Committees

State Bar of Wisconsin

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State Bar Committees

Attorney members help shape their profession's future by serving on one of the State Bar of Wisconsin's standing and special committees.

Standing Committees

Communications

The Communications Committee serves as the editorial board for Wisconsin Lawyer magazine — reviewing articles, encouraging quality submissions, developing appropriate editorial and advertising policies, evaluating and encouraging feedback from readers, evaluating proposals for new columns and special issues, and determining future editorial direction. The committee also:

  • Develops and maintains the State Bar's Consumer Pamphlet Series, which currently includes more than 18 titles that answering commonly asked legal questions
  • Supports the publication of the annual Wisconsin Lawyer Directory

Learn more about contributing to Wisconsin Lawyer.

Continuing Legal Education

This committee works with the State Bar's PINNACLE Department to develop opportunities for members to acquire professional knowledge, training and skills.

Legal Assistance

The Legal Assistance Committee develops and monitors State Bar programs to expand support for the delivery of civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged Wisconsin residents. Members of the committee typically include representatives from each of the federally funded legal services programs in the state, as well as representatives from other, non-federally funded programs, attorneys in private practice, judges and lawyers in government.

Legislative Oversight

The Legislative Oversight Committee oversees the State Bar's Government Relations program, including its conflict resolution process for section lobbying. The State Bar President appoints eight State Bar members (plus a liaison from the Board of Governors) to the Legislative Oversight Committee.

The State Bar's Legislative Oversight Committee and the Government Relations program also present the Scales of Justice award after each legislative session. The Scales of Justice formally recognize legislators for partnering with the State Bar to foster and maintain high standards for the judicial system and the legal profession.

Professional Ethics

This committee formulates and recommends standards and methods for the effective enforcement of high standards of ethics and conduct in the practice of law. The committee also issues formal opinions to guide the ethical conduct of Wisconsin lawyers.

Special Committees

Bench and Bar

This Bench and Bar Committee brings together judges and attorneys to discuss key issues facing the legal system. The committee studies the organization, operation and general administration of Wisconsin courts, including practice and procedure issues.

Board of Bar Examiners Review

This Board of Bar Examiners Review Committee works with the Wisconsin Supreme Court's Board of Bar Examiners to:

  • review procedures for bar admissions
  • monitor compliance with Wisconsin's continuing legal education (CLE) requirements

Challenges to New Lawyers Task Force

The State Bar established the Challenges for New Lawyers Task Force to gather information, then make recommendations to the Board of Governors on how to help new lawyers when they enter the practice of law.

The Task Force gathers information on several topics, including:

  • Employment challenges for new lawyers
  • Economic challenges for new lawyers
  • Debt obligations facing new lawyers
  • Inventory existing resources/programs to assist new lawyers from the State Bar and other entities
  • Other challenges unique to new lawyers

Diversity Outreach

The Diversity Outreach Committee supports and encourages a diverse State Bar and a legal profession that respects and values its members’ differences. The committee focuses on issues arising from disability, ethnicity, gender, LGBT identity and race.

For more information on the committee's work, please contact Member Services Manager org aashley wisbar Annette Ashley at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6133 or (608) 250-6133.

Insurance and Member Benefits

The Insurance and Member Benefits Committee is responsible for exploring possible insurance and member benefits for State Bar Members, making decisions on endorsing products, and contract review with agencies, companies and underwriters.

The committee provides a forum to the Bar to gain valuable input and direction from members on current and potential bar insurance and affinity products. The Committee assists the State Bar in strategic planning by identifying competitive challenges faced by attorneys. Committee members help staff to evaluate possible third-party solutions to these challenges that could be adopted by the State Bar to assist attorneys and their practices.

Some members of the committee have experience in the insurance industry or insurance law. Others have experience as consumers of the Bar’s member benefits and insurance plans.

The staff liaison to the committee is org cmavis wisbar Cara Mavis. She would be happy to answer any questions or provide more information on the committee’s work. You can reach Cara toll free at 1-800-444-9404 ext. 6133 or direct at 608-250-6133.

Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) Advisory

This special committee is responsible for assuring the quality and growth of this program; will be the sounding board for the LOMAP coordinator, the voice to the Board of Governors, and will establish policies that will guide Practice411 staff in their mission to help lawyers manage their practices more efficiently and effectively.

Lawyer Referral and Information Service

This special committee oversees the Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) and the volunteer Lawyer Hotline program.

Leadership Development

Leadership development is a critical issue before the State Bar. The Leadership Development Committee's goal is to implement the approved leadership development plan that institutionalizes the importance of the continued existence of a strong state bar association.

