When asked when she thought there would be enough women on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously replied, “When there are nine….” Well, the State Bar of Wisconsin is having a bit of an RBG moment.
I’m extremely proud to say that for the first time ever, all the elected officers of the State Bar of Wisconsin will be women on July 1. Not only are the president-elect, the president, and the past president all women for the second year in a row, but the secretary and the treasurer are women as well. In addition, the chairs of the Board of Governors and the Finance and Executive committees for the upcoming year are women. Today, the Board of Governors is more diverse than any time in our history, with women now in the majority.
In a perfect world, this shouldn’t be news – but this is the first time this has happened ever – so, yes, it is newsworthy.
These women share several traits with RBG. They are incredibly capable and competent. They are dedicated to the State Bar and the legal profession. They, like RBG, have reputations of being attorneys who roll up their sleeves and get things done. Frankly, they will need their collective determination and drive if the upcoming year is anything like the past year.
Despite the pandemic, the past year was busy and productive for the State Bar. Typically we have one, or possibly two, task forces actively working on issues. This past year, we had three actively working task forces, and we implemented the recommendations of a fourth task force. The Wisconsin Supreme Court adopted the Emeritus Task Force’s recommendations, which will go into effect on July 1. The Racial Justice Task Force and the Greater Wisconsin Initiative Task Force have completed their work and are presenting their recommendations to the Board of Governors. In addition, the Lawyer Well-Being Task Force expects to present its recommendations to the board in September.
Over the past year, there has been movement on several of the State Bar’s legislative priorities. Of particular note, President-elect Cheryl Daniels and I recently testified in support of expungement reform before the State Assembly and the State Senate. Expungement reform is a longstanding State Bar legislative priority and has bipartisan support. I encourage all of you to contact your legislators with your support as well. The State Bar’s online Advocacy Network makes contacting your legislators incredibly easy and quick to do.
Lastly, as a sign of the divisive times that we live in, this past year the State Bar leadership issued public statements more frequently than we have in the past. We ultimately issued four public statements, but each resulted in thoughtful discussions on the role of the State Bar and its leaders. I believe the requests for State Bar leadership to make public statements will not diminish anytime soon. But I can assure all of you that as I turn over the reins to my successor, President-elect Cheryl Daniels, the State Bar is in incredibly capable hands – those of its leaders, executive director, and staff.
The State Bar depends on volunteer attorneys to achieve its goals. These initiatives could not be done without the knowledge, expertise, guidance, and input that many of you have so graciously given. For all your contributions, thank you! We could not have accomplished it without you.
» Cite this article: 94 Wis. Law. 4 (June 2021).