Wisconsin Lawyer: Inside the Bar: Have Your Say:

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    Inside the Bar: Have Your Say

    Participate in State Bar elections to have your say in important issues affecting the Bar and your practice.

    George Brown

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 3, March 2006

    Have Your Say

    Participate in State Bar elections to have your say in important issues affecting the Bar and your practice.

    by George C. Brown,
    State Bar executive director

    George 
Brown

    Usually, the response comes with a shrug of the shoulders, sometimes sheepishly. Who cares? I don't know any of these people anyway.

    Unfortunately, I receive this response all too often when I ask a member if he or she has voted in the latest State Bar election.

    Nearly 22,000 lawyers are members of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Almost 18,200 of you are eligible to vote. Yet, typically, only 5,500 to 6,000 cast ballots for president-elect, secretary, treasurer, and members of the Board of Governors. This number is far too low, especially because the Board makes decisions on issues that directly affect your practice, including issues surrounding multi-jurisidictional practice, trust accounts, procedures regarding the client protection fund and for-profit legal service plans, discovery rules, and professional ethics rules.

    There have been many opportunities for you to meet with this year's candidates for president-elect and secretary. For the last several months, they have been driving back and forth across Wisconsin to meet with you at local bar meetings and law offices to talk about the State Bar. I hope you have been able to meet with them and discuss issues that are before the Bar.

    In addition, you also recently should have received a letter from me letting you know when to expect to receive your ballots and including biographies of the two candidates for president-elect. When your ballots are sent to you in early April, you will receive information about each candidate again, along with information about the candidates for secretary and judicial council, and, if there is an election in your district, for members of the Board of Governors. This year, members of the Board from even-numbered districts and some of the governors from multi-governor districts stand for election.

    This year is also the first election under the reapportioned Board of Governors districts. Every 10 years, the State Bar must submit a petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court adjusting the Board boundaries to account for shifts in the lawyer population within the state. The reapportionment this year adds a governor seat, for a total of three, to Waukesha County (District 6), removes a seat from Milwaukee County (District 2) for a total of 12, and moves Lincoln County from District 16 to District 11.

    Wisconsin has a long history of popular election for public office. The State Bar of Wisconsin follows this tradition. The State Bar is among a minority of bar associations whose membership elect officers in a general election, unlike a majority of bar associations whose officers are elected either by their boards or by those attending the annual meeting.

    If you want a say in how your association is governed and in the policies it adopts, that opportunity will arrive in your mailbox in early April. I urge you to take it.




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