On the Radar
Bar Exam Chaos Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Graduates of Wisconsin’s two law schools have long enjoyed the “diploma privilege,” which allows bar admission in Wisconsin without taking and passing the Wisconsin bar exam.
Until 2020, Wisconsin was the only state continuing the diploma privilege; other states have now adopted a temporary diploma privilege because of COVID-19.
Those states include Louisiana, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. Petitions requesting diploma privilege were denied in 13 states, including Illinois and Minnesota. Wisconsin denied a petition to extend the diploma privilege to out-of-state law graduates.
Illinois, Michigan, and some other states are hoping to administer remote bar exams.
Florida was supposed to hold a remote bar exam last month but cancelled it as “not technically feasible.”
Some states, such as New York, are entering reciprocity agreements to allow transferable remote bar exam scores.
Source: National Conference of Bar Examiners
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“None of this is your fault. You and your cohort drew the short straw.”
– Jordon Furlong, a legal market analyst, speaking to 2020 law school graduates.
In his blog post at Law 21, Furlong describes the bleak employment outlook for new lawyers amid COVID-19. The struggle, he says, will continue for several years, and new lawyers will have to scrape by until the legal market rebounds. Once the smoke clears, however, those lawyers will be stronger, he says.
“You are smarter and more capable than any generation of lawyers who came before you, and you will prove your resilience, your reliability, and ultimately your wisdom throughout this crisis. You will lead,” Furlong wrote.
Those who entered the practice of law in 1933, he says, were not remembered as the Depression Generation.
“They are all collectively known as the Greatest Generation. They are remembered not by what was done to them, but by what they did. The same will apply to you,” Furlong noted.
By the Numbers
New legal-matter volume in Wisconsin, as of June 29 – as compared to the start of the year – according to data collected by Clio, a practice management software company.
New-matter volume was up by 25 percent at the end of January, but plummeted to -29 percent by March 2.
By June 1, it was up 11 percent – compared to the start of the year – a dramatic climb that started in mid-May. But by the end of June, it was back down by -27 percent. The new-matter volume appears to be riding the COVID-19 waves.
In general, the data shows Wisconsin is faring better than the U.S. average.
Beware of Social Engineering Attacks
Twitter recently announced that it was the victim of an attack that “targeted a small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack.”
Hackers “relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access” to Twitter’s internal systems.
By obtaining employee credentials, Twitter noted, hackers “were able to target specific employees who had access to [Twitter’s] account support tools. ”
Twitter’s summary of the attack portrays the textbook definition of social engineering attacks: hackers targeting and exploiting employees to gain access to systems at targeted organizations.
Law firms of all sizes can be targets of social engineering attacks.
Hackers use all sorts of methods to establish trust and obtain information. If employees provide information regarding systems or actual account credentials, hackers may be able to access law firm systems without detection.
Firms and lawyers should consider establishing policies and procedures regarding data security. Tests should be conducted to help identify and counter attacks.
Source: Christopher Shattuck, State Bar of Wisconsin Law Practice Assistance Manager (Practice411™).
WisLawNOW: A Growing Community of Legal Bloggers
If you haven’t visited wislawnow.com, you should check it out. It’s a new blog aggregation portal that uses RSS technology to aggregate blogs written by State Bar of Wisconsin members.
Nearly 50 law firms and lawyers have already joined, as well as 15 State Bar of Wisconsin section blogs. Visit the site to see blog posts in numerous areas of law. It’s a digital library of law blogs with new blog posts daily.
If you are blogging and you haven’t joined yet, we encourage you to submit your blog for consideration. Visit wislawnow.com.
Electronic Filing Begins in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals
A voluntary eFiling pilot program is now open in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for Districts II and III.
The program began Aug. 3 in District III, which serves the northern half of Wisconsin, and was expanded on Aug. 31, 2020, to include District II, which serves most of southeast Wisconsin. Attorneys who want to try out appellate eFiling can use their existing eCourts accounts to file new cases or opt in to pending cases to file new documents. Districts I and IV will soon follow.
Appellate practitioners already use the appellate eFiling website to file briefs and appendices with the court of appeals and supreme court.
The website is now expanded and upgraded to allow filing and service of all documents in appellate proceedings.
The case types available for eFiling include civil and criminal appeals, no-merit appeals, pre-appeal motions, writs, and discretionary appeals filed in the court of appeals.
A committee of judges and lawyers is currently drafting a permanent rule to guide appellate eFiling. The draft rule will be available for review and comment later this year.
The rule is expected to make appellate eFiling mandatory for attorneys on July 1, 2021, and voluntary for self-represented parties.