With light beginning to peek out at the end of this long pandemic tunnel, plans are in motion to gradually reopen the State Bar Center, first to staff and then you, our members. It is hard to believe, but it will be nearly 500 days since we began working remotely.
So much has happened (and not happened) during this time. It would be all too easy to dwell on the losses, struggles, and difficulties we have faced. To do so would simply be overwhelming. Our losses have been unimaginable. I choose instead to focus on our successes, resilience, grit, and determination, as well as our ability to face our challenges together, though physically apart.
Throughout this time our goals have been two-fold: first, to keep everyone safe; and second, to keep the mission and work of the State Bar of Wisconsin in serving our members moving forward. I am proud to say that the collective efforts of our leadership and staff have been nothing short of extraordinary. Rather than simply treading water, we have found new and innovative ways to make your practice our purpose, all while working from nearly 90 separate locations.
As the news of the coronavirus unfolded, our focus quickly turned to supporting the legal community and our courts in ensuring the continued administration of justice; connecting our members to resources and information to help them through the challenges caused by the abrupt disruptions to their practices and lives; maintaining vital services and programs such as WisLAP, Practice 411, and our ethics hotline; and making sure we continued to provide high-quality CLE, in accessible formats at affordable prices.
During this time, we have learned much about ourselves and our ability to continue to be innovative, creative, and productive. For me, it has meant that I have finally become competent and comfortable using remote technology, much to the surprise and delight of my colleagues in IT. These last several months have demonstrated the overwhelming need for expanded broadband service everywhere (as well as the convenience and comfort of ramen noodles).
Now empty nesters, my wife Martha and I literally have been together every single day and night for the last year and a half. Wonderfully, it turns out, we like being around each other.
As we come back, we return to a world that will be both familiar and now different. What exactly our future will look like and how exactly life will have changed remain to be seen. I do know that it will be a work environment that will be less rigid, more flexible and focused on meeting both our organizational and our human needs.
It has been one heck of a journey.
Years from now, as we reflect, let us remember that at a critical moment in our lives and time, we pulled together, supported each other, and most importantly kept moving forward.
» Cite this article: 94 Wis. Law. 9 (June 2021).