In my December column I wrote about how time passes at a break-neck pace. My thoughts turn again to that fact as I write my last President’s Message for our magazine. This June concludes my term as State Bar president. It has been an absolute honor serving you. As incoming president Jill Kastner is learning, being a successful president requires commitment and the ability to take criticism and accept responsibility. It requires thick skin on occasion and the ability to see beyond the challenges of the day; but above all, it requires an absolute ability to lead. Certainly, some days in my tenure were more successful than others, as we all can say I suppose. However, through it all, I was not alone in my efforts. As such, I have some people to thank.
First, I thank all the State Bar officers and governors whom I have had the pleasure to work with as well as all of you who participate in our sections, divisions, and committees. The heavy lifting could not be done without you.
I also thank the State Bar staff. They do tremendous work and were a constant resource throughout my year. I thank past presidents Fran Deisinger and Paul Swanson, incoming president Jill Kastner, and executive director Larry Martin. These tireless supporters of the Bar guided me through my term and became great friends along the way.
The work and challenges continue. In the year ahead, there is a real chance for enactment of a criminal justice package that would increase the $40-per-hour private pay rate for public defenders and institute pay progression for our assistant district attorneys and public defenders. Further, how we deliver legal services continues to evolve, as do access to justice concerns in Wisconsin’s northern and western counties, where lawyers are retiring with fewer young lawyers replacing them, and recently, two challenges to the structure of the Bar.
Incoming president Jill Kastner will do an outstanding job leading us through these and other challenges. We are lucky to have her.
During my presidency, I strove to be an effective advocate for lawyers, to serve our supreme court and lower courts, and to fight to preserve access to justice and the rule of law for the residents of this great state. We are best when we are advocates in making a positive difference in people’s lives. I believe the State Bar of Wisconsin does just that.
Finally, I thank you, our members. It has been one of the highest honors of my professional career to be your advocate, and it has been a privilege to meet and work with so many of you along the way. The practice of law is more than a job; it is a profession, and the Bar is here to support you. I have had a front-row seat, witnessing the unbelievable work you do for clients and other people you serve. Thank you for the opportunity and privilege to be president of this great organization.
In the year ahead, there is a real chance for enactment of a criminal justice package that would increase the $40-per-hour private pay rate for public defenders and institute pay progression for our assistant district attorneys and public defenders.