March 23, 2020 – The State Bar of Wisconsin is requesting that attorneys be exempt from a "Safer at Home" order after Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he expects to issue the order for Wisconsin in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order, which essentially is a shelter-in-place order, requires that all nonessential services close their doors.
This issue was already on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s radar last week as we anticipated the possibility for Wisconsin, says Executive Director Larry J. Martin. On Thursday, March 19, State Bar President Jill Kastner sent a letter to the Governor’s Office, requesting that attorneys be exempt from a shelter-in-place order.
“As other states have implemented emergency orders like shelter in place, they have acknowledged the important role attorneys play for our citizens as advisors when they face difficulties,” writes President Kastner.
“Attorneys are providing essential services to Wisconsin citizens in the areas of criminal law, end of life matter matters such as health care and estate planning, providing advanced directives or power of attorney documents, advising client’s employment and housing rights and more. At this time, the State Bar of Wisconsin requests that attorneys be exempt from a possible shelter in place order.”
“Many of our members both in large and solo/small law firms have already taken steps and advice from both the state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stop the spread of this pandemic,” according to Kastner’s letter. However, our members “still need to access their law offices or client files to continue to do their important work for citizens. We acknowledge that we all need to do our part to protect the health and safety of our fellow citizens and want to work with you and our state agencies if further changes are needed as we all move forward during this unprecedented times.”
The State Bar also reached out to the Governor’s Office this morning to reiterate our concern that lawyers/legal services be included in essential services, said Martin. “We will inform the members as soon as we get further information.”
To find the latest State Bar and court announcements related to the legal community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit WisBar’s Coronavirus webpage. Members are invited to attend a series of free virtual town hall meeting forums, held every weekday until April 3, covering various areas of practice affected by the turn of events.