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Committee has until February to vet finalists for bar executive director

Incoming State Bar President Fran Deisinger

Incoming State Bar President Fran Deisinger

A group of lawyers and bar representatives is starting its search for candidates to replace the State Bar of Wisconsin’s top staff member.

Executive Director George Brown recently announced that he will be retiring in June of next year, prompting the bar to move forward with succession procedures the board had approved last year.

The Board of Governors took the first necessary step at Wednesday’s meeting, approving President Ralph Cagle’s 12 nominations to a committee charged with searching for candidates.

Michelle Behnke, a lawyer in Madison and a past State Bar president, will lead the search. Also on the committee are next year’s top-ranking bar officers: President Fran Deisinger, President-elect Paul Swanson and Cagle.

Other appointees include:

  • Chuck Stertz, an assistant district attorney in the Outagamie County DA’s office
  • Wausau attorney Dean Dietrich of Ruder Ware
  • Susan Miller of Waupaca, a non-lawyer member of the Board of Governors,
  • Madison attorney Chris Rogers of Habush, Habush and Rottier
  • David Werwie, a lawyer out of St. Paul, Minn.
  • Milwaukee attorney Kevin Lyons of Davis & Kuelthau
  • Milwaukee attorney Amy Lindner of Meta House
  • Milwaukee attorney Miriam Horwitz of the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office.

Cagle said Wednesday that the bar will hire a private recruiting company to aid in the search and that the bar is evaluating proposals from four firms, one of which is based in Wisconsin.

The board will have the final say on which candidate replaces Brown. Candidates cannot be brought before the board without having the backing of at least eight members of the search committee, Cagle said.

Deisinger, who will replace Cagle in July, said the committee should present candidates to the board at its February meeting.

About Erika Strebel, [email protected]

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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