Local Bar Relations

This special committee identifies and develops ways to meet local and specialty bar needs, and coordinates the delivery of existing State Bar services to these organizations.

Professionalism

Professionalism is conduct consistent with the highest ethical standards and which demonstrates character, competence, diligence, fairness, honesty, integrity, and respect for others and the rule of law. The State Bar Professionalism Committee focuses on issues of professionalism in contemporary legal practice and supports efforts to promote professionalism among Wisconsin attorneys.

Public Education Committee

The Public Education Committee was created in 2010, to better advance the State Bar of Wisconsin’s strategic goal of increasing the percentage of Wisconsin residents who understand the importance, value and relevancy of the law and the legal system. The committee is comprised of three former committees of the State Bar – Media Law, Public Image and Law-related Education. The focus of the Public Education Committee is to develop an array of educational outreach programs for students and adults designed to improve public awareness of the legal system and enhance the public perception of the legal profession.

Resolution of Fee Disputes

The Resolution of Fee Disputes Committee oversees the State Bar of Wisconsin's Fee Arbitration Program. The State Bar of Wisconsin developed the program as an informal and economic alternative to litigation for lawyers and clients who are unable to agree upon a fee charged for legal services. To request fee arbitration services, complete the fee arbitration application.

Unauthorized Practice of Law

While the matter has been addressed by the State Bar of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Legislature in the past ten years, the unauthorized practice of law remains a serious threat to the public and the profession. It continues to be a matter of great concern to lawyers and citizens across the state. In July 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the State Bar's petition to define the practice of law.

Not content to default on a growing problem nor defer to the Legislature, the Court exercised its inherent authority to define and regulate the practice of law in Wisconsin and adopted rules intended to protect the public from potential harm caused by the actions of non-lawyers engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The Court, however, declined to establish enforcement authority or declare remedies to police unauthorized practice.

On January 1, 2011, Chapter 23 of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules (SCR 23) went into effect. SCR 23 applies to many non-lawyer practitioners engaged in the provision of legal services.

Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program

The WisLAP program was established on July 1, 1996, combining the Committee on Assistance for Lawyers and the Lawyers Concern for Lawyers Committee. Studies have found that lawyers experience a high rate of depression, chemical dependency and other psychological, behavioral and physical symptoms that may be related to the stress of practicing law. WisLAP was created to address these concerns. The WisLAP committee consists of State Bar members who are both knowledgeable and interested in the goals and objectives of this committee.

Within the scope provided by the Board of Governors of the State Bar, the committee sets policy for the program and develops and oversees its administration. Committee members discuss and work on many aspects of the program, including: developing a statewide network of trained WisLAP volunteers and professionals who provide support to attorneys in need of assistance; develop programs which work cooperatively with other legal entities such as OLR or BBE; address operational and marketing aspects of all WisLAP programs, and develop educational CLE presentations. This committee meets approximately every eight weeks.

Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection

The Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1981, is designed to provide reimbursement to clients who have incurred financial losses due to the dishonest conduct of their attorneys under Supreme Court Rule 12.04-12.12. Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin are assessed annual fees to finance the Fund. The amount of the assessment is determined by the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection Committee each year, per Supreme Court Rule.

Other Committees

Executive

The executive committee consists of the president, the president-elect, the immediate past-president, the chairperson of the board of governors, one representative each from the nonresident lawyers division, government lawyers division, young lawyers division, and senior lawyers division selected from their board of governors representatives and six additional members elected annually by the board of governors at its final meeting of the fiscal year. The executive committee exercises all the powers and performs all the duties of the board of governors between the meetings of the board.

Finance

The Finance Committee consists of the president, president-elect, the immediate past president, treasurer, CLE committee chairperson and four additional members appointed annually by the president. The Finance Committee advises the Board of Governors on financial matters and usually offers a report at each board meeting. The committee also reviews the annual budget proposed by the executive director. See Article V, State Bar Bylaws.

Long Range Strategic Planning

The challenges facing the State Bar are many, varied, and ever-evolving. A strategic plan provides the tools to overcome these challenges and take advantage of opportunities. Leadership, member stakeholders, and staff work together to create a shared vision of the organization’s future. They create agreed-upon goals to succeed in that future, identify and apportion limited resources to accomplish those goals, and measure the organization’s success as it moves toward the envisioned future. This planning pushes the organization away from making decisions or supporting programs or projects based upon political pressure, personal agenda, or lack of focus or purpose thereby allowing the organization maximizes its limited resources.

The State Bar of Wisconsin’s strategic plan establishes priorities, goals and expectations that are supported by volunteer leadership, members, and staff. The plan serves as a concrete map for fulfilling the mission of the Bar and for making budget and operational decisions while providing measurable targets to promote management and board accountability.