Internet Law Practice
I find that the Internet is quite a blessing for purposes of communicating with clients (and others) quickly and confidentially. I regularly have individuals and corporate clients from out-of-state retain me to represent them in Wisconsin court cases, and a lot of them find me through the World Wide Web. I like to stay in very close contact with every client, especially those who are located elsewhere; next to the telephone, Internet e-mail is one of the best tools I have found for communicating with clients (as any of my current or past clients can attest to, it is not unusual for me to e-mail at odd hours of the morning or night, and during weekends).
Internet law practice is environmentally friendly. I draft court and client-related documents in computer format and electronically file court papers whenever possible. I prefer corresponding with others via e-mail, rather than sending out hundreds of paper letters and documents each year. I convert court papers and other documents into .pdf files which I am then able to provide my clients as e-mail attachments. Also, I use my facsimile machine very sparingly, keeping it turned off in order to avoid wasting paper used by uninvited junk faxes. Weather, time and distance permitting, I walk or bike everywhere I can to do my part to save gas and to curtail greenhouse gas emissions into the environment (it's also healthy for me!)
When we speak of "Internet law," we're talking about many of the same areas of law that have always been traditionally treated in the usual and ordinary course of life - we're not just talking about issues associated with technological advancement, but of copyright and patents, contractual issues, misunderstood and offensive or harmful communications, the illicit possession and/or production of child or other, illegal pornography or the commission of other crimes through the World Wide Web, fair-trade compliance, international relations and a host of other areas of concern, some of which have been greatly complicated by the historic lack of precedence of the lightening-quick human interaction that the Internet provides the modern world. Therefore, since the Internet presents legal issues from so many areas of legal practice, the best Internet lawyer is one who is not only well versed with Internet technology, but one who also has a broad base of legal-practice experience in many areas of the law, like me!
So, what is an "Internet lawyer"?
As of this writing (mid-2007), there doesn't appear to be a consensus of opinion as to what the term Internet lawyer means. An Internet search of that term results in a wide range of usages without any solid definitions. Some of them describe attorneys who concentrate in Internet business transactions and defense of web crimes - big things like illegal music downloading, the potential establishment of special domains for pornography and certain geographic areas of the world, giant, multi-million-dollar mergers of existing Internet services and intellectual-property law developments never imagined before the advent of the World Wide Web. But it is clear that "Internet lawyer" also unquestionably describes (and probably should more properly describe) those of us who operate our law practices primarily through the Internet - an attorney like me with a practice for which the Internet is an important, integral component, and not attorneys who simply put up a web site and answer web-based questions through irritatingly-impersonal, information form blocks.
I began developing my Internet presence in 1997, choosing then to do far more advertising on the web than in print or other media, and using the World Wide Web to meet most of my new clients, to communicate with most of my clients - new and existing - and to provide legal services for them (Internet-based, legal resources are all I have been relying on to do legal research now for quite some time!). In the past few years, various courts have instituted mandatory, Internet-based filing procedures. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern Federal District of Wisconsin is one that now requires that all filings, subsequent to the initial pleadings in a case, be filed electronically via the Internet. Exceptions are permitted for those few attorneys out there who are so set in their ways that they cannot evolve and adapt to new technology. Very recently, our Bankruptcy Court in eastern Wisconsin followed suit - now most, if not all bankruptcies are started and finished here via the World-Wide-Web connection. There are too many advantages to enumerate here about electronic court filing, and I can't wait until our state courts initiate some form of electronic-filing option for us! One thing our state's court system does have going for us that few others do, as far as integrating Internet technology into the legal sector goes, is the Wisconsin Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP) system. That is a state-wide, Internet-based case data system that anyone out there can access in order to get case-specific information. That URL link is http://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl. Try it yourself - go plug in my Wisconsin State Bar number - 1020925 - to see all the state-court, trial-level cases that I've worked on since 1995! It's also handy for seeing if anybody you know has been involved in any litigation in our state. It is available for most civil, family and criminal cases in all but a few, rural counties (Portage County has its own web-based system requiring special access).
Some advantages to retaining me, a true Internet lawyer:
· More personal service
· Often times lower attorney overhead and, consequently, lower attorney fees
· Fast, frequent, flexible and direct communication with the lawyer handling your case
· More direct client oversight and input in document drafting
· Electronic court filing, where available
· More efficient evidence gathering and processing
· No need to take time away from the job in the middle of busy workdays to go to appointments at the attorney's physical office location
· Environmentally-friendly law practice: Electronic
court filing and e-mailing (rather than sending out 100s of letters) saves paper, ink, and energy!
I maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau!
P.O. Box 579, Milwaukee, WI 53201 414-224-0668 Wisconsin State Bar # 1020925 -- New York Atty Reg. # 4308573