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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    April 06, 2010

    Inside the Bar: Building Engagement

    Thousands of State Bar members engage in the organization in governance and as volunteers, giving their time and expertise to serve their colleagues and the public through many dozens of educational and service-oriented programs. New volunteers are always welcome.

    George C. Brown

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 83, No. 4, April 2010

    George BrownAssociations are unique enterprises: They are the only type of entity whose members are its owners, workers, and customers. Thus, as a member, you are one of 23,000 owners of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Whenever you access anything offered by the State Bar, you act in the role of a customer. Every time you visit WisBar, read this magazine, use Fastcase, attend a CLE seminar, join a section, contact Practice411 or ethics counsel, purchase a CLE book, or access any of the dozens of other services or products offered by the State Bar, you are acting in the role of customer. Almost every member of the State Bar acts in this role occasionally, and many do so quite often.

    The role of worker is more selective. While we often only think of workers as those who volunteer their time and expertise to serve on committees, volunteers actually serve in a wide array of activities that make the State Bar the vibrant organization that it is today.

    For example, April is election month for the State Bar of Wisconsin, and attorneys across the state have volunteered to run for election to serve on various governing boards. Individuals on the State Bar Board of Governors serve two-year staggered terms and can only be reelected once before having to step aside to let other State Bar members run for the board. Every year, approximately half the seats in districts 2 (Milwaukee), 6 (Waukesha), and 9 (Dane) are up for election, and in even-numbered years, even-numbered district seats are up for election. This year, there are 17 seats up for election in nine of the 16 districts. Of the 22 attorneys who volunteered to run for election, 11 have never served on the Board of Governors. Another six attorneys are running for their second two-year term (none of these six had ever served on the board before their first term two years ago), one is running for a first full term after being appointed to complete a term on the board, and three are attorneys who previously served on the board
    years ago.

    While anyone can self-nominate to run for the Board of Governors, section and division boards usually select candidates through nominating committees, with candidates then running in competitive elections for those seats. Candidates for State Bar president-elect, secretary, and treasurer and for the Judicial Council also are nominated by a committee appointed by the president with the consent of the Board of Governors, but any member also can run for these positions by self-nomination.

    In addition to the hundreds of attorneys who hold these elective positions, more than 1,000 attorneys volunteer to serve the members and the public in a wide array of appointed positions. Every year, the president of the State Bar must appoint several hundred members to serve on nearly 30 State Bar committees. Those committees often oversee hundreds of other volunteers who work on major Bar projects, such as the state High School Mock Trial tournament that requires the effort of nearly 400 lawyers, the Lawyer Referral and Information Service Hotline program that requires the services of dozens of lawyers throughout the year, and the dozens and dozens of lawyers who speak at CLE seminars or write chapters for CLE books or articles for this magazine. Each of these volunteers is fulfilling the role of worker whenever engaged in any of these activities.

    There is still time for you to become involved. President-elect Jim Boll will be making his committee appointments this spring. If you wish to serve your lawyer colleagues or the public through State Bar committee work, contact Jan Marks at the State Bar at and tell us which committees interest you, and you will be added to the list. Or, to get information about additional leadership opportunities within the State Bar, and an electronic committee volunteer interest form, please visit Leadership Opportunities.

    New volunteers and new ideas are the lifeblood of any association.

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