In honor of campaign season, I’ll channel a candidate from the past as I say hello: Who am I? Why am I here?
Okay, with apologies to Admiral Stockdale (an authentic American hero), I hope I don’t seem quite as befuddled. And luckily I have already been elected. In fact, that happened a year ago, and I spent last year as the State Bar of Wisconsin’s president-elect before being sworn in as president.
I’m glad I had that year. Like many of you, my involvement with the State Bar throughout my career was infrequent, mostly comprised of attending or occasionally presenting a CLE class under the State Bar’s auspices. Don’t get me wrong, I had nothing against the State Bar. I was just focused on my career as a litigator and as a lawyer to lawyers, and I was also involved in my local bar.
So it was a great surprise to me to be asked to run for president of the State Bar. I had to think about it. For one thing, I wondered how any organization with more than 50 governors could really get anything done. And frankly, all the moving parts of the State Bar – many of which I knew little about – intimidated me. Does that sound familiar to any of you?
So I used my year as president-elect to learn about our association, its purposes (see Supreme Court Rules Chapter 10), and its capabilities. And here’s the good news: it does work. It works hard every day for our profession, for our society, and for our members.
I’m here to serve you, to serve our
purposes as an association, and
finally, as is obvious by now, to
encourage your participation.
What’s the “secret sauce”? Simple. The people. Hundreds of selfless State Bar members giving their time on your behalf in our sections, on our committees, and in State Bar leadership roles to advance our profession, to assist our supreme court in the administration of justice, to educate our members and the public, and to make our society better in all the invaluable ways that lawyers uniquely can. We also have a great professional staff who work to enable those volunteers and to serve our members.
More good news: our members who get involved in State Bar service universally find that participation gratifying, not just in a professional sense but on a personal level. Do you want more friends in the profession? Bar participation is a sure path to it. In State Bar service, even when we disagree with each other (after all, that’s in our lawyerly nature) it’s done with a mutual respect that inevitably builds, in the phrase of a slightly more successful candidate than Admiral Stockdale, our bonds of affection.
So let me answer those questions I started with. I’m Fran Deisinger, I’m now proudly the 61st president of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and along with all State Bar leaders and staff, I’m here to serve you, to serve our purposes as an association, and finally, as is obvious by now, to encourage your participation. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can this year.