Ethics & Professional Responsibility

Over the last couple of days, friends have forwarded articles containing interviews with members of the ex-president’s impeachment trial team, asking if they really should be spilling the tea like that? This is a question I do get generally, so let’s call this a FAQ: Aren’t these things supposed to be confidential? Are lawyers really supposed to talk to media other than to say “no comment”? Lawyers working on cases that garner media attention can and do talk to the media, but what they can say depends on a variety of factors, one of which is confidentiality. Lawyers are…
By now, just about every lawyer has received multiple forwards of the Lawyer Zoom Cat video. For those of you not so lucky, a Texas lawyer accidentally appeared at Zoom court with a filter activated that turned him into a talking cat. He assured the judge that he was, indeed, not a cat and was trying to disable the filter but was able to proceed. The linked article indicates he was using his secretary’s computer, and after changing the filter back, the hearing continued without incident. It was a funny and all-too-human moment in 2021, and I hope a…
There has been plenty of change, upheaval and progress since the formation of WILMIC in 1986 when Wisconsin lawyers were being priced out of obtaining malpractice insurance.  In the 1990’s, technology innovations were starting to change the legal profession and WILMIC began paying back its bonds to policyholders.  In the 2000’s, an explosion in access to information had a profound effect on client expectations and WILMIC saw tremendous growth.  In the last ten years, we have seen incredible technological change, online business and finally, the coronavirus pandemic. Through all of that upheaval, WILMIC continues to show the stability and dependability…
Looking for speakers who can deliver real-life examples of practical, use-it-now information?  Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual is presenting the same one-hour CLE programs to local bar associations and others during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re just coming to you through Zoom videos, rather than in-person. With gatherings limited or halted altogether, WILMIC is still providing CLE programming to local bar associations.  Thanks to Zoom video technology, risk management programs are available free from WILMIC. Whether your local bar would like information on a specific topic, or just a general overview in all practice areas, our speakers will cover it for you. Continuing…
The on-going coronavirus pandemic has created many different challenges for lawyers during the past nine months.  From client communication to court proceedings to economic pressures on clients, there are no shortages of challenging issues for lawyers.  WILMIC Senior Claims Attorney Brian Anderson describes some of the risks that lawyers face and how to deal with them. The post Claims Digest first appeared on Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.…
Under a petition filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission, law students would be allowed to get practical, hands-on experience under supervision earlier than they do now. The Commission has proposed Petition 20-04, to amend Supreme Court Rule (SCR) Chapter 50, which governs the… The post Law Students Would Get Earlier Court Experience under Proposed Rule Change first appeared on Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.…
The same cybersecurity risks that are threats at the office exist when working from home. During the coronavirus pandemic, the threats have jumped in frequency.  Experts say phishing scams have increased over the past nine months. The post Do You Trust Your Computer System, Especially During a Pandemic? Is Your Network Secure? WILMIC Can Direct You To Cybersecurity Protection first appeared on Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.…
In this day and age, voicing an opinion is as easy as opening a social media site or an internet platform and typing away.  Lawyers can be frequent targets of criticism.  You have a target on your back if a case goes sideways.  An unhappy former client may want to… The post Been Targeted With a Negative Online Review? Use Caution If You Plan On Responding first appeared on Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.…
Citing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on lawyers’ ability to complete mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) credits in order to remain eligible to practice law in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has extended its order allowing attorneys to obtain up to 30 continuing legal education (CLE) credits “on-demand” through Jan. 31, 2022. The post Wis. Supreme Court Order Allowing Attorneys To Get 30 CLE Credits On-Demand Is Extended first appeared on Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.…
I do not remember much from my law school orientation. I remember there was a continental breakfast and some small group sessions, and I remember feeling really, really old at 30, even though in the outside world the age gap between my youngest colleagues (22ish) and me was not that big. “Oh, you’re new to Milwaukee?” I asked one of my group-mates. “Where are you living?” “I have an apartment off-campus with three kids.” “Oh nice! My partner has a three-year-old. How old are your kids?” “No, I meant me and two other kids. Law students.” Beyond that, I remember…
The Wisconsin State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Ethics (of which I am a member) recently approved Formal Opinion EF-21-01, which clarifies when you can threaten someone with criminal prosecution to gain advantage in a civil manner (and withdraws a 2001 opinion). The opinion notes that a prior rule banning the practice outright was repealed in 2007. Now, however, lawyers are cautioned to tread carefully, and avoid doing so unless the civil and criminal matters are related to each other and both are well founded. The opinion also differentiates between threatening to report purported criminal conduct and threatening to…
I remember at the end of the George W. Bush administration, some comedians said that the Obama administration would put them out of business, what with Obama’s lack of propensity for scandal or gaffes. While of course that didn’t happen (the comedy world survived Obama’s tan suits and fancy mustard just fine), I’ve been asked (once) whether I am worried I won’t have blog fodder after all of the ridiculous election and Trump-related litigation is over. I am not. First, it’s not going to be over for a long time. And second, while I’ll miss picking on Giuliani (whenever he…
Patrick McKenna, who has been WILMIC’s website designer and digital marketing media consultant for the past couple years, passed away this past January 7. Pat had a long history with the Wisconsin legal profession, having worked at the State Bar of Wisconsin in the 1990’s and the Wisconsin Law Journal… The post Farewell To a Valued WILMIC Friend and Colleague first appeared on Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.…
This is the non-lawyer version of a question I get a lot from lawyer clients—”how long is this disciplinary proceeding going to take?” Unfortunately for lawyers facing discipline and curious lay folks alike, there’s no real answer. I know people get tired of hearing this from lawyers, but really, “it depends.” Every disciplinary authority has its own internal case processing goals, but it is often difficult to determine whether a particular case will fall within the guidelines. Wisconsin’s Office of Lawyer Regulation’s annual report discusses its case processing statistics from the prior year, which can help provide a general sense…
Breaking up is hard to do. (After all, it’s cuffing season.) This axiom is as true in a professional setting as it is in a personal one. How to ditch your quarantine bae before they’re vaccinated is beyond the scope of a legal ethics blog (as is whether I should ever use the term “quarantine bae” ever again). But firing a client and withdrawing from representation is sometimes absolutely necessary, regardless of what the calendar says. Perhaps they won’t return your calls, or are refusing to pay your bill, or you can’t see eye to eye about…