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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    December 09, 2021

    Final Thought
    The Power of Our Profession: Volunteer

    Here's one suggestion for 2022: Resolve to volunteer with the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Kathryn L. Knowlton

    What a year it has been, and quite a way to usher in a new decade. Just in 2021, so many notable, even historic, Wisconsin legal matters continue to percolate, to challenge and define the law and our profession.

    Kathryn L. KnowltonKathryn L. Knowlton, Marquette 2000, is owner and principal attorney at Knowlton Law Group LLC, Wauwatosa and Stone Lake, practicing primarily in family law, employment law, and direct representation of victims of crime. Knowlton also chaired the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2021 Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference, which took place in October. Get to know the author: Check out Q&A below.

    Whatever your area of practice, there have been unanticipated challenges, quick pivots (potentially the most overused word the past two years), new digital requirements, remote appearances without broadband (wait, what?), and so many struggling clients.

    Exhaustion is understandable, even confusion and frustration and differences of opinion. Lawyers have a very hard job. But none of those inevitable emotions, valid or not, can be indulged when engaging in critical analysis of options, rights, and responsibilities for our clients.

    After the couple of years that we have all just experienced, our current mood and near-future forecast can sure seem gloomy given the ongoing pandemic and deepening political polarization (another overused word), which affects our profession and the application of actual law.

    Enter the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Regardless of your opinion about mandatory status or dues amount or your past engagement with the supports and resources the State Bar provides, the organization is invaluable in these challenging times.

    Now, understand the power and solidarity of what being a Wisconsin lawyer entails. Your bucket of resources might not seem overflowing right now, but it sure is more than half full because of the State Bar.

    I belong to multiple sections solely because of the electronic lists. I subscribe to the forms libraries because they are comprehensive, user friendly, and regularly updated with practice tips. In my opinion, the State Bar’s Ethics Hotline and Practice 411 practice management and technology assistance are the most up-to-date curators of resources and best practices for solo practitioners in the nation.

    For 20 years now, I have been flooded with glossy, commercialized national offerings for continuing legal education, which have never come close to the practical value, personal attention, and specifically applicable local, State Bar-sponsored CLE – for me, the most important of which is the Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference.

    One conference helps fulfill a year of CLE requirements. But it also highlights the State Bar’s more nuanced and intangible support: helping me stay connected with friends and colleagues. We laugh, learn, and leave refreshed and reenergized, ready to best serve our clients and profession.

    State Bar staff bring expertise, dependability, good humor, and patience. But the State Bar in its most successful form only works this well because of the generosity of countless volunteer lawyers, committed to the highest standards in the work and service of the law.

    These are colleagues who share their expertise, ideas, time, and energy to further the most noble and highest goals of the law: service and justice. Whether serving on committees or boards, writing, or speaking, all are dedicated to improving systems and lives. I am privileged and humbled to know so many colleagues and call them my friends.

    You use your power to help clients. Now consider using it to help the legal profession, which ultimately helps our communities and our state. In the new year, give it a go! Get involved with the State Bar.

    The State Bar in its most successful form only works this well because of the generosity of countless volunteer lawyers, committed to the highest standards in the work and service of the law.

    Meet Our Contributors

    What is your favorite place for an early morning bite?

    Kathryn L. KnowltonIt depends on where I am. That sounds delightfully more romantic and glamorous than it is, but it is just true. Splitting time between the glorious Northwoods and the bustling Milwaukee metro area, my taste buds are very lucky! My favorite morning nosh in the Milwaukee area is Rocket Baby Bakery in Wauwatosa. The pastries are simply divine, the morning sandwiches legendary, and the mocha is the best I have found – most likely because they are made by the nicest bakers and baristas in the world.

    But sharing the top spot is The Whistle Punk in Stone Lake, with signature espressos that include flavors like maple pecan, and syrup on waffles, alongside breakfast burritos or unique veggie paninis (and craft brew anytime). Delish, and the happiest ways to start my days – no matter where I am in our gorgeous state!

    Kathryn L. Knowlton, Knowlton Law Group LLC, Wauwatosa and Stone Lake.

    Become a contributor! Are you working on an interesting case? Have a practice tip to share? There are several ways to contribute to Wisconsin Lawyer. To discuss a topic idea, contact Managing Editor Karlé Lester at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6127, or email Check out our writing and submission guidelines.

    » Cite this article: 94 Wis. Law. 72 (December 2021).

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