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Where’s Wilson: The Norwegians

Where's Wilson, The Newest ICLEF Blog

In the newest Where’s Wilson post, our ICLEF travel expert, John Wilson discusses hiking throughout the U.S. and the World. Sit back, enjoy and learn from the travel master.

The Norwegians
By John Wilson 

My prior blogs have covered travel preparation, destinations, activities, some Olympic experiences and other stories. I have enjoyed warm weather, great natural beauty, fascinating cities with spectacular churches and museums, and great food ranging from the street, to home meals and fine dining. Through it all, the people I have met that have been the best part of travel. Here is my favorite people story.

I had not made a timely dinner reservation. When I called “Tito’s” in Florence in the early evening, they said they could seat Margaret and me at eight but would need the table at nine-thirty. Because only Margaret and I were going, and we had been traveling together for three weeks in Italy, I didn’t think we would have so much to discuss that we could not finish dinner in an hour and a half.

We arrived on time which was not easy as Tito’s (really Antic Trottoria da Tito dal 1913 if you want to go there) is not well marked on a side street in a city that has different street numbers for businesses and residences on the same street. We were seated and all was going well when four guys a couple of tables down ordered a two foot tall bottle of grappa. Channeling the Japanese tourist in me, I went over to take a picture. When I asked if the guys minded me taking a picture, they said okay and asked where I was from. Indiana in the States, I told them. They said they were all from Norway. One of them asked me if I knew Larry Bird and said he remembered when Bird left Indiana University and went to Indiana State. That is not a piece of information you would expect your average diner in Florence, Italy to pull up. Wife Margaret is a huge basketball fan, a bigger college fan and let’s not even talk about IU. She had to meet these guys. We invited them and their bottle of grappa over. We added some wine and lemon-cello and the party was on.

The four Norwegians were in their mid-fifties and had met playing basketball for Norway in international competition when they were in their twenties. Still friends, they took one or two long weekend trips in Europe a year. This year it was Florence.

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By eleven o’clock, well past our scheduled departure time, the fourth generation owner of Tito’s, Bobbo, had joined us, the table was littered with bottles and the basketball stories were flying as fast as a Hoosier fast break. All was good until, Bjorn, one of the Norwegians, said he and his son had played pick-up basketball at the center of basketball in the U.S., Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. That did not sit well with us, not well at all. We refuted that statement in multiple ways, but they refused to be convinced. So we did the obvious thing that you would do with people you had only met three hours before. Margaret and I invited them to stay with us in Indianapolis, the true Mecca of basketball. And they did the equally obvious thing and accepted. The Norwegians gave Margaret a rose as did Bobbo. I settle the check (Bobbo, ” I have no idea how much your bill is. How about sixty euros?” Me, “Sure”.) We wandered home to our hotel.

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After a very few e-mails, Martin and Bjorn landed in Indy late on a Monday evening in March. Big Erik and little Erik (Norwegians named Erik, who would have thought?) couldn’t make the trip. Mornings for the rest of the week were like Chanukah. Every morning brought a new present from Martin and Bjorn. First, smoked salmon, then basketball jerseys from their club in Oslo, Aquavit with traditional drinking glasses and more. We had chosen the week that the Big Ten Tournament was in Indy. It was also Boys High School basketball regionals.

To warm them to the task, on Monday night we showed them the movie, Hoosiers, including my one second appearance as a radio announcer. On Tuesday morning, I took them down to Hinkle Fieldhouse to see if we could buy tickets for the weekend high school games. We looked in the gym where a sole player was shooting baskets. Very Hoosiereske. That night it was a Pacers game. My friend Bob Poorman treated us to his fourth row seats. At half-time he introduced the guys to Larry Bird. The next morning at breakfast, Bjorn who had played international basketball all over Europe, told Margaret that he had felt like a kid when he met Larry Legend.

