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    The Wisconsin Supreme Court has returned for further development by the Board of Bar Examiners two petitions: order 08-08 regarding a rule to authorize registered legal consultants and order 08-09 regarding a rule to permit graduates of other nations’ law schools to take the Wisconsin bar exam.


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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 82, No. 6, June 2009

    Registered Legal Consultants

    In the matter of creation of Supreme Court Rule 40.056 Authorizing Registered Legal Consultants

    No. 08-08

    On April 1, 2008, the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) by its director, John E. Kosobucki, filed a petition asking the court to create Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 40.056 authorizing registered legal consultants. A public hearing was conducted on Feb. 9, 2009. BBE vice chair James Huston presented the petition to the court. Attorney Steve Levine and Mr. Kosobucki also appeared in support of the petition. The Board of Administrative Oversight also supported the petition. The State Bar of Wisconsin opposed the petition. The court discussed the petition at the ensuing open administrative conference.

    The court was favorably disposed to the petition. However, the court voted to return the petition to the BBE for further research and development of certain issues. These issues include how the BBE would conduct character and fitness evaluations of foreign attorneys; how the BBE would evaluate the academic credentials of foreign attorneys; the likely costs associated with application and administration of this rule; and the scope of practice of a licensed legal consultant vis-à-vis their home jurisdiction. The court also directed the BBE to conduct a review of other states’ rules permitting foreign licensure, specifically considering the requirements that applicants in other states must submit to qualify as a registered foreign consultant, whether applicants in other states must maintain liability insurance, and provisions governing recertification or renewal of a foreign consultant’s license.

    The majority of the court indicated it was inclined to retain the requirement in the proposed rule that a foreign legal consultant must maintain an office in Wisconsin and must have practiced a minimum of five years before licensure. The majority of the court was inclined to reject the proposed minimum age requirement of 26 years and the so-called “reciprocity” requirement.

    The court directs the BBE to develop administrative procedures to implement this proposed rule, including the form of application that will be utilized by applicants who seek to be certified as a registered legal consultant.

    The court recommends the BBE consult with the State Bar of Wisconsin to develop terminology to describe the role of registered legal consultants that is consistent with the rules governing State Bar membership.

    The court directs the BBE to return this petition to the court in a timely manner.

    IT IS ORDERED that this petition is returned to the Board of Bar Examiners for further development as set forth herein.

    Dated at Madison, Wis., this 27th day of March, 2009.

    By the court:

    David R. Schanker, Clerk of Supreme Court

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    Admitting Graduates of Other Nations’ Law Schools

    In the matter of creation of Supreme Court Rule 40.055 Relating to Admitting Graduates of Law Schools in Other Nations

    Order 08-09

    On April 1, 2008, the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE), by its director, John E. Kosobucki, filed a petition requesting this court create Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 40.055 that would permit graduates of law schools in other nations to take the Wisconsin bar examination. A public hearing was conducted on Feb. 9, 2009. BBE vice chair James Huston presented the petition to the court. Several persons appeared in support of the petition, including Mr. Kosobucki and two individuals who were educated at foreign law schools and wish to take the Wisconsin bar examination. At the ensuing open administrative conference, the court discussed the petition.

    The court was favorably disposed to the petition. It voted to return the matter to the BBE for further development of certain issues that arose during the court’s discussion, including how the BBE will evaluate the academic credentials of applicants who have graduated from foreign law schools, and how it will evaluate these applicants’ character and fitness as required by SCR 40.06. The court directed the BBE to develop administrative procedures to implement this proposed rule, including the form of application that will be utilized by graduates of foreign law schools seeking permission to sit for the Wisconsin bar examination. The court directs the BBE to return this petition to the court in a timely manner.

    The court observed that there is presently no viable mechanism by which an individual who received his or her legal training and experience in another country can sit for the Wisconsin bar examination. SCR 40.10 provides that except for the requirements of SCR 40.03 (the diploma privilege) the board may waive any of the requirements of this chapter in exceptional cases and for good cause where to do otherwise would be unjust. However, at the public hearing, Mr. Huston noted that In the Matter of the Bar Admission of Altshuler, 171 Wis. 2d 1, 490 N.W.2d 1 (1992), has been deemed to preclude the board from granting any foreign educated applicant a waiver pursuant to SCR 40.10.

    Having signaled its intent to proceed with the development of a rule that will permit graduates of foreign law schools to sit for the Wisconsin bar examination, the majority of the court now urges the BBE to consider requests for waiver under SCR 40.10 submitted by graduates of foreign law schools. In considering such waiver requests, the BBE is directed to utilize the criteria specified in the pending rule petition. The court emphasizes, however, that the BBE need not require an applicant to satisfy each of the criteria outlined in the pending rule petition. Rather, it shall consider whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the applicant has demonstrated that he or she is qualified by education and experience to sit for the Wisconsin bar examination. The court further requests that the State Bar of Wisconsin assist this court in ensuring that graduates of foreign law schools are aware this rule is pending and that the BBE may consider foreign graduates’ requests for waiver under SCR 40.10.

    IT IS ORDERED that this petition is returned to the Board of Bar Examiners for further development as set forth herein.

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Board of Bar Examiners may consider applications for waiver pursuant to SCR 40.10 submitted by graduates of foreign law schools as set forth herein.

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the court requests the State Bar of Wisconsin to assist this court in ensuring that graduates of foreign law schools are aware this rule is pending and that the Board of Bar Examiners may consider foreign graduates’ requests for waiver under SCR 40.10.

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that notice of this order shall be given by a single publication of a copy of this order in the official state newspaper and in an official publication of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    Bradley, J. dissenting. I find myself in a peculiar situation because although I favor allowing qualified graduates of foreign law schools to take the Wisconsin bar exam, I dissent from that part of the order encouraging the BBE to begin considering requests for waiver pursuant to SCR 40.10. This interim order fails to provide adequate guidance to BBE because it lacks sufficient criteria for evaluating such waiver requests.

    Dated at Madison, Wis., this 29th day of April, 2009.

    By the court:

    David R. Schanker, Clerk of Supreme Court

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