Bierma and Jason Knutson use a personal injury hypothetical to highlight the civil law issues that criminal defense lawyers – and the criminal law issues civil lawyers – should consider. The legal issues of individuals involved in a car crash can be as hard to successfully disentangle and fix as are their automobiles immediately post-accident. This article helps you to spot and resolve the problems and know when to seek aid from other lawyers.

    In “Rubber Meets the Road: Future Medicals in Injury Cases,” Aaron Frederickson advises, if you represent plaintiffs with personal injury claims, make sure to evaluate each case for Medicare Secondary Payer considerations. Failure to do so could leave clients with large financial obligations to the government and you with potential malpractice exposure.

    Before the enactment of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, there was no efficient mechanism to identify or evaluate situations in which Medicare’s liability should be secondary to that of the “responsible” party, such as a personal injury claim defendant or an employer in a worker’s compensation case. The Act, however, has a complex statutory framework, cumbersome regulations, and inconsistent agency policy concerning how personal injury and worker’s compensation claims are treated. Frederickson highlights the continuing issues and encourages lawyers to educate themselves promptly in light of increased federal government enforcement regarding set-aside arrangements.

    Domestic Abuse Trauma

    Clients who have experienced traumatic events, such as domestic abuse, will need great lawyering and other crucial support. In “Representing Domestic Abuse Survivors,” Amanda Rabe and Megan Sprecher report the frequency of domestic abuse and violence is an issue for lawyers in nearly all practice areas, not just criminal and family law, because domestic abuse survivors may seek representation in many types of cases in which the abusive power and control dynamic has a direct effect.

    Be ready to help clients who have experienced domestic abuse; they might have special needs during legal representation, whether or not the case involves the alleged abuser. And remember, safety comes first – for the client, the lawyer, court personnel, and others.

    Limited Liability Company Duties

    The LLC has become a hugely popular structure for business entities, including law firms, since its creation as Wis. Stat. chapter 183 in the 1990s. A main attraction of the LLC structure is that LLCs, like partnerships, do not pay the “double tax” imposed on corporations. While the tax treatment of LLCs is clear; what is not clear is the type of duty owed by LLC member-managers and members to each other. In “Fiduciary Duties of LLC Members and Managers,” Joe Boucher and Andrew Kramer advise that lawyers should counsel clients setting up an LLC to define members’ duties in the entity’s operating agreement. In the meantime, a State Bar of Wisconsin committee is working with the legislature to revise chapter 183 to resolve the issue.

    Other Columns: Sexual Abuse and Harassment, Commercial Court Pilot Project, Smartphone Lineup, It’s Okay to Be a Happy Lawyer

    • Solutions: In “The Need for Speed: Commercial Court Open for Business,” Judge Michael Aprahamian says a commercial court pilot project in Waukesha County and several Green Bay-area counties speeds up litigation and gives judges increased expertise in business law.

    • Technology: In “Pick Your Winner: Annual Smartphone Lineup,” Aly Lynch compares the most well-known smartphone models and some lesser-known rivals competing for consumers’ attention. In the market for a new phone? A handy comparison chart of models, features, and prices will enhance your shopping experience.

    • Reflections: In “’Happy Lawyer’ Is Not a Contradiction,” Deanne Koll entreats, let’s make it okay to be a happy lawyer. Let’s celebrate our profession.

    • 101: In “13 Lessons About Lawyering – And Life,” Kelly Twigger shares advice for lawyering, building your reputation, and generally surviving. These are the things she wishes she knew early on.

    • Ethics: In “Encouraging Client Misconduct Risks Sanctions,” Dean Dietrich reminds telling a client to do something that would violate the professional conduct rules if the lawyer did it is itself a violation of the rules. Don’t play that game.

    • President’s Message: In light of the growing #MeToo movement, in “Unacceptable Behavior: Sexual Abuse and Harassment of Women,” State Bar President Paul Swanson says lawyers know what proper conduct in the workplace is, what we can say to colleagues and clients without offense, and when not to demand what is not right.

    • Your State Bar: In “Membership Has its Privileges,” Executive Director Larry Martin says if you need help in your professional or personal life, chances are help is just a phone call away, at the State Bar.

    • Final Thought: In “It’s the Right Thing to Do,” Kathy Chung draws on her experience with the State Bar’s Diversity Counsel Program and lauds the State Bar’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion within the profession.

    Check out the January Wisconsin Lawyer.

    Links to Other Content

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