Martin, who was originally from Prague but emigrated with his family to Oslo when he was boy, still coaches an elite women’s team in Oslo. He was interested in learning more about the women’s game here in the U.S. A couple of attorney friends in Lafayette, Jack O’Bryan and Brian Walker, arranged for the guys to have an interview with Sharon Versyp, the Purdue women’s coach. She gave them two hours of one on one coaching thoughts and then had another coach give them an extensive tour of Mackey Arena. Much to my chagrin as an IU grad, Martin and Bjorn were so impressed with the experience that they almost bought out the Purdue gift shop and to make it worse, they wore Purdue stuff in my home.

With the men’s Big Ten tournament in Indy, we saw a lot of games, enjoyed the downtown hoopla and had some good food and drink. Martin’s mother who was ninety then was still active in the theater in Oslo. We introduced the Norwegians to our friends at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. They got a full tour including on stage and also got an IRT sweatshirt for Martin’s mom. Bjorn and Margaret ran in the Big Ten 10k which started and ended at Bankers Life. We caught a couple of the high school tournament games. We saw the final Big Ten Tournament game, sans IU and sent the guys on their way.

Inviting almost strangers to spend a week could have not worked out so well. But it did. Margaret and I agreed that we had never enjoyed Big Ten Week in Indy as much as we did when hosting Martin and Bjorn.

We kept in contact with the guys and ultimately decided that one good trip deserved another. Martin invited us to stay in his home. The following summer we were off to Oslo. He and Bjorn were working so we decided we would spend two long weekends with them in Oslo and travel by ourselves in the Norway in the week in between. We had never been to Scandinavia before and I thought it would be fun to also visit Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Denmark while we were there. Margaret was not so enthuse. My friend, John Westerman, met us for the last weekend in Oslo and another week of travel, without Margaret, through the other Scandinavian countries. He had met Bjorn when he was in Indy and stayed at his house. We took some gifts to Norway. Although we couldn’t out do their generosity from when they were in Indy, Martin’s granddaughter was very fond of her Raggedy Ann doll straight from the Riley Hostipal gift shop and there were no complaints about the Kentucky Bourbon.

The Norwegians were fabulous hosts. Martin really likes to cook, both Norwegian and Czech. In addition to several meals with the Norwegians and their families in their homes, Martin and his wife, Turid (“Touri”), threw a hog roast for us, a group of friends and family plus a lot of their basketball friends a including big and little Eric.

Martin’s women’s team was just starting informal practices before they got more serious heading toward that year’s season. We joined the group at the gym. Bjorn’s son had just graduated from high school and was heading to Italy for amateur, but full time basketball. Like basketball parents everywhere, Bjorn felt his son, Eivind, might not have focused on his defense as much as he could have. When Alex and two of his friends challenged, Bjorn, John Westerman and me to a make-it, take-it game, we accepted. It was half court, thankfully. Westerman is sixty and I am older. Even though only five foot ten inches, Westerman did play in college and is in great shape. My primary objective in the game was to not die of a heart attack. My secondary object was to harass my young opponent so much that he didn’t do too much damage. Bjorn was on a teaching mission and immediately drove on his son for two quick layups. Next he hit two set shots from outside. The youngsters never recovered and there was no rematch. There was, however, significant celebration that night by the oldsters.

Best team ever

Martin’s women’s team did not have ten for a scrimmage. John Westerman and I were recruited. I was opposite the best woman guard in Norwegian history. Fortunately, she was fifty and five foot four. Neither age nor height kept her from teaching this Hoosier a few tricks. Shooting is not my forte. I like hip checking and defense. I started getting heckled by the bystanders (my wife and Bjorn) to shoot. Late in the game, from the corner, I let if fly. Nothing but net! I walked off the court.

For our independent tour of Norway, Margaret and I made no plans or reservations before we got to Oslo. We were there at a time in August when most Norwegians and other tourists had already stopped touring. We asked a lot of question of Martin, Bjorn and their friends and family about their favorite things to do and see and made our plan based on that. It worked well. See us below getting ready to do the Lillehammer Olympic Bobsled Run and some other sights from that part of the trip.

