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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 08, 2019

    Your State Bar
    Giving Thanks

    Please take time to pause and give thanks for your family, friends, and livelihood this November and perhaps also give back to your community.

    Larry J. Martin

    Each year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, the State Bar staff gathers during a workday noon hour. Together we sit and enjoy a traditional holiday feast – complete with turkeys, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and some of the most incredible homemade side dishes and desserts. It’s one of the events I most look forward to each year and a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season.

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

    Given the uncertainty of the world around us, it seems more important than ever to pause and take stock. As I reflect, there is much to be thankful for this year.

    First and most important, I get to work for and with some incredible and talented individuals. An organization’s mission should inspire us in our work, but it is the people I interact with who keep me coming back each day.

    Something truly noteworthy and worth celebrating has become increasingly evident this past year. The leadership of the State Bar, as made up of the Board of Governors, is better reflecting the changing face of our membership. It has become a more accurate representation of the changing demographics of the profession itself. It is but one small step on the journey but an early indication that our efforts at being intentional and deliberative in matters of diversity and inclusion are starting to pay off.

    Thanks to an increased number of younger members on the Board, as well as members of our staff, we’ve had a bit of a baby boom at the State Bar, with eight children born this past year. Another good reason to give thanks.

    Every Thanksgiving for the past 30 years, former State Bar Treasurer John Danner has volunteered by helping organize a community dinner for about 500 of his neighbors in Minocqua. For the last 20 years, John has been in charge of coordinating, preparing, and cooking for the gathering. This year, John is passing his chef’s hat to someone else, who will lead the effort going forward. When we talk about lawyers as civic leaders, John is but one shining example of a profession with deep roots in our communities.

    An organization’s mission should inspire us in our work, but it is the people I interact with who keep me coming back each day.

    As for me, Thanksgiving at the Martin house is one of tradition and family. Early risers are greeted with my special hot chocolate, and we gather around the television to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. By late morning the smell of turkey cascades from the kitchen. If the entire family is coming over, we’ll plan to host about 30 people. All are welcome to our table, including the in-laws of the in-laws. The meal could not be more traditional, right down to the homemade ravioli. Before the meal, we will all pause and give thanks – for the good that has happened, the challenges we have faced together, and hope for what lies ahead.

    On behalf of my colleagues, thank you for another successful year and the opportunity to serve you. You are the founders of our feast. For this we are profoundly grateful.

    Now, will someone please pass the ravioli?

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