The State Bar of Wisconsin is a mandatory professional association, created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, for all attorneys who hold a Wisconsin law license. With more than 24,000 members, the State Bar aids the courts in improving the administration of justice, provides continuing legal education and other services for its members, supports the education of law students, and educates the public about the legal system. The State Bar of Wisconsin also provides public services, including attorney referrals, public education and reduced-fee legal assistance for low-income state residents.
Although it was created by the Supreme Court, the State Bar is not a state agency and its operations are not supported with tax revenues. Instead, the private association is supported by member dues and earned revenues (e.g., from the sale of books, legal seminars, and other products). The State Bar does not license or discipline attorneys. These and related activities are administered by separate state agencies.
Establishment of the State Bar of Wisconsin
SCR Chapter 10, commonly referred to as the State Bar rules, specify the organization, governance and operations of the State Bar. The rule also allows the State Bar to adopt "bylaws and regulations, not inconsistent with this chapter, for the orderly administration of the association's affairs and activities."
While all states have a bar association, they vary widely in terms of structure and mission. While some state bars operate attorney admission and discipline systems, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has created regulatory agencies within the judicial branch of state government for these purposes. These include the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) to oversee admission to the bar and the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) to protect the public from misconduct by persons practicing law in Wisconsin.