It is said that there is nothing more sacred that a person can give than their labor. After serving eight years in state government, I had a big decision to make as to what I wanted to do next in life. While it was something to which I gave much thought, in the end, the decision wasn’t too hard; I wanted to return to my roots – being part of a professional association.
What attracted me to the State Bar of Wisconsin nearly seven years ago was a desire to be part of something that served the broader common good, in which my contributions would help make a difference in our society. Associations bring people together; it is a way in which we organize ourselves. They are communities.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines community in part as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; practicing common ownership.” It is further defined as “people … considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.”
The State Bar is a community – a community of lawyers and staff members bound together by a common mission of serving the courts, clients, and the public by promoting access to justice and furthering the rule of law within a fair and accessible justice system.
The State Bar of Wisconsin is more than the sum of its services, products, and programs. It is not a buyer’s club. The day it simply becomes a fee-for-service nonprofit is the day I seek a new challenge. You are more than a customer – you are a member, and we are a community. Like it or not, we are all interconnected. As the pace of life speeds up and the world becomes more complex, we need each other now more than ever.
At its best, the State Bar exists to support you in your practice, to help you serve your clients in the context of furthering justice in our society.
At its best, the State Bar exists to support you in your practice, to help you serve your clients in the context of furthering justice in our society. That’s a great reason to exist. It’s what motivates me and makes me look forward to walking in the door every day.
But being a State Bar member is not a one-way street. As with most things in life, you get back what you put in. We each have a personal role and responsibility to contribute to the larger community. Your contributions of time, talent, and treasure are crucial to building community and ultimately a successful, effective, and thriving legal profession.
There are so many different ways you can choose to be involved and engaged beyond your financial support. While I will not delineate the opportunities here, I simply encourage you to be open to engaging with your legal colleagues in your local bar associations and the State Bar. You are the key element in building community toward the greater good.