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Since then we have traveled with the Norwegians to Florida and Jamaica. We are now planning to sail in the British Virgin Islands. I speak to my friends about me consistently “Being rewarded for bad behavior”. I am not sure that asking our friends of three hours to visit us is bad behavior, but I suppose there could have been some risks. All we have had is rewards.

 

 

 

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This is one of an ongoing series of travel discussions by John Wilson, retired lawyer and trust banker. John was motivated to start this series when he realized that his travel bio was more extensive and interesting than his legal credentials for doing ICLEF talks. He has traveled to forty-five states, over sixty countries and all continents except Antarctica.

If you have travel questions or tips of your own that you would like to suggest please contact ICLEF’s travel expert, John Wilson, by Clicking Here.

Photographs © 2014, John Wilson. Photographs may not be used without permission. 

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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Amateur Life Coach – Twas the Night Before Facebook

Amateur Life Coach – Twas the Night Before Facebook

James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

The Amateur Life Coach is back for the holidays to dispense his unique thoughts, advice and wisdom to his real and imagined viewers…

With this “Special Holiday Edition” the Amateur Life Coach details the overuse and abuse of social media by some of our colleagues.

Now, you can also “like” the Amateur Life Coach at Facebook!  Visit his facebook account today and catch up on his day-to-day activities.

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?  Email them to scottking@iclef.org or @JamesJBell on Twitter.

Written and performed by James J. Bell. Produced by the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum.
This video is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.

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James focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense; attorney discipline defense and health care law. As a Marion County Public Defender, he represented clients in numerous jury and bench trials. James also represents clients in juvenile delinquency, appeals and post-conviction proceedings. James is a frequent ICLEF speaker on ethics, trial practice and criminal procedure. James just completed his first semester as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law where he teaches a course on professional responsibility. To date, no student has yet stood on their desk and shouted “Oh captain, my captain!” Follow James on Twitter @jamesjbell

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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Law Tips: Trying Cases in a World of Media Overload: Adapting to the Audience’s Expectations.

Welcome back to our Law Tips discussion by Tony Paganelli on issues a trial lawyer can encounter in today’s world of media overload. Last week Tony provided pointers on preparing your client for the litigation process. (If you missed that article, it’s below.) In this week’s blog he takes the case to the judge and jury. Mr. Paganelli believes that even though TV and movies create an image removed from real life litigation, there are ways a trial lawyer can adapt successfully in the courtroom. I’m pleased to provide to our Law Tips readers his insights on adapting to the audience’s expectations:

Although a lawyer can (hopefully) communicate in advance with a client in such a way as to condition him or her to understand that lawsuits in real life are far removed from what they see in the movies or on TV, a lawyer has no such opportunity with a judge or jury. To a large extent, a lawyer must adapt to meet those expectations as much as possible in hopes of winning a case. Put simply, Johnnie Cochran and the cast of CSI have ruined it for the rest of us. Fortunately, there are many ways to create a polished and sophisticated impression without breaking the bank or distracting from the message that you want to convey on your client’s behalf. The two main areas where these issues come into play are courtroom visuals and “theatrical” performances of counsel.

First, lawyers must decide whether theirs is a case that lends itself well to multimedia presentations, and whether their judge and courtroom are good candidates for such presentations. If the answers to these questions are “yes,” then it is worth considering using these tools to enhance a courtroom performance.

