March 1, 2017 – Nilesh Patel has his work with the State Bar to thank for landing him his current position as Director of Labor Relations and Mediation Services for the Day Care Council of New York, Inc. in New York City.
“I work for a membership organization, and it was a big deal to show my State Bar involvement when applying for this job,” said Patel, currently a board member of the Nonresident Lawyers Division (NRLD).
From 1L to the Wisconsin Supreme Court
A 2002 alum of the U.W. Law School, Patel's involvement began as a 1L – as a participant in the State Bar’s Diversity Clerkship program. The program made an impact on him.
“Out of law school, I was interested in diversity issues in the legal profession,” Patel said. That interest prompted him to join the State Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The work later enhanced his job with the Office of Career Services at the U.W. Law School.
His experience on the committee – in addition to giving him a place to address the issues that minorities face in the legal profession – widened his network of professional contacts. “I ended up with more contacts in the profession to reach out to for advice, and to connect job-seekers,” he said.
“Law practice otherwise can be an isolating or individual endeavor that also can be adversarial," he said. “Working on a committee allowed me to work with other attorneys in a collaborative group setting.”
It’s my profession. These are my colleagues. It’s a way to be involved ... in the legal profession and the greater community.
Committee service brought him into contact with more experienced lawyers at an early stage of his career, and he witnessed how other attorneys advanced policy positions and programs. “I saw how goals and initiatives can be advanced in a collegial, civil, persuasive way,” he said. “It’s about your relationship, your reputation, and how you develop your point in a group setting.”
His State Bar Communications Committee work also taught him how committees function, and how to achieve goals via committee work. While serving on this committee (which serves as the Wisconsin LawyerTM magazine’s editorial advisory board), serving as committee chair for three years, he learned how to guide a project from conception to implementation.
His work included presentations before the Board of Governors. And his volunteer position also led him to appear before the Wisconsin Supreme Court – arguing successfully for a cost-saving and modernizing rule change to allow online publication of supreme court notices.
As a non-litigator, “an appearance before the Court was an opportunity I never would have had without the committee work,” Patel said.
This work led to a position as a representative on the State Bar Board of Governors for Dane County, and later as the NRLD liaison to the Board.
Landing a New Job
After a move from Wisconsin back to his native New York, Patel applied for his current position as an in-house attorney at the Day Care Council.
“My current job is a direct result from my involvement with the State Bar,” he said. “Showing my potential employer that I understand what a membership organization needs and how to respond to members – that is something I can trace to my work on State Bar committees and on the Board of Governors.”
Committee Work is Where Change Happens
State Bar committees are where the work is done, and where change happens, says Patel. “If you have an interest in some part of the legal profession, committees are where it’s going to be studied, where a policy or position is fleshed out,” Patel said.
The work has great professional and personal value, says Patel. “It’s my profession. These are my colleagues. It’s a way to be involved and participate in initiatives that benefit the legal profession and the greater community.”
Apply to Serve on a Committee – Submit an Interest Form by April 15
This spring, State Bar President-elect Paul Swanson will appoint members to serve on committees for the 2017-18 year.
To learn more about working on State Bar committees, visit the Leadership Opportunities and committees pages on WisBar.org, and submit an interest form.
Appointments to standing committees include three-year terms, and appointments to special committees are for one-year terms. All committee appointments begin July 1.
Volunteer to Serve on a State Bar Committee; Submit Interest Form by April 15
- Continuing Legal Education
- Diversity and Inclusion Oversight
- Legal Assistance
- Legislative Oversight
- Professional Ethics
- Bench and Bar
- Insurance and Member Benefits
- Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) Advisory
- Lawyer Referral and Information Service
- Leadership Development
- Local Bar Relations
- New Lawyer Challenges
- Public Education
- Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program
- Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection
For more information, visit the Committees page on WisBar. Submit an Interest Form by April 15 to be considered for a 2017-18 appointment.