Ethics & Professional Responsibility

You’re relatively new to law practice. (Congratulations on your graduation and new job in a pandemic, by the way.) You studied the rules and maybe passed the MPRE. But you’re still learning and your on-the-job training has been, well…the partners are really busy. Long story short, you messed up, or at least the client thinks you did. They complained to the OLR and now you have to answer an inquiry. Is your newbie-ness and perhaps not-great advice from your supervisor a defense to the grievance? Sorry to say, not always. First, all lawyers—on Day 1 or Day 4,363 (that’s…
WILMIC has introduced another service for policyholders this year.  It’s the one-hour, “Free-CLE Fridays With WILMIC” series that kicks off on April 16 at 12:00 Noon.  Free to policyholders, you can get your credits without leaving your home or office!  The programs are being offered virtually.  Just look for the program emails – one click will take you to the registration page. The first program on April 16 is titled, “The Technology Age – Cybersecurity Essentials for Law Firms.”  During the pandemic the past year, technology hackers have been more active than ever before, capitalizing on the pandemic chaos to…
Over $10 Million in Dividends Has Been Paid Out Since 1999 For the 23rd consecutive year, WILMIC will be sending out dividend checks to policyholders. The Board of Directors declared the dividend at its recent spring meeting after reviewing the company’s 2020 financial results.  Cash dividends equal to five percent of annual premiums will be sent to law firms currently insured by Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual. Katja Kunzke, WILMIC President and Chief Executive Officer, says, “Cash dividends are a mutual company’s way of distributing earnings back to its owners.” “A dividend is what the mutual concept in insurance is all about,”…
Like many lawyers, I’m not dealing with most of my clients on their best day. Their license is being investigated, they’ve discovered a mistake, or their client is demanding money because of an actual or perceived problem. My clients often want to get their matters over with quickly. A question I get frequently, often in the initial consultation, is whether the lawyer can offer to settle the matter financially with their client to make everything go away. This is a “no, not everything” answer. First, if you’re in a position where you’re being asked to pay or are considering it…
So. We’ve been at this for a year. A year. A year ago, my colleagues and I sat around the conference table, trying to parse what health authorities were saying and what it might mean for law practice generally and our work specifically.  We discussed what would happen if people needed to quarantine, and whether we should make sure everyone was set up to receive email remotely, or what might happen in a worst-case scenario, if we had to shut down for a few weeks. We all know how that ended up. A year later, most of us are still…
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…