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    Sneak Peek: What Legal Employers Want in New Hires, Top 20 Court Decisions

    The print December Wisconsin Lawyer is hitting mailboxes now. But why wait? Read what legal employers say job candidates need to compete. Review significant Wisconsin Supreme Court and federal court decisions. Then, consider how statutory interpretation may be viewed in the future.


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    Dec. 11, 2017 – Are you looking to hire or be hired? Do you have the right mix of traits and skills hiring lawyers say job candidates need to compete in the legal marketplace? You might be surprised. This and other practical content is featured in the December Wisconsin LawyerTM.

    Hiring the Right People

    At law firms, like many other employers, hiring the right people is important not only for minimizing training and turnover expenses but also for maximizing client service. Job seekers, whether recent law school graduates or lawyers looking to change positions, have an even greater stake in being the people who employers want to hire.

    The Right Mix: What Legal Employers Want in New Hires,” showcases results of a survey of some 24,000 practicing lawyers, including 500 Wisconsin lawyers, that can help point both hiring committees and potential hires in the right direction.

    The survey and two related reports indicate that while legal employers expect legal skills and professional competencies from new law school graduates, the most important, vital qualifications, and perhaps the hardest to measure and learn, revolve around character.

    Wrapping Up the Year’s Court Decisions

    In its 2016-2017 term, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued decisions in 25 civil cases and 25 criminal cases. Although all those decisions are important to Wisconsin law, the “Top 10 Recent Wisconsin Supreme Court Decisions,” by Lisa M. Lawless, highlights a sampling of the most notable decisions from last term.

    Federal court interpretations of Wisconsin law are of persuasive value to, but not binding on, Wisconsin courts. Yet, they affect how Wisconsin law is argued and develops. In “Top 10 Recent Wisconsin Federal Court Decisions,” Michael B. Brennan looks at 10 significant Wisconsin federal court decisions interpreting Wisconsin law in 2017.

    Reinterpreting Statutory Interpretation

    The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2017 decision in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College is notable not only for the court’s holding regarding the applicability of Title VII to sexual-orientation-based sex discrimination. It also is notable because of the judges’ conflicting approaches to statutory interpretation.

    In “Statutory Interpretation: An Uncertain Future,” Douglas O. Smith suggests Hively signals that when changes in the broader society warrant it, courts, at least the Seventh Circuit, are free to revisit long-standing interpretations of statutory meaning.

    Other Columns: Collecting Unpaid Fees, Protecting Client Information, a Fresh Approach to Problem Solving, Year-end Marketing Tips

    Managing Risk: In “Dear Client: Happy Holidays. Please Pay Your Bill,” Tom Watson says proceed carefully as you look to close the books on unpaid legal fees at year end.

    Marketing: In “Five Marketing Tips to Finish the Year Strong,” before the new year, Daniel Decker suggests you check in with current and past clients and commit to regularly posting blogs and e-newsletters.

    Ethics: In “Tell Client Early On How You Will Protect Information,” Dean Dietrich provides final thoughts on the ABA’s formal opinion outlining ethics considerations for guarding clients’ confidential information.

    On Balance: In “By Design: A Fresh Approach to Problem Solving,” Paula Davis-Laack explains how “design thinking” can help you get unstuck and problem solve challenges.

    President’s Message: In “Give Thanks and Give Back,” State Bar President Paul Swanson says now is the ideal time to acknowledge colleagues, family, and friends who help ease lawyers’ busy lives.

    Your State Bar: In “Charity Begins at Home,” Executive Director Larry Martin says holiday gifts to the Wisconsin Law Foundation will help state residents now and in the future.

    Final Thought: In “Learn to Listen, Learn to Lead,” Amber Raffeet August is using skills she developed at the State Bar’s G. Lane Ware Leadership Academy to listen actively to clients of the community organizations for which she volunteers.

    Check out the December Wisconsin Lawyer.