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    Inside the Bar

    The Nonresident Lawyers Division members' geographic and practice diversity supplies a wealth of experiences to help solve the challenges facing Wisconsin-licensed lawyers who live and work outside Wisconsin.

    George Brown

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 11, November 2004

    Meeting Old Friends for the First Time

    The Nonresident Lawyers Division members' geographic and practice diversity supplies a wealth of experiences to help solve the challenges facing Wisconsin-licensed lawyers who live and work outside Wisconsin.

    by org gbrown wisbar George C. Brown,
    State Bar executive director

    George Brown It was early evening and we were all standing around the hotel meeting room, hors d'oeuvres in hand, talking. The ubiquitous name tag was attached to each lapel. Old friends greeted one another warmly, introductions between strangers were easily made, and the conversation was of the law, the practice, and bar association business. In many ways, it was a typical bar association reception. That is, until a particularly defining meeting happened. As the lawyer with whom I was talking glanced at the lawyer just walking in the door, a look of pleasant surprise spread across his face. "What are you doing here?" came the query from one obvious friend to another. "I was about to ask you the same thing," responded the equally surprised newcomer. It turned out the two lawyers had played racquetball together for several years, neither knowing that the other was a Wisconsin lawyer.

    That happened in the early 1990s, when I attended one of the first meetings of the Minneapolis Chapter of the State Bar of Wisconsin Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD). This was one of the first four state NRLD chapters, the other three being the Nation's Capital Chapter (located in the greater Washington, D.C. area), the Greater Chicago Area Chapter, and the Rocky Mountain Chapter (based in Denver). Not surprisingly, these areas are home and workplace to more than 3,300 - or about 50 percent - of Wisconsin's nonresident lawyer members. Today, there are 18 chapters across the country in New York City, Denver, northern and southern Florida, northern and southern California, Phoenix, Seattle, Dallas, Houston and central Texas, Louisiana/Mississippi, Missouri, Alaska, and Hawaii.

    The NRLD board's directors represent states across the country and come from a wide variety of professional experiences. The division's president is from northern California and is a retired corporate attorney who now practices as a mediator, the president-elect is a criminal defense attorney from Miami with a nationwide practice, and the immediate past president is an ethics attorney for a cabinet level department in Washington, D.C., and is a recently retired Army JAG colonel. All three presidents serve on the State Bar Board of Governors.

    Other NRLD board members hail from southern California, Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Texas. One is a county prosecutor; others work in the areas of real estate, probate, trusts and estates, international business, and civil rights enforcement. One board member is the librarian at the University of Texas Law School, and one is the associate dean at George Washington University Law School and is a retired Navy admiral. This geographic and practice diversity demonstrates the wealth of experiences brought to bear on solving the challenges facing Wisconsin-licensed lawyers who live and work outside Wisconsin.

    The NRLD board has worked closely with State Bar committees, the Board of Governors, and State Bar officers to resolve problems related to obtaining required CLE credits, to increasing the appointment of nonresident lawyers to various State Bar committees, and to recruiting and training future leaders of the division and the State Bar.

    That meeting between old friends more than a decade ago demonstrates the value of networking provided by local chapters. Chapters also host seminars so that members can get necessary Wisconsin CLE credits, and they serve as resources for problem solving and problem identification for the NRLD Board. And sometimes, they just get together to watch the Packers or the Brewers and enjoy a Wisconsin memory.