Vol. 85, No. 9, September 2012
The State Bar is well into its fiscal/Bar year, which began on July 1. In the regular sequence of meetings, the first Finance Committee and Executive Committee meetings have already occurred. At the end of this month, in my continuing effort to involve local bars and introduce the Board of Governors statewide, our first Board meeting of the Bar year will be held in Wausau. This meeting provides an opportunity for mentoring new Board members, and addressing matters placed on the agenda by the Executive Committee. This general sequence of meetings will occur throughout the Bar year with Board meetings scheduled for December, February, April, and June.
Each member has at least one Board representative, and you may have more than one if you are part of "groups" such as the Young Lawyers Division. I encourage you to communicate with your representative to familiarize yourself with Bar process, and to communicate your needs. In the absence of this input, your representative can only communicate personal opinions, and the State Bar will not have the benefit of member input. As discussed in my message last month, participation is critical.
We have also begun State Bar "regular" committee meetings. Hundreds of committee members serve annually to work on completing tasks within the State Bar Strategic Plan. The Local Bar Relations Committee has already met as a part of my effort to rejuvenate the importance of local bars and maximize the working relationship between the local bars and State Bar. One specific local bar initiative will be the expansion of the use of State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® continuing legal education. The State Bar has a new PINNACLE director, and there are many opportunities to expand the CLE offered, how it is offered, and how local bars can promote the use of our high-quality programs and the beneficial Ultimate Pass. I encourage you to attend State Bar seminars and let your voice be heard as to needed programs.
Another initiative will be my effort to visit with local and specialty bars. Visits by State Bar presidents are not unusual. Depending on local bar meeting agendas, the president often provides a short summary of "what is happening with the State Bar." I offer an alternative: an actual open discussion which allows the exchange of information. Members come to better understand the State Bar process, and important member feedback makes its way to the State Bar. As an example, we had a very energetic discussion at a meeting of my local bar, the Price-Taylor Bar. We discussed what the Bar does well, things that can be improved, and new ideas: on subjects ranging from the unauthorized practice of law to CLE to efficiencies of State Bar operations. At your local bar level, please feel free to contact the State Bar to discuss alternative dates for me to visit. Your local bar may have already received contact from the State Bar to work on scheduling, and obviously, the earlier we address this, the better.
Finally, I want to make sure we have a process in place to coordinate information and ideas. Our Board of Governors is divided into four committees. Three of those committees are carryovers from last year: Governance, Policy, and Strategic Planning. The new committee I have created is the Advancement Committee, intended to receive information, consider new ideas, and assure actual progress by members serving the State Bar and by the Bar itself. We all know the practice of law is rapidly changing. We want to maximize the opportunity to shape the practice rather than simply reacting to change.