Like Andy of Mayberry, George Brown ambles off to the fishing hole. Photo: Andy Manis
This is my last column as I will retire at the end of this month.
Many things have changed in the last 30 years. When I first joined the State Bar staff in November 1986, I had to argue for a typewriter because I didn’t write using a Dictaphone and I certainly didn’t dictate the old-fashioned way like Arnold LeBell, who wrote his columns about recent appellate court decisions for the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin by dictating to a secretary taking shorthand while he puffed on a cigar. At that time, an apple was something you ate, Apple for most people was a studio in England famous for recording the Beatles, and foreign lawyers were from Chicago.
When I wrote my first column 17 years ago, the Bar Center was less than one year old. When built in 1999, it was only the second building in Wisconsin constructed using fiber optic cabling for its entire computer system, we had a technology center to help teach lawyers how to use computers, and, for the convenience of members, there were four pay phones in the lobby. (Also see the 10 Questions column, “George Brown: On Leading ... and Retirement.”)
Yes, a lot has changed. But some things that haven’t changed are lawyers’ dedication to their clients, members’ enthusiasm for volunteering to write or speak or serve on boards and committees, the State Bar staff’s commitment to serving you as members, and the critical role that lawyers play in preserving freedom and the rule of law.
This vital role of lawyers in society was stated most nobly by Pius Langa, the former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, that nation’s highest court, when he said, “Lawyers protect the dignity and the honor of the nation.”
So, thank you. Thank you for protecting us, thank you for your service to the bar and the people of our state and nation, and thank you for the privilege of serving you and the profession these last 30 years. It has been quite a ride.