I have accepted the invitation of the Nomination Committee to run for President of the Wisconsin State Bar and am running because I feel inspired to give back to the public for the many opportunities my legal career has provided to me.
My biography on the preceding page details my experience and highlights some of the ways in which I have endeavored to make a positive influence on our profession. For example, during the past three years, I have served as President of the Fellows of the Wisconsin Law Foundation. Through hard work, we were able to substantially increase the money raised for the charitable work of the Foundation, as well as increase diversity among the Fellows. Earlier in my career, I had the great pleasure of serving the Wisconsin legal community as a member of several committees and boards.
The State Bar can more than ever be a progressive force to make our civil and criminal justice system more fair, our judiciary more independent, and our profession more skilled in serving the needs of the public.
My Platform for State Bar President includes:
Make the State Bar more efficient, responsive, effective, and appealing to all lawyers, including lawyers who would not join if membership was voluntary. Develop a survey to determine how the State Bar can better serve government lawyers, non-profit, in-house and general counsel attorneys, and sole practitioners.
- Support fair pay and dues reimbursement for assistant district attorneys, public defenders, and other government attorneys. Likewise, the $40 an hour rate for assigned counsel for indigent defendants is unreasonable and should be increased.
- Propose that CLE credit be awarded for mentor programs in the same way that CLE credit is now awarded for pro bono representation.
- Encourage law school graduates to practice in underserved areas of Wisconsin by developing a plan to provide money to forgive student loans for practice in such areas.
- Address, in a constructive manner, the lack of civility displayed by a very small percentage of attorneys.
- Support making law clerks available to all trial judges in Wisconsin just as law clerks are provided in Minnesota and the federal system. Because law clerks are often willing to work for an intern’s salary to gain needed experience, the benefits of better trial court decisions and fewer appeals would outweigh the costs of law clerks.
- Improve access to justice in civil cases for low-income residents. I join the President of the American Bar Association in urging Congress to reject the federal budget provision eliminating funding for the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”). This will enable Legal Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Judicare and other organizations supported by the LSC to continue their important work. Likewise, as suggested by the Public Interest Law Section, the State Bar should consider a pilot program for a civil Gideon rule where judges could appoint counsel in meritorious civil cases just as they do in criminal cases.
- Address changing technology by offering more technology courses including online courses.
- Propose a constitutional amendment to enable attorneys with at least 25 years of experience to be eligible to become “Senior Circuit Judges” by appointment. Senior Circuit Judges would be specially assigned to complex cases and serve in counties with significant case backlogs.
I am excited about the prospect of taking on these challenges. If I am fortunate enough to be elected President of the State Bar, I will work tirelessly on your behalf.