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Commentary

Overweight Jurors Are…

How’s this for a race-neutral reason to strike a black juror? I do not select overweight people on the jury panel for reasons that, based on my reading and past experience, that heavy-set people tend to be very sympathetic toward any defendant. So said the prosecutor in Seth Dolphy’s 1997 New York trial on drug, weapon, and assault charges, and ...

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Liar, Liar

While he doesn’t claim to be as outrageous as Jim Carrey in the popular courtroom comedy, attorney Garth R. Seehawer can lie with the best of them. At least that is what the Burlington Liars Club said. The 90-year old Wisconsin organization honored Seehawer for crafting the best lie of 2008. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090106/ap_on_fe_st/odd_top_liars Here it is. “My grandson is the most ...

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Set your e-mail sights on a spam-free 2009

Wausau attorney Sarah L. Ruffi, of Ruffi Law Offices S.C., took a four-day break from technology over Thanksgiving weekend. On Monday morning, upon firing up her computer, a mere 40 e-mails were awaiting. It took only a few minutes to respond to those that needed a response, and to file or delete those that did not. The best part of ...

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Consider creating an event to promote your firm

Specific expertise possessed by law firms makes for valuable events. Prospects, clients and media benefit from hearing the latest legal trends. Event speakers benefit from getting their message out to an influential audience. Vendors benefit by hawking their wares, typically outside the event venue. Event organizers benefit by sharing costs with these vendors and, of course, by being associated with ...

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Take care of time, and it will take care of you

Abraham Lincoln is often referred to as having said that time and advice are a lawyer’s stock in trade. The client receives advice; the lawyer expends time to provide it. But there are two types of “law time”: the hours necessary to de-velop and provide legal advice, and those necessary to run the practice. Managing this time requires setting and ...

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Jurors Take A Holiday

Are you picking a jury on January 5? Be glad you won't have me on the panel. If you're still picking jurors by demographic profile alone, you might think you want someone like me. I'm fairly educated, a lawyer, a parent, a blogger, pretty senior at my office and thus used to leading project groups — that's not the right ...

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Case law and the Wisconsin Administrative Code

The Legislative Reference Bureau’s Administrative Code page has a feature that I believe is often overlooked. It is the “Citations to Codes in the Wisconsin Appellate Court Cases.” Organized by agency (back to 1956), the researcher looks for a specific code section (e.g. DFI-Bkg 73.01) and, if listed, will find Wisconsin Appellate cases that cite it. What an easy way ...

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Layoff Data

There are two websites I always visit when researching layoff information. The first is JWT Inside, which offers an easy to search Layoff Database. This tool includes a variety of query options. The researcher can search by week or keyword. The weekly report lists the various companies, locations, affected workforce, news source, and date of the layoffs for that particular ...

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What did you get your clients for Christmas?

Having accumulated several holiday cards from well-wishers in the legal profession, it made me wonder what lawyers may leave under the tree for their loyal clients this time of year – aside from perhaps a nice settlement or an acquittal, of course. Some local attorneys in casual conversation said in the past they have given clients holiday presents ranging from ...

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List of Top Ten Lists

Greg Lambert, fellow law librarian, posted an interesting selection of law and technology “Top 10 lists” on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. He looked to the web and various blog posts from throughout the year to compile the list. There were quite few I had to read, including: Top 10 Blog Mistakes by Law Firms and Law Firm Marketing ...

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Voice recognition software: Removing pen from paper

I never took typing in high school. Since it was an elective, it was offered at 2 p.m., and in my senior year we could leave early if we were done with the required classes. So, it was an easy choice: typing, or General Hospital? Those were the Luke and Laura years, after all. In my defense, who could have ...

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Google fills in the apps, helps with searches

A couple of columns ago, I wrote about a pair of Google applications of special relevance to legal marketing — Google Alerts and Google Analytics. That’s just scratching the surface of Google’s possibilities for lawyers. This week, I’ll look at a pair of Google tools for self-organization: Google Apps and Google Desktop. Google Apps James L. Bartells, of James L. ...

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Wisconsin Health Statistics

The Wisconsin Department of Health maintains a nice collection of health statistics. The home page offers the researcher links to several main areas. The vital statistics page summarizes birth, death, and life expectancy data. The “insurance status” link offers several reports on health insurance coverage among residents. Other pages include minority health and population information. I personally find the Health ...

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Judicial Council Documentation

Per their website, “the Judicial Council is a 21-member body whose principal statutory responsibilities are to study and make recommendations relating to: (1) court pleading, practice and procedure; and (2) organization, jurisdiction and methods of administration and operation of Wisconsin courts.” Litigators are often interested in documentation produced by the Council. Items include minutes, committee records, correspondence, and reports. Review ...

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The chilling case of the Christmas ham

A December evening in the big city. A light snow was falling, and it was already dark. ome-where outside, a lonely saxophone played “Silent Night.” The notes drifted through the cold air like fast food wrappers blown out of the garbage cans. I was working late, trying to get enough billable hours in to take a few days off at ...

