The Dane County Bar Association has been promoting justice in our community since it was first founded in 1858. Our mission is simple: To provide unparalleled support to our diverse membership; promote a just, collegial and accessible legal system and profession; collaborate with the judiciary to achieve excellence in the administration of justice; and offer opportunities for public service and input into matters of public policy.
DCBA’s diverse members – from law students to affiliate members to judges – recognize that membership is a wise investment in your professional future and the future of the legal profession in Dane County.
These days, you need a professional association that fully supports you and understands the challenges lawyers face in today practice. The Dane County Bar Association does just that. Whether you’re looking for networking events, high quality and timely continuing legal education, or leadership development opportunities, DCBA has it all.
As the largest lawyer network in Dane County and the second largest Bar association in Wisconsin, the DCBA provides the contacts and services you need to be successful in your practice. Whether you are in a large firm, in Downtown Madison or a smaller firm elsewhere, practice in the area of family law or tax law, the DCBA can help you in your practice.
DCBA members enjoy a host of exclusive member benefits, including:
Continuing Education - DCBA offers twice-monthly luncheon seminars from September through May. The seminars are hosted by the Program Committee and cover a variety of legal topics presented by professionals known for their expertise. Past presentations have included the Annual Wisconsin Civil Case Law update by Honorable Charles Dykman, and the United States Supreme Court Case Update by Attorney Eric Barber. Our low-cost seminars are held in downtown Madison at the Madison Club over the lunch hour. Many DCBA programs are eligible for CLE credit.
Mentorship - DCBA developed the first formal mentorship program in the state of Wisconsin. The Joseph A. Melli Mentorship program offers young lawyers the opportunity to gain valuable insight and experience from seasoned attorneys. Through the program mentees are matched with practicing attorney mentors in similar areas of practice. The program provides an invaluable opportunity for mentors and mentees alike. Participants are treated to a quarterly CLE luncheon held in downtown Madison and are encouraged to facilitate more frequent information communication with one another.
Monthly Newsletter - Members receive the DCBA monthly newsletter, which covers local developments from the bench, bar, and greater Dane County legal community.
Networking - Whether it's the popular Fridays at Four, or the annual Bench Bar Brawl, the DCBA offers numerous, free or low-cost opportunities to network and socialize with over 1,200 members of the bench and bar.
Mediation - DCBA offers mediation services for cases filed in either Dane or Columbia County. The program is aimed at helping parties resolve civil cases and family law cases (financial issues only) in the court system through voluntary or court ordered mediation.
Pro Bono Opportunities - The Delivery of Legal Services Committee offers DCBA members a host of organized and established pro bono opportunities, including guardianship issues, representation of persons living with AIDS and HIV, legal issues regarding health care access, clean water, domestic violence, veteran’s issues and a variety of other legal needs.
Committees & Sections - DCBA offers a number of committees and sections for members with common interests. DCBA member committees are the backbone of all DCBA services, providing community service and leadership opportunities for DCBA members, and supporting larger association-wide initiatives.
Today, there are approximately 2,700 lawyers and judges in Dane County, approximately 1,000 of whom are Association members. The Association continues to sponsor educational programs and social events for its members throughout the year. It works closely with the judges of the Dane County Circuit Court on a number of projects; it publicizes legal and administrative issues of concern to the courts and acts as a liaison between the bench and bar in Dane County.
Prominent past members
Not surprisingly, many Dane County Bar Association members have played important roles in Wisconsin's legal and political history. Some of the association's most prominent members include:
Burr Jones (Association President, 1906-1913). Jones authored a nationally recognized treatise on evidence, was a member of congress, was a long-time member of the University of Wisconsin Law School faculty and served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1920 to 1926.
Harry L. Butler (Association President, 1913-1920). Butler played an active role in drafting the State Worker's Compensation Law, one of the most important reforms of the Progressive Era, and served as counsel in cases determining the validity of various pieces of the Progressives' program. Glenn Stephens (Association President, 1934-35). Stephens was a long-time Member of the Madison School Board and was instrumental in shaping Madison's modern school system.
James E. Doyle (Association President, 1962-1963). Doyle was one of the leaders of the renaissance of the State Democratic Party in the 1950s, and served as Federal District Judge of the Western District of Wisconsin for many years.
As it enters a new century, the Dane County Bar Association and its members look forward to a continuation of their service to their community and state.