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    Come to the State Bar's 2018 Annual Meeting & Conference in June in Lake Geneva to build and maintain a sense of community within the profession. It’s what makes us an association.

    Larry J. Martin

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    When I first came to work for the State Bar, I thought it was odd that there no longer was an annual gathering that brought together all our members from across practice areas. We used to hold both a midwinter and an annual conference each year, but for a variety of reasons they were both ended.

    Larry J. Martinorg lmartin wisbar Larry J. Martin is the executive director for the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    About one year into my tenure, I was attending an event when I ran into two leaders in the profession, State Bar Past President Lane Ware and Deanne Koll, who at the time was helping lead the Young Lawyers Division. In separate conversations, both were asking why the State Bar would end an event that seemed fundamental to building and strengthening the profession and that helped to define the culture of an association.

    Like Lane and Deanne, many other members believed there was still an important role for bringing the profession together each year to connect, to learn together the latest issues and trends affecting the law and the legal community and, if at all possible, get in some much-deserved relaxation.

    Thanks to the leadership of then State Bar President Patrick J. Fiedler, we brought it back. This summer will mark the fifth year of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Annual Meeting & Conference (AMC).

    If you haven’t joined us, you should. It’s an eventful and effective two days for what has become the largest gathering of the legal community in Wisconsin. There is top-notch continuing legal education (CLE), much of it presented by our sections, that will provide the latest insights from nationally recognized experts in the law and the profession. You can earn nearly half your CLE credits for the year, as well as credits for ethics and professional responsibility (EPR), law practice management (LPM), and awareness and understanding of substance abuse, mental illness, and related topics (LAU). In addition, there are a variety of social events specifically designed for you to get to know colleagues from across the state and nation. Our setting could not be nicer or more relaxing – the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, just outside beautiful Lake Geneva.

    More fundamentally, the goal was to build and maintain a sense of community within the profession.

    I am particularly excited about a great program titled Lawyers as Political Leaders: Engaging with Campaigns, Holding Office and Practicing Law. It’s part of State Bar President Paul Swanson’s initiative to encourage greater civic engagement.

    Be sure to check out amc.wisbar.org to see details on all the terrific speakers, programs, and social events, along with registration information. There is truly something for everyone. We’ve worked hard to keep the gathering affordable for as many members as possible. First-time attendees can participate at a discounted rate, and there are hotel options with a variety of price ranges.

    The last conversation I had with Lane Ware was a few weeks before the first AMC, for which Lane had served as the sage of our planning workgroup. I remember him reminding me that gatherings like the annual conference were not just about the programming, or even the networking. More fundamentally, the goal was to build and maintain a sense of community within the profession. It’s what makes us an association, rather than just another fee-for-service nonprofit. Lane was not able to join us for the gathering he worked so hard to bring back. However, those of us who knew him know that he would be proud of its return.