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Is there muscle behind your password?

We all understand the importance of choosing strong passwords. However, what we believe to be a good password may have room for improvement. I am amazed by the simplicity of some individual’s passwords. SecurityStats.com has some good tips when formulating a password. They also offer a scoring program to test various passwords. Per the website, the information sent is not ...

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Blog Blow-up

A new report reveals that throughout the last eight months, 85 new legal blogs have been created and 71 of the 2008 AmLaw 200 law firms now blog, compared to just 39 a little more than a year ago. Kevin O’ Keefe, CEO of LexBlog and former Wisconsin attorney, discusses in detail the report’s findings at Real Lawyers Have Blogs. ...

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Handling metered postage without the meter

One of my duties as a clerk during law school was schlepping the postage meter a few blocks to the post office in downtown Milwaukee. It was heavy, and there were always lines once I reached my destination. Postage meters and queues aren’t a part of the lives of attorney Sarah L. Ruffi or her staff anymore. Instead, she uses ...

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Science and Technology Research

Quality websites exist to obtain relevant scholarly science and technology information. Many use Google Scholar. Google Scholar, however, pulls results from a very large index of materials, not all specific to the discipline. Two search engines designed to query just scientific resources are Scitopia.org and Scirus.com. Scitopia is a federated search tool. It looks to the electronic libraries of 21 ...

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Someday, Your Facebook Juror Will Come

I swear they keep this blog in business, those social networking jurors. I didn't set out to cover that particular jury issue so heavily, but from the first week, when I set up searches to find topics to cover here, the juror blogs started showing up in my news feeds, so I wrote about them. Today, although (really) I write ...

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Take steps to prevent fraud in your law practice

One of the last places you’d expect to find fraud is in a law practice. Like accounting, the practice of law is a profession in which ethics are of utmost importance. Accountants and lawyers are often too trusting of their fellow professionals, and therefore leave themselves open to the risks of fraud. The issue of fraud isn’t limited to a ...

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Principle v. Practice: A Judge's Challenge To Improve Voir Dire

What do judges talk about when they talk about voir dire? Judge Gregory Mize is gently challenging his colleagues to make voir dire better, by comparing a new set of inspiring goals to new data documenting a less inspiring reality. If there were a blog devoted entirely to Judge Mize's work to improve the jury system, that blog would have ...

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eLaw Exchange (Electronic Discovery Information)

Michael Arkfeld, the author of “Electronic Discovery and Evidence,” offers an electronic discovery tool entitled eLaw Exchange. The site supplies information on service providers, state rules, and litigation resources. It encourages contributions and exchanges between professionals. One site feature is “Litigation Intelligence.” This is a searchable database of websites that would be of interest to litigation professionals. It allows you ...

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How Would You Improve Voir Dire?

On Tuesday, I reviewed "Building A Better Voir Dire," the article by Judge Gregory Mize and Paula Hannaford-Agor of the National Center for State Courts. The article challenged judges to work creatively to help the actual practice of jury selection live up to the ideals most of us share. Now it's your turn. What do you think judges should do ...

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Collaborative divorce gains momentum in Wisconsin

The year was 1999. We were all worrying about Y2K, eating low-carbohydrate diets and asking, “Is that your final answer?” Those are all distant memories now. But one event dating back to the end of the 20th century has gone in the other direction, gaining tremendous momentum: collaborative family law. Way back when, at my invitation, a group of family ...

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Law school still in session

While many business and non-profit organizations are holding their collective breaths in the midst of this economic freefall, those involved with the construction of the new Marquette University Law School can breathe a sigh of relief. The project, which broke ground in May on the corner of 11th and Clybourn streets, recently cleared the financial hurdle of having to secure ...

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Google can alert you to postings about your firm, clients, blog

Since cold and flu season is upon us, I thought it appropriate to take up viral marketing. Like a sneeze in your face, viral marketing all but forces you to pass on a message. So says Milwaukee lawyer Jon P. Groth, of Kyle, Pitman & Sicula S.C., who gave an entire presentation on the topic at the recent Solo & ...

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ADAAA broadens scope of covered employees

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), signed Sept. 25, 2008, significantly broadens the scope of employees who may be covered under the ADA. The act takes effect Jan. 1, 2009. At present, the ADA defines the term “disability” as, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities” of an individual. ...

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Are you a business collaborator with clients?

In a recent coaching session, an attorney spoke to me about his frustration when he and several colleagues paid a visit to a prospective client. The lawyers were prepared to make a full presentation about the services that the two individuals representing the prospect company had said they were interested in. However, the lawyer recounted, the prospects spent 80 percent ...

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Chief justice discusses campaign reform in State of Courts speech

Now that the fight for the White House is done for another four years and various political leaders are finished with their acceptance or concession speeches, maybe discussions of campaign reform will be heard again. Especially since spring elections, which include a number of judicial positions, are less than 6 months away. During her State of the Judiciary Address on ...

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