Closing a law practice: Not as simple as it seems
After 38 years as a family law attorney with Loeb & Herman LLC, I have joined JAMS as a neutral in its Wisconsin office.
JAMS, which was founded in 1979, is the world’s largest ADR provider. Its panel includes more than 400 retired state and federal court judges, attorneys and other ADR professionals. I will be their second Wisconsin neutral, joining Judge Charles Clevert, a retired U.S. District Court judge.
As a result of joining JAMS, over the next year I will be phasing out my private practice at Loeb & Herman. In addition to serving as a neutral through JAMS, I intend to stay active, including my family law case law update presentations, teaching a settlement negotiations course at Marquette University Law School and, yes, continuing to write a column on family law for the Wisconsin Law Journal (as long as they want me) providing my opinion on current issues in the field.
As it turns out, closing a practice is not as simple as it seems. For one thing, having been programmed over the years that generating good clients is the key to a successful practice, turning down clients goes against the grain. But since my contract with JAMS requires exclusivity, I’ve had to do it. Ouch!
Closing my practice requires disposition of certain property — some physical and some intellectual. The physical property is more difficult. Does anyone want approximately 500 or so volumes of Wisconsin Reports? I really don’t want to utilize a landfill, so they are free to the first taker. They look great on shelves, even if you never use them because everything is available on-line!
My 100-plus half marathon finisher medals may impress clients that I’m healthy, but they won’t do much for our living room. Then there are various plaques and awards (most recently from the State Bar Senior Lawyer Division as their Lawyer of the Year) of which I am quite proud but, again, don’t exactly fit our home decor. Landfill again? Sigh.
Perhaps the only item which I believe has significant value is an electronic compendium of Wisconsin Family Cases for the past 50 years. This product took immense efforts, by myself and various associates over the years, and is, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, indispensable for research in this field in this state. After considering several options, I’ve elected the simplest: While it has been highly proprietary property of my law firm over the years, it is now going to be shareware and open to anyone. So, if you have any questions or are doing any research in family law, go to www.wifamlaw.com. I’ll keep the site up-to-date and I hope it helps practitioners and courts everywhere.