Maintaining Your Membership

State Bar of Wisconsin

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Maintaining Your Membership

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From the day the State Bar of Wisconsin was established, we have aspired to serve and support our members in a variety of ways.

As times change and the practice of law evolves, we’re committed to grow and evolve with it, providing the information, education, and advocacy you need to excel at your practice and lead a balanced life. While that’s earned us the reputation as on​e of the most innovative and service-oriented bars in the country, our focus is on the future. We’re working to enhance our services to help you meet the challenges and o​pportunities that lie ahead. Please contact us with ideas and insights on serving you better.

After all, your practice is our purpose.

 

On This Page

Membership class options

Only active and emeritus members of the State Bar of Wisconsin may practice law in Wisconsin, as outlined in SCR Chapter 10. There are four membership class options available to State Bar members: active, inactive, emeritus, and judicial.

Active

Active or Emeritus status is required to practice law in Wisconsin. While on active status, you must comply with continuing legal education requirements set by Supreme Court rule and pay the fees required of active members.

If you are currently on inactive status and wish to transfer to active status, the first step is to contact the Board of Bar Examiners to determine what your CLE requirements are. Once you have complied with this requirement, you will be issued an authorization from the Board that will indicate you are authorized to make the change from inactive to active.

Once you have received the authorization, it will be necessary for you to contact the State Bar in writing and request active status. We will then inform you of the amount due to upgrade your fees to the active rate. If you have been inactive for 10 or more consecutive years, it also will be necessary for you to show proof of active membership from another state or petition the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Active members may practice law in Wisconsin, have full member benefits and may vote in Bar elections. To find out what your CLE requirement would be, contact the Board of Bar Examiners, Room 715, 110 E Main St., Madison, WI 53703, (608) 266-9760

Inactive

Inactive membership is for those who are eligible for active membership but are not engaged in the practice of law in this state.

If you wish to transfer to inactive status, you need to inform the State Bar in writing, or by email at org service wisbar wisbar service org. You will not be allowed to practice while inactive, and the dues payment drops to one-half of the Bar dues and one-half of the assessments. The inactive member does not contribute to the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection.

As an inactive member, you are not subject to the CLE requirement. Inactive members may not practice law in Wisconsin but are eligible for most State Bar benefits but may not vote in Bar elections.

Emeritus Active (Legacy)

The class of Emeritus Active (Legacy) members includes those persons who are either actively practicing or no longer actively practicing but who were at least 70 years of age before 7/1/2021 and filed with the State Bar written notice requesting enrollment in the class of emeritus members, prior to 7/1/2021. Emeritus Active (Legacy) members pay reduced fees and are exempt from continuing legal education requirements.

As an Emeritus Active (Legacy) member, you will receive full membership benefits without payment of State Bar dues or Supreme Court assessments. You will pay only for the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection when there is an assessment. The current annual assessment is $25 and will be listed on your dues statement.

Those Emeritus Active (Legacy) members still actively practicing can do so without restrictions, including no restrictions as to pro bono work. Those that are no longer practicing are permitted to do pro bono work as long as done with and for a “qualified pro bono program” authorized in SCR 31.01(12).

For more information, please see SCR 10.03(3)(a). Questions? Contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788 or org service wisbar wisbar service org

Senior Active

The class of active members includes all members of the State Bar, including those designated as Senior Active members, who are authorized to engage in the practice of law, either full-time or part-time, salaried or non-salaried, regardless of age. Commencing July 1, 2021, upon attaining age 75, an active member is designated as a "Senior Active member" unless a written notice requesting enrollment in a different membership class is filed with the State Bar.