While certain courtroom animations and computerized visual effects can be cost-prohibitive for many lawyers, and in addition to being complicated to use in a courtroom and temperamental to the point of being unreliable, recent advances in technology have made impressive-looking presentations both easier to use and less expensive than in the recent past. In fact, Microsoft PowerPoint, that staple of meetings and conferences, is both powerful and flexible enough to allow lawyers to quickly and easily create impressive visuals to use in a courtroom, either to project and emphasize exhibits, or to emphasize key points made in oral arguments. Most lawyers already own the software as part of the Microsoft Office suite that they use daily as they run Word, Excel, and Outlook. The hardware is almost equally accessible. Most lawyers either have or can borrow a laptop computer. Similarly, most law firms have a projector and screen and, if not, they can be rented inexpensively or purchased in many cases for a onetime investment of less than $1,000.00. Several books are available to help. Lawyers use these tools to create polished and impressive (and persuasive) visuals, including Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points, Jerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win, Christopher Ritter’s Creating Winning Trial Strategies and Graphics, and Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte.

In the area of courtroom demeanor, the solution is equally achievable. Contrary to popular belief, judges and juries do not expect (or want) lawyers to be blow hards or bullies. Rather, studies show that jurors sympathize with witnesses who are badgered and are put off by arrogant and pretentious trial lawyers. What they want you to show, however, is sincere passion for your client’s case and poised, polished presentation. Standing at counsel table and reading your examination questions or your closing argument in a monotone from your legal pad places you in a stark (and unfavorable) contrast from the actors and actresses they see going through the same motions in the movies, and from the celebrity lawyers whose cases are covered on the news.

Even in an era where jurors have seen hundreds of fictional closing arguments and cross-examinations, their expectations of how a lawyer should act in a courtroom will be met by a well-dressed and groomed (but not flashy) lawyer who appears prepared, organized, and confident, who advocates passionately and confidently (but not obnoxiously) for his or her client’s cause.

Here, like in most aspects of litigation, there is no substitute for simple preparation. A well-prepared lawyer will naturally be confident-and therefore appear confident-as he or she presents a client’s case. Argue with passion and conviction, but don’t pound the table theatrically or turn on the crocodile tears. You won’t be perceived as a movie star, but rather as a bad actor. Put another way, don’t bury your emotions-they can be a powerful tool for communicating your client’s message. But at the same time, don’t manufacture emotions because you think that’s what your audience wants to see. That insincerity will backfire every time.

Movie stars and famous lawyers with unlimited budgets have certainly made it harder for the rest of us to look good in comparison. But with some planning it’s still possible to manage your client’s expectations of what a lawsuit looks like and how a trial lawyer acts so that you won’t fall short in your client’s eyes when your case takes longer than 44 minutes (not counting commercials) to get from first meeting to trial. At the same time, with just a little work you can put on a case that’s (almost) worthy of a Hollywood production without compromising your client’s interests or blowing your litigation budget.

Break a leg!

I want to express our appreciation to Tony Paganelli for his candid advice on real-life trial work in today’s media world. Perhaps you’re interested in the CLE presentation where Mr. Paganelli brings a sharper image to these pointers. There are opportunities for you to hear his presentation from the Federal Civil Practice seminar either as a Video Replay seminar at various locations around the state or as an On Demand seminar, available anywhere, anytime.

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About our Law Tips faculty participant:
Tony Paganelli is the principal of the Paganelli Law Group, Indianapolis. Before leaving to found his own law firm in 2013, Tony was a litigation partner for several years with one of the largest law firms in the United States. Tony is an experienced trial lawyer with nearly 20 years of experience representing people and companies of all sizes in courtrooms across the United States. He also advises businesses on a wide range of issues, including employee relations, contracts and transactions, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property issues.

About our Law Tips blogger:
Nancy Hurley has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

Thank you for reading Law Tips. You may subscribe to this weekly blog through the RSS link at the top of this page.  Also, you are encouraged to comment below or email Nancy. She welcomes your input as she continues to sift through the treasure trove of knowledge of our CLE faculty to share with you.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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Law Tips: Trying Cases in a World of Media Overload: “Why Can’t You Be More Like Tom Cruise or Johnnie Cochran?”

