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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    March 09, 2020

    President's Message: Lawyers: Help Heal the Profession

    The new Wisconsin Lawyer Well-Being Task Force is concerned about what's ailing the legal profession. If you are, too, consider volunteering for WisLAP.

    Jill M. Kastner

    Can you believe it’s March already? The office is buzzing with coworkers selecting brackets for March Madness. Everyone seems to long for the start of spring. As for me, I can’t believe my term as State Bar president is two-thirds complete. It has been a whirlwind of nonstop activity – attending meetings and events, advocating before our courts, working through budgets, and debating policy.

    Jill M. KastnerJill M. Kastner, UCLA School of Law 2000, is president of the State Bar of Wisconsin. She practices in civil poverty law to ensure housing stability for veterans at Legal Action of Wisconsin Inc., Milwaukee.

    If you aren’t careful, you can get caught up in day-to-day tasks and putting out fires. But it’s important to take a step back and refocus on the big issues. For me, that means providing valued benefits to members (like our new Association Health Plan), promoting access to justice, supporting diversity and inclusion, and working with Wisconsin courts to advance the administration of justice.

    One new initiative that will both benefit members and provide the opportunity to work with our courts is the Wisconsin Lawyer Well-Being Task Force.

    Why do we need a task force when we already have the Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP)? Because lawyer well-being cannot be solved by WisLAP alone. WisLAP does an excellent job reaching lawyers in crisis. However, our goal is prevention and early intervention so as to avoid crisis. If we want to reduce the numbers of lawyers who require help, we need people in power, including the judiciary, law school staff, and influencers, to work toward a paradigm shift – by modifying existing policies to promote attorney wellness and detecting and addressing issues earlier, to try to reduce the number of lawyers who need to use WisLAP. Inviting stakeholders to assess what is already working in Wisconsin and what could be improved is a crucial part of reaching this goal.

    Working hand in hand with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the task force is convening for the purposes of:

    • Examining the current strengths of Wisconsin efforts to facilitate lawyer, judge, and law student well-being – including the important work being done by WisLAP;

    • Identifying areas that pose challenges and present impediments to initiatives, including ongoing educational opportunities, that would foster lawyer, judge, and law student well-being; and

    • Creating a statewide action plan with specific recommendations to be implemented in light of these strengths, challenges, and impediments.

    Members include Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn and lawyers, judges, and other professionals from across the state, representing different practice areas and settings and types of expertise, the law schools, and WisLAP volunteers. The task force hopes to uncover the reasons for the impediments that interfere with the ability to perform to the standards of the profession.

    At the end of its work, the task force will issue a report and final recommendations. These recommendations will receive ongoing attention from WisLAP and the larger State Bar to devise and implement solutions and promote ongoing best practices for lawyer well-being.

    Members with suggestions, comments, or ideas for the task force can email WisLAP at

    Lawyers who want to volunteer for WisLAP should also contact The only requirement is the desire to support your fellow lawyers. The time commitment can be minimal but the effects can be big. The next training date is Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

    We need people in power … to work toward a paradigm shift – by modifying existing policies to promote attorney wellness and detecting and addressing issues earlier.

    Here to Help

    Need assistance? Know someone who does? The Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) provides free, confidential assistance to help lawyers, judges, law students, and their families cope with problems related to the stress of practicing law.

    24 hour helpline: (800) 543-2625
    WisLAP Manager Mary Spranger (800) 444-9404 ext. 6159

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