In some of my past columns, I have touched on the subject of volunteering. Last month I alluded to the efforts of many of our members in assisting veterans. I asked members to try to spend at least a couple of hours per year helping veterans. Last fall, I devoted one of my columns to the valuable work performed by our WisLAP volunteer attorneys, whose efforts have been instrumental in helping many lawyers attain sobriety and emotional health. Two months ago, I wrote about the need to have more lawyers involved at all levels (federal, state, and local) in the legislative process. All these causes, as well as many others, are deserving of our time. In this issue, we address volunteer opportunities for which State Bar members are uniquely qualified.
com rrgagan cdgelaw Robert R. Gagan, Marquette 2000, is a partner at Calewarts, Duffy, Gagan & Erdman, Green Bay, where he practices primarily in civil litigation and municipal law.
It was only 13 years ago that I was approached to serve as secretary of the Brown County Bar Association. Being only two years removed from law school, I wondered what I could bring to the table in this position. I quickly learned that just being a lawyer, socializing with lawyers, and working with lawyers qualifies one to participate in bar governance, provided one keeps an open mind and is willing to devote the requisite amount of time. I mention my career in board governance only to stress to our younger members that volunteer opportunities are available to even our newest members.
Board governance is but one example of the many volunteer opportunities available. Wisconsin has one of the best Mock Trial programs in the country; it provides an excellent opportunity for young attorneys to both volunteer and network. We have standing committees on Communications, Continuing Legal Education, Legal Assistance, Legislative Oversight, and Professional Ethics. I urge you to consider becoming involved with one of these standing committees.
The Bar also has special committees that need and depend on volunteers. Examples of our special committees are Bench and Bar, Insurance and Member Benefits, Diversity Outreach, Law Office Management Assistance Program, Leadership Development, Local Bar Relations, Public Education, and Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection. Each of these committees is tailored to not only help the public and assist other lawyers but also to help the volunteer attorneys to grow professionally. Each committee offers a valuable opportunity for the volunteer attorney to interact with other lawyers and learn about the issues being addressed by your State Bar.
I encourage every member to become involved or continue his or her involvement as a volunteer with the State Bar in some capacity. As Winston Churchill noted many years ago:
“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”
Here’s hoping that each of us can not only make a living, but also make a life.