Issue: October, 2005
Author: Mary Angell
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Warren A. Lauer - 88th President of the Wyoming State Bar
The newly elected president of the Wyoming State Bar, who describes himself as “just a common guy,” cherishes tradition and the passing on of fundamental values from one generation to the next.
“I grew up in Lusk, raised by parents who grew up on a farm, and I’m not so sure the family doctor didn’t come out to deliver them,” Warren Lauer told the Wyoming Lawyer recently.
“I was fortunate that we had local pillars in the community like retired 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jim Barrett. I’m a firm believer that’s why there have been so many phenomenal, talented individuals coming out of the community—because the adults in the community did such a good job of mentoring. Al Taylor was an attorney in town. George Sawyer. These people represented the community. They were leaders. They set an example there.”
The integrity of the lawyers of Lauer’s youth made a lasting impression on him. Now, as he begins his term as president of the Bar, he feels obligated to advance its continuity, cultivating the handing down of professional standards his mentors and colleagues have demonstrated.
Not surprisingly, Lauer hopes during his tenure as president to involve younger attorneys in the Bar.
“The biggest challenge that faces lawyers today—particularly in Wyoming—is that we have an aging group of licensed lawyers,” he said. “We are looking toward bringing up younger lawyers, getting them involved with working with the Bar, networking with other lawyers and taking up leadership positions within the Bar. “
He wants to introduce to the standing committees as many new faces as he can.
“I understand it’s difficult for young attorneys,” he said. “They don’t have the flexibility to see to Bar matters. They’re working hard. But I hope to bring younger folk onto the committees, bring them into the Bar, and bring them in connection with the long-standing Bar members.”
A 1980 graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law, Lauer graduated from UW in 1976 with a Bachelor’s in Agriculture and Animal Science. (This after starting out as a music major, having played both saxophone and piano in high school.) His wide range of interests and life experiences could have taken him down any number of paths. Lauer was photo lab manager and technician at UW during his undergraduate years, owner and operator of a truck stop in the 1980’s and most recently, a substitute school teacher in Goshen County. But Lauer is an attorney thanks largely to adults who planted a seed in the back of his mind during his formative years. His junior high school counselor and his piano teacher both told him he would make a good attorney.
Lauer practiced for several years in Torrington and now has a private practice in Laramie.
Though it’s his profession of choice, the legal profession is not an easy one, he said.
“It’s not understood by the public how difficult the practice of law can be from a business standpoint,” he said. “Attorneys can’t advertise per se. They can’t go out and solicit clients. The value of what they do sometimes is not necessarily understood or accepted as well by people as with other professions.”
“There’s a large overhead for attorneys with practices. It’s not like you are manufacturing something or selling something,” he said. “You wait to see what kind of clients come through the door and engage you to do the work. It’s not uncommon for a lawyer to find frustration in a successful working practice of law.”
The role of the Bar is to help make the legal profession easier for its members, Lauer said.
“We hope as a Bar—along with the duties of administering and governing the Bar—to help lawyers do a better job of what they do,” he said.
The extent to which the Bar can make life easier for attorneys includes providing lawyer assistance for members who become injured and disabled or even working to improve the public’s perception of attorneys, said Lauer.
“We want to continually do what we can to improve what may be false, inaccurate public perception of lawyers,” he said. “You watch the newspapers to see what papers print about lawyers. Sometimes journalists use adjectives to describe attorneys that reflect poorly on the Bar as a whole.”
Lauer also feels a duty to further the professional bond between the judiciary and other members of the Bar.
“We’ve been very fortunate and it’s been successful to have the Annual Meeting and Judicial Conference together each year,” he said. “It gives judges and attorneys an opportunity to talk and form a professional bond.”
Lauer hopes that holding the meeting in August next year rather than September will facilitate the attendance of Bar members who previously have had scheduling conflicts with hunting trips or getting kids back to school.
“I’m truly looking forward to the Bar’s Annual Meeting and Judicial Conference next year, which will be held in Laramie at UW. I’m really excited about it,” he said. “I hope we can provide the next level of annual meeting that will be exciting for the membership. We have really good ideas on the horizon and good chairs for the annual meeting.”
The Bar has benefited from many outstanding presidents over the years, but Lauer specifically noted those whose fathers also served as president.
He recalled when Tom Lubnau (whose father Tom Lubnau, Sr. was 1979-80 Bar president) asked him if he were running for vice president. When Lauer said he was, Lubnau said he wouldn’t run against him.
“I said, ‘That isn’t right. I think you should run, and if it means both of us are running, that’s the way it should be. You have some heritage and tradition passed on to you from your father, and I think that is important,’” said Lauer. “He said ‘okay’ and he ran and I ran, and he won. The gain was to the Wyoming State Bar. Tom went on to be a great president. I think that relates to his ability to assimilate what his father had been and done and the respect he had as a Wyoming lawyer and president.”
Though Lauer refrains from stating any formal objective for his term as president, his desire to maintain the Bar’s consistent level of excellence is plain.
“I think Wyoming has done very well maintaining and improving the level of professionalism, integrity and good ethical character and mutual respect between attorneys, attorneys and clients and attorneys and the court,” he said. “If we can help maintain and enhance that so younger attorneys have the same mentorship I had, not only do we pass the gavel from one president to the next, but we pass on all those traditions and standards of integrity and professionalism to the next generation.”
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