“Don’t try to be a man, don’t try any impossible things.”
– Maria Frost, in a letter to her sister, Lavinia Goodell (April 13, 1858). She was talking about Lavinia’s interest in becoming a lawyer.
First denied admission because of her gender, Goodell eventually became the first woman admitted to practice law in Wisconsin in the 1870s.
In 2019, Goodell was recognized by the State Bar of Wisconsin as a Lifetime Legal Innovator.
Want to walk in Lavinia Goodell’s footsteps?
Take the Lavinia Goodell Walking Tours in Janesville. Access the walking tour brochure here.
The tours explore important locations in Goodell’s life. The first tour involves “Lavinia’s daily stomping grounds,” including the train station, her home, and her law office. The second stops at the courthouse, the jail, the newspaper office, and the opera house.
While many of the buildings from her day no longer exist, the tour guide includes vintage photos of the locations where available.
“We hope that people visiting southern Wisconsin take the time to look up these sites and see life as Lavinia lived it in the 1870s,” said the tour’s creators, attorneys Colleen Ball and Nancy Kopp.
Don’t Be a Victim: Test Your Data Restoration Process
In Do Not Let Ransomware Win: Back Up Your Data (Wis. Law., July/Aug. 2021), I encouraged lawyers to test their systems to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of their digital environments.
On July 19, 2021, KrebsonSecurity.com published an article exploring common failures of data backups titled, Don’t Wanna Pay Ransom Gangs? Test Your Backups.
According to Krebs’ interviews of industry experts, even when backups are in place most companies pay the ransomware demands, for the following reasons:
Backups were not tested to see how long it would take to restore data (sometimes up to months or years);
Data backups were connected to the same networks that were initially infected by ransomware, causing the backups to be useless;
When off-site data storage facilities were used the encryption keys to unlock the data were stored on the same networks compromised by ransomware, thus making the encryption keys inaccessible; and
Applications needed to restore systems were on the compromised ransomware networks.
To protect your digital files, make sure your process to restore data can overcome common failure scenarios. If you need help, local information technology companies can conduct testing and data restoration simulations.
Practice411™, the State Bar’s Practice Management Assistance program, can also provide guidance on data restoration best practices and recommendations for system improvements.
Source: Christopher C. Shattuck, practice management advisor (Practice 411™), State Bar of Wisconsin
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By the Numbers
– Women as a percentage of judicial seats on Wisconsin circuit courts, up from 14 percent in 2005.
Women hold 73 of 249 judicial seats, putting “circuit court judges among the state’s fastest growing elected offices for women.” In Milwaukee County, the state’s largest circuit court, 22 of 47 judges (46 percent) are women.
Seven of the 16 judges on the Wisconsin Appeals Court are women (44 percent), and six of seven (86 percent) justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court are women
Source: Wisconsin Women’s Council; Wicourts.gov
Another COVID Schoolyear, and More Mask Litigation
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and students get back to school this fall, mask mandates continue to be a hot-button issue.
Amid a surge of the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance, recommending “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
Mask regulations largely depend on the local school district, whether the school is public or private, and the political leanings of state and local governmental officials.
Wisconsin is among a majority of states that allow local school districts to decide whether to mandate masks. There is no statewide mandate (or ban) in Wisconsin.
As of mid-August, a dozen states have imposed statewide mask mandates in schools – prompting litigation and protests by those who do not believe the state can mandate masks in schools.
Florida, Texas, Iowa, and five other states have banned all public schools from mandating masks.
The federal government is stepping in. On Aug. 18, President Biden directed the U.S. Department of Education to use “all available tools in taking action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law” to ensure that “Governors and other officials are taking all appropriate steps to prepare for a safe return to school for our Nation’s children, including not standing in the way of local leaders making such preparations.”
Source: USA Today News; Associated Press; National Public Radio; whitehouse.gov
Did You Know
Bankruptcy Filings at Lowest Since 1985
In August, the U.S. Courts website announced that the number of personal and business bankruptcy filings “was the lowest in a 12-month period since 1985,” down 32 percent from the previous 12-month period ending June 30.
“Unemployment temporarily spiked in March 2020, when the COVID-19 emergency intensified,” according to uscourts.gov.
“However, several factors may have impacted individuals’ decisions about whether to file for bankruptcy during the past year. For instance, increased government benefits and moratoriums on evictions and certain foreclosures may have eased financial pressures in many households.”
For the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021, there were just over 18,500 business bankruptcy filings and about 443,800 non-business bankruptcy filings.
On the Radar
LegalZoom Seeks Alternative Business Structure License
LegalZoom, an online service provider of do-it-yourself legal forms that became a publicly traded company in June 2021 with a valuation of $7 billion, recently applied for an alternative business structure (ABS) license in Arizona.
“Obtaining an alternative business structure license would allow LegalZoom to hire attorneys as employees to provide legal advice directly to customers rather than relying on an independent network of lawyers,” according to the ABA Journal.
In 2020, Arizona lifted restrictions that previously barred nonlawyers from holding financial interests in law firms or sharing fees with lawyers. Under an approved ABS, nonlawyers may have an economic interest or decision-making authority in a law firm.
The goal of Arizona’s rule change “is to improve access to justice and to encourage innovation in the delivery of legal services,” said Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel.
“The purpose of the ABS program is ‘rooted in the idea that entrepreneurial lawyers and nonlawyers would pilot a range of different business forms that will ultimately improve access to justice and the delivery of legal services,” according to the Arizona Courts website.
Wisconsin, like most states, bars nonlawyer ownership in law firms and fee-sharing under Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 20:5.4 to preserve the lawyer’s independence.
Source: ABA Journal; azcourts.gov