One of my favorite lines from the movies is from a baseball film, “The Natural.” Robert Duvall, playing a crusty old sports reporter, observes to Robert Redford’s Roy Hobbes, the past-his-prime-in-years-yet-preternaturally-talented player of the title, that ball players “come and they go; they come and they go.”
So too for bar presidents. This June concludes my term as State Bar of Wisconsin president. It has been a wonderful responsibility to represent our members and our profession and to serve our association. The challenges have been considerable. We are a changing profession, smaller than we were, but more diverse, too. Economic and competitive pressures on both our individual members and our association have intensified. We have seen heightened criticism of both our state and federal judiciaries. The lawyers working in our criminal justice system and those providing civil legal services for low-income Wisconsinites have been persistently underfunded. We faced the considerable challenge of finding a successor for our nationally renowned long-time executive director George Brown. A recent petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court once again challenges the structure of the State Bar. That’s just a partial list.
The State Bar’s officers and governors and all the superb lawyers and exceptional people who volunteer their time in our divisions, sections, and committees have met these challenges head on. Together with the State Bar’s outstanding staff, we will continue to meet them on your behalf. Challenges are never beyond the ability of the people of our profession.
I have been honored to serve you and our courts. It is humbling for me to have my name associated with the past presidents of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and the many yet to come, beginning with Paul Swanson and Chris Rogers. My parting advice to my successors – and to all of you – is to remember that the best thing about our association is the opportunity it allows every Wisconsin lawyer to get to know so many other wonderful lawyers in our state. There are no finer people.
We are a changing profession,
smaller than we were, but more
And there is no finer profession. During my tenure, the State Bar’s Board of Governors adopted a vision statement for our organization that makes me very proud of who we lawyers are and what we do: “Our members are the respected guardians of the dignity and integrity of the rule of law within a fair and accessible justice system.”
The State Bar of Wisconsin stands for lawyers, and thereby, it stands for justice. Thank you for this privilege.