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    Attention State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE books purchasers: Due to a change in our inventory system, between 8/19 at 3 p.m. and 8/31, the State Bar will be unable to ship printed books and supplements or fulfill walk-in orders. You may still place orders during this time, which will ship on 9/1. Other product orders will ship normally. We apologize for the inconvenience.

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    Inside the Bar: Use Your Member Benefits

    This issue of the magazine includes the latest member resources brochure. Take a few minutes to become familiar with, and then use, the benefits your dues dollars provide.

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 81, No. 5, May 2008

    Inside the Bar

    Use Your Member Benefits

    This issue of the magazine includes the latest member resources brochure. Take a few minutes to become familiar with, and then use, the benefits your dues dollars provide.

    by George C. Brown,
    State Bar executive director

    George BrownBy the time you receive this issue of Wisconsin Lawyer, you probably also will have received your annual State Bar dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments statement. And some of you, no, probably many of you, are wondering what you get for your money.

    When you ask that question, and you should, you have to recall that about half of your "State Bar dues" does not fund State Bar programs and services. Rather, $216, or about 49 percent, of the $440 in "dues" you will be requested to pay this year supports supreme court agencies and programs. This includes $148 to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, an increase of $4 over last year; $18 to the Board of Bar Examiners, an increase of $5 over last year; and $50 to the Public Interest Legal Services Fund to support legal services to the indigent. This year the assessment for the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection was reduced from $16 to $0 because of a reduction in claims against the fund. When combined with the $224 for State Bar dues, your total bill actually will decrease by $7 because of the reduction in the Fund for Client Protection assessment and because State Bar dues, for the fifth year in a row, has not changed.

    So what do you get?

    Practice resources for one. You get this magazine with its practice-related articles and tips, including every January the Wisconsin Lawyer Directory with its listing of all Wisconsin-licensed lawyers, courts and county offices, and the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Directory. You also receive the latest in new case law through CaseLaw ExpressTM, the State Bar's free email case law service.

    If you have technology or other law office management issues, you can receive free law office assistance through Practice411TM, including help with personnel issues, facilities and operations management issues, and technology needs. You also can access the Practice411 listserv, which 500-some lawyers use to ask for and offer advice on a wide range of law office management topics. One small firm practitioner said this service is like having your own personal office manager.

    Whenever a question arises about whether your behavior complies with the Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, you can call the State Bar ethics hotline for free confidential guidance and assistance in resolving the issue. You also can ask the Professional Ethics Committee for free, nonbinding ethics opinions.

    If you suffer from stress or have a colleague with a drinking problem, the State Bar's Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program provides you a 24/7 contact for help. This free confidential service is there to help you with trained volunteers as well as referrals and long-term assistance.

    These are just some of the services you receive with your dues. You also receive dozens of opportunities for referral networking through volunteer service, committee work, conferences, the annual convention, and continuing professional educational opportunities and specialized practice support, available through sections and their resources including newsletters, seminars, and elists.

    This issue of Wisconsin Lawyer includes the latest member resources brochure. I encourage you to take a few moments to become familiar with, and then use, some of the resources you get with your dues.