Supreme Court Rules require lawyers to maintain active status to practice law in Wisconsin. They must comply with continuing legal education requirements and pay the fees required of active members. For Senior Active members, that requires payment of half Supreme Court assessments and half State Bar dues as well as the requirement of obtaining just half of CLE requirements (15 instead of 30 credits per two-year reporting period, and 3 of those 15 credits must be ethics credits)

For more information, please see SCR 10.03(3)(a). Questions? Contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788 or org service wisbar wisbar service org

Emeritus Inactive

The class of inactive members includes those members of the State Bar who are eligible for active membership who have filed with the State Bar written notice requesting enrollment in the class of inactive members. An inactive member may not practice law in this state other than pro bono service as provided in SCR 10.03(3)(am). As such, an Emeritus Inactive member is permitted to do pro bono work as long as done with and for a “qualified pro bono program” authorized in SCR 31.01(12)

The class of Emeritus Inactive members includes those persons who are inactive members, but are at least 70 years of age and have filed with the State Bar written notice on or after July 1, 2021 requesting enrollment in the class of emeritus members. They are no longer engaged in the practice of law in Wisconsin. Emeritus Inactive members pay reduced fees and are exempt from continuing legal education requirements.

As an Emeritus Inactive member, you will receive full membership benefits without payment of State Bar dues or Supreme Court assessments. You will pay only for the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection when there is an assessment. The current annual assessment is $25 and will be listed on your dues statement.

For more information, please see SCR 10.03(3)(a). Questions? Contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788 or org service wisbar wisbar service org

Judicial

If you are assuming a judicial post, you should change your membership status to judicial with the State Bar. You will need to choose either voting or non voting status; voting pays full dues portion while non voting pays two thirds of the full dues. Judicial members do not pay board assessments, but do pay into the Wisconsin Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection. You may not practice law while under judicial status. Judicial members do not comply with regular CLE credits but should review the applicable rules and comply with applicable judicial education requirements. Municipal judges can choose judicial status if they are required to take judicial education.

 

If you wish to change your class of membership, you must submit a written request to: State Bar of Wisconsin, Membership Department, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158.

You may submit your written request when paying annual State Bar dues and Supreme Court assessments. If you send them in with your statement, please call the State Bar for the proper fees for your new status.

If you are considering retirement, please call Customer Service at (800) 728-7788 so that we may walk you through the process.

Emeritus Membership FAQs

What is Emeritus status?

The “Emeritus” status is a class of State Bar membership distinct from other classes of membership. Emeritus members are not required to pay annual Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments (other than that to the Wisconsin Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection*) or annual State Bar membership dues, but they still receive benefits of membership.

Did the Emeritus membership class change recently?

Yes, at the request of the State Bar, the Wisconsin Supreme Court modified the Emeritus class of membership established in the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules (SCR Chapter 10) in March 2021.

The new rule takes effect July 1, 2021. Under the old rule, members could elect Emeritus status at age 70 but continue practicing law with no Supreme Court assessments*, State Bar dues, or CLE requirements.

Why did the Emeritus membership class change?

The State Bar leadership has studied the Emeritus classification of membership for years and most recently, in 2018, established an Emeritus Task Force to study issues raised and make recommendations in consultation with the Senior Lawyers Division (SLD).

The Emeritus Task Force consisted of two former SLD presidents, an SLD member, a retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, Nonresident Lawyers Division members, past and current State Bar presidents and officers, and other member representatives.

The Emeritus Task Force was appointed to examine the then-current Emeritus structure as more attorneys actively practice law well into their 70s and State Bar membership demographics have shifted over the last 50 years. The prior Emeritus structure was established in 1975, more than 45 years ago.

At its establishment, those electing Emeritus status were generally retired. The new structure however reflects the reality that many lawyers are now actively practicing well into their 70s. In addition, the new structure, effective July 1, 2021, clearly distinguishes that lawyers electing Emeritus status as of that date or thereafter can no longer be actively practicing law. However, those that were eligible and had elected Emeritus status before July 1, 2021 were granted “legacy status” to allow for continued active pr

actice of law, if desired.

