WisBar News

News and developments from the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Margaret Wrenn Hickey of Milwaukee said she plans to focus on addressing the racial inequities in our judicial and legal system, promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and improving access to justice. April 23, 2021 – Milwaukee lawyer Margaret Wrenn Hickey is the next president-elect of the State Bar of Wisconsin. In the elections ending April 23, 2021, Hickey defeated Milwaukee attorney Odalo J. Ohiku by 2,347 votes to 1,186. Hickey will serve a one-year term as president-elect starting July 1, 2021, before succeeding Cheryl Daniels of Madison on July 1, 2022, as State Bar president. When she…
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors met virtually for its April 16 meeting and adopted policy positions on racial justice and law enforcement reform, among other actions, including approval of the organization’s FY 2022 budget. April 19, 2021 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors last Friday discussed a proposal to require at least two of 30 CLE credits per reporting period on topics of racial bias and other issues that promote education on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The board took no action on the proposal from the State Bar’s CLE Committee, but engaged in lengthy…
April 19, 2021 – At last Friday’s State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors meeting, board member Erik Guenther voiced reservations about holding an upcoming Board of Governors meeting in Kenosha, scheduled for September 2021. Guenther, who grew up in Kenosha, moved to relocate the scheduled Kenosha meeting in light of racially charged events involving Kenosha law enforcement. “I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong answer on this issue,” said Guenther, a Nonresident Lawyer Division (NLRD) representative on the board. “But having a full discussion is important.” Guenther said he reached a “tipping point” after a recent announcement…
  March 26, 2020 – COVID-19 vaccine eligibility now includes court system professionals, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim witness coordinators, court clerks, and other individuals essential to in-person criminal court proceedings. However, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), those who can work from home are asked to delay vaccination until May 1 or until supply is robust. The DHS website notes that public defenders were eligible March 1, because of their close contact with incarcerated individuals (who were eligible to receive vaccines March 1). How to Schedule a Vaccination Appointment Individuals who are interested in being…
A new form available through the Wisconsin Court System website makes it less burdensome for indigent individuals to obtain a waiver of court fees and costs by allowing their pro bono, legal aid, or public defender attorneys to submit a petition requesting the fee waiver. Indigent individuals can still submit petitions for waivers if they cannot pay court filing and/or service fees. They must complete the form, have it notarized, and file it with the court, or have their pro bono, civil legal aid, or public defender attorneys file it for them. Now, however, pro bono, civil legal aid, and…
March 9, 2021 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has approved a petition that gives law students earlier opportunities for practical, hands-on experience through a rule that lets law students represent clients under the supervision of an attorney. Under the current law student practice rules (SCR Chapter 50), law students must finish one-half of law school before they can represent clients in court under supervision or give supervised legal advice. The rule was originally adopted in 1975. The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission filed a petition, requesting modifications to modernize and expand the rule to give law students practical…
The Wisconsin Supreme Court this week granted the State Bar of Wisconsin’s request to modify the “Emeritus” classification of State Bar membership. Currently, lawyers may elect Emeritus status at age 70 and continue practicing law without paying annual State Bar dues or annual Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments, aside from a fee to the court’s client protection fund. Additionally, Emeritus members are exempt from continuing legal education (CLE) requirements. As the court’s final order states, the State Bar “filed a rule petition asking the court to modify Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 10.03 to clarify who is an active or inactive emeritus…
March 1, 2021 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors last Friday (Feb. 26) voted to support a petition pertaining to the retention of circuit court case files and court records. The Director of State Courts’ Records Management Retention Subcommittee filed a petition (20-08) to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, to amend and create rules that relate to the retention of circuit court case files, court records, minute records, and exhibits. A supporting memo notes that the subcommittee periodically reviews record maintenance and retention rules to ensure consistency with best practices for preserving the record while incorporating…
Feb. 15, 2021 – Introducing Page Turner! She can help you have the best and most current State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® materials at your fingertips.   Page Turner will highlight one of our books and resources every couple of weeks, right here on the State Bar’s homepage. Her job is to give you a quick overview of the content so you can find resources that meet the needs of your office or firm.…
Jan. 28, 2021 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has extended an order, requested by the State Bar of Wisconsin, that allows attorneys to obtain up to 30 continuing legal education (CLE) credits “on-demand” through Jan. 31, 2022, providing more stay-at-home CLE options amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Under CLE rules, lawyers must obtain a minimum of 30 hours of approved CLE during each two-year reporting period. A maximum of 15 CLE credits may be earned through a “repeated on-demand program” that can be accessed and watched anytime. Remaining CLE credits must be earned through live in-person seminars or live webcasts.…
Credit: PBS Wisconsin Image/James Gill, Photographer Jan. 18, 2021 – A statue of the Hon. Vel Phillips, one of Wisconsin’s most prominent and influential attorneys over the last 100 years, could be placed on the state Capitol grounds later this year, should the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board approve a proposal at its Jan. 25 meeting. The statue of Phillips will be the first on the Capitol Square to honor a person of color. The State Bar of Wisconsin and its charitable arm, the Wisconsin Law Foundation, strongly support the siting of a statue honoring Hon. Vel Phillips, states…
Jan. 6, 2021 – The Jacob Blake case in Kenosha highlights the ongoing conflict with racial justice in Wisconsin and nationwide. It is a powerful reminder that Wisconsin needs broader criminal justice reform, and we call for the legal community, elected officials, and law enforcement to act now. This case was a tragedy for everyone involved, including Jacob Blake, his family, the Kenosha community, Kenosha law enforcement, and the nation. Our collective hearts go out to all people who have been affected by these events. We must remind ourselves that when there is mistrust in the criminal justice system, the…
Dec. 28, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined three tiers of population groups that should be within Phase 1 of the COVID-19 rollout, and lawyers and judges should be in the third tier, according to recent guidance from the CDC. In early December, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccines first, in Phase 1a of the vaccination program. Phase 1b, the second recommended group for prioritization, includes those aged 75 years and older and “front-line essential workers (non-health care workers).”…
Dec. 22, 2020 – As leaders of the State Bar of Wisconsin, we denounce vicious personal attacks targeting Wisconsin Supreme Court justices and any judge for the decisions they are asked to make while upholding our Constitution and the rule of law. According to various media reports, justices and judges are being threatened with acts of violence and personally attacked in emails, anonymous voicemails, and blog posts.  Among many disturbing words, justices were referred to as “terrorist,” “traitor,” and “tyrant bitch.” Of even greater concern are the vehement anti-Semitic attacks towards individual members of the Court. Sadly, these unconscionable attacks…
Justice Shirley Abrahamson, the longest serving justice in Wisconsin’s judiciary, at a June 18, 2019 event in her honor at the Wisconsin State Capitol. (Photo: Andy Manis). Dec. 21, 2020 – Shirley Abrahamson, who served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court for 43 years before her retirement last year, passed away this past weekend after battling pancreatic cancer. She was 87. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson,” said State Bar of Wisconsin Executive Director Larry J. Martin. “She was a monumental figure in Wisconsin’s judiciary during her record 43 year…