Do you have a tough problem? Chances are you need a lawyer. How about a really tough problem? Well, you might need more than one. On a historically balmy February Saturday, nearly 50 Wisconsin lawyers eschewed the spring-like conditions to answer the call to work at the State Bar Center on a really tough problem.
As I noted in my February column, Wisconsin has some of the nation’s worst rates of incarceration for members of racial and ethnic minorities. Under the sponsorship of the State Bar of Wisconsin, judges, prosecutors, professors, defense lawyers, and many other individuals, from all over the state, came together in Madison to learn more, to exchange ideas, to tell each other about the work they were doing already, and to build momentum to keep moving forward on this really tough problem. This was not a political or ideological or partisan effort in any way. The problem is a justice issue, not a political issue.
This meeting was lawyers doing what we do best: applying our analytical skills, our legal training, and our practical experiences and using them to analyze problems and offer possible solutions. And surely this meeting was also a great example of how your State Bar association can apply its organizational skills.
Fundamentally, this gathering demonstrated the importance of our skills to society, underscored the talent that we have in our profession – and more than anything else, it confirmed the pure humanity and goodwill of our members.
As I noted in my February
column, Wisconsin has
some of the nation’s worst
rates of incarceration for
members of racial and
How did we get so many lawyers, all volunteers, to agree to join this State Bar effort to look at this really tough problem? We asked. Not a single person said no.
We are far from any dramatic solutions. There is much work to do – and the State Bar of Wisconsin will continue to facilitate that work. We will continue to talk about this and report about it, and I hope you will help. But for now, I just want to say thank you to everyone who answered the call.
I have never been prouder to be president of the State Bar of Wisconsin.