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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    April 01, 2012

    Inside the Bar: 5 Ways to Make Your Dues Work for You

    Maximize your membership to make connections, build your practice.

    George C. Brown

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 85, No. 4, April 2012


    George BrownWhen you receive your State Bar dues and Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments statement every year, you fill it out, sign the trust account statement, and send in the form with your check. And then it seems that, for many of you, your participation in the Bar stops there.

    "Participation" isn't just serving on a committee, engaging in a practice section, or representing your colleagues on the Board of Governors. Broadly speaking, "participation" also means using your member benefits. In my visits with members statewide, lawyers frequently will say to me, "I didn't know that we got [pick your benefit] as a member."

    Increasing your awareness of member benefits is something the Bar takes seriously. These benefits can help you succeed in your legal career – or at the very least, make the difficult job of practicing law a little easier. For example ...

    1) Stay current. Are you reading WisBar InsideTrack or Rotunda Report for legislative and other practice developments? These free electronic publications arrive in your email inbox on alternating Wednesdays (you must subscribe to Rotunda Report). And visit regularly for daily legal news.

    2) Try out Fastcase, your free legal research service. Access case law and statutory law for all 50 states, all federal case law and statutory law, and all bankruptcy court decisions. Fastcase fulfills some members' legal research needs; for others, it is a starting place that can reduce costs for you and your clients. Thirty percent of State Bar members have tried Fastcase. What's keeping you?

    3) Get practice help. Practice 411, our free practice-management service, will help with all aspects of the business side of your practice. Nearly 450 of your colleagues, through the Lawyer-to-Lawyer Directory (in the January directory), can offer guidance when you face unfamiliar practice areas. Consult the Ethics Hotline for the ethical impact of decisions you need to make. And if stress or other difficulties interfere with your life, call the Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) for help.

    4) Grow your client base. The Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) and its Modest Means panel are low-cost services that bring prescreened clients to you. Volunteer for the LRIS Lawyer Hotline and help make a difference in your community.

    5) Increase your network. Join elists. Write an article. PINNACLE® seminars and institutes, and committees, practice sections, and divisions offer professional and social networking opportunities.

    Your State Bar of Wisconsin membership may be mandatory, but you can maximize your investment by using services and products to improve your practice and your life. Visit to learn more. Your practice is our purpose.  

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