State Bar of Wisconsin​

We are a professional association for Wisconsin lawyers. The State Bar provides educational, career development, and other services to more than 25,000 members. We also provide public services, including attorney referrals, public education, and reduced-fee legal assistance for low-income state residents. Our mission is to improve the administration of justice and the delivery of legal services and to promote the professional interests of Wisconsin lawyers.

In a landmark decision that is a major victory for the LGBTQ community, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against gay, lesbian, and transgender employees in workplaces. “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII because homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex.”1 On June 15, 2020, in a 6-3 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Court ruled that the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) applies to…
On July 9, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed a landmark victory to Medicaid providers who were subject to an exacting payment recoupment standard imposed on them by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (the department). In Papa v. Wisconsin Dep’t of Health Servs.,1 the Court unanimously agreed with the Waukesha County Circuit Court that the department lacked statutory authority for what courts have termed its “perfection policy,” by which it had recouped Medicaid reimbursement payments made to providers when audits turned up even minor reporting errors unrelated to the actual and appropriate provision of services. Medicaid Recoupment and…
In negotiating a typical loan agreement, the lender and borrower will spend much of their time on the terms of financial covenants – those provisions within the loan agreement which provide the lender with means to measure the financial wherewithal of the borrower and the borrower’s ability to ultimately repay the loan. Other than loan pricing, financial covenants are probably the most heavily negotiated terms of loan agreements, and lenders and borrowers routinely spend hours putting numbers into various formulas and negotiating appropriate thresholds. While lenders and borrowers dedicate a significant amount of time to covenant formulas, they tend to…
  In her swearing in ceremony in June 2019, State Bar Past President Jill Kastner highlighted the role of the Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) in providing services that help lawyers prioritize their well-being. WisLAP is only one part of the well-being solution for Wisconsin lawyers. As a self-regulating profession, all Wisconsin lawyers have good reason to promote the well-being of their colleagues to prevent impairment than can cause harm to clients. Well being is increasingly recognized as a core component of attorney professional responsibility. As a result, a diverse group of lawyers and law students were asked to serve on…
As family law practitioners, we frequently find ourselves handling cases involving domestic abuse. While issues of domestic abuse typically find relevance in determining custody and placement, Wisconsin’s address confidentiality program, Safe at Home,1 serves to protect victims’ privacy and safety. About the Confidential Address Program: Safe at Home Created by legislation in 2016 and administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Safe at Home provides a “free mail-forwarding service that provides victims of actual or threatened abuse, stalking, trafficking, and/or those who fear for their physical safety with a legal substitute address to be used for public and private…
Unlike the role of the attorney as advocate, the role of a mediator is to stay neutral, gain the trust of the parties, and keep them engaged in the process until an agreement is reached. Experienced attorneys make very effective mediators, especially when mediating a dispute in their primary practice area – but our effectiveness is reduced when we lose our neutrality and take sides. It can happen easily when one side maintains what we see as an unreasonable position. In my practice area of family law, this is a common occurrence. I, too, often have to resist the inclination…
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this July in McGirt v. Oklahoma1 has been hailed as one of the Court’s most important Indian law opinions in the past half-century. While the question presented in the case was limited to whether the State of Oklahoma properly exercised criminal jurisdiction in prosecuting McGirt, even before the decision came down, many were declaring the potentially far-reaching repercussions of the case. The Decision The McGirt decision both was and was not a watershed moment in Indian law. On one hand, the case affirmed the full extent of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s 1866 reservation. The…
This past summer, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion in Coolidge A L.L.C. v. City of Waukesha,1 a case involving claims of negligence against both the City of Waukesha (City) and a contractor working for it, D.F. Tomasini Contractors (Tomasini). The Court of Appeals determined that the City was shielded from the negligence claim by governmental immunity, and that Tomasini, as an agent of the City, also was shielded. The court’s decision reminds construction attorneys, and particularly those who handle injury claims for their insurance carriers, that clients working for municipal entities are often provided a…
