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    President's Message: Three Months and Counting

    Work progresses on president Basting’s focal issues: UPL, access to justice, and the influence of money on judicial elections.

    Thomas J. Basting Sr.

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 81, No. 4, April 2008

    President's Message

    Three Months and Counting

    Work progresses on the three focal issues on which I concentrated my presidency: UPL, access to justice, and the influence of money on judicial elections.

    Tom Bastingby Thomas J. Basting Sr.

    Seems like only yesterday that I was standing on the stage at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee conversing with an actor made up to look like Clarence Darrow. A few minutes later, Chief Justice Abrahamson and I were exchanging comments about the pronunciation of my name and I was looking out at my family and friends and several hundred lawyers and judges and getting ready to address them about what I hoped to accomplish as president of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    That was last May. The days and months have passed quickly. It will soon be May again, and Diane Diel will stand where I stood (except it will be in Madison), take the oath of office, and tell us what she hopes to accomplish during her term as president.

    Yesterday, as I was walking home from the U.W. Law School, where I participated on a panel discussing the influence of money on judicial elections and its threat to a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary, I thought about this past year and whether or not I really accomplished anything.

    I traveled to meetings of the National Conference of Bar Presidents in San Francisco and Los Angeles where I met dedicated bar leaders from all over the country, gave countless speeches, attended dinner meetings and luncheons all over the state, and hosted a conference of Midwestern bar leaders in South Carolina. But, did I accomplish anything? Some may disagree, but I think I did.

    I started the year concentrating on three issues: the unauthorized practice of law (UPL), access to justice, and the formation of a Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee. The Wisconsin Supreme Court considered the UPL petition in an open administrative conference on March 14. We have squarely placed the issue before the court, and now it is up to the court to tell the Bar whether it will define the practice of law and devise a procedure to keep consumers from being harmed by the unauthorized practice of law.

    A petition to the court to create a commission as recommended by the Access to Justice Study Committee is being prepared, and I hope it will be filed before my term ends. (I did learn that the Board of Governors moves slowly.)

    Finally, the Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee has been formed, has operated throughout this judicial election cycle, and has received accolades from many sources (and criticism from others). More about that in my next column.

    Until then, enjoy the spring weather, and be kind to each other.




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