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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 01, 2014


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    game controllerGood Ideas

    Gaming the System

    Northeastern University School of Law and other partner groups in Connecticut are developing a video game that will simulate real legal proceedings and give pro se litigants virtual practice opportunities before going to court.

    The online advocacy simulation game, which will be available for free at, will target a growing number of pro se litigants who cannot afford legal services.

    Northeastern estimates that more than 80 percent of litigants in the U.S. are self-represented. The game will allow players to choose a specific proceeding and then litigate the case in a virtual forum that simulates the circumstances and questions they may actually face, based on data collected from lawyers, judges, court staff, and others.

    The project is up for an “Innovative Idea” award from the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law.


    By the Numbers


    – The number of traits that one federal judge associates with highly effective trial lawyers. What are they?

    1) Unsurpassed storytelling skills

    2) Gritty determination to become a great trial lawyer

    3) Virtuoso cross-examination skills

    4) Slavish preparation

    5) Unfailing courtesy

    6) Refined listening skills

    7) Unsurpassed judgment

    8) Reasonableness

    computer“By mastering these, one can become a feared and admired trial lawyer,” writes Judge Mark W. Bennett of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in a published article for The Review of Litigation.

    Tech Tip

    Reminder: More Pixels, More Productivity

    For years, studies have shown that adding a second monitor or upgrading to a larger model can provide significant computer productivity gains, more than 75 percent for some tasks, says State Bar Practice Management Advisor Tison Rhine.

    “Given that it is common for attorneys to spend around one-third of their adult lives in front of a screen, I highly recommend splurging on a good monitor, or two,” he says. “Productivity gains are closely linked to total screen surface area, regardless of the number of monitors, so when choosing for yourself, go with your preference or what desk space allows.”

    But be careful not to overdo it. One study from the University of Utah showed that, while performance on a 30-inch monitor was significantly better than on a 19-inch, users actually performed worse on the 30-inch than on a 26-inch.

    “For my money, I would go with a single 27-inch monitor or dual 24-inch monitors,” Rhine says.

    Also, be sure not to forget your employees. 

    Jordan Furlong“I’ve seen far too many offices with big screens for partners, but small ones for associates and staff,” Rhine said. “With monitor prices as cheap as they are now, there really is no excuse for sticking junior associates with junior monitors. Make the upgrade and you will likely be rewarded, not only with gratitude, but with significant productivity gains.”

    Contact Tison Rhine at or (608) 250-6012.


    People do what they feel like doing, and most lawyers feel like doing today what they did yesterday.”

    – Jordan Furlong, on “Why Lawyers Don’t Innovate,” an article posted at Law21.

    Furlong is a lawyer, industry analyst, and strategic consultant who forecasts the impact of the changing legal market on lawyers, law firms, and legal organizations.

    So what will motivate lawyers and law firms to change their behaviors, to innovate and adapt to the ever-changing legal environment?

    ”They’ll do something only if they decide they want to do it, and they’ll want to do it if encouraged by those they like, respect and trust,” Furlong says.

    Marketing Minute

    7 Habits of Highly Successful Law Firms

    According to law firm marketing expert Stephen Fairly, CEO of the Rainmaker Institute in Arizona, highly successful law firms do the following:

    teamwork1) emphasize online over offline marketing;

    2) focus on new business leads and client lifetime value over client acquisition cost savings;

    3) execute highly optimized, multi-channel campaigns leveraging email, Web, and social media;

    4) nurture leads carefully until the time is right rather than trying to sell from the get-go;

    5) collect the metrics that matter and measure results to repeat and improve;

    6) change business models that are no longer working for the firm because of changes in the marketplace, technology, or consumer preferences; and

    7) maintain or increase marketing budgets during a difficult economy in order to increase business momentum, seize new opportunities, and gain a competitive advantage.


    From the Archives

    Ending the Debate Over Thanksgiving Day

    In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving Day shall be commemorated each year on the last Thursday of November.

    However, in 1939, there were five Thursdays in November. The last Thursday fell on the last day of the month.

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt was concerned that such timing would shorten the Christmas shopping season and dampen the economic recovery. He issued a proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November that year.

    Thanksgiving turkeyThirty-two states issued the same proclamation, but 16 states refused. For two years, Thanksgiving was celebrated on a different day, depending on the state.

    To end the chaos, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a joint resolution in 1941 to declare the “last Thursday in November a legal holiday.”

    The U.S. Senate, in its wisdom, passed an amendment “making the fourth Thursday in November a legal holiday,” to account for years in which November had five Thursdays. The House agreed, and Roosevelt signed the resolution.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Source: The National Archives

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