Merriam-Webster defines value as “the monetary worth of something; a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged;something intrinsically valuable or desirable.”
What value can you put on a State Bar of Wisconsin membership? It’s a fair question and one I often think about, particularly as we prepare each spring to send out annual membership statements.
I could list many programs, products, and services provided by your State Bar, each designed to meet a specific member need. But the State Bar is more than a fee-for-service nonprofit in which you give us your money in exchange for a good.
At its best, the State Bar exists to support you in your practice, to help you serve your clients, all in the context of furthering justice in society. In addition, unlike other professional associations, our mission requires us to also serve the public and the courts in supporting the administration of justice. We are a community with a shared goal: promoting and safeguarding the rule of law.
During the last year, with a global pandemic raging and with so many members and staff working from home, it would have been tempting to downshift our efforts, hunker down, and ride out the storm. Instead, we geared up – focusing on how we could help you meet and compete in these challenging times.
We quickly focused on connecting you to resources and services that addressed the abrupt disruption to members’ jobs and personal lives. We helped you find economic relief.
We ramped up online learning, particularly focusing on legal issues surrounding the coronavirus, and webcast and on-demand programming; and held free virtual town hall meetings on vital practice information.
We increased our practice management and ethics support, helped members with computer and technology discounts to keep email secure for members working remotely, and emphasized lawyer well-being, including stress-reduction support and coping skills.
We worked on the following: exemption of legal services from the “safer at home order”; clarification on the use of remote notaries; temporary easing of CLE rules for remote learning; support of remote depositions by court reporters; educating the public on where to turn for legal help; and supporting the courts in communicating changes regarding operations. We also instituted a process to help members spread their annual court assessments and State Bar dues payments over four months.
In the end, the value of your membership is in large measure determined by you. I hope you find not only a compelling mix of products and services that help you in your practice but also opportunities in which to meaningfully engage with the broader legal community.
» Cite this article: 94 Wis. Law. 9 (April 2021).