Approximately 37,000 people in Wisconsin who were previously deemed ineligible for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) may now be entitled to one.1 A recent ruling in a class-action lawsuit means that people in jail or prison cannot be denied a stimulus payment based solely on their incarceration status.2 It’s important to understand who is affected by this court order and what steps, if any, they need to take in order to receive their payment. The deadline was Oct. 30, 2020, for those filing by mail, but those filing online may do so by Nov. 21, 2020. About the…
Nov. 10, 2020 – In the 2020 State of the Judiciary address last week, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack highlighted how Wisconsin courts have “overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19” to serve the people. The annual address, which kicks off the new term and the Wisconsin Judicial Conference, said the courts “have shown courage, again and again.” Chief Justice Roggensack highlighted the court system’s response to COVID-19 since March – under the leadership of Wisconsin State Courts Director Randy Koschnick – from suspending most in-person proceedings and quickly moving to Zoom hearings, to convening a COVID-19 task force…
While attending a 2017 Claims Litigation Management (CLM) Diversity and Inclusion Institute Conference in Chicago, Illinois, I attended a session titled “Diversity in Demand: What Buyers Want.” The session explored what insurance buyers, in this case Fortune 100/500 companies, are seeking from their industry service providers. Specifically, this session primarily focused on these companies’ demand for diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry based upon research showing that, when insurers have members who represent the target customers, the team was much more likely to understand customers’ needs, facilitating more effective engagement. Eric Andrews, Marquette 2012, is a senior associate with…
Previously, I have published two articles in this International Law Blog that focus on the challenges of complying with the very complex U.S. export control and sanctions regulations.1 This article supplements these two articles, and focuses on the recently enacted Export Control Law of the People’s Republic of China that goes into effect Dec. 1, 2020. I also discuss why this regulation should matter to U.S. companies, large or small, with footprints in China. Background Since the beginning of President Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, his rhetoric has focused on reversing Chinese influence in the area of trade, and…
With more than 15,000 lakes, 43,000 miles of rivers, and 659 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, Wisconsin is fortunate to have an abundance of water resources.1 As Aesop’s famous proverb states though, “it is possible to have too much of a good thing.” In stark contrast to the “mega drought” emerging out west, Wisconsin is experiencing record high water levels in both the Great Lakes and inland sources such as groundwater. Through August, Lake Michigan has set a record high water level every month of 2020. Current data gathered from NASA’s GRACE-FO satellites demonstrate that Wisconsin is within the…
Public Interest Law Section Blog October 30 2020 Working with Domestic Abuse Survivors: What Advocates Want You to Know Megan L. Sprecher and Araceli Wence Domestic abuse is a serious societal problem, the ramifications of which are felt in every community. Megan Sprecher and Araceli Wence provide tips for working with survivors of domestic abuse. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the perfect time for attorneys and other legal professionals to commit to learning more about the issue and consider ways to make their practice more welcoming and less re-traumatizing to survivors. Domestic abuse advocates at programs across the state…
Networking and social events were still part of the 2020 (Virtual) Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference. Oct. 28-30. Participants kicked off the event with a Halloween style Happy Hour. Oct. 30, 2020 – As expected, law practice amidst COVID-19 is a primary theme at the State Bar of Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference (Oct. 28-30). Most of 2020, firms have navigated uncertainty and major change. And they are still working through it. “We’ve had to deal with a lot of things, and we’ve had to deal with it very quickly,” said David Krekeler, a panelist on “Lessons Learned from COVID-19,”…
David Carlson and his wife, Oksana, pose for a photo on the night of their 50th wedding celebration in April 2019 in New York City. Carlson is the 2020 recipient of the John Lederer Award in recognition of years dedicated to mentoring others in the profession. Oct. 29, 2020 – The situation can be common among new lawyers: That feeling of not knowing how to conduct a new practice. David J. Carlson of Waukesha knows that feeling well. As a brand-new attorney starting his own practice more than 40 years ago, it was difficult not to feel lost at sea.…