Wes Moore, who speaks with undeniable passion, says lawyers have a large role to play when it comes to fixing the cycles of poverty, and raising the expectations we place on disadvantaged youth who need encouragement, support, and structure to succeed. Moore closed AMC.
June 16, 2017 – Ken Goldstein knows something about election polling. He works ABC’s News Decision Desk, which calls presidential races. Then there’s Wes Moore, whose words and societal contributions can inspire the most cynical among us.
Both were featured speakers at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Annual Meeting & Conference (AMC) at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells, where nearly 500 lawyers, judges, exhibitors, and others convened from Wisconsin and beyond.
Yesterday, Goldstein, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco and former director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project at U.W.-Madison, kicked off AMC with insight on election polling, looking back at the 2016 election, and ahead to what’s next.
Today, Wes Moore, a decorated combat veteran, best-selling author, and now CEO of Robin Hood, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York, closed AMC with an inspiring perspective on his own path, one that could have led to a much different place.
In between, State Bar members earned CLE, networked, and even had a little fun. After hearing do’s and don’ts from judges, and learning about the policing crisis in America, the importance of cultural competence, or innovation in the legal profession – just a few of the many session offerings – social events kept the conference nightlife alive.
Here’s a smattering of highlights from this year’s AMC. Thanks to those who attended, and watch for future CLE webcasts from AMC if you missed a session. Also, make sure to keep your calendars open for AMC 2018, June 21-22, in Lake Geneva.
Wes Moore: An Inspiring Story
Spend a minute with Wes Moore, and you will walk away with three things: First, you will understand how genuine he is in his pursuit of a better society; two, you will begin to understand the complex challenges that urban and rural communities are facing across America; and three, you will be profoundly inspired to help address them.
Moore, the young CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, was AMC’s closing speaker today. He shared his stories, detailed in his New York Times best-selling book, “The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates,” which contrasts his path in life with another young man, also named Wes Moore. But it’s really about all of us, Moore said.
The other Wes Moore grew up in the same Baltimore neighborhood, in the same time period. He’s now serving a life sentence for an armed robbery that left an off-duty police officer dead. As Moore explains, both met the expectations that others placed on them.
“As we are thinking about everything, from the way we view criminal justice to the way we deal with redemption and reentry, we want to make sure we are having a level of humanity and a level of understanding as we decide policies and put together recommendations and structures that impact people and communities,” he said.
Joe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.
Moore, whose mother sent him off to military school after his first arrest, at age 13, went on to John’s Hopkins University, where he earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. A U.S. Army captain, he served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Upon return, he served as White House Fellow, special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Trying to understand how two individuals with similar backgrounds could take such different paths in life, Moore began corresponding with the other Wes Moore, which led to many face-to-face meetings. The book provides some answers.
Moore, who speaks with undeniable passion, says lawyers have a large role to play when it comes to fixing the cycles of poverty, and raising the expectations we place on disadvantaged youth who need encouragement, support, and structure to succeed.
“Your leadership, your voice, the potency of this organization … there is nothing, no issue, no law, that this organization and all of you individually and collectively cannot solve if you were to choose to,” Moore said. “The truth is, it’s never been easy being poor, but it’s also becoming increasingly complicated. Your voice matters,” he said.
Polling and the 2016 Election
Ken Goldstein, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco and former director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project at U.W.-Madison, kicked off AMC with insight on election polling, looking back at the 2016 election, and ahead to what’s next.
Most people can probably agree that the 2016 election cycle was unique. And as news media kept a close eye on the horse race between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Ken Goldstein was diving deeper under the surface of those numbers.
“I worked for Bloomberg Politics, trying to pull the curtain back on how we get the data that we get,” Goldstein said in a post-presentation interview on Facebook Live.
Aside from the media’s interest in polls, they are important for voters to understand, Goldstein said, to navigate and examine claims about public opinion. Understanding the fundamentals of polling will allow people to cut through bad data, he said.
“In terms of our democracy, being able to understand what’s behind those attitudes and what those attitudes are on a variety of other things is really important,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein first looks at methodology with respect to any poll. “We’ve never had more polls, but we’ve had a huge proliferation of methodologies,” he said.
National polling in the 2016 election has some issues, Goldstein said, since major polls had Clinton winning by 4 percentage points (she won the national vote by about 2 percentage points). But he said state-level polling had bigger issues.
“You are fortunate in Wisconsin to have the Marquette Law School Poll, a high-quality poll using the exact same methodology as the very best, most expensive national polls. But there’s variance in other polls, including polls in other states,” he said.
He said some polls misfired by not doing simple things like weighting to education. The big polling story of 2016, Goldstein said, was the very different voting and turnout patterns of non-college educated versus college educated white voters.
