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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    October 01, 2012

    Inside the Bar: Start Pushing

    Member input helps push the Bar toward solutions for challenges facing lawyers and the public.

    George C. Brown

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 85, No. 10, October 2012

    George BrownIt's October of an election year and if your household is anything like mine, you have been receiving telephone calls from political candidates, or "issue" organizations that actually back particular candidates, or groups raising money for candidates. One tactic favored by these groups is the "push poll," during which they try to convince you to support their candidate by pretending to survey you about public policy issues. Although apparently neutral, these groups really are asking you questions that lead you to their candidate's position. They hope their candidate will get your vote, your money, or both.

    For several months, the State Bar also has been engaged in a form of push polling, but in reverse. Instead of trying to convince you of something, we've been trying in several venues to have you convince us of something. That "something" varies from group to group, but no matter the group, your responses will, we hope, lead to improved or new programs and services that will help you in your practice or public service.

    Since July, the Access to Justice Commission has held public hearings around the state on the challenges facing low-income residents who need help with civil legal problems. With support from the State Bar, the hearings are searching for answers to such questions as who is falling through the cracks, what is Wisconsin doing well to help people, what needs improvement, and what is the impact on people's lives of finding or not finding legal help. The last of these six hearings was held in La Crosse this month. Even if you were not able to attend or speak at one of these hearings, you can still provide your experiences and comments to the commission at or by regular mail to the State Bar.

    The current economy is also challenging recent law school graduates. That is why the State Bar's Challenges for New Lawyers Task Force held listening sessions at both law schools in September, to determine how the State Bar can help new lawyers. The sessions solicited commentary from new or soon-to-be new lawyers about employment and economic challenges they face and to determine what services they already use. You can still email commentary to Kris Wenzel at the State Bar at

    Phase Two of the Member Needs Assessment is also underway. More than 1,000 of you agreed to take a series of surveys to help the State Bar learn what is working best for you and what challenges you face for which you are not receiving help. I'll share what we learned in a future column.

    As we learn more about what is working for you, what you need, and what new challenges you have, the State Bar will be better able to help you solve the problems you and your clients face. That is, ultimately, where we want you to push us.

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