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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    December 01, 2017

    President's Message
    Give Thanks and Give Back

    December is the ideal time to acknowledge colleagues, family, and friends who help ease lawyers' busy lives and to return the favor by volunteering for the State Bar and other organizations.

    Paul G. Swanson

    Have you ever noticed how busy the practice of law gets toward the end of the year? Every year I am amazed at the perennial crush of business that seems to occur between the 15th of November and 25th of December. I don’t think I have ever had as busy a time in the practice of law as those 45 days.

    Paul SwansonPaul G. Swanson (U.W. 1979) of Steinhilber, Swanson, Mares, Marone & McDermott, Oshkosh, is president of the State Bar of Wisconsin. Reach him by email.

    As you read this, Thanksgiving will have passed, and the holiday season is well on its way. It is a time for family and friends, and maybe a little bit of reflection.

    In my haste to get work out the door, I sometimes fail to take full account of the input given by the lawyers I work with and other colleagues sharing responsibilities for a case. I may receive a gentle rebuke or an admonition that I am not the only lawyer on the case and that we need to work together as a team. Typically, these are younger lawyers who may have a little different perspective on the case than I, a seasoned and experienced older litigator.

    Lawyers who have been practicing a long time have a tendency to rush forward, knowing that we know better. What I have learned, and continue to learn, is that the law is a collaborative profession, built on relationships and trust. In many cases, it is good to have more than one chef stirring the pot.

    Looking back at the last year and the many responsibilities I have delegated to associates, my paralegal, and other lawyers because of my time spent with the State Bar of Wisconsin, I give thanks to all of them for helping me and especially for giving me good advice when I need it but am too busy to ask for it. As I look at the next generation of lawyers coming up, I see that the profession is in good and capable hands and that the State Bar continues to uphold high standards in Wisconsin.

    The law is a collaborative profession, built on relationships and trust. In many cases, it is good to have more than one chef stirring the pot.

    I would also be remiss if I did not thank my family and friends for helping me out; things aren’t getting done in my personal life as they probably should be, for the same reasons. One truly comes to appreciate the value of many close friendships when help and assistance are needed. I am a lucky guy.

    In addition to my family, and my wonderful colleagues in the law, I also am grateful for the support that the State Bar staff has given me in carrying out my duties as president. They are tireless workers, delivering great service to State Bar members. They are often underappreciated and frequently anonymous. They deserve all the praise and recognition that we, who know them well, can give them. Kudos.

    If you want to give back to the State Bar, feel free to get involved. Volunteer for a committee or a project, help with the high school mock trial competition, volunteer for a legal services appointment, or find another way to contribute your time and efforts. It is the time of year to make a commitment to be generous in giving back something to the profession and the people of Wisconsin. Happy Holidays!

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