What’s a good way for a lawyer to address the client who complains that she is being too nice to the opposing counsel?   Is there any way to explain the process of litigation before possible disappointments develop? Our faculty participant, Tony Paganelli, Paganelli Law Group, Indianapolis, discusses these and other related issues that are growing more common in his CLE presentation: “Trying Cases in a World of Media Overload.” He has agreed to share with Law Tips readers a sampling of his insights from over 20 years as a trial lawyer:

More often than not, lawyering is the art of managing expectations-those of your clients and those of the courts. Because much of what we do as lawyers goes on behind the scenes, our clients only real glimpses into what we do every day comes from meetings, conference calls, depositions, and increasingly infrequent court appearances where clients actually attend in person. In our age of 24/7 television and always-on internet, the popular media replaces meaningful interaction between attorney and client to form the world’s perception of what we do and how we do it. This is not a good thing. Almost universally, the public’s perception of dispute resolution, as presented by movies, television shows, and the media, is one of a system that is much faster, flashier, and more simplistic than what really goes on in a lawyer’s day-to-day practice of law. This makes lawyers’ lives much more difficult.

For example, depending on the type of case and the venue, lawsuits can take from one to three years to make their way through the court system. During this period, months often go by with little or no activity. Under normal circumstances, clients would have a difficult time understanding this “hurry up and wait” system of project management, but when they see cases proceeding from start to finish in the course of a two-hour movie, or even a sixty-minute television show (with commercials!), they sometimes blame their lawyers for mismanagement, procrastination, laziness, or all of the above.

Similarly, the trials the public sees on the news and in movies apparently involve parties with infinite litigation budgets, especially when it comes to expert witnesses and courtroom presentation tools. After the O.J. Simpson trial, which much of America watched on television in real-time, people came to expect reconstruction videos, computer animation, and endless parades of forensic expert witnesses. What the public does not see are the bills that come afterward. Estimates place the fees incurred by Mr. Simpson in his case almost 20 years ago at well over $10 million.

The public also expects cases to resolve in dramatic courtroom clashes as lawsuits move quickly toward a speedy trial. This is to be expected-cross examination makes for much more dramatic television than a 10-hour long mediation, even though well over 90 percent of lawsuits are resolved by settlement or pre-trial motion, rather than trial. News accounts only cover settlements to the extent that they are announced in press releases or news conferences that are often ignored. The riveting news coverage is in the form of courtroom testimony, and even that is highly edited to focus only on the 30 seconds of dramatic sound-bite each day in ten hours of otherwise undramatic testimony.

The result for real-world litigants is an anticlimax: parties sometimes feel they have been denied their “day in court” or, worse, that their lawyer has “sold them out” by encouraging them to take a quick settlement instead of putting in the work needed to try a case. Similarly, clients accustomed to the “lawyer as gladiator” image presented in movies and television shows are unimpressed by (and sometimes suspicious of) lawyers they perceive as being too friendly with their opposing counsel, and by depositions or cross-examinations that seem tedious, weak, and emotionless.

The Solutions: Managing Your Clients’ Expectations
As in many things, the magic bullet to bridge the expectations gap between fiction and reality is communication. Lawyers should talk with their clients early and often about what should be expected in the course of a lawsuit. The three most important areas in which to set and manage client expectations are time, money, and resolution.

First, at the outset of a lawsuit lawyers should help clients understand how cases make their way through the courts to resolution, and that lawsuits are resolved by settlements an overwhelming majority of the time. At the same time, lawyers should explain that lawsuits typically proceed in fits and starts, punctuated by periods of intense activity followed by lulls that can last months. One effective tool to help lawyers communicate this aspect of litigation to clients, and also to help lawyers manage their cases, is the simple timeline. A printed timeline, provided to a client at the beginning of a case, can be a powerful tool for managing clients’ expectations and conditioning them to the fact that lawsuits are marathons, not sprints. The timeline can also serve as an agenda for periodic status update meetings and calls.

