Vol. 81, No. 11, November
Continuing the Quest:
Dedicated to serving members, the public and the justice system
State Bar of Wisconsin Annual
Fiscal 2008: July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008
Year at a Glance
Thomas J. Basting Sr., the State Bar’s 52nd
president, pledges to work to close the justice gap in Wisconsin,
protect consumers from unqualified legal representation, and reform
judicial election campaigns.
State Bar CLE OnDemandTM expands to 90
seminar titles covering more than 20 practice areas. OnDemand seminars
allow members to earn CLE credit for qualified programs viewed over the
The Young Lawyers Division partners with the
Minnesota State Bar and the ABA in a disaster legal services hotline to
provide free legal assistance to August flood victims
in southwestern and south central Wisconsin.
TV spots continue statewide rotation, with residents in western
Wisconsin viewing 30-second reminders that lawyers make a difference in
their communities. The spots highlight the La Crosse County
Bar’s monthly free legal clinic and
financial support for Jim’s Grocery Bag, which
funds area food pantries, and a free legal clinic for homeless
veterans on the Veterans Administration Hospital grounds in
The Board of Governors adopts public policy
positions to oppose consolidating state attorney positions into
one department and to support restoring federal funding for the
nation’s child support program; and supports creating a limited
license for in-house counsel and the concept of conditional bar
State Bar CLE Books and the Business Law Section release
Employment Law and General Business Issues, volumes eight
and nine of the 10-volume Wisconsin Business Advisor
Practice411TM, the State Bar law office management
assistance program, and the Milwaukee Bar cosponsor the second
Wisconsin Solo, Small Firm & Technology Conference.
More than 200 people attend the two-day conference in Milwaukee.
New online Leadership Opportunities Directory
connects members to State Bar leadership opportunities.
During the 2007-08 legislative session, the State Bar and
lobbying sections successfully lobbied the legislature for $1
million for civil legal services to indigent people, increased SPD
funding, recreation of the Judicial Council as an independent agency,
six new circuit court branches, consumer protection from
“notarios,” and more.
State Bar forms Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity
Committee to educate voters about judges’ unique role and
monitor campaign-related activities.
Supreme court adopts a State Bar petition requesting a pure
comity rule, making it easier for nonresident members to meet
Wisconsin CLE requirements, effective for the CLE reporting period
ending Dec. 31, 2008.
Milwaukee-area residents see 30-second TV spots
highlighting the contributions attorneys make every day
by volunteering their expertise in their communities and by working for
the best interest of clients. The ads, which are cosponsored by the
Milwaukee Bar Association, are part of the State Bar Public Image
Committee’s effort to educate the public how Wisconsin lawyers
make a difference.
More than 100 people attend a Wisconsin Supreme Court
candidate debate at the State Bar Center between Justice Louis
Butler and the Hon. Michael Gableman. The State Bar, along with other
media, cosponsor the debate, which is simultaneously viewed statewide
via webcast and available on WisBar.org.
456 lawyers, judges, and supreme court justices volunteer for the
25th regional Mock Trial Tournament – helping
1,500 high school students, in 111 teams, develop critical thinking and
public-speaking skills. In its 25 years, the program has educated
30,000-plus youth about Wisconsin’s legal system.
The State Bar Law-related Education Committee honors
Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson with the Heffernan
Award for her 25 years of service to the Wisconsin Mock Trial
Practice411TM expands Advice
Alert, an online repository of blogs by practice management
State Bar CLE Books updates the three-volume Wisconsin
Employment Law, a comprehensive and practical guide widely used
by Wisconsin attorneys and human resources professionals.
The 2008 State Bar Annual Convention provides 27 CLE
programs by 150-plus presenters to almost 1,000 attendees. 26 attorneys
admitted to practice in 1958 are recognized for 50 years’
The Volunteer Lawyers Recognition Celebration honors
lawyers for service to their colleagues and communities.
For Law Day, more than 1,000 school children in a
dozen-plus Wisconsin counties receive a visit from attorneys who help
educate them about the legal system. This is the third year the
Young Lawyers Division organized this event.
CaseLaw Express, serving more than 6,000
subscribers, now includes the first paragraph of each case to help
readers quickly determine the issues and, in most cases, the
The Diversity Outreach Committee, with the
Association of Corporate Counsel, Wisconsin Chapter, presents the
2008 Annual Diversity Counsel Program, in Milwaukee,
focusing on recruiting, retaining, and mentoring lawyers from diverse
backgrounds. The expanded full-day program attracts 140 attendees. The
committee sponsors the Diversity Clerkship Program, in
which 22 legal employers provide summer employment to minority
first-year Marquette and U.W. law school students.