Having both active and inactive members in the same membership class was a key factor in the issues that had arisen over time, especially given inherently different and often inconsistent needs and requirements placed upon these two different types of members. Thus, on a “going forward” basis, this was a major catalyst in moving to having new Emeritus members no longer practicing law.

The new Emeritus classification structure, approved by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in March 2021, was the result of extended debate in consultation with the Senior Lawyers Division (SLD), which supported the final proposal that was presented to the Supreme Court as a rule petition.

How do I become an Emeritus member?

State Bar members, regardless of their preceding membership class, may elect Emeritus status when they reach the age of 70 and have retired from the practice of law. As of July 1, 2021, members who elect Emeritus status become “inactive” members and cannot practice law, except pro bono work through a qualified pro bono program. When you next receive your bar card, you will be noted as an “Emeritus Inactive” member.

Emeritus members are not required to pay State Bar membership dues but will still receive the privileges and benefits of membership, such as delivery of Wisconsin Lawyer™ magazine, as well as access to discount programs and other programs and services offered by the State Bar. In addition, Emeritus members have no CLE requirements and are not required to pay Supreme Court assessments, other than to the Wisconsin Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection.

What if I’ve reached age 70 and want to continue practicing law?

Members who want to continue practicing law after attaining the age of 70 cannot elect Emeritus status after June 30, 2021. They will continue as “Active” members (with full CLE and assessments/dues requirements) until the age of 75.

However, at age 75, “Active” members are automatically moved into “Senior Active” status, unless the State Bar is otherwise notified in writing by the member that a different membership classification is preferred. Members with Senior Active status at age 75 and older can continue practicing law but pay only half Supreme Court assessments and State Bar dues. In addition, Senior Active members are required to obtain just half of CLE requirements (15 instead of 30 credits per two-year reporting period, and 3 of those 15 credits must be ethics credits).

Members who have reached age 70 can elect Emeritus status at any time, so long as they are no longer practicing law (except for pro bono through qualified pro bono programs).

What if I am already an Emeritus member before the new rule takes effect on July 1, 2021?

Those who are age 70 or older before July 1, 2021 and have elected into the Emeritus membership class are granted “legacy status.” When you next receive your bar card, you will be noted as an “Emeritus Active (Legacy)” member. Those still actively practicing law can do so without restrictions, including no restrictions as to pro bono work. Those that are no longer practicing law are permitted to do pro bono work as long as done with and for a “qualified pro bono program” authorized in SCR 31.01(12). In either case, these legacy Emeritus members have no obligation for Supreme Court assessments*, State Bar dues, or CLE requirements.

I have a question about my membership status. Who do I contact for more help?

You may contact the State Bar’s Customer Service team at (800) 728-7788 or at org service wisbar wisbar service org.

State Bar Dues and Supreme Court Assessments

Active New: Admitted to first bar after 4/30/19

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$134.00


$    5.50
$  75.00
$  25.00
$  50.00

$289.50

Active: Admitted to first bar before 5/1/19

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$268.00


$  11.00
$150.00
$  25.00
$  50.00

$504.00

Senior Active: Age 75 and over before 7/1/2021 and actively practicing
       Automatically assigned, unless the State Bar is otherwise notified in writing by member

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$134.00


$    5.50
$  75.00
$  25.00
$  50.00

$289.50

Inactive:

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$134.00


$    5.50
$  75.00
$    0.00
$    0.00

$214.50

Emeritus Inactive: Age 70 and over after 6/30/2021 and not actively practicing
       Elected by member via written notification to the State Bar

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$    0.00


$    0.00
$    0.00
$  25.00
$    0.00

$   25.00

Emeritus Active (Legacy): Age 70 and over and elected before 7/1/2021

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$    0.00


$    0.00
$    0.00
$  25.00
$    0.00

$   25.00

Judicial: With voting privileges in Bar elections

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$268.00


$   0.00
$   0.00
$  25.00
$  50.00

$343.00

Judicial: With no voting privileges

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$178.67


$   0.00
$   0.00
$  25.00
$  50.00

$253.67

Justice

 

