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 25,000 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.
Admission to Practice
The Wisconsin Supreme Court requires lawyers to be admitted to practice by the court and to join the State Bar of Wisconsin as a condition of practicing law in the state. Lawyers seeking to practice law in Wisconsin must go through the Board of Bar Examiners (BBE), an 11-member board appointed by the supreme court. BBE evaluates the skills, character, and fitness of lawyers, and also writes and grades the Wisconsin Bar Examination.
Visit the BBE website to find information regarding the admission to practice law, and applications.
In general, active member lawyers who were admitted to practice law in Wisconsin are required to comply with the 30-hour Wisconsin mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) requirements for each two-year reporting period. There are some exceptions for newly admitted attorneys and emeritus members.
Visit the BBE website for details on the CLE requirements.
In-House Counsel Registration
In addition, attorneys licensed in other states that are not admitted to practice law in Wisconsin and are in-house counsel must register with the BBE within 60 after the commencement of employment as a lawyer in this state.
Visit the BBE website to learn about these registration requirements.
Pro Hac Vice
Non-member attorneys can appear and participate in a particular action or proceeding in association with an active member of the State Bar of Wisconsin after filing the required pro hac vice application and application fee with the State Bar of Wisconsin. Other requirements for pro hac vice admission are governed by Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules and certain Wisconsin Circuit Court Local Rules.
Visit the Wisconsin Court System website for more information on pro hac vice requirements and forms.
Procedure to Regain Admission after a Voluntary Resignation
To regain admission after resignation, a member must contact the Wisconsin Supreme Court.