The top employee at the State Bar of Wisconsin will be stepping down next June.
Executive Director George Brown will retire June 30, 2017. He made the announcement on the bar’s website May 23. Brown has been in the position for 16 years and, by the time of his retirement, will have spent nearly 30 years at different roles at the bar.
Brown’s announcement sets the bar’s succession plan into motion. The first step in the search for a new executive director will be for State Bar President Ralph Cagle and the Board of Governors to use their June meeting to form a 12-person committee that will be charged with seeking out and vetting candidates. The board, Brown said, will also have the responsibility of deciding what criteria will guide their eventual choice.
Still another question hangs over whether Brown will be asked to help the new director move into his new role. Brown’s early announcement of his retirement has fortunately bought the board some time to deliberate over these weighty matters.
Cagle said he can’t speak highly enough of Brown.
“In his 30 years of service to the lawyers of Wisconsin, George has become not only the face of the State Bar, but a champion of quality service to our members,” said Cagle. “He is a warm friend who has been a delight to serve with. We will find a successor, but a replacement for George — that will be a very, very tall order.”
Brown started as the State Bar’s public affairs director in 1986 after working in the Wisconsin Legislature in roles such as deputy director of the Wisconsin Assembly’s Democratic caucus staff.
He is essentially the bar’s fifth executive director, although the role has had different names in the past.
“George’s impact on the State Bar has been perhaps the most consequential of any person in the recent history of the organization,” Cagle said. “He has built an organization and professional staff that provides one of the most complete arrays of services to members of any bar association in the country.”
Brown’s announcement is the second of its kind to hit the legal community so far this year.
Supreme Court Justice David Prosser announced April 28 that he would be retiring July 31, after serving nearly 18 years on the state’s highest court.
Looking past his retirement in 2017, Brown said he plans to devote his energies to various tasks that he has not had time for over the years. Those include finishing a doctoral dissertation and turning a master’s thesis into a published book or article.
He also would like to get better at fishing and golf.
“And the list goes on and on,” Brown said.Follow @erikastrebel