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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ind. Courts - Even more on: Wisconsin's diploma privilege under attack

The ILB has had several entries on Wisconsin's "diploma privilege" and a legal challenge to it. This entry from April 11, 2009 is the more comprehensive and includes this quote from Judge Posner:

Wisconsin allows graduates of the two law schools in the state to be admitted to the practice of law without having to take the Wisconsin bar exam. The plaintiff, a graduate of an out-of-state law school, brought this suit against the members of the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, charging a violation of the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution and seeking injunctive relief.
But on March 24, 2010 Bruce Vielmetti reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a story that begins:
For now, the diploma privilege remains exclusive to graduates of Wisconsin's law schools and no others.

The privilege, unique in the nation, allows graduates of the state's two law schools to join the state bar without taking the exam required of new graduates from all other law schools.

While he was a law student in Oklahoma, Waukesha lawyer Christopher Wiesmueller filed what became a federal class-action lawsuit that raised a commerce clause argument against the practice. It named the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Board of Bar Examiners as defendants.

The case was dismissed twice, and Wiesmueller twice won appeals before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, gaining some national legal media attention.

But late last year, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb decertified the class, meaning Wiesmueller was left representing only his wife, also a graduate of an out-of-state law school.

Last week, the couple agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for $7,500. Not only can the Wiesmuellers never again challenge the bar admission policies, they can't assist, be part of or support anyone else's challenge, under terms of the settlement.

Christopher Wiesmueller, who opened his own office in November, said that after 3 1/2 years, he was tiring of the case, and that he would soon need a new plaintiff because his wife is scheduled to take the Wisconsin bar exam in July.

He hasn't changed his mind about the issue, though.

"It's still out there. If someone else wants to take this up, more power to them," he said Wednesday.

See also Ashby Jones' entry yesterday in the WSJ Law Blog.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 27, 2010 10:55 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts