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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    January 01, 2018

    Your State Bar
    Membership Has Its Privileges

    Need assistance in your professional or personal life? Chances are help is just a phone call away, at the State Bar.

    Larry J. Martin

    I recently spoke at a joint meeting of two local bar associations. During the presentation, a member raised his hand and stated that in his more than 40 years as a State Bar of Wisconsin member, he has never felt that he received anything of value for his membership.

    Larry J. MartinLarry J. Martin is the executive director for the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    My heart sank. All the efforts and contributions of volunteer members and my colleagues back at the State Bar, over these many years, and this member felt nothing had been given to help him or his practice move forward. On the drive home, I realized this member raised a legitimate question regarding the State Bar’s efforts to help members succeed and thrive in their practices and how we best communicate them to you.

    Here are a few examples of what the State Bar does.

    Not long ago, a lawyer from northern Wisconsin called our WisLAP helpline. He described regularly feeling miserable, unsatisfied with work, and disengaged from his family. When he was at work he felt unproductive, and when at home, preoccupied with what was waiting for him back at the office. He had contemplated calling WisLAP before but could never quite make himself pick up the phone. At the urging of his wife, he finally called.

    Many lawyers wait to call WisLAP until stress and tension are making them miserable. This lawyer described physical symptoms and sleep problems and said he had difficulty making decisions, staying focused, and following through on commitments. It became clear that this was not merely one bad day or tough week, but a pattern of unhappiness and frustration that was interfering with his ability to represent his clients.

    WisLAP helped the lawyer with a plan to move forward. Like many people, he was reluctant to talk to a therapist, mostly because he thought, as a lawyer, he should be able to solve his problems himself. WisLAP calls are confidential by Supreme Court Rule, but many lawyers fear that someone will know they need help and question their competence.

    The lawyer eventually sought help, was diagnosed with depression, and started treatment. When he contacted the program again, he asked to be a WisLAP volunteer, so he could give back for the assistance he had received.

    Every day, your State Bar is ready to provide the resources, information, and insights you need to turn challenges into opportunities and questions into answers.

    Here’s another example. Recently a long-time member contacted the State Bar’s Law Office Management Program (Practice 411) because he was struggling with the registration process for the court’s e-filing system, and other agencies he called hadn’t helped him. He later summed up the State Bar’s response: “This call clearly aided me and succeeded in my becoming eligible for e-filing without what had theretofore seemed a burdensome process … what had been a stumbling block had soon become a stepping stone and in minutes, my quest to obtain a permissive status to use e-filing became a reality.”

    My final example: one of our solo practitioner members shared with me his appreciation for the special pricing he and all State Bar members get at Office Depot. He can’t afford a high-volume photocopier so he goes to the Depot. He said he easily recoups the cost of his yearly dues by using the discounted digital print services for members.

    Every day, you face diverse challenges in the practice of law. And every day, your State Bar is ready to provide the resources, information, and insights you need to turn challenges into opportunities and questions into answers and to become more economical and efficient. Simply put, we’re here to help you succeed.

    To learn more about programs, products, and services, visit to access our new Member Benefits brochure. Or if you prefer, call our customer service team at (800) 728-7788 to receive a printed copy.

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