Get to Know the Candidates
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Feb. 1, 2023 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2023 president-elect race features two candidates with fresh perspectives on the issues facing Wisconsin’s legal community.
Jane Bucher of Monroe and Marisol González Castillo of Madison are both trial attorneys with experience in State Bar leadership.
The winner of the 2023 election in April will serve a one-year term as president-elect, then serve a subsequent one-year term as president in FY 2025 (July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025).
In addition to a president-elect, State Bar members in April will elect other officers, including a treasurer, member of the judicial council, and 18 members of the State Bar’s 52-member Board of Governors. Those elected will take office on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.
In this article, you’ll learn about each candidate’s background and views on the important issues facing the legal profession and the State Bar.
Jane Bucher: Connecting is Critical
A dozen years practicing criminal law and family law in southwestern Wisconsin, plus a term on the Board of Governors, have left Jane Bucher with an appreciation for the State Bar’s role in connecting attorneys and in working to advance criminal justice reform.
After Bucher obtained her undergraduate degree from the New College of Florida, she entered the Peace Corps. She was stationed in Senegal, a small country on the northwest coast of Africa.
Bucher said her experience there motivated her to go to law school.
“Part of my responsibilities were to help my village with drinking water issues, and over time I came to see that it was really an access to justice issue,” Bucher said.
“The people were having a hard time getting their government to pay attention to them and there was a huge amount of bureaucracy involved.”
Former Public Defender
Bucher graduated from the U.W. Law School in 2010. After a brief stint in a private firm, she went to work for the State Public Defender (SPD).
Bucher worked in the SPD’s Janesville and Monroe offices for a total of about 10 years. In 2021, Bucher joined Russell Law Offices, where she practices family law and criminal defense in the firm’s Brodhead office.
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Bucher has served as a member of the Board of Governors. She also served as the president of the Green County Bar Association in 2015.
Bucher said she’s running for president-elect in large part to promote the State Bar’s efforts to both connect and assist its members.
“I think that fostering connections between attorneys of different areas of practice and providing a mechanism for attorneys to support each other both on a professional and a personal level is really important,” Bucher said.
“I appreciate the effort that the State Bar has made to assist attorneys with their mental health with things like the
WisLAP program,” Bucher said. “There’s a lot of great work that’s been done there and I want to make sure that that continues and grows.”
Criminal Justice Issues
If she’s elected, Bucher said, she’ll work to push the State Bar’s policy positions on what she called “common-sense criminal justice reforms,” including changing state law so that 17-year-olds accused of committing a crime aren’t automatically charged as adults.
“Returning the age of adult jurisdiction to 18 is really important,” Bucher said. “We’re in the minority on that in the nation.”
Jeff M. Brown is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6126.
Bucher also said that she’d work to address the perceptions that continue to motivate
challenges to the State Bar’s mandatory status.
“I think we have to ensure that our members feel engaged, and they understand the value that the State Bar provides to attorneys, and that everyone has a voice in how attorneys are regulated,” Bucher said.
Bucher said the pandemic and the changes it imposed on the legal profession make a mandatory bar more important than ever.
“I think the pandemic really taught us that we need to be dynamic, and having a mandatory bar gives us the ability to make sure that the bar has voice on things that affect the practice, such as petitioning to have depositions be virtual,” Bucher said.
Diversity and Inclusion
Bucher cited diversity, equity, and inclusion as another important issue facing the State Bar.
“We have to recall that so many of the harms that have been committed against people of color in this country had the stamp of being legal at the time,” Bucher said.
“We have to be vigilant in rooting out bias in the justice system, and I think that that is a role for lawyers and the responsibility of the State Bar.”
In her free time, Bucher spends time with her husband and two children. Bucher also does stand-up comedy. She uses her experiences as a working mother for material.
Marisol González Castillo: Passion for Outreach
Marisol González Castillo’s entry into State Bar activities early in her career has given her insight into the issues facing the State Bar.
González Castillo, who was born in Mexico City, came to America when she was eight years old, settling in Waukegan, Ill.
In Waukegan, she often saw members of her community forced to travel to Chicago for legal services and tax preparing services, because of a dearth of Spanish-speaking professionals.
“That made me want to do something where I could help with that information, and that drove me to start thinking about law school,” she said.
González Castillo got serious about law school after she interned with a law firm one summer between semesters at Knox College.
She went from law firm to law firm in Waukegan, looking for a job.
“I didn’t really know what a law firm did,” González Castillo said. “But I’d heard that they needed Spanish speakers, and I was fluent.”
One of the law firms hired her as an intern. She shadowed a criminal defense attorney.
“From there, I really enjoyed what I saw,” González Castillo said. “I went to court with him.”
Cut her Teeth at Legal Aid
After she graduated from Knox College, González Castillo was admitted to the U.W Law School. She graduated in 2018.
González Castillo’s first job was staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. She worked on consumer law and housing issues, including eviction defense.
She also spent a lot of time helping the other seven lawyers in the office communicate with their Spanish-speaking clients. When González Castillo started at the firm, she was the only lawyer who spoke Spanish and nearly one-third of the clients were Spanish speakers.
Since 2020, González Castillo has worked as an associate in the Madison office of Hawks Quindel, S.C. She practices personal injury and worker's compensation law.
Grateful for Push
González Castillo, who won election to the Board of Governors in 2019, said she would never have run if she hadn’t been pushed.
“It was through attorney Karen Bauer pushing me to get involved, which now I’m really thankful for,” she said.
González Castillo also attended the State Bar’s Leadership Academy and last year she was inducted as a Wisconsin Law Foundation fellow.
She volunteers with Ready.Set.Practice and at the U.W. Law School.
Diversity a Big Issue
González Castillo said she’s running for president-elect because of her passion for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and conducting outreach to law students.
“I felt that based on my experience and the perspectives that I brought to the Board of Governors, I would be very helpful in this leadership position,” González Castillo said.
“I spend a lot of my time volunteering with students, because I feel it’s important to be there for them, especially students who don’t have many resources.”
González Castillo said she’d like to continue the work of past presidents, especially as it relates to the State Bar’s Greater Wisconsin Initiative and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She said that it’s important that communities have access to attorneys to represent them.
“I would be able to bring a different perspective and different ideas on how to push those forward,” she said.
Disconnect with Members
Among González Castillo’s top issue facing the State Bar are what she calls a disconnect between the State Bar and its members and a lack of representation in State Bar membership.
“There are a lot of places where there just aren’t attorneys, especially in the northern part of Wisconsin,” she said.
González Castillo said that many of her peer attorneys aren’t as connected to the State Bar as they should be.
“I’ve seen a lot of younger attorneys having that disconnect, not knowing what the State Bar does – that’s huge,” González Castillo said. “There’s a lot of resources, there’s just so much the State Bar does for attorneys in the state that people just don’t know about.”
Down Time with Dogs
Away from work, González Castillo said she and her husband spend time with their two dogs – a Jack Russell terrier mix and a rat terrier mix. She also enjoys puzzles and games and riding her bicycle.
Run for the Board of Governors
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors is the State Bar's policymaking body. Governors serve two-year terms.
Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 will elect governors in 2023. District 2 (Milwaukee) elects seven, District 9 (Dane) elects three, and all other districts elect one.
To be considered for a seat on the Board of Governors, members must submit a petition, signed by 10 active members in their district, to the State Bar by March 1, 2023. Candidates will be announced in March 2023.