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    Wisconsin Lawyer


Given today’s economic climate, would a lawyer be crazy to even consider launching a solo practice or small firm? Not necessarily. Six lawyers with different motivations, practice areas, and geographic locations extol the ups – and downs – of setting off on their own.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 strengthens federal privacy laws enacted in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Health care providers and their vendors and business associates all are now liable for unauthorized disclosures of individuals’ health care information. New provisions govern electronic information and how notification of a breach is to be made. The rules are complex, with many exceptions. And more changes are expected.
Why would a client refuse even to look at an interpreter, possibly derailing an otherwise sound case? Obstinance? Doubtful. Shame at needing to use a legal system she knows nothing about? Maybe. How about fear and anger, because someone of the interpreter’s ethnicity burned the client’s village or worse? This is just one example of how the melting pot that is American society presents multiple opportunities and challenges for lawyers who represent clients from diverse cultures.
Lawyers owe a duty of loyalty to clients, and the existence of a conflict means that duty is impaired. Waiver letters force clients and lawyers to think hard about what they are doing, because waiving a conflict is an important decision with long-range effects. This article discusses the types of information that must normally be included in a waiver letter and provides a framework for thinking about the issue.

Opinions, Voices & Ideas

  • Inside the Bar
  • The (Bargain Basement) Cost of Justice
  • If passed, AB 224 would raise to $70 per hour from $40, the hourly rate paid to private attorneys who take public defender appointments; still a bargain for the state.
  • Profile
  • State Bar President Kammer: A Traveler’s Ethic
  • Doug Kammer credits his resiliency in law practice to the people in his life and interests that get him out of the office. It also helps to have a traveler’s curiosity to see and learn new things and the ethic of relying on one’s own strength, skill, and stamina.
  • Practice Tips
  • How to Handle Nonrefundable Fees
  • Since changes to the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules dealing with fees went into effect in July 2007, the issue of the validity and use of nonrefundable retainers continues to emerge. The underlying question is whether Wisconsin recognizes nonrefundable fees, and if so, when and how they may be used.
  • Managing Risk
  • Should you take on a bankruptcy case?
  • Make sure you know what you’re doing before you expand your practice by taking on a bankruptcy case – or any other matter outside your usual practice area.
  • Career
  • Controlling Stress in Trying Times
  • Stress is an inevitable part of daily life, but by focusing on your vision, learning when and how to say “no,” and carving out time for yourself, you can emerge from the current economic crises energized and in a better position to achieve your definition of “success.”
  • Legal Research
  • A Guide to Wisconsin Legal Information Sources
  • Why spend your precious time tracking down legal information when you can use this guide instead? This compilation points you to sources of authoritative, reliable legal information specifically for Wisconsin lawyers.

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