Ryan Billings Headshot

​​May 7, 2024 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors in a special meeting today (May 7) approved a motion appointing Dist. 2 Gov. Ryan Billings president-elect for the remainder of fiscal year 2024 (now until June 30, 2024).

Billings, who in April was
elected to serve as the next State Bar president-elect for FY 2025 (starting July 1, 2024), will instead become president on July 1, 2024. Billings is with Kohner, Mann & Kailas, S.C., Milwaukee.

Typically, the president-elect serves a one-year term before serving a one-year term as president. Billings would have taken office as president-elect on July 1. But the board’s action was necessary to address the current vacancy at the president-elect post.

Jane Bucher, of Monroe, was elected president-elect in April 2023 and served in the role for most of the current fiscal year. She was next in line for the State Bar presidency.

However, Bucher was appointed to the Green County Circuit Court by Gov. Tony Evers in March 2024. She subsequently resigned her State Bar president-elect post on April 12, 2024, leaving a vacancy. Under Wisconsin Supreme Court rules, judges cannot serve as State Bar Officers or members of the Board of Governors.

The Board’s appointment of Billings to serve out the remainder of Bucher’s term as president-elect will move his term as president up one year, because he will become president on July 1 of this year.

Bylaws, Timing Drove Recommendation

Secretary Anna Frances Coyer Muñoz served on a special committee appointed by State Bar President Dean Dietrich and tasked with choosing a replacement for Bucher.

Muñoz told the board that the committee recommended appointing Billings to serve out the remainder of Bucher’s term as president-elect because under the State Bar’s bylaws, only a person who’s been elected by the State Bar membership may serve as president.

As a result, if the board appointed someone other than Billings to serve out Bucher’s term, that person could not become president on July 1 because that person would not have been elected by the State Bar membership, and the office of president would then be vacant, necessitating a special election.

“We met last Tuesday so that we knew the outcome of the president-elect race, and we took all of that into consideration,” Muñoz said.

“Theoretically, we could appoint anyone, but looking at the timeline and the different requirements, we wanted to put forth an individual who could step into the president-elect role for the next month-and-a-half and then become eligible to become president.”

The vote on the motion to appoint Billings passed unanimously (Billings abstained from voting). His installment as president-elect took effect immediately.

“We were very fortunate that both our president-elect candidates have been so involved with the board and were willing to step into the president-elect role,” Muñoz said of Billings and Dist. 2 Governor Jennifer Johnson, the other candidate in the April election.

Special Election Next

The board also approved a special Nominating Committee appointed by State Bar President Dean Dietrich. The Nominating Committee will nominate candidates to run in a special election to fill the president-elect office once Billings becomes president July 1.

State Bar Executive Director Larry J. Martin said that, hopefully, the special election would be held in the summer, so that the winner could be in place for the new board’s first meeting of the fiscal year in September.

“We have to give time for the Nominating Committee process to work, time for folks to campaign and for us to educate members about why we’re having a special election,” Martin said.

The Nominating Committee appointed by Dietrich and approved by the board is comprised of the following individuals: former State Bar President Cheryl Furstace Daniels (chair); Jeff Goldman; Kristen Hardy; Renee Read; and Sarah Zylstra.

Martin told the board that after Billings becomes president, Billings will appoint a Nominating Committee to select candidates to run for president-elect for fiscal year 2026 (July 1, 2025 to June 30, 2026).