Inside Track: Your Annual State Bar Dues: What's in It for You?:

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  • Your Annual State Bar Dues: What's in It for You?

    Wisconsin lawyers soon will receive their annual State Bar dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments statement. And, at this time, many will likely ask, "What am I getting for my State Bar dues?" Early in her career, Middleton attorney Teresa Kobelt was indifferent to her membership. In hindsight, she wishes she would've put her dues to work earlier.


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    Member benefits checklist: Are you putting your dues to work?

    You’re busy running your practice, but can you afford to ignore the benefits of your State Bar membership? Take a few minutes to browse the membership guide on WisBar.org. Here’s a quick overview to get you started:

    • Practice management, ethics, and marketing support: Turn to these resources to help you create, improve, and maintain an efficient and profitable practice.
    • Lawyer assistance programs: Success can come at a personal price. These resources can help you address potential issues before they adversely affect the quality of your life and career.
    • Education and publications: Whether you’re concerned about gaining new insights or maintaining your CLE credits, State Bar educational resources keep you on top of your game.
    • WisBar.org: With hundreds of pages of free content and instant access to Fastcase legal research, legal news and practical analysis, and directories of lawyers and court personnel, make WisBar your first stop for your information needs.
    • Government advocacy: Law isn’t just shaped in the courtroom – the halls of government and the arena of public opinion influence the law, too. The State Bar is constantly working to advance the practice of law in all these areas.
    • Leadership opportunities: The State Bar offers numerous opportunities to get involved, while helping influence the direction of the legal practice in Wisconsin. Use these opportunities to gain valuable skills, peer recognition, and leadership experience, and build life-long friendships.
    • Public service: Public service programs and services offer many meaningful ways to give back to the profession and help those unable to access affordable legal services.
    • Special savings: Access many programs that will help you save money and benefit your practice. From retirement services to insurance programs to credit card processing and secure online client payment services – it’s worth taking a look.

    The State Bar’s service doesn’t end with this guide. If you have a specific question, concern, or request, contact the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or org service wisbar wisbar service org.

    May 2, 2012 – Before Middleton attorney Teresa Kobelt became active in the legal community through her volunteer work with the Dane County Bar Association and the State Bar of Wisconsin, she was indifferent to her State Bar membership. “I was not making much use of my membership, and I frankly did not see what I was getting out of it.”

    “If I had known as a younger lawyer what I now know about how to leverage my State Bar membership, I would have done things differently,” says Kobelt. “In all sincerity, if you take advantage of what State Bar membership offers, there is no more cost-effective way to build connections and improve your practice.”

    Teresa Kobelt

    Teresa Kobelt

    Kobelt quickly identifies several benefits she uses in her practice with Haley Palmersheim S.C., a four-lawyer business law and litigation law firm. “Have you signed up for Caselaw Express, the weekly email that gives a snapshot of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decisions issued in the past week? It’s easier to use than other case law update services, and I can quickly pick out what is relevant to my practice,” she says.

    “A personal favorite is Books UnBound®, an online library of State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® books, the big brown binders that we see in many law offices and libraries,” says Kobelt. “I am surprised how frequently I turn to Books UnBound as a quick reference for questions that cross my desk unrelated to business law.” And, she notes, the citations in this library link to primary law through Fastcase legal research, another member benefit that is worth the price of membership alone.

    Kobelt also knows that her State Bar membership gives her access to attorneys in different practices through networking, elists, sections, and other special-interest groups. “Just this morning, I was thinking about my aging parents and their future needs. I don’t practice elder law, and never expect to. But I sure appreciate that I have a network of other knowledgeable lawyers to turn to, and that the State Bar provides a forum for elder law attorneys to stay current and help shape the law that impacts all of us.”

    Put your dues to work

    This month Wisconsin lawyers will receive their annual State Bar dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments. State Bar Executive Director George Brown hopes that, when you get this statement, you will do more than fill out the form, sign your trust account statement, and send in your payment.

    Make use of the many services that help make the challenges of practicing law a little easier, personally rewarding, and less expensive, says Brown. “If you don’t know what comes with your membership, take the next steps. Review the member benefits checklist that accompanies this article, click on the WisBar link that takes you to an overview of your benefits, and highlight two or three services of interest you.”

    If you have a specific question about your benefits, contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788 or org service wisbar wisbar service org.

    2012-13 dues and assessments in the mail early May

    Wisconsin-licensed lawyers will receive their 2012-13 State Bar of Wisconsin dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments statement within the week. State Bar dues remain at $224 for full dues-paying active members for the ninth consecutive year, and the four court assessments are down $7 from last year, for a total of $236.

    “Over the past several years, the State Bar has worked hard to keep dues at the same level since 2004 by controlling costs and spending reserves, while still growing member services and programs,” says Brown.

    Supreme court assessments. The supreme court-ordered fees include assessments supporting the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE), Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR), Public Interest Legal Services Fund, and Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.

    The fees for full active licenses for lawyers in practice three or more years include:

    • $11, Board of Bar Examiners, $2 less than last year
    • $155, Office of Lawyer Regulation, same as last year
    • $50, Public Legal Services Fund, same as last year
    • $20, Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, down $5

    2012-13 State Bar of Wisconsin dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessmentsThe court assesses all active-licensed attorneys and judicial members $50 for the Public Interest Legal Services Fund, paid to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, to fund civil legal services for people who cannot afford an attorney.

    Dues and assessments may vary based on membership classification. Payment is due to the State Bar by July 1, 2012. If you do not receive your statement by mid-May, contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788. Or, visit myStateBar at WisBar.org to verify the State Bar has your current address on file. If you have not yet paid your dues, you will find a link to download a dues form. You can also visit myStateBar to verify that the State Bar has processed your payment. Your receipt and membership card should arrive within two weeks from the date the Bar receives payment.

    Join a section or division; update your areas of practice. Through the annual dues and assessments statement, State Bar offers its members the opportunity to affiliate with lawyers who have a common practice or professional interest. “Choose from 26 sections and four divisions, which represent diverse practice interests,” says Brown.

    Brown also encourages you to take a minute to fill out the Areas of Practice and Focus of Practice sections on the back of the dues and assessments statement. “This information helps the State Bar keep a pulse on practice trends in Wisconsin, allowing us to develop programs, products, and services that meet your needs. This information also helps us better direct communications relevant to you.”

    Direct dues and membership questions to org service wisbar Customer Service, (800) 728-7788.