Spontaneous Combustion or Grandstanding?
A Miami lawyer in 2017 was representing a client accused of setting his own car on fire to collect insurance money.
While arguing to the jury that spontaneous combustion could have caused the vehicle to set fire, smoke began billowing from the lawyer’s pants and he ran out of the courtroom. He later said a faulty e-cigarette ignited inside his pocket, but prosecutors who investigated believed it was a stunt to bolster his spontaneous combustion argument.
The lawyer also faced a bar disciplinary probe. In September 2019, a referee recommended a license suspension of 91 days. But, as of press time, the Florida Supreme Court had ordered the lawyer to show cause why he should not face harsher sanctions.
Source: Miami Herald
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By the Numbers
– The percentage increase in average annual salary among Wisconsin lawyers, from 2014 to 2018, according to Forbes, which used occupational data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That percentage increase is the highest among all states. Only Arizona (19.5 percent) and Illinois (18.5 percent) came close.
In some states, such as Michigan and Minnesota, average annual salaries actually declined during that five-year period.
The data says that Wisconsin lawyers made, on average, $102,000 per year in 2014 and jumped to $130,450 in 2018. This ranks Wisconsin 14th of all states when looking at highest average salary.
California lawyers had the highest average salary in 2018, at $171,550; Illinois was fifth at $152,980. Montana was the lowest at $88,600.
How Quickly Are You Getting Paid?
According to the Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, 57 percent of electronic invoices got paid within the same day they were billed to clients, with 85 percent paid within one week. That bodes well for lawyers who want to get paid quickly for their work.
But some lawyers still do not accept electronic payments, likely because they do not understand the process. If you are not currently accepting electronic payments, there are several resources that can help you get started.
The State Bar’s Options For Trust Account Management outlines permitted, prohibited, and security requirements for the different types of trust accounts. Additional information regarding the rules can be found in “E-banking: Modernizing Trust Account Rules” (Wis. Law., July 2016) and on the Office of Lawyer Regulation Trust Account Program page.
If you have further questions about the trust account rules, contact the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Ethics Hotline at (800) 254-9154.
Ready to receive electronic payments? Review your current practice management software system to determine if it provides or integrates with electronic payment processors. If it does not, check out the payment processing companies, such as LawPay, listed in the Member Benefits – Discount Programs area. For other assistance, contact Practice 411™, (800) 957-4670.
Source: Christopher C. Shattuck – Practice Management Advisor (Practice 411™), State Bar of Wisconsin.
Did You Know
Just Mercy Premieres
Public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s New York Times bestselling nonfiction book Just Mercy is now adapted into a feature film that premieres this month.
The book and film detail Stevenson’s representation of Walter McMillian, who spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row for two murders he did not commit. Actors Michael B. Jordan (Stevenson) and Jamie Foxx (McMillian) star in the film, which will surely rank high in the category of legal drama.
Just Mercy also tells the story of Stevenson, who as a young graduate of Harvard Law School opened the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. He has spent his entire career representing wrongfully convicted individuals, including death row inmates, and juveniles sentenced to adult prisons.
Stevenson also promotes racial justice and criminal justice reform through education. He was a featured speaker at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Conference.
Before heading out to the movie, read Bryan Stevenson: This Public Interest Lawyer Could Change America (InsideTrack, May 6, 2015).
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
– John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charley: In Search of America.
Winter in the Northern Hemisphere begins on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019.
On the Radar
NCAA to Let College Athletes Profit from Endorsements
As college basketball heats up and college football bowl games fast approach, players in those and other college sports could soon be paid for endorsements that use their name, image, or likeness.
Last month, the NCAA’s governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness.
The move follows passage, in September, of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act (effective in 2023), which expressly allows college players to profit from endorsement deals despite current NCAA rules that bar student-athletes from entering such deals.
Other state legislatures reportedly have introduced or will introduce similar legislation, including the Big 10 Conference states of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Time will tell how NCAA rules that govern student-athletes will interact with “Fair Pay to Play” legislation.
Sources: NCAA, ESPN, Washington Post