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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    November 12, 2021

    President's Message: Connect with Legislators: Lawyers are Constituents, Too

    For legislators, individual constituents matter. The State Bar's Advocacy Network is a communication portal that connects you with your representatives and allows you to easily communicate your messages to them.

    Cheryl Furstace Daniels

    Given their budgetary constraints, government lawyers are always looking for free innovations to assist them in their work. Explaining to a legislator how and why my state agency is interpreting a particular statute or rule is one of my regular tasks as a government lawyer.

    Cheryl DanielsCheryl Daniels, U.W. Law 1985, is president of the State Bar of Wisconsin. She is assistant legal counsel at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in Madison.

    Explaining how or why a constituent’s idea to make a change in the statutes or rules doesn’t work for 99 percent of affected stakeholders is another task. It is important work because, for legislators, individual constituents matter. So, what innovation is available for lawyers as individual constituents?

    The State Bar of Wisconsin, through the work of Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Devin Martin, has come up with a nifty tool so you, the busy attorney, can quickly and easily be the well-informed constituent who raises concerns about – and possible solutions for – problems you see in working with your clients.

    It’s called the Advocacy Network, a communication portal that connects you with your representatives and allows you to easily communicate your messages to them.

    The Advocacy Network is a way to help legislators understand how certain proposals can improve the justice system. It’s a way to support the positions that the State Bar, or a section you are involved with, has taken on possible legislation. It’s really easy to become part of the Advocacy Network because the State Bar’s Government Relations team has streamlined the process for you to participate, and you can subscribe to receive alerts about priority issues.

    Just go to wisbar.org/GovRelations to see how you can easily communicate with your representatives in the state Senate and Assembly, your representatives in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, and others in the executive branches. You can communicate about the State Bar’s priority issues using pre-filled messages. Even more effective, you can change the pre-filled message, using the “compose your own message” section, as a quick and easy way to express your ideas in your own words.

    Consider asking to be contacted by your legislators so you can directly connect with them, have a more in-depth conversation, and build a trust relationship. Talk about your work so they have a constituent expert to call if they have a question about a subject you know and care about. You can use this service on any issue you wish to raise with your legislators, not just ones that are a priority for the State Bar or a section, and you can speak against the State Bar’s position if you so choose. As a government lawyer looking for innovations, I “know it when I see it”: the Advocacy Network is a great communication tool implemented by your State Bar for lawyers to elevate their visibility and expertise with the Wisconsin Legislature. Legislators want to hear from you.

    As lawyers, you are also in the unique position to explain the practical effect of a given proposal or the different legal considerations that could arise. Often, legislators need help in understanding the different components of a given issue. But most of all, they want to understand how their constituents feel about a particular bill and whether they should voice support or opposition.

    Your opinion matters, and now with the Advocacy Network, it’s easier than ever to voice it. I encourage you to go to wisbar.org/GovRelations and use the Advocacy Network to communicate with your representatives.

    » Cite this article: 94 Wis. Law. 4 (November 2021).




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