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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    June 01, 2003

    President's Message

    Serving as your State Bar president this past year has been an honor - and a lesson in humility. Thank you for the privilege.

    Pat Ballman

    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 76, No. 6, June 2003

    Celebration and Remembrance

    Serving as your State Bar president this past year has been an honor - and a lesson in humility. Thank you for the privilege.

    by Pat Ballman

    Pat Ballman The State Bar heard from a member that he had been to 34 consecutive State Bar annual conventions, and that in his opinion, the 2003 convention was the best ever. I thought it was a tremendous success, too.

    The Thursday Spotlight program was a departure from normal convention fare. The Government Lawyers Division, led by Assistant Family Court Commissioner Bill Honrath, arranged for nationally acclaimed poet, professor, writer, and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu to speak on "Lawyers, Poets, and Other Alchemists: Looking for Gold in the 21st Century." Mr. Codrescu was alternately brilliant, thought-provoking, and humorous. After his hour-long presentation, he participated in two panel discussions on "Government and the Individual" and "Government and the Arts," both extremely relevant and controversial. Four members told me that they attended the convention solely to hear Mr. Codrescu. They were not disappointed.

    The Friday Spotlight program, "Echoes of the Past: Landmark Issues, Famous Cases, and Legal Giants - Shaping Wisconsin Yesterday and Today," featured such historical yet current topics as Wisconsin's experience with the death penalty, the 1917 Espionage Act's resemblance to the USA PATRIOT Act, "Independence and Integrity: Arms in the Capitol to Deficits in the Budget," and presentations on the creation of the court of appeals and its role in the development of law. A panel of eight speakers presented these pieces of Wisconsin's rich legal history.

    There were almost 1,000 registrants to the convention this year, more than in recent years. Many came for the regular CLE programs in their respective practice areas of law, which were also well-attended and worth the price of admission alone.

    The six-foot-tall birthday cake at the Friday Spotlight program reminded us that the convention was part of our year-long celebration of the State Bar's 125th anniversary, along with the supreme court's 150th anniversary and the court of appeals' 25th anniversary. Not mentioned as often is that 2003 is also the 75th anniversary of our nationally acclaimed Wisconsin Lawyer and its predecessor, the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin.

    For me the bittersweet moment of convention week came on Thursday evening when my successor, George Burnett, was sworn in as State Bar president for 2003-2004. That ceremony gladdened me because it signified that I am off the hook and will have more time for my clients and my other interests. But it also saddened me because I have truly enjoyed the privilege of being president. The people I got a chance to know and work with are terrific, and the issues with which I have had to grapple have been fascinating and challenging.

    The end of my term came too fast. I was not able to accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped for in the areas I tried to concentrate on: improving the image of lawyers, improving the diversity of the Bar and the profession, and increasing funding for civil legal services. My limited successes have reinforced the need to stay humble. But my attention was diverted, as it always is for a bar president, by events over which I had no control: the move to adopt multi-disciplinary practice in Wisconsin, the challenge to the constitutionality of IOLTA, the conflict over whether our Bar should have joined as an amicus in the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action lawsuit. These and other issues have demanded my attention and that of the whole Board of Governors. There has not been a dull moment.

    So I want to thank all of you for allowing me the honor of serving as your State Bar president, and thank you for your support of me this past year. It has been a real privilege.


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