Remember when your kid wanted to throw a birthday party, and they had to invite the whole class? You know, because it was the right thing to do? Yes, even that kid that no one liked got an invite, and the party went off without a hitch.

The Wisconsin State Bar Association is throwing a party soon—and Wisconsin Law Journal isn’t invited.

The bar association’s annual meeting is June 19-21, 2024 in Green Bay. One would think that it would be in their interest to publicize the meeting to the maximum degree possible. However, if you can’t make it, you’ll have trouble reading about what’s discussed, because the Wisconsin Law Journal, the only independent legal news publication in the state, has been denied an all-access complimentary press pass–despite having been offered one in the past.

According to Mike Wiltse, Public Relations Manager of the State Bar, “We needed to revisit our press-credentialing policies to ensure the protection of copyrighted material.”

He doesn’t bother to explain why this was not a concern in the past and why other means of protecting copywritten material (like citations) wouldn’t be sufficient.

One (well, at least me, for one) has to wonder why the State Bar would not want the WLJ covering the conference? Publicity is good for events like that! Since it’s unlikely CNN, Fox or even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will have even the slightest interest, that leaves the WLJ as the most widely read (and maybe the only) publication among lawyers interested in covering it.

Excuse me for attributing motives, but suspiciously this new policy comes into play shortly after the WLJ ran several articles critical of the State Bar, for example: “Questions of transparency, leadership responsibility linger over $5 million State Bar of Wisconsin Trust” (April 20, 2024), and Attorney Nick Zales’ letter to the editor published March 18, 2024.

A rebuttal by State Bar President Dean Dietrich was also published.

Other criticisms of the State Bar published recently included its diversity program and, as always, its mandatory membership rule.

There are good arguments both for and against mandatory membership in the State Bar. While I favor voluntary membership, there are 31 mandatory state bar associations in the country, a majority.

However, when membership in an organization is necessary to practice law, the bar association should make a commitment to openness and diversity of views. Doing so would entail maximizing coverage of its events by anyone in the legal publishing business.

I’ve written a column for the Wisconsin Law Journal for decades. Some time ago, I briefly switched to writing for the State Bar. I switched back when the State Bar attempted to restrict my opinions and views on certain cases.

The Wisconsin Law Journal allows me free rein to express my opinions (including this one). Similarly, the State Bar should allow maximum publicity and coverage of all its events and promote all points of view to be aired and discussed.
So, no “Lawyers at Lambeau” or casino visits for you, WLJ. Frankly, it seems a little childish – and self-defeating.


After this column was submitted and various members of the Wisconsin legal community were notified, the State Bar modified its position by offering a partial – but not total – invitation for WLJ to attend the conference.

Attorney Gregg Herman is a founding partner of Loeb & Herman, LLC in Milwaukee, WI. He practices family law exclusively, and can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 272-5632.