Looking ahead, Goldstein said a number to watch is President Trump’s job approval rating to figure out what the fortunes will be for both parties.
“Trump’s job approval is historically low,” Goldstein said. “That said, we may just be in a time where 38 is what 50 used to be. I think people forget that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States with a 38 percent approval rating.”
Incoming and outgoing YLD board members gather for a photo op with John Wayne at the Annual Conference.
From networking luncheons to meeting friends old and new, check out scenes from around the Annual Meeting & Conference. Find them on the State Bar's Facebook page, or click here.
Rock County Circuit Court Judge Michael Fitzpatrick (Wisconsin Appeals Court Starting August 1) and La Crosse County Circuit Court Judge Elliot Levine imparted words of wisdom in a popular session, “Dos & Don’ts from the Circuit Court Bench.”
From decorum to civility, from discovery motions to scheduling orders, the judges were quite candid (and funny) on what gets under their skin, and what attorneys should do to improve their chances of winning on a particular issue.
“It’s important for attorneys to act in a civil manner and in a manner that advances their case rather than their own interests,” Judge Fitzpatrick said in a post-presentation interview that will be available on the State Bar’s YouTube page soon.
“Any time you have an attorney who is not civil and not professional towards another attorney, it really distracts from the message they are trying to send. It also costs the client money, if the attorneys can’t figure something out between themselves.”
The State Bar honored some of the best among us at the annual Member Recognition Celebration, including two members of the U.W. Student Wellness Coalition, Dana Roth (second from right) and John Lightfield (second from left); pictured with Justice Dan Kelly (left) and faculty advisor Stephanie Johnson (right). Find photos on the State Bar's Facebook page, or click here.
Do you have cultural competence? Lawyers have an ethical duty to competently represent their clients, and that requires them to be aware of cultural differences. But it’s more than ethics. Cultural competence allows us to be better as a society.
In “Cultural Competence and the Law,” a panel discussed the importance of cultural competence and how lawyers and judges can recognize their own implicit biases and assumptions about people to be better stewards of equality and justice.
“The fact of the matter is, everyone has bias,” said Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Carl Ashley, who moderated the session and chairs the State Bar’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. ”It’s created out of who you are, your environment, and what you learn.”
“If you acknowledge it, you are better equipped to deal with your implicit bias that we all have to be fairer and more just to the people in front of you.”
Members kicked up their boots and partied down at a western-style BBQ at the Annual Meeting & Conference. Highlights included local country show band, Madison County, fire pits for s'mores, and a cowboy-themed photo booth. Find photos on the State Bar's Facebook page, or click here.
Samuel Walker, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says “we have a serious policing crisis in America.” Walker is a well-known expert on the topic of police accountability. He testified before President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and has written extensively on the topic.
Prof. Walker presented “The Future of Race and Policing in the Trump Era,” a Civil Rights and Liberties Section program, and sat down for a pre-session interview.
“The crisis erupted in August of 2014 with all the events in Ferguson, the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, and then all the protests that followed,” Walker said. “And of course there have been subsequent events in Dallas, Baltimore, and all across the country.”
“When we say police crisis, it’s really a race crisis. We have always had a problem with police misconduct. Many of those problems have simply not been solved,” he said.
Excessive force and police shooting without justification are the direct result of police departments that fail to implement proper policies and procedures, Walker said. At the same time, voters are failing to seat police officials committed to solving the problem.
“So it’s really a problem of democracy,” says Walker, who notes the goal of constitutional, unbiased, and discrimination-free policing in America is not impossible. There are roadmaps, he says. “We lack the political will to implement those reforms.”
In “An Innovation Mindset: Think Like a Client,” a panel discussed innovation in the legal marketplace and how lawyers can leverage technology process and competitive disruption to be valued counselors to clients who are demanding innovative solutions.
Jeff Glazer, clinical professor at the U.W. Law School’s Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, and Erin Ogden, managing attorney at OgdenGlazer LLC (with Glazer), joined outgoing State Bar Executive Director George Brown and State Bar Ethics Counsel Aviva Kaiser for a lively discussion on where the legal profession is headed.
So how do lawyers convince clients of their value, when competition from nonlawyers and nonlawyer entities continue to disrupt the market for legal services?
“I really think the future is not in competition,” said Glazer in a post-session interview on Facebook Live with moderator Tom Watson. “They can’t compete with us as counselors. So we need to be counselors. We have a different skill set. We help clients understand how the world around them relates to what they are trying to do.”
Do you know a legal innovator? Are you one? Nominate a Wisconsin Legal Innovator by June 30, 2017. Go to thatsafineidea.com to learn more.