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Boll sworn in as bar president

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At the swearing-in ceremony of the 55th and newest president of the State Bar of Wisconsin, new President James C. Boll Jr. outlined three ambitious goals that motivated him to run for the office, but gave little mention to his commitment to the push for a voluntary bar.

In thanking outgoing president Douglas C. Kammer, Boll said, “President Kammer has a firm and distinct view about what the structure of our organization should be – one that I agree with. But whether you agree with him or not, I think we can all agree that President Kammer lent a voice to members who felt they didn’t have one and engaged members who had not been engaged before.”

He later added, “Over the past year, the Board of Governors and the Strategic Planning Committee have been working on the difficult issue of the structure of our organization. We haven’t come to a resolution yet. But I can tell you that the Board of Governors is working hard on it.”

He then moved on to his first goal as president: “To provide the best benefits we can for members.” He pledged to work with members of the Insurance and Member Benefits Committee, co-chaired by Madison attorneys Todd Martin and John Sheski, and said he will split that committee into two subcommittees. One will take a look at the national health care policy to determine how that may affect members, while the other will attend local bar meetings or CLEs to discuss the pros and cons of existing member benefits, and brainstorm regarding potential new benefits.

Secondly, he said he’ll work with the Local Bar Relations Committee. They’ll look for services or programs from the local bars that will benefit their members that the State Bar can help administer. An existing example of this is the Dane County Bar Association’s Mentorship Program.

Third, and finally, he said he’ll work with the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the bar’s Criminal Law Section to raise the rate of pay for attorneys who accept private-bar appointments for the State Public Defender. The present rate is $40 per hour. WACDL has formed a working group, chaired by Milwaukee attorney John Birdsall, to study how the rate directly affects the constitutional rights of citizens.

“Ladies and gentleman, if the president of the State Bar of Wisconsin doesn’t stand for the Constitutional rights of citizens, and stand with public defenders, as well as members of the State Bar who do this important criminal defense work, I don’t know what the State Bar president should stand for,” he remarked.

Boll said the general status of the organization is “strong and vital,” and praised the bar’s executive director, George C. Brown, staff and members that volunteer their time to the bar’s various entities, and noted, “We are an organization that can handle dissent.”

Boll, of Madison Gas & Electric, is married to attorney Lorna (“Rory”) Hemp Boll, and he is the son of attorney James C. Boll Sr. of Madison.

Jane Pribek can be reached at jpribek@bellsouth.net.

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