“The New Lawyer Task Force did an excellent job of laying out the issues facing new lawyers today,” says Amy Wochos, vice chair of the Challenges Facing New Lawyers Committee.
Jan. 30, 2014 – A recent State Bar of Wisconsin report highlighted the very real struggles that new lawyers are experiencing after law school. Now, a State Bar committee intends to bring forth concrete solutions to help new lawyers face those challenges.
State Bar President Patrick J. Fiedler has appointed a 14-member “Committee on the Challenges Facing New Lawyers,” which will develop proposals to address the various struggles identified by a State Bar task force that studied the issue last year.
The task force, appointed by former State Bar President Jim Brennan 2012, released an eye-opening report aptly titled the “Challenges Facing New Lawyers Task Force Report and Recommendations.”
The report, which illustrated the stark realities for new lawyers, gained national attention when released in November 2013. The report confirmed that high law school debt and fewer employment and mentorship opportunities, among other factors, weigh heavily on new lawyers in this post-recession legal environment.
“We want to produce action items that … will alleviate the sense of isolation and financial desperation felt by far too many of our new colleagues,” says David Jones, chair of the Challenges Facing New Lawyers Committee.
The task force – co-chaired by Green Bay attorney Sherry Coley and Milwaukee lawyer Arthur Harrington – made numerous recommendations on how the State Bar can help. Now, the newly created committee intends to explore what solutions can be implemented.
“The New Lawyer Task Force did an excellent job of laying out the issues facing new lawyers today and presenting potential changes and improvements that can be made to assist new lawyers,” said Milwaukee attorney Amy Wochos, vice chair of the Challenges Facing New Lawyers Committee. “However, it is important that the State Bar not stop at this report, but work toward identifying concrete steps it can take to implement some of the suggestions made by the task force.”
David Jones, a Madison lawyer, will chair the committee. He said the group will explore enhanced business training and management opportunities for lawyers in solo or small firm practices, and mentorship and internship options for rural lawyers.
Other potential ideas include the establishment of a clearinghouse for information on debt resolution and reconciliation and improving the State Bar’s lawyer referral service.
“Our committee is tasked with drilling down on these proposals and making specific program and policy recommendations for action,” Jones said.
“We aren’t interested in producing another report. We want to produce action items that we hope will alleviate the sense of isolation and financial desperation felt by far too many of our new colleagues,” said Jones, a member of the State Bar’s Board of Governors. Jones will deliver a committee report at tomorrow’s board meeting.
Jones said the committee has already set an aggressive agenda and expects to propose action items for board consideration this summer.
Committee on the Challenges Facing New Lawyers
Atty. David Jones (chair)
Perkins Coie LLP
Atty. Amy Wochos (vice chair)
Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Atty. Daniel D. Blinka
Marquette University Law School
Atty. Daniel J. Blinka
Godfrey & Kahn SC
Atty. Kathleen A. Brost
Brost Law Offices LLC
Atty. Toni Caldwell
Assistant Tribal Attorney
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
Atty. Steven M. DeVougas
Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP
Atty. Brandon J. Evans
Kendricks, Bordeau, Adamini, Greenlee & Keefe, PC
Atty. Amy Ferguson
O’Melia, Schiek & McEldowney SC
Atty. Johanna R. Kirk
Kirk Law Office LLC
Atty. Erin K. McBride
University of Wisconsin Law School
Atty. Victoria D. Montano
Montano Law Office, LLC
Atty. Maryann Scheftell Schacht
Schacht & Schacht
Beaver Dam, WI
Atty. Yer L. Vang
Apeiron Law Group LLC