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State Bar elections

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We can’t control the messages of outside special interests, but we, as a bar association, can and should try to do something to have an impact upon how judicial candidates conduct themselves.

Diane S. Diel
State Bar President-elect 2007-08

Solo practitioner attorney Diane S. Diel of Milwaukee has been named president-elect of the State Bar of Wisconsin, narrowly edging out her opponent, Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel William J. Domina.

Diel received 2,480 votes to Domina’s 2,388. She will succeed Thomas J. Basting Sr. as president. She will serve as president-elect for one year beginning July 1, 2007 and will then take office as president of the State Bar for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2008.

“I am excited and honored to be elected to serve the members of the State Bar of Wisconsin,” says Diel. “I hope to use this opportunity to build consensus and foster professionalism and to make quality legal services available to all Wisconsin residents.”

She says her primary goals for the coming year are two-fold: to assist Basting in realizing eight goals contained within the recent “Access to Justice” report, which outlined the need for civil legal services for the state’s low-income citizens; and to assist him in whatever action he might take to improve the level of discourse in judicial campaigns.

On the latter note, Diel says that, earlier this year, she would “cringe” if she were in a public place such as a restaurant when a TV would broadcast an advertisement during the recent race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court between Washington County Judge Annette Ziegler and Madison attorney Linda Clifford.

Diel says the ads were “horrifying” and made her ashamed to say she is a member of the same profession.

“We can’t control the messages of outside special interests, but we, as a bar association, can and should try to do something to have an impact upon how judicial candidates conduct themselves,” she says. “It’s just a shame that the bar couldn’t do something during that race to mediate the situation.”

In contrast, Diel says the race between Domina and herself was “low-key, characterized by two people who like and respect each other.”

Domina immediately left a “very gracious” message for Diel congratulating her on her victory, which the bar announced late in the day on April 28. In addition, he told Wisconsin Law Journal that he plans to continue to volunteer for the bar, and will take on leadership roles in whatever capacity he is asked to serve. Domina is currently chair of the bar’s powerful Finance Committee.

Diel hypothesizes that perhaps some bar members voted for her over Domina because of her work on the revised attorney trust account rule. In addition, gender may have played a role in how some cast their votes, just as the fact that she is a solo —“But I hope to be a good leader, and represent well the interests of all lawyers, in the coming years,” she says.

Since 1987, Diel’s practice has focused on family law, custody and adoption issues. She has also been active in the bar, serving as secretary from 1988-90, on the Board of Governors from 1990-92, as a fellow of the Wisconsin Law Foundation since 2005 and in numerous other capacities.

Other races

In other State Bar races, Gwendolyn G. Connolly of Milwaukee was elected State Bar treasurer for a two-year term, defeating Grant E. Birtch of Neenah, 2,364 votes to 2,153 votes.

Catherine A. La Fleur of Milwaukee defeated Beth Ermatinger Hanan of Milwaukee for a seat on the Judicial Council for three years by a vote of 2,590 to 1,930.

Those elected to serve on the State Bar Board of Governors are:

  • District 1: Kelly C. Nickel, Thorpe;
  • District 2: James E. Collis, Margaret W. Hickey, Catherine A. La Fleur, Lynn R. Laufenberg, Kevin J. Lyons, Carmen M. Ortiz-Babilonia and Nicholas C. Zales, all of Milwaukee;
  • District 3: Paul G. Swanson, Oshkosh;
  • District 5: J. David Rice, Sparta;
  • District 6: C. Michael Hausman, Delafield;
  • District 7: Thomas W. Bertz, Stevens Point;
  • District 9: James C. Boll Jr., Micabil (Mike) Diaz-Martinez, and James R. Troupis, all of Madison;
  • District 11: Howard J. Bichler, Rice Lake;
  • District 13: Robert J. Asti, Cedarburg; and,
  • District 15: Eugene A. Gasiorkiewicz, Racine.

Finally, elected to serve as division presidents-elect are: Charles “Mike” Kernats of Madison, Government Lawyers; Steven H. Schuster of Washington, D.C., Nonresident Lawyers; Margadette Demet of Milwaukee, Senior Lawyers; and Jessica J. King of Oshkosh, Young Lawyers.

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