Vol. 83, No. 10, October 2010
Over the past 18 months – first as a candidate, then as State Bar president-elect, and now as president – I have spoken to more than 30 local bar associations. At each of these visits, I expressed my desire that, as an organization, we remain vigilant in making sure we are providing the best member benefits and services to our members regardless of whether we are a mandatory or voluntary organization. The Ultimate Pass (unlimited access to State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE™ programs for one price during your subscription period) and access to Fastcase (free legal research through a national database, valued at nearly $1,000 per month) are benefits that exemplify the State Bar’s commitment to providing value to your membership. But we must do more.
One of the main reasons I ran for State Bar president was to continue to work on and highlight the importance of member benefits and services within our organization. Over the last 10 years I have served as a member, vice chair, chair, or Board of Governors (BOG) liaison to several State Bar committees working to improve member relations and benefits, including insurance products. While working on these committees, I have come to believe that we need to refine and improve the process by which we choose our benefits and services and the methods by which we communicate about them to our members.
Three years ago, when I was chair of the Member Benefits Advisory Committee, I worked on these issues with vice chair Kevin Klein and the rest of the committee. Together we concluded that the best way to inform our members about the services and benefits of State Bar membership was through member-to-member communication. To that end, the committee decided to enlist State Bar members throughout Wisconsin who would be willing, after some training, to stand up at their local bar meetings, State Bar PINNACLE seminars, or firm events to briefly discuss benefits and services offered by the State Bar.
Insurance and Member Benefits Advisory Committee Cochairs Kevin Klein and Todd Martin (not pictured), Member Services Director Mary Ruedinger, and State Bar President Jim Boll invite State Bar members to participate in improving member services.
The committee hopes to begin this process in the coming months. Local bar members are likely to be receptive to information provided by members from their own locales whom they know and respect. This new communication process achieves two very important purposes. First, it effectively informs members of the benefits and services the State Bar offers. Second, it gives members the ability to provide feedback as to which benefits and services they presently use or find valuable and to suggest new benefits the State Bar should consider offering.
As we work to communicate the value of State Bar membership in more effective ways, we also must review how we choose those benefits and services. Last year President Kammer combined the Insurance for Members Committee and the Member Benefits Advisory Committee to form the Insurance and Member Benefits Advisory Committee. Over the last year, much work on the newly formed committee was done by then cochairs Todd Martin and John Sheski. The committee currently is under the watchful eyes of cochairs Kevin Klein and Todd Martin and liaison Mary Ruedinger, State Bar director of member services.
The Insurance and Member Benefits Committee has formed four teams. Two of the teams will focus on reviewing the existing insurance and other benefits and services the State Bar offers to determine whether they add value to your membership. These two teams also will start the process of exploring additional benefits and services the State Bar should offer. The other two teams will receive and review feedback from our members regarding current State Bar services and benefits and will focus on member communication.
The goal of this new structure is to combine the committees that offer services and benefits to our members, to better identify – in a more collective manner – the best services and benefits to offer our members, and to communicate those services and benefits in a more direct and effective way.
The Insurance and Member Benefits Committee needs more people to serve ad hoc to help choose benefits and services and to volunteer to briefly discuss benefits with other members in their communities (for example, at local bar meetings, seminars, and other events). If you are interested, please contact Mary Ruedinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 250-6038.
As Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena.” Standing on the sidelines and criticizing the benefits and services the State Bar offers is not the solution but part of the problem. Please consider entering the arena to help us work toward solutions.
With a commitment from you, we can continue to work toward our goal of offering the best member services and benefits to our members.