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    Inside the Bar

    Bar's new, improved Internet site, WisBar II, debuts in spring 2005.

    George Brown

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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 78, No. 3, March 2005

    All Systems Go for Launch

    WisBar II, the State Bar's completely redesigned Internet site, will be easier to use and easier to maintain and will contain added features to help you in your practice. Watch for WisBar II to launch in spring 2005.

    State Bar executive director

    George BrownWhen it comes to technology, there is no such thing as aging gracefully. What was new yesterday is old tomorrow. The telephone of my youth - 30 years old, hardwired to the wall, and heavy enough to break a toe when you dropped the handset on your foot - has evolved to today's commodity that you carry in your pocket and replace every two years because it is obsolete. The desktop computer we bought our youngest son for his high school graduation was replaced two years later with a laptop with twice the speed and memory at half the price.

    The State Bar has a piece of technology more than nine years old. It used to win nationwide awards, but like a 40-year-old football player, today it is slow and clunky. Still, many of you still use it every day. This is, of course, WisBar, the State Bar's Web site.

    The current WisBar was launched with much fanfare in 1996. It soon won three national awards as the best legal Web site in the country. During the last nine years, WisBar has become a major resource for lawyers throughout the state and the nation. Recent surveys show that many lawyers use it as their first source for legal research. More than 8,000 lawyers subscribe to Caselaw Express, the State Bar's free case law update service. Hundreds responded through WisBar to recent petitions by the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation to mandate a $50 annual assessment on lawyers and to the Ethics 2000 petition with its proposed changes to the attorneys' rules of professional conduct.

    However, the current WisBar, though familiar to many, is out of date. Information is difficult to retrieve, its technology infrastructure is outdated, it is costly and difficult to maintain, and with more than 24,000 pages, it has outgrown its navigational structure.

    This spring, a new WisBar, completely redesigned from the inside out, will be launched into service. It will be easier to use and easier and more cost effective to maintain and will contain added features to help you in your practice.

    During the last 18 months, State Bar employees have been working with nearly 100 members to design a new WisBar II that will meet current and future needs. Importantly, WisBar II is designed around how you, the lawyer, actually uses the Web site, not how some consultant thinks you should use it. This process of user-centered design involved visiting lawyers and legal professionals in their offices, observing how they used both WisBar and the Internet, designing several prototypes and testing them with other lawyers, and developing and testing the Web site that will be launched this spring.

    At the same time, the entire technology infrastructure that supports WisBar was overhauled. The new infrastructure is integrated with the State Bar membership database and will provide improved navigation and search capabilities and content organization and new content features. This will allow you to more easily access law practice management resources and retrieve 10 years of free case law. With WisBar II, you will be able to easily update your contact information and your personal profile, track your CLE seminar credits in one place, and register for events and order products in a secure environment. You will be able to discover what is going on at the State Bar through the master calendar of events, whether it is an upcoming CLE seminar or a committee, section, or division business meeting. The sections to which you belong will be able to post information that will be available only to their members, and you will be able to easily print and send information on WisBar through printer-friendly content formatting and the new "tell a friend" email feature.

    The site is new, but the URL remains the same - www.wisbar.org.

    Those members who have tested it really like it. We think you'll like it, too.

    Wisconsin Lawyer