Inside Track: BBE Proposes Changes to Bar Applicants’ Character and Fitness Inquiries and Requirements to Reactivate Law License to Active Status:

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  • August
    21
    2019

    BBE Proposes Changes to Bar Applicants’ Character and Fitness Inquiries and Requirements to Reactivate Law License to Active Status

    The Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) proposes two changes to its appendices. The first involves amending BA 6.02, which identifies those matters into which the BBE may further inquire before deciding whether an applicant to the bar possesses the necessary character and fitness to practice law. The second involves changes to CLE 3.015 regarding requirements to reactivate licensure to active status.
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    The Board of Bar Examiners (BBE) proposes two changes to its appendices. The first involves amending BA 6.02, which identifies those matters into which the BBE may further inquire before deciding whether an applicant to the bar possesses the necessary character and fitness to practice law. The second involves changes to CLE 3.015 regarding requirements to reactivate licensure to active status.

    The BBE is an office of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as is the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR). According to the BBE website, lawyers seeking to practice law in Wisconsin must go through the BBE, which evaluates the skills, character, and fitness of lawyers and also writes and grades the Wisconsin Bar Examination.

    In addition to identifying people who should, and should not, be granted Wisconsin law licenses, the BBE helps protect consumers by monitoring lawyers’ compliance with rules for continuing legal education (CLE). The supreme court requires the BBE to suspend a lawyer’s license if the lawyer does not comply with CLE requirements.

    Submit Comments by Sept. 9, 2019

    Please submit comments regarding these proposed changes to the Board of Bar Examiners at gov bbe wicourts wicourts bbe gov on or before Sept. 9, 2019. Comments received will be considered at the next scheduled board meeting. The proposed changes will take effect Dec. 1, 2019.

    Proposed Change to BA 6.02

    In 2018, the BBE conducted a comprehensive review of its rules and procedures to determine its compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To comply with the ADA, the BBE proposes amending BA 6.02 to include language that allows for further inquiry into an applicant’s conduct that is due to a mental or emotional impairment, or to drug or alcohol dependency. The current provision does not contain a specific reference to conduct as it relates to mental or emotional impairments, or to drug or alcohol dependency. This change is intended to limit inquiries into the problematic conduct rather than into the impairment or dependency itself.

    The proposed change is as follows:

    BA 6.02 Relevant Conduct or Condition. The revelation or discovery of any of the following should be treated as cause for further inquiry before the Board decides whether the applicant possesses the character and fitness to practice law:

    (a) Unlawful conduct

    (b) Academic misconduct

    (c) False statements by the applicant, including concealment or nondisclosure

    (d) Acts involving dishonesty or misrepresentation

    (e) Abuse of legal process

    (f) Neglect of financial responsibilities

    (g) Neglect of professional obligations

    (h) Violation of an order of a court

    (i) Evidence of conduct due to mental or emotional impairments substantial enough to affect the applicant’s ability to practice law

    (j) Evidence of conduct due to drug or alcohol dependency

    (k) Denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction on character and fitness grounds

    (l) Disciplinary action by a lawyer disciplinary agency or other professional disciplinary agency of any jurisdiction

    Proposed Change to CLE 3.015

    CLE 3.015 includes the requirements that are necessary to reactivate a law license to active status. These changes conform to existing practice and are intended to help lawyers better understand what CLE requirements are required to become reactivated. Only approved CLE activities that were completed during or after the last reporting period may be used to satisfy the 30-hour requirement. And only CLE activities that were completed during or after the last two reporting periods may be used to satisfy the 60-hour requirement. These requirements are no greater than they would have been if the lawyer had not been in inactive status or had not voluntarily resigned from the State Bar.

    The proposed change is as follows:

    CLE 3.015 (1) Lawyers who have been in inactive status for less than 2 years or have been voluntarily resigned from the State Bar for less than 2 years and who have not complied with the last reporting period, must complete 30 hours of CLE (including 3 ethics hours) prior to resuming active status. Only approved CLE activities that were completed during or after the last reporting period may be used to satisfy the 30 hour requirement.

    (2) Lawyers who have been in inactive status for more than 2 years or have been voluntarily resigned from the State Bar for more than 2 years and who have not complied with the last two reporting periods, must complete 60 hours of CLE (including 3 ethics hours) prior to resuming active status. Only approved CLE activities that were completed during or after the last two reporting periods may be used to satisfy the 60 hour requirement.

    (3) Except as found in SCR 31.05 (5) (d) and CLE 7.005, Llawyers may satisfy the requirements of the above subsections if they demonstrate to the board that, during the entire time they were in inactive status, (i) they were admitted to the practice of law in another jurisdiction that had mandatory continuing legal education requirements, and (ii) they were current in meeting those requirements.

    (4) Lawyers who resume active status must also satisfy the requirements of SCR 31.02 for the reporting period in which they are reactivated.

    (5) CLE requirements under this section shall not be greater than they would have been if the lawyer had not been in inactive status or had not been voluntarily resigned from the State Bar.




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