This legislative session is an important one for State Bar of Wisconsin. Several of the State Bar’s longstanding priorities for ensuring access to justice are being considered by our legislature, including increasing the private bar rate, expungement reform, bail reform, and juvenile justice. Now, more than ever, it’s vital for state lawmakers to hear from you about how these issues impact the legal profession, the clients you serve, and our shared communities across Wisconsin.
The State Bar’s Government Relations team is working to facilitate this process for you, and to that end, has developed what we are calling the “Advocacy Network.” The Advocacy Network is a system of tools and resources designed to keep you up to date on what’s happening at the legislature related to the practice of law, what bills we are tracking, supporting, or opposing, and what critical issues we need your voice on. The Advocacy Network will make it easy for you to find your state (or federal) lawmakers, and reach out to them with email, phone calls, and social media. For times when you don’t have many minutes to spare, there’s an option of sending a pre-written suggested message with just a few clicks (though sending a personally written letter is always preferable and helps your elected official and their staff understand the practical effects of policy changes). For those that are social media savvy, the Advocacy Network makes it easy to tweet at and Facebook message your lawmakers—a way of communicating that is not only increasingly effective in getting the attention of your officials, but also a great way of congratulating them or urging them to publically support an issue. Along with Rotunda Report and our Twitter account @SBWRotundaRpt, the Action Network is part of an effort to amplify your voice in the policy arena. You can access it on Wisbar.org’s Government Relations page, at www.wisbar.org/GovRelations.
Of course, digital tools can only be so effective when it comes to making an impact on your representatives. As this research from the American Bar Association shows, face-to-face contacts remain the most important and effective way to have your opinions heard and considered. It’s important to keep in mind that this research is from the US Congress—for state level lawmakers who have smaller constituencies and aren’t often the target of nation-wide advocacy groups, even getting a dozen emails or calls on a single topic can have a tremendous impact!!
To further advance our work to connect you to lawmakers, we’ve been organizing events around the state that bring lawmakers and our members together to talk about the issues that the State Bar holds most important.
So far, we’ve gone to Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Stevens Point. In May and June, we’ll be heading to Fond du Lac, western Wisconsin, and Green Bay near the Annual Meeting and Conference. If you are interested in having a meeting in your area with your local officials, or you’d like to learn more or get more involved in our volunteer efforts to be citizen advocates for access to justice, please contact Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Devin Martin at email@example.com, or call 608-250-6145. We’re happy to see you soon!