During the year 817 attorneys are admitted to the State Bar,
bringing total membership to 22,988.
The State Bar offers disaster assistance resources
to members and state residents affected by June floods.
The Board of Governors unanimously supports a petition to create a
Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission to improve access to legal
services for the poor. President Basting and President-elect Diane Diel
sign the Access to Justice petition.
Times change and people come and go, but the State Bar of
Wisconsin’s overriding goal remains the same. It can be
encapsulated in four words: to keep getting better. The pursuit of this
goal is unending; the work is never finished.
The Bar focuses its efforts in four key areas:
• Building relevance of the Bar to members – The
Bar strives to provide members the up-to-date information they need in
their day-to-day practice of law. Equally important is delivering this
information so that it’s convenient, easily accessible, and
available through multiple channels to suit a diverse membership.
• Getting more members engaged in the Bar –
It’s a simple equation: The more members who become actively
involved in the Bar, the more the organization can accomplish. Bar
members have a stronger voice and more clout together than any one
person has alone.
• Improving public access to the legal system –
Through pro bono services and advocacy for public policy changes, Bar
members help ensure that the concept of “justice for all”
moves closer to reality.
• Increasing public understanding of the justice system
– In a variety of ways, Bar members help Wisconsin adults and
young people to gain a better grasp of what it means to live in a
society governed by the rule of law.
This report details some of the Bar’s efforts in these four
areas in FY 2008.
Build the Bar’s Relevance to and Engagement of Members
Members are the Bar’s clients, leaders, volunteers, planners,
supporters, critics … all rolled into one. Through formal surveys
and informal communications, the Bar strives to stay in touch with what
members want and need and to assist them in meeting the challenges they
face every day.
Information, Products, and Services
The State Bar’s products and services provide an array of tools
and information to help members succeed in their law practices.
WisBar.org, the members’ portal to easily access these and other
State Bar products and services on the Web, receives content and
infrastructure upgrades to provide more robust service.
• The Bar’s Practice411TM law
office management assistance program helps solo and small-firm
attorneys to improve efficiency in delivering legal services and to
implement systems and controls that reduce risk and improve client
relations. This year Advice Alert, a blog that links Bar members
to practice management advice, expands to include practice management
bloggers nationwide. Practice411 assists the public and solo and
small-firm attorneys faced with post-flooding problems, and the Bar
creates a bulletin board on WisBar to connect lawyers needing or
able to give assistance in the aftermath of the spring 2008 floods.
The annual Solo & Small Firm Conference, cosponsored with
Practice411 and the Milwaukee Bar Association, brings together lawyers
and practice advisors to learn and share ideas. Breakfast and Business
seminars and one-on-one consultations deliver management advice to
members throughout the state. Members can access additional online
resources through the Bar’s partnerships with national and local
legal administrators. During the year, Practice411 worked to develop a
partnership with Fastcase to deliver free legal research services
to members, which rolls out in fall 2008.
• The Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) is
available 24/7 to offer confidential help to judges, lawyers, law
students, and their families as they cope with professional and life
challenges that can impair work performance. A new WisLAP support group
for law students, created with the U.W. Law School, meets monthly on
• Changes to CaseLaw Express, a free weekly email
service with more than 6,000 subscribers, make it even more convenient
for users to stay current on developments in the law. The service now
includes the first paragraph of each state supreme court and court of
appeals decision for the prior week, so readers can determine quickly if
they wish to read the decision.
• State Bar CLE begins several initiatives to better
provide the latest information and developments in Wisconsin law through
the most accessible and user-friendly seminars, books, and other
resources focused on helping lawyers perform better. More initiatives
are underway for next year, including the Ultimate Pass, which is a
one-year subscription for unlimited access to any State Bar CLE-produced
In FY 2008, State Bar CLE Seminars holds 152 seminar events
and 43 webcasts, offering 57 distinct seminar titles. These provide
members with current, practical information, while allowing them to
fulfill their state-mandated CLE requirements.
State Bar CLE OnDemand now includes more than 90 seminars on a
wide range of topics, with new titles continually being added. Members
can access replays of seminars over the Internet at their convenience,
anywhere and anytime, for a limited number of CLE credits, saving
members travel time and money.
