August 24, 2011 -- Improving the public’s understanding of the law and our legal system is a central goal of the State Bar of Wisconsin and recent changes implemented by the State Bar’s Public Education Committee (PEC) are intended to energize a renewed commitment to achieving that outcome.
The committee was restructured by President Jim Boll last year and is now comprised of six task forces with related, but distinct, missions. Committee chair Michael Rosenberg and the task force leaders met last week to develop plans for 2011-12 activities.
The task forces can trace their lineage to the prior Law-related Education, Media Law and Public Image Committees, which were merged into the PEC. Additional changes were made to the committee structure this year to address concerns identified during the committee’s first year of operation.
The committee also reaffirmed its intention to work closely with other bar-related entities, including the Young Lawyers Division, the Bench and Bar Committee and the Wisconsin Law Foundation, all of which have made important contributions to the State Bar’s public education activities in past years.
“We are excited at the prospect of directing our energies toward our mission of educating the public about the courts and the legal system as a team,” Rosenberg notes.
The six task forces and examples of their activities are:
Mock Trial: This task force manages the Mock Trial program, which gives high school students hands-on experience arguing a new “case” written each year by State Bar members.
Court Education: The task force sponsors “Court with Class,” which allows high school classes to visit the Supreme Court to observe oral arguments.
K-12 Civics: Federal funding for “We the People” and “Project Citizen” has been lost, which creates the need to develop new strategies to bring civics into the classroom.
Adult Education: This task force will identify topics, format and locations for programs for adults focused on relevant and timely legal topics.
Publications & Media Technology: The task force has updated two State Bar publications and may update other publications and expand the use of social media.
Media Law: This task force promotes sound electronic and print media coverage of the law and legal system through its annual Golden Gavel Awards program and a handbook for reporters.
Each task force has two co-chairs appointed by President Jim Brennan. The co-chairs are now seeking members to serve on their respective panels. “We encourage interested members to consider becoming a part of one of the task forces this year as we develop and implement new ideas and strengthen existing programs for the State Bar’s public education initiative,” Rosenberg adds.
Task forces will schedule organizational meetings soon and anyone interested in serving on any of the task forces can contact Marsha Varvil-Weld, Public Education Coordinator, at 608-250-6191 or org mvarvil-weld wisbar wisbar mvarvil-weld org.
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