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    Lawyer Regulation System Composition

    The composition and organization of the lawyer regulation system is depicted in Figure 1. Following is a description of the components.


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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 77, No. 10, October 2004

    Lawyer Regulation System Composition

    The composition and organization of the lawyer regulation system is depicted in Figure 1. Following is a description of the components.

    Wisconsin Supreme Court. The supreme court supervises the lawyer regulation system, determines attorney misconduct and medical incapacity, and imposes discipline or directs other appropriate action in proceedings filed with the court.

    Office of Lawyer Regulation. The Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) consists of the director, investigative and support staff, litigation counsel, and retained counsel. The OLR:

    • receives and responds to inquiries and grievances relating to attorneys;
    • investigates allegations of attorney misconduct and medical incapacity;
    • diverts matters into an alternatives to discipline program;
    • prosecutes misconduct and medical incapacity proceedings; and
    • investigates license reinstatement petitions.

    District Committees. District committees exist in each of the 16 State Bar districts, and consist of lawyers and public members appointed by the supreme court. Under the supervision of the director, district committees:

    • educate the bar and the public about the legal profession and the ethical practice of law;
    • refer to the director possible misconduct or medical incapacity matters;
    • assist in the investigation of possible misconduct or medical incapacity;
    • recommend to the director the appropriate disposition of matters they investigate;
    • monitor an attorney's participation in an alternatives to discipline program or an attorney's compliance with conditions on practice; and
    • assist in resolving minor disputes between an attorney and a client.

    Preliminary Review Committee. The Preliminary Review Committee consists of 14 members, nine lawyers and five public members appointed by the court. The committee is comprised of two seven-member panels, each having at least four lawyers and at least two public members. The panels:

    • review the results of OLR and District Committee investigations and determine whether there is cause to proceed in the matter;
    • review, upon request by a grievant, decisions by the director to dismiss a grievance after investigation; and
    • confer with the Board of Administrative Oversight and suggest improvements in the operation of the committee and its panels.

    Board of Administrative Oversight. The Board of Administrative Oversight consists of 12 members, eight lawyers and four public members appointed by the court. The board:

    • monitors the system's fairness, productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency;
    • monitors new procedure implementation;
    • assesses public and bar perceptions of the system's integrity;
    • reports its findings to the supreme court;
    • reviews the system's operation with the court, and files an annual report;
    • proposes substantive and procedural rules;
    • informs and educates the public and bar about the system; and
    • proposes an annual budget.

    Special Investigative Panel. The Special Investigative Panel is composed of lawyers appointed by the supreme court who are not currently participating in the lawyer regulation system. The director refers allegations of misconduct against attorneys currently participating in the system to a special investigator. In a referred matter, the special investigator performs the functions that the director would normally perform, which may include evaluating, investigating, dismissing, diverting, or prosecuting the matter.

    Special Preliminary Review Panel. The Special Preliminary Review Panel is composed of four lawyers and three public members appointed by the supreme court. In matters involving allegations against current participants in the lawyer regulation system, the panel reviews the special investigator's decision to close a matter without investigation or dismiss a matter after investigation, and reviews an investigative report to determine whether there is cause to proceed.

    Referees. Referees are attorneys or reserve judges appointed by the supreme court to:

    • conduct hearings in proceedings alleging misconduct or medical incapacity;
    • conduct hearings on petitions for license reinstatement;
    • review consensual public or private reprimands submitted by the director; and
    • review, upo n the request of a grievant, determinations by Preliminary Review Panels of no cause to proceed.



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