• My CLE Tracker, which automatically tracks CLE credits
earned through State Bar programs, now includes on-demand and webcast
seminars. Users also can manually add credits earned from other
providers. My CLE Tracker makes it easier for members to compile the
information needed to file their required biennial CLE Form 1 with the
Board of Bar Examiners. And it eliminates guesswork by noting whether
credits have been approved or are awaiting credit approval.
• State Bar CLE Books releases two new titles, 14
revisions, 14 new annual editions, and 28 supplements in FY 2008. The
new titles are Employment Law and General Business
Issues, the two latest volumes in the Wisconsin Business
Advisor series. Among the revisions of existing books are the third
edition of Wisconsin Probate System and the second edition of
the Wisconsin Civil Litigation Forms Manual. More than 300
volunteer authors help to create these resources.
• Nearly 1,000 Bar members gather at the 2008 State Bar
Annual Convention to network, participate in 27 CLE programs
featuring more than 150 speakers, and recognize colleagues for their
contributions to their communities and the legal profession. Receiving
special recognition are 26 attorneys with 50 years in law practice. The
Volunteer Lawyers Recognition Celebration held during the
convention honors representatives of the legal community who have made
outstanding public service-related contributions.
• The Diversity Outreach Committee seeks to foster a
racially and ethnically diverse State Bar and a consciousness of the
value of differences within the profession. In June 2008, more than 140
people attend its annual Diversity Counsel Program, expanded this
year to a full day, with keynote speaker Juan Williams, senior NPR
correspondent and Fox News political analyst. The committee’s
Diversity Clerkship Program places 25 first-year law students of
diverse backgrounds in summer clerkships in 22 Wisconsin law firms,
corporate law departments, and government agencies.
• The new online Leadership Opportunities Directory
makes it easy to find out how to become a Bar volunteer. Available on
WisBar, the directory provides information about the Bar’s
committees, sections, divisions, and Board of Governors. Members can
find out about estimated time commitments, meeting locations,
prerequisites, and other important details to help them decide how to
• The annual Wisconsin Bar Leaders Conference brings
together 62 representatives from 39 local and specialty bars statewide
to share ideas and techniques for better serving their members and
Issues and Policy Decisions
Bar members work together with professional public affairs staff on a
wide variety of issues and policy decisions important to the legal
profession, the general public, and the justice system.
• The Wisconsin Supreme Court holds several administrative
conferences in FY 2008 regarding the State Bar’s petition,
originally filed in November 2006, requesting a multijurisdictional
practice rule. The rule accommodates and regulates lawyers whose
employers conduct business in more than one state. Ultimately, the court
orders the rule to go into effect Jan. 1, 2009. The new rule creates a
simple registration process for corporation, association, or other
nongovernmental in-house counsel who occasionally practice law in
Wisconsin but who are not licensed to practice here.
• The Board of Governors, the Nonresident Lawyers Division, and
the Board of Bar Examiners Review Committee succeed in their petition to
the supreme court to adopt a pure comity rule for CLE
requirements for nonresident members. This rule allows nonresident
members to apply other states’ CLE credits to their Wisconsin CLE
requirements, saving time and money.
• The State Bar advocates for a law to curtail the predatory
practices of notarios who falsely present themselves as being
trained attorneys. They mostly prey on Hispanic or Latino immigrants who
know little English and are unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system. Gov.
Doyle signs the bill into law in March 2008.
• Several State Bar-supported legislative bills pass in FY
2008, including increased State Public Defender funding,
recreation of the Judicial Council as an independent agency,
increased funding for counties to pay court interpreters, and
creation of six new circuit court branches, based on a
weighted-caseload study conducted by the National Center for State
• Various State Bar sections also are successful in advocating
for legislation in FY 2008. A few examples: The State Bar’s
Children and the Law Section secures the governor’s veto of
AB 676, which would have eliminated the requirement that a juvenile
court, municipal court, court of criminal jurisdiction, prosecutor, or
law enforcement agency must gain court permission to access juvenile
court records. The Elder Law Section gains enactment of
guardianship law “clean-up” provisions. The Business Law
Section wins passage of the Wisconsin Uniform Securities Law. The
Public Interest Law Section successfully lobbies for a law to
require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. The
Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section wins its fight
against legislation that would have permitted employer discrimination
against convicted felons. The Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law
Section helps pass new “final rights” legislation to
specify who may make decisions about a deceased person’s funeral
and disposition of remains.
• At the urging of the Government Lawyers Division, the
Board of Governors adopts a policy position that is successful in
opposing efforts by the governor and the state legislature to
consolidate state attorney positions from various departments into one
centralized legal services entity within the Department of
Administration. Such a consolidation would diminish government
employees’ easy access to legal advice, in opponents’
• In October 2007, the Wisconsin Supreme Court approves the
Bar’s petition to increase the number of Nonresident Lawyers
Division representatives on the Board of Governors from three to
five to better represent the division’s 7,000-plus members.
• The Board of Governors adopts a resolution at its December
2007 meeting in support of lawyers and judges in Pakistan,
calling for then-President Musharraf to rescind his actions that
breached the rule of law.
Increasing Public Understanding of and Access to the Legal
The State Bar endeavors to improve access to justice for all people
in Wisconsin and to foster public understanding of the justice system.
The Bar also strives to demonstrate the value of lawyers’
expertise and the many ways attorneys contribute to their
• On June 27, 2008, the Board of Governors votes unanimously to
support the State Bar’s petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to
create a Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission. Establishing
this commission was one of the key recommendations of last year’s
Access to Justice Study Committee’s report, Bridging the
Justice Gap. Other recommendations in the report also move forward
in FY 2008. The state’s biennial budget bill appropriates $1
million annually to provide civil legal services to indigent
persons, beginning in FY 2008-09. Also, the Bar announces a new
Modest Means Program to assist people whose income is too high
for free legal services but who need alternative payment options to
afford legal help.
• President Tom Basting announces the creation of the
Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee, a bipartisan
group that educates voters about the role of judges in our system and
monitors campaign-related activities of candidates and their supporters
in the spring 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court election.
• The “Wisconsin Lawyers Make a Difference” series
continues to educate the public about the value of lawyers. Three
television spots highlighting lawyers’ involvement in their
communities air for three months in fall 2007 on La Crosse and Eau
Claire stations. These ads spotlight three programs: a free legal
clinic operated by the La Crosse County Bar Association (LCBA); a free
legal clinic for homeless veterans, located on the Veterans
Administration Hospital grounds in Tomah; and the LCBA’s financial
support for Jim’s Grocery Bag, which funds food pantries in the La
Crosse School District.
In the Milwaukee television market, three television
spots air during February and March 2008. One portrays the Hon.
Derek Mosley’s work with local at-risk youth. The second spot
focuses on a Tomah legal clinic for homeless veterans. And the third
depicts a collage of community service projects that lawyers support in
Milwaukee and across the state. The Milwaukee Bar Association cosponsors
the ads with the State Bar.
• The State Bar Legal Assistance Committee awards $14,850 in
Pro Bono Initiative Grants to three programs that aid immigrant
domestic abuse victims, help fund nonprofit organizations that provide
legal services to low-income people, and help people having difficulties
with health-care coverage denials and medical debts. Awards of more than
$10,000 in State Bar CLE gift certificates go to 72 Wisconsin attorneys
in recognition of their pro bono contributions. The State Bar’s
2007 Pro Bono Survey finds that responding lawyers contributed 142,372
hours of pro bono service in 2007. Of these total hours, 71,809 were for
free legal services, representing a value of at least $11,848,485.
• The Public Interest Law Section and ABC for Health present a
conference, “Medical Debt: Strategies and Tips for Assisting
Clients,” for lawyers who provide or commit to provide pro
bono service to low-income clients. The conference is free to attorneys
promising to serve at least one low-income client pro bono.
• The Lawyer Referral and Information Service takes
34,375 calls and makes 5,758 Web referrals to help people in Wisconsin
find legal help.
• The Wisconsin Lawyers Fund for Client Protection,
financed entirely by Wisconsin-licensed attorneys, compensates people
who suffer financial losses because of dishonest acts by lawyers. In FY
2008, the fund disburses $202,830 for 29 claims involving 17
• The State Bar hosts a March 2008 debate between Louis
Butler and Michael Gableman, candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme
Court, at the State Bar Center. More than 100 attend the debate,
moderated by Wisconsin Public Radio personalities and sponsored by the
State Bar, WisPolitics.com, the Wisconsin State Journal, the
Wisconsin Radio Network, and the Wisconsin Law Journal. It is
simultaneously viewed statewide via webcast and remains available via
streaming video on WisBar.org.
