Closing a law firm: not as simple as it seems | Wisconsin Law Review

Gregg Herman is a neutral arbitrator and mediator with JAMS located in its Milwaukee office, specializing in family law dispute resolution. A former chair of the ABA’s Family Law Section, Herman is a Certified Family Law Mediator, Senior Family Law Trial Specialist by the NBTA, and Adjunct Professor at Marquette Law School. He can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected]

After 38 years as a family law attorney at Loeb & Herman LLC, I joined JAMS as a neutral attorney in its Wisconsin office.

JAMS, which was founded in 1979, is the largest ADR provider in the world. Its panel includes more than 400 judges, attorneys, and other retired state and federal court professionals. I will be their second neutral from Wisconsin, joining Judge Charles Clevert, a retired United States District Court judge.

Following my JAMS membership, 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 plan to remain active, including my presentations on updating family law case law, teaching a course on negotiations settlement at Marquette University Law School and, yes, to continue writing a family law column for Wisconsin. Law Journal (as long as they want me) giving my opinion on current issues in the field.

Turns out, closing a practice isn’t as easy as it looks. On the one hand, 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 had to. Ouch!

Closing my practice requires the disposal of certain assets – some physical and some intellectual. Physical ownership is more difficult. Does anyone want about 500 volumes of Wisconsin Reports? I really don’t want to use a landfill, so they’re free for the first taker. They look great on the shelf, even if you never use them because everything is available online!

My 100+ half marathon 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 senior attorneys division of the state bar as attorney of the year) that I’m quite proud of but, again, don’t exactly match our decor. Bury again? Sigh.

Perhaps the one item that I think has significant value is an electronic compendium of Wisconsin family affairs over the past 50 years. This product has required immense effort, by myself and various associates over the years, and is, in my humble opinion, indispensable for research in this area in this state. After considering several options, I chose the simplest: although it has been wholly owned by my law firm over the years, it is now going to be shareware and open to everyone. So if you have any questions or are researching family law, go to www.wifamlaw.com. I will keep the site updated and hope it helps practitioners and courts everywhere.

Jon J. Epps