Vol. 79, No. 3, March
Have Your Say
Participate in State Bar elections to
have your say in important issues affecting the Bar and your
by George C. Brown,
State Bar executive director
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
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.