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  • WisBar News
    December 05, 2022

    State Bar Board Supports Rules Petition on E-Payment for Trust Accounts

    At its meeting last week, the State Bar’s Board of Governors voted to support a rules petition filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation that would make it easier for attorneys to accept electronic payments into trust accounts, among other business.

    Jeff M. Brown

    Kristen Hardy and Margaret Hickey in festive sweaters

    Kristen Hardy, chair of the Board of Governors, and State Bar President Margaret Hickey get into the spirit of the season.

    Dec. 5, 2022 – The State Bar of Wisconsin's Board of Governors on Dec. 2 voted to support a rules petition filed by the Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) that would make it easier for Wisconsin attorneys to accept electronic payments into trust accounts.

    Rule Petition 22-05, if approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, would amend Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 20:1.5, regarding attorney trust accounts, and the definitions section of SCR 21:10 to allow electronic payments into trust accounts.

    Jeff M. Brown Jeff M. Brown is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6126.

    State Bar President-elect Dean Dietrich told the board that the petition's proposed changes were supported by the State Bar's Professional Ethics Committee.

    "The committee feels that this doesn't impose any new obligations on Wisconsin lawyers," Dietrich said. "It doesn't impose any type of risk on clients."

    Erik Guenther wearing holiday attire and talking while sitting at a table

    Erik Guenther, NRLD representative to the Board of Governors, converses with his colleagues during a break in the meeting.

    He said the proposed changes would be a boon to Wisconsin attorneys and legal administrators. "This really is a clean-up that benefits lawyers and office staff in administering lawyer trust accounts," Dietrich said.

    Read more about the proposed rules petition.

    six people hold their Legal Innovator awards and smile at the camera

    The 2022 Legal Innovators pose for a photo after the award presentation at the Board of Governors' meeting.

    Other Business

    The board held a ceremony recognizing this year's Legal Innovation awards. Since 2014, the Communications Committee has solicited nominations for examples of innovation in Wisconsin's legal community.

    Awardees are selected by the committee based on the following criteria: the use of technology to improve service to clients; increase workplace diversity; creating new marketing strategies; expanding pro bono or reduced-costs services; and improving the efficiency of internal operations.

    This year's award winners included:

    • Carol Hassler (Wisconsin State Law Library) and Bryce Pierson (Office of Judicial Education in the Director of State Courts Office);

    • Prof. Nathan Hammons (Marquette Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic);

    • Kate Wegryzn (Foley & Lardner); and

    • Winnebago County Court Commissioner Michael Rust (formerly CEO of the Winnebago Conflict Resolution Center).

    The board also approved by consent amendments to the bylaws of the Dispute Resolution and Public Utilities sections.

    BOG group photo in festive sweaters

    Members of the Board of Governors show off their festive side, posing for a group photo in holiday attire.

    Judges' Security, Mental Health Reform are Priorities for Chief Justice Ziegler

    Chief Justice Annette Ziegler addresses the Board of Governors

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Anette Ziegler addressed the State Bar's Board of Governors at its Dec. 2 meeting.

    Ziegler, the supreme court's 80th chief justice and sixth female justice, began her address by thanking the State Bar members and staff for their work.

    "This group really does an amazing job," Chief Justice Ziegler said, mentioning a report on State Bar activities, prepared by the State Bar for the supreme court.

    "I think sometimes as a court we forget how much good work is done by the State Bar and this group," Ziegler said. "The numbers of people served, in matters large and small, is huge."

    Task Force on Security for Judges

    Chief Justice Ziegler told board members one of the court's priorities was improving security for the state's 282 judges.

    She said the murder of retired Juneau County Circuit Court Judge John Roemer in June was a tragic awakening to the peril faced by judges, who often must make tough decisions that affect the liberty interests, families, and financial affairs of litigants.

    Ziegler said she has appointed a task force to look at ways to improve security for judges, including legislative changes.

    One of those potential changes, Chief Justice Ziegler said, would be granting law enforcement authority to the supreme court's marshal.

    Mental Health Services

    Another priority of the supreme court, Ziegler said, was addressing mental illness and the role it plays in landing in people in the court system.

    "We are not best equipped to deal with the kind of mental health issues that occur with people out in the community," Chief Justice Ziegler said. "We need to find a better way to deal with the resources we have on the front end."

    Ziegler cited reforms adopted in Dade County, Florida, and Tucson, Arizona, as potential models.

    "If they can do it in Miami, which has a population probably more than the state of Wisconsin, I think we can do a little bit better," Chief Justice Ziegler said.

    Members may obtain a copy of the minutes of each meeting of the Board of Governors by contacting State Bar Executive Coordinator Jan Marks by email or phone at 608-250-6106.

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