Wisconsin Lawyer: President's Message: Gone, But Not Forgotten:

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    President's Message: Gone, But Not Forgotten

    Nearly a third of the State Bar membership resides outside of Wisconsin _ in every state, in most territories, and elsewhere. Recent changes increase nonresident representation and make it easier for our nonresident members to fulfill mandatory continuing legal education requirements.

    Tom Basting

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 81, No. 2, February 2008

    President's Message

    Gone, But Not Forgotten

    Nearly a third of the State Bar membership resides outside of Wisconsin - in every state, in most territories, and elsewhere. Recent changes increase nonresident representation and make it easier for our nonresident members to fulfill mandatory continuing legal education requirements.

    Tom Bastingby Thomas J. Basting Sr.

    Who's gone? Our nonresident lawyers, of course. While I know that statistics can be boring, I was surprised to learn (and I think you will be) that State Bar District 17 consists of our nonresident lawyers, comprising more than 3,500 active members, almost 500 active new members, 300 emeritus members, and nearly 2,700 inactive nonresident members. That adds up to more than 7,000, or almost 33 percent, of the entire State Bar membership. Where are they? In every state plus places like Guam, British Columbia, the Marshall Islands, and the Virgin Islands. In addition, 87 are described simply as from "out of country."

    Before I tell you what the State Bar has done and is doing for our nonresident folks, a brief confession. My son, Tom Jr., is one of them. He practices in Minneapolis, and I'm sure will be happy to know that he hasn't been forgotten.

    As president-elect and now president, I've had the pleasant experience of attending the board meetings of the Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD). The board members are extremely conscientious and work hard to represent this important and far-flung group. Past president Steve Levine also has worked tirelessly to actively advocate on issues important to the NRLD. A prime example of his advocacy is the recently adopted rule by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to increase the NRLD representation on the State Bar Board of Governors from three members to five members.

    Even more important, however, is the recently adopted change by the supreme court concerning comity for nonresident Wisconsin-licensed attorneys who meet continuing legal education (CLE) requirements of their home jurisdiction. In June 2007, the Board of Bar Examiners filed a petition in the supreme court proposing a conditional comity rule. A public hearing was held in late November. I appeared, as did past president Levine and four nonresident members, who traveled from Illinois, Georgia, Washington D.C., and Minnesota. As a result of the hearing, the court asked all of the interested parties to submit arguments supporting or opposing a "pure comity" rule.

    The NLRD successfully convinced the Board of Governors to support a pure comity rule, and the supreme court now has adopted it. Beginning with the CLE reporting period ending Dec. 31, 2008, a Wisconsin-licensed lawyer whose practice is principally in another jurisdiction that has mandatory CLE requirements and who is current in meeting those requirements is exempt from the attendance requirement of SCR 31.04 but still must comply with the reporting requirement of SCR 31.03. The passage of this change means a great deal to our nonresident members, because they often had difficulty fulfilling both Wisconsin's CLE requirements and those of the jurisdiction in which they practice. (Supreme Court Order 07-08 creating the comity rule for CLE appears here.)

    These changes resulted, in part, from the active participation of nonresident members in State Bar governance and through their work on committees and in sections and divisions. If you're a nonresident member, I urge you to join your colleagues in participating in your State Bar. Don't let geography hinder you, because committee work, for instance, often is conducted in phone meetings and by email and fax. For information on how you can participate, please visit Volunteer Opportunities and submit the online committee volunteer interest form by March 31. Incoming president Diane Diel will be making committee appointments this spring, with members taking their posts July 1.

    The State Bar leadership, the Board of Governors, and the NRLD have worked hard to represent the best interests of our nonresident members. These members may be gone, but they haven't been forgotten. Stay healthy, drive slowly in the snow, and be kind to each other.




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