• The Law-related Education Committee undertakes efforts to
enhance young people’s understanding of the justice system. The
Mock Trial Tournament marks its 25th year, with 456 lawyers and
judges volunteering as team coaches, presiding judges at trials, and
judges of team competitions. Some 1,500 high-school students participate
in 111 teams from across the state.
For the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution state
contest, part of a national program, 26 attorneys volunteer to judge
four high-school teams participating in mock Congressional hearings.
We the People … Project Citizen, a national civic education
effort, has 18 middle-school teams presenting portfolios and oral
presentations to a judge panel made up of volunteer lawyers, educators,
and community leaders. In the Courts with Class program, students
from 73 schools observe oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme
Court and discuss legal issues with one of the justices. Twenty-eight
secondary school teachers across the state complete From the
Courtroom to the Classroom training to learn more about the court
• After devastating late-summer floods in 2007, the Young
Lawyers Division recruits Bar volunteers to answer legal questions
for flood victims in southwestern and south-central Wisconsin.
Severe flooding strikes again across southern Wisconsin in June 2008,
and again many Bar members volunteer to provide needed legal help. A
toll-free legal aid line is available for people affected by flooding.
This is part of the post-flooding response organized by the State Bar,
Wisconsin Emergency Management, the American Bar Association Young
Lawyers Division, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
• On Law Day, May 1, nearly 100 attorneys volunteer to
visit classrooms in more than one dozen counties to teach young people
about the legal profession. This event, organized by the Young Lawyers
Division, is in its third year.
Top of Page
Always Striving to Improve
Elsewhere in this report you will find comments from President
Basting about his experiences talking with Bar leaders from across the
country about the State Bar of Wisconsin and you will read
President-elect Diel’s comments about what the Bar offers her
personally and as a lawyer. The Bar’s positive reputation and the
accomplishments from which this reputation derives are the fruits of the
hard work of the more than 1,300 lawyers who this year volunteered their
time, energy, expertise, and creativity to carry out the work of the
Nothing happens without competent leadership throughout the
organization. Leadership starts at the top with a strong, committed
president and officers. It runs through the Board of Governors, which is
the State Bar’s principal policy-making body. And it continues on
through the sections, divisions, and committees, and the professional
staff who support the organization’s work.
Every year after the April election of Bar officers and governors and
before the first Board of Governors meeting for the new fiscal year, I
meet with the newly elected leaders in their home offices, wherever in
Wisconsin they may be. Bar leaders come from all walks of professional
life, from the sole practitioner in Dunn County to the corporation
counsel in Milwaukee, from the large-firm lawyer in Madison to the
in-house counsel in Shawano. Their offices and their experiences are all
unique and that richness adds value to the debate and brings clarity to
the decisions made by the Board. I meet with these new leaders to
acquaint them with the process of Board meetings, brief them on some
larger issues they may be facing, and generally familiarize them with
the workings of the State Bar. As a result, new leaders can more quickly
engage in the Board’s debate and decision-making.
When our meetings wind down, I ask these leaders to do two things.
The first is to ask hard questions. Hard questions clarify thought and
result in better decisions. The second is to tell me what does not work,
because if we don’t know what doesn’t work, we can’t
improve. That push to always improve, to be more efficient, to have
greater focus, is what drives the leadership of the State Bar, whether
member or employee.
You can see the results of this effort to improve in this report:
more and better service to you, more and better products for you and
your clients, and more and better opportunities for you to serve the
public and the administration of justice.
- George C. Brown, State Bar executive director
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From Both Sides Now
As Bar members, we get a view of the State Bar from the inside
looking out. One of the benefits of being Bar president is that you also
get a chance to see the Bar from the outside looking in.
This past year, when I attended conferences and met with bar leaders
from other states, I saw first-hand how highly regarded the State Bar of
Wisconsin is on the national scene. At one time or another, you may have
read or heard the comment that our Bar is considered to be one of the
best in the country. I can tell you, that’s no empty claim.
We have every right to be proud of the Bar’s national
reputation for excellence. We also can be proud of what we accomplished
together in FY 2008. Time and again, we showed what we’re made of,
as evidenced in this annual report.
For instance, Bar members provided legal help to neighbors and other
types of assistance to colleagues who were recovering from two rounds of
severe flooding in communities in southern Wisconsin.