State Bar of Wisconsin
Membership dues

Supreme Court assessments
Board of Bar Examiners
Office of Lawyer Regulation
WI Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection
WisTAF

Total Fee


$268.00


$   11.00
$ 150.00
$   25.00
$   50.00

$504.00

Voluntary State Bar section and division dues - Fiscal 2022

Voluntary State Bar section and division dues - Fiscal 2022

The State Bar offers its members the opportunity to affiliate with lawyers who have a common practice or professional interest. To join one of the State Bar's 24 sections or four divisions, send a letter of request, along with the appropriate annual fee, if applicable, to the State Bar of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158 . Members also can join sections and divisions through the State Bar annual dues and Supreme Court assessment statement mailed prior to July 1. For additional questions, contact org customerservice wisbar Customer Service.

New! Join a group online

Administrative & Local Government $20.00
Appellate Practice $25.00
Bankruptcy, Insolvency & Creditor's Rights $30.00
Business Law $30.00
Children & the Law $35.00
Civil Rights & Liberties $35.00
Construction & Public Contract Law $35.00
Criminal Law $29.00
Dispute Resolution $27.00
Elder Law and Special Needs $44.00
Environmental Law $30.00
Family Law $35.00
Health Law $30.00
Indian Law $37.00
Intellectual Property and Technology Law $30.00
International Practice $32.00
Labor & Employment Law $25.00
Litigation $32.00
Public Interest $28.00
Public Utilities $25.00
Real Property, Probate & Trust Law $35.00
Solo/Small Firm & General Practice $25.00
Sports & Entertainment $30.00
Taxation $33.00
Government Lawyers Division $0.00
Nonresident Lawyers Division $0.00
Senior Lawyers Division $30.00
Young Lawyers Division $0.00

State Bar of Wisconsin Dues Reduction and Arbitration Process (Keller Dues Reduction)

State Bar of Wisconsin Dues Reduction and Arbitration Process (Keller Dues Reduction)

In U.S. Supreme Court case Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990), and subsequent rulings, mandatory bar associations can use compulsory dues to fund activities “necessarily or reasonably related to the purposes of regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services.” Procedures which implement Keller are found in Wisconsin SCR 10.03(5)(b)1.

Under Keller, the State Bar is permitted to fund lobbying and other activities related to these purposes with mandatory dues. But lobbying and other activities not germane to those purposes cannot be funded with the compulsory dues of objecting members.

In February 2018, the State Bar of Wisconsin Board of Governors unanimously adopted a policy to include voluntarily all direct lobbying activity on policy matters before the Wisconsin State Legislature or the United States Congress within the Keller rebate calculation, even lobbying activity deemed germane to regulating the legal profession and improving the quality of legal services.

The State Bar of Wisconsin annually calculates the Keller dues rebate amount – the amount used for activities that cannot be funded with mandatory dues – and objecting members can choose to withhold the rebate amount on their annual dues statements.

Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) reduction amounts

  • $7.15 Active members admitted to their first bar April 30, 2019, or earlier, voting judicial members, and Supreme Court Justices
  • $3.58 Active members admitted to their first bar after April 30, 2019, senior active members, and inactive members
  • $4.77 Nonvoting judicial members
  • $0.00 Emeritus (active and inactive)

For full information on the Keller reduction and activities that are non-chargeable, download the PDF.

Contact Us

Membership

org kwilcox wisbar Customer Service Manager

(608) 250-6191

 
(800) 444-9404, ext. 6191

 

Member Benefits and Services

org kburns wisbar Member Services Manager
(608) 250-6181
(800) 444-9404, ext. 6181

Dues

org service wisbar Email Customer Service or call (800) 728-7788.

Membership Status

org service wisbar Email Customer Service or call (800) 728-7788.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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