Whenever you consider joining a professional association, you make a buying decision. Does this organization help me solve problems I find difficult or can’t solve on my own? Does it provide the services I need? Does it help me accomplish my goals?
In a mandatory membership organization, you don’t get the choice of whether to join. Hence, you don’t really make a buying decision. But that is precisely why your elected and volunteer State Bar leaders and staff work harder to ensure the answer to the questions above is “yes.”
Some of you might be unaware of features that come with your membership. In talking with lawyers around the state, I have learned that some believe that they receive certain features or services because they are licensed to practice in Wisconsin.
This became more obvious to many back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the enforcement of its mandatory membership rule pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the State Bar. Many lawyers who did not join the State Bar were surprised when they no longer received this magazine, could not receive ethics counsel services, or had to pay more for purchased services, such as seminars and books. I know they were surprised because I received the phone calls.
So what does come exclusively to you with your membership in the State Bar? Well, for one, this award-winning Wisconsin Lawyer, with its informative practice-related articles. Simply by signing up for them, you also can receive weekly case law updates through CaseLaw Express, legislative and other law-related updates through WisBar InsideTrack, and online statutory and case law research for all 50 states, federal law, and bankruptcy law, through Fastcase.
You also receive confidential professional services counseling, including ethics counsel from the State Bar’s two professional ethics attorneys, practice management counsel from our Practice411™ law office management advisor, and both professional and personal help through our nationally recognized lawyer assistance program, WisLAP.
Gone are the days when the State Bar offered various discount programs that could be found anywhere. The State Bar’s Insurance and Member Benefits Committee has focused on bringing you opportunities that benefit your practice. In addition to Fastcase and Practice411, you have member discounts for Clio cloud-based law practice management software, LawPay electronic billing services, and the OfficeMax advantage program, among other benefits. And, we just added two new discount benefits for MyCase complete case management software and expanded discounts for UPS shipping.
Recently, a solo practitioner thanked the committee for the OfficeMax discount program, stating that he had “saved hundreds of dollars on printing and supplies” and adding that “for those members who complain about having to pay their bar dues, ... they can ‘earn it back’ through various savings programs.”
These are just some of the ways your State Bar works for you as if we were a voluntary bar. Be sure to browse the member benefits brochure inserted with this issue.