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    “A lot of firms are still operating on the billable hour, but that’s changing.”

    destroyed clock

    – Oliver Yandle, executive director of the Association for Legal Administrators.

    He said a lot of clients view the billable hour as rewarding inefficiency, and alternative legal services providers are taking notice. 

    “With the billable hour, you are not incentivizing behavior that would encourage people to be more cost effective, whereas some of these competitor organizations may be in a position to deliver legal services more cheaply and as good or better as some firms may be able to provide,” he said. “So they are increasing the competition and really forcing firms to take a hard look at that.”

    To learn more about billing trends in Wisconsin, see “Prioritize Efficiency, Maximize Time: The Economics of Law Practice” elsewhere in this issue.

    By the Numbers

    135

    – The number of bills enacted into law in Wisconsin in 2017. The Wisconsin Legislature introduced 1,518 bills last year, and some are still pending as the 2017-18 session continues.

    By contrast, the U.S. Congress passed and the U.S. President signed 94 bills into law in 2017, while 6,987 bills were introduced.

    Source: legis.wisconsin.gov; congress.gov

    Legal Trending

    Smart Contracts and Blockchain Technology Revolutionizing Contract Negotiations

    blockchain

    In their Above the Law article “Blockchain, Millennials, and the Law – The Times They Are a Changin’,” David Perla and Sanjay Kamlani explain why blockchain technology will revolutionize contract negotiation. In part, it’s because younger generations are less inclined to haggle.

    “You may not yet understand the blockchain or the notion of smart contracts, but they are facilitating the world of fairness and transparency that the sons and daughters of Bob Dylan’s generation hold dear,” they wrote.

    “The [blockchain] process to achieve consensus about standard provisions … will result in provisions that generate an outcome that is presumed or agreed in advance to be fair, and which eliminates the need or possibility of competitive negotiation.” This process can generate efficiencies in terms of both time and money.

    To learn more about blockchain, see “What’s Hot, What’s Not: National and Global Trends 2018” elsewhere in this issue.

    Tech Tip

    Client Envelopes: Don’t Reveal Confidential Information

    envelopes

    Aetna has agreed to pay a $17 million settlement to resolve a class action breach of privacy suit involving HIV disclosures. According to court documents, the display windows on envelopes were too large and revealed, in addition to the recipient’s name and address, that the recipient was receiving HIV prescribed medications.

    Under Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 20:1.6, a lawyer has a duty to protect the confidentiality of clients. Accordingly, lawyers should review their envelopes, especially if software is being used to merge and prepare the mailings, to ensure that confidential information is not visible in the envelope’s display window.

    Source: Christopher Shattuck, Practice 411 manager, State Bar of Wisconsin Law Practice Assistance Program

    Good Idea

    Texas Legal Incubator Grows Entrepreneurs, Aids Access to Justice

    open doors

    In April, 30 more attorneys will join the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator (TOJI) – created by the State Bar of Texas last year. The TOJI helps new lawyers establish independent law practices by providing training in business operations, marketing, and client relations.

    The 18-month program subsidizes office space, mentorship and training, and technology tools while new attorneys provide legal services to lowand moderate-income clients. The program helps new lawyers leverage innovation and technology in building a sustainable practice that focuses on low- and moderate-income clients.

    Source: Texas Bar Blog

    On the Radar

    Fastcase Keeps Innovating, Acquires DocketAlarm

    DocketAlarm logo

    Fastcase recently acquired DocketAlarm, which leverages hundreds of millions of court records with machine learning and other tools to identify judicial trends and predict litigation outcomes.

    “DocketAlarm adds insights from court filings in cases that never result in an opinion, giving litigators a more complete picture in their research,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “Now Fastcase and DocketAlarm subscribers can search motions, pleadings, and briefs; get clear analytic insights into judges and law firms; and understand the history of similar cases.”

    Fastcase legal research is a member benefit of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Source: Fastcase; Law Sites Blog