Working together, we made significant progress in making justice more
accessible to some half-million Wisconsin residents. We advocated for
and won, for the first time ever, state funding for civil legal services
for low-income families. As I write this, our petition to create an
Access to Justice Commission is before the state supreme court.
We won passage of a bill to stop notarios from taking advantage of
consumers by passing themselves off as attorneys when in fact they have
no legal training. Our petition to ensure greater protection for legal
services consumers is before the state supreme court.
We also created mechanisms that aim to bring back respectability in
state supreme court elections. Sadly, Wisconsin’s reputation in
that area has continued to deteriorate.
That brings me to one of the bittersweet parts of being a Bar
president: You look back on your term and wish you could have
There is, after all, always much more to do to improve the legal
profession and the justice system – and to increase the
public’s appreciation for both. Please look though this report to
find something you’d like to do to help.
– Tom Basting, president, State Bar of Wisconsin
July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008
Top of Page
Where does your money go?
Many State Bar members share a misperception that all of the fees
shown on their annual dues and court assessments statement constitute
their State Bar dues. That’s not the case.
The accompanying chart shows that for Fiscal year 2008, about half
the total amount collected for full dues-paying members ($447) comprises
State Bar membership dues ($224). The remaining amounts are imposed by
the Wisconsin Supreme Court to fund the Office of Lawyer Regulation
($144), the Board of Bar Examiners ($13), the Wisconsin Trust Account
Foundation to fund civil legal services for low-income people ($50), and
the Wisconsin Lawyers Fund for Client Protection ($16).
How do the State Bar of Wisconsin’s annual membership dues and
court assessments stack up to other bar associations at the national and
As of January 2007, the average dues-only amount for state bar
associations nationwide is $246, compared to $224 for the State Bar of
Wisconsin, and the average dues and mandatory fees for state bars
nationwide is $380, compared to $447 for Wisconsin.
In a comparison of six Midwest states, Wisconsin’s dues-only
amount is $224 compared to the regional average of $231. When dues and
other fees are combined, the regional average is $417, with Wisconsin at
How do the State Bar of Wisconsin dues and court assessments compare
to other annual professional/trade association dues and applicable
mandatory fees (such as licensing)? Wisconsin lawyers’ annual
total dues and court assessments is $447. That compares to annual fees
that range from $1,733 for medical doctors, $1,398 for dentists, $589
for registered nurses, to $255 for accountants. While it is difficult to
compare the products and services each association provides its members,
this annual report represents a sampling of how the State Bar of
Wisconsin puts your dues dollars to work serving you, the public, and
the legal system.
For full dues-paying members
State Bar dues -- $224
Office of Lawyer Regulation -- $144
WisTAF -- $50
Board of Bar Examiners -- $13
Client Protection Fund -- $16
Top of Page
President Elect’s Message
The Search for Answers
Lawyers love raising questions and exploring answers. It seems to be
in our blood.
This past year, Bar members helped to devise answers to a
long-standing dilemma in our society, and our state: how to ensure
everyone, no matter his or her personal financial situation, has access
Bar members can be proud of the key part they played in generating
tangible progress in this area. We’re seeing real solutions to a
major problem beginning to take shape, and we’re hoping to move
forward in the coming year. You can read more about these efforts
elsewhere in this annual report.
In the year ahead, members will explore another old issue, but a more
internally focused one: Should membership in the State Bar be voluntary
One thing I’ve discovered in my years as an attorney and Bar
volunteer is that there are a lot of good hearts and minds out there in
my chosen profession. I’m confident we can find our way to
agreement on this question and do so through congenial, respectful
The answer we ultimately arrive at will hinge, of course, not just on
what’s good for lawyers, but, more importantly, what’s best
for the public good and the justice system. Still, the personal side of
this issue inevitably rises to the surface, and sometimes even
predominates, even though it shouldn’t. It’s this personal
side that sparks another question: What does the Bar do for me?
I have no difficulty coming up with my list of answers to that one.
For me, the Bar is a community where I learn and grow, where I focus on
bigger ideas and issues than those I handle in my daily life helping my
clients. We all know it’s easy to get bogged down in the
day-to-day. It’s my involvement in the Bar that keeps me in touch
with a broader vision of what I do – to see being a lawyer as much
more than just a job or a way to make a living.
So what does the Bar do for you? I invite you to read through this
report. I think you might find at least a few answers.
– Diane Diel, president-elect, State Bar of Wisconsin
July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2008
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