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    Inside the Bar: Shape the Profession, Expand Your Network 

    The important work you do when participating in a section, division, or committee helps to shape public and State Bar policy and supports programs for the benefit of all members.

    George Brown

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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 82, No. 3, March 2009

    by George C. Brown, executive director

    George BrownAssociations are unique enterprises. They are about the only entity whose members are the owners, the workers, and the customers. Although the State Bar, like most large associations, has paid staff that does much of the association’s work, the bulk of that administrative work directly supports the program work contributed by State Bar members. And it takes many members to accomplish this program work.

    For example, paid CLE Books staff attorneys edit manuscripts, provide research, check references, and turn final manuscripts into books – all in support of the member authors. Member authors are the professionals who take the information, add their experience, knowledge, and analysis, and develop the manuscripts that become the practice tools used by so many Wisconsin lawyers. You can imagine how many member authors are needed every year to keep existing books current and to develop new books.

    Other examples of paid staff supporting members’ program work abound, including staff work with volunteer program chairs and speakers to develop CLE seminars. Staff handle all the program logistics, including room rentals, materials, and refreshments, and all the technology needs for recording and webcasting, but it is volunteer members who bring their experience and knowledge to the seminar presentations.

    Much of the State Bar’s work is accomplished through its extensive array of 28 committees, 26 sections, and four divisions. Sections and divisions separately elect their boards and officers, but committees are appointed by the State Bar president. There are two types of committees: standing and special. Standing committees oversee and advise on the Bar’s major initiatives. These committees include Communications, which serves as the editorial board for this magazine; Professional Ethics, which works with the ethics counsel and writes advisory ethics opinions; Legal Assistance, which oversees the Bar’s extensive pro bono effort; and Continuing Legal Education, which works directly with State Bar staff on CLE direction and programming. Members appointed to these committees serve three-year terms.

    The remaining committees are special committees that serve a variety of purposes, including overseeing the fee dispute resolution process, improving understanding between the media and the law, and reviewing the work of the Board of Bar Examiners. Members appointed to these committees serve one-year terms.

    In the next several months, the State Bar president-elect will be making appointments to fill approximately 700 positions on the various committees. The vast majority of appointments come from lists of members who volunteer to serve on committees.

    To fill these appointments, the State Bar needs your help. Now is the time to submit your name for consideration for appointment. You will be performing important work and increasing your network of contacts from throughout Wisconsin’s legal community.

    For more information and to volunteer, please see the Leadership Opportunities Directory at www.wisbar.org/leadershipopportunities. It includes a comprehensive list of the State Bar’s sections, committees, and divisions, with a brief purpose statement and other pertinent information for each entity, including average time commitments.