The State Bar is led by a 52-member Board of Governors elected by the membership or appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The organization operates under the rules of the supreme court and the State Bar's bylaws.
The Board of Governors works with the Government Relations staff on a wide variety of issues and policy decisions important to the legal profession, the general public, and the justice system. The Board adopts public policy positions on behalf of the entire organization, consistent with the State Bar's mission.
State Bar Position Statements
The State Bar of Wisconsin takes legislative positions on general policy items of importance to the legal profession. By a 60 percent majority vote, the Board of Governors has the authority to determine the legislative positions of the State Bar.
The following are guiding principles for the State Bar's public policy positions. Specific examples of issues which fall under those guiding principles are also included.
The six principles include:
- Regulation of the Practice of Law
- Delivery of Legal Services
- Administration of Justice
- Funding of the Justice System
- Criminal Practice and Procedure
- Civil Practice and Procedure
Our Priority Issues
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Expungement: As the system has already tagged persons of color disproportionately, expungement for those who qualify helps individuals get a fresh start. Over the years, studies have shown time and again even minimal contact with the criminal justice system can have a significant detrimental impact on various aspects of a person’s life. The collateral consequences of a criminal record can be a life-long barrier to success, presenting obstacles to employment, housing, education, family reunification and often resulting in significant debt.
- Juvenile Shackling: When a young person is brought before a court, the perception of guilt from bringing them in shackles just adds to biases already existing in the system. The State Bar of Wisconsin opposes the presumption that a juvenile must be shackled when brought to court.
- Juvenile Jurisdiction (17 year olds): Wisconsin is one of only five remaining states that sets the age of criminal responsibility at 17 years, a trend that has been rapidly reversing nationwide. Studies show that youth placed in an adult prison reoffend after release at higher rates than young people placed in a juvenile institution. If treated as juveniles, teens have a better chance to learn from the situation, are more likely to receive adequate services, and take steps to find success in the future. By keeping 17-year-olds in adult court, we are preventing them from getting the treatment they need to reduce the risk they will reoffend.
- Exoneree Compensation: Wisconsin was once a leader in providing a statutory mechanism for compensating individuals who are able to prove that they were innocent of the offense for which they were wrongly convicted. However, Wisconsin’s statute has not been updated in decades, and is now the most inadequate of any such statute in the nation. The State Bar of Wisconsin believes recent legislation is an attempt to correct errors in the judicial system, to ensure that exonerees are appropriately compensated for the injustice they suffered and the years of freedom they lost.
- Bail Reform
- Civil Legal Funding
- Taxing Justice
Also On This Page
You can see more information on positions taken by State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors.
If you have any questions, please contact State Bar Government Relations Staff.