Second, another part of a lawyer’s case management job is to make sure his or her clients understand that everything in a lawsuit costs money. From expert witnesses to jury consultants to accident reconstructionists, the people who add the “sizzle” to a lawyer’s trial presentation are expensive. Any budget that a lawyer prepares for a client must account for these costs and explain to the client that they are not included in the lawyer’s fee, if that is the case. Again, if you can project expenses onto the timeline, your client can see not just how much money the case will cost, but also when (and why) fees and costs will be incurred.

Finally, clients must understand that lawyers are not gladiators. As all good lawyers know, yelling and bullying are seldom the most effective tools for advocacy. However, this may be the most difficult misperception to overcome but the concept of “you’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” is so deeply ingrained into our collective psyche. People expect, and pay, their lawyers to fight their battles for them, so they want to see at least a little bit of hand-to-hand combat on their behalf.

Make no mistake, there is a time and a place for firm, aggressive conduct. The reluctant, dishonest witness must be dealt with and the foot-dragging opposing counsel must be held to task. A lawyer arguing his or her client’s case in a courtroom should not merely read notes from a legal pad, but should plead the client’s case with appropriate passion and zeal. But there is no place in litigation for belligerence, bullying, or needless antagonism. Indeed, judges are becoming increasingly unforgiving of such conduct, insisting on civility from all counsel and litigants.

So how does the lawyer explain himself to the client who complains that he is being too nice to the opposing counsel? How does she respond when the client asks why she didn’t get tougher in the deposition? Again, the answer comes from communicating with your client in advance and setting reasonable client expectations. For example, if you worry that your client will perceive you as weak if you agree to routine continuances and extensions of deadlines, during your first discussion of the lawsuit timeline you can explain that it is typical for both sides (and the court) to need more time to respond to a request or a motion, and that events are often rescheduled through no sinister motive, but rather just because the process of a lawsuit is dynamic. Evidence gets discovered, motions get filed, and other things happen that can’t be predicted in advance. Explain that you might need a continuance or extension yourself at some point, and objecting to the other side’s request may haunt you later when you need the same courtesy.

Moreover, you can explain to your client that objecting to routine and reasonable requests to adjust the timeline will be counterproductive because they will likely be granted over your objection, and you will look petty and unreasonable to the judge for making the objection.

By the same token, explaining to your client in advance, for example, that depositions are fact-finding interviews, and not opportunities to embarrass or belittle opposing witnesses, might help your client understand a seemingly meek questioning technique. A client who knows in advance that the goal of a deposition is to put a witness at ease and encourage him to talk will be satisfied with something less than an inquisition.

Are your client communication methods similar to these? Are you now thinking of a few improvements? Hopefully, this review had a tip or two to help you in the future. I appreciate Tony Paganelli sharing his experience on managing clients’ expectations. And, there’s more!   His timely advice continues next week here on Law Tips when he steps into “Adapting to the Audience’s Expectations.” Come back to see what he has to say about how to create a polished and sophisticated impression without breaking the bank or distracting from the message.

Meanwhile, there are opportunities for you to hear Mr. Paganelli’s presentation from the Federal Civil Practice seminar either as a Video Replay seminar at various locations around the state or as an On Demand seminar, available anywhere, anytime.

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About our Law Tips faculty participant:
Tony Paganelli is the principal of the Paganelli Law Group, Indianapolis. Before leaving to found his own law firm in 2013, Tony was a litigation partner for several years with one of the largest law firms in the United States. Tony is an experienced trial lawyer with nearly 20 years of experience representing people and companies of all sizes in courtrooms across the United States. He also advises businesses on a wide range of issues, including employee relations, contracts and transactions, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property issues.

About our Law Tips blogger:
Nancy Hurley has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

Thank you for reading Law Tips. You may subscribe to this weekly blog through the RSS link at the top of this page.  Also, you are encouraged to comment below or email Nancy. She welcomes your input as she continues to sift through the treasure trove of knowledge of our CLE faculty to share with you.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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