New study committee on access to civil legal services

A new Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services was recently launched by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. The 16-member committee includes 6 legislators and 10 public members, including Jim Gramling, President of the Access to Justice Commission. The chair is Rep. Cody Horlacher and the vice-chair is Sen. Duey Stroebel. A full roster is available here. The study committee was created in response to a unanimous powerful request from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The committee’s charge is “to review the …

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New funding for civil legal services is on the way

The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its final order requiring that at least one-half of unclaimed funds in class action settlements and judgments be directed to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation to support civil legal services to the poor. The court’s unanimous order was issued in response to Petition 15-06 filed by the Access to Justice Commission. This class action rule change takes effect on January 1, 2017. It will apply to cases filed on and after the effective date as …

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Supreme Court action on access to justice

Petitions_grantedOn April 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted unanimously to adopt a change proposed by the Access to Justice Commission that will result in a new source of funds for civil legal aid to the indigent in Wisconsin. The court acted following a public hearing on Petition 15-06, which was filed by the Access to Justice Commission. The rule change will direct at least 50% of unclaimed funds in state class action settlements and awards to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation to support civil legal services.

On the same day, the court also approved Petition 15-05, which was filed by the State Bar of Wisconsin, to allow lawyers to claim CLE credit for pro bono work. Registered in-house counsel will also have broader authority to do pro bono work. CLE credit for pro bono can be earned at the rate of 1 CLE credit for every 5 hours of pro bono legal services up to a maximum of 6 credits per reporting period. Attorneys will need to perform their pro bono work through a “qualified pro bono program” in order to claim the pro bono CLE credits. The court is expected to issue final orders on the two petitions in the coming months.

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Comments sought on access to justice rule petitions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is seeking comment on two pending rule petitions that support access to justice efforts in Wisconsin. The Access to Justice Commission filed Petition 15-06 seeking a rule change that would allocate 50% of unclaimed class action awards to support civil legal services to low income persons (aka cy pres). The State Bar of Wisconsin filed Petition 15-05 proposing rule changes to allow lawyers to claim a limited amount of CLE credit for certain pro bono …

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Proposed rule changes would expand access to justice

The search for new ways to address the chronic shortage of resources for civil legal aid in Wisconsin has taken on a MacGyveresque feel – sans the Swiss Army knife and duct tape. The Commission and others are always on the lookout for new ways to use old tools to come up with life-impacting solutions. Two of them arrived at the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the form of rule change petitions during the week of October 5th. First in …

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New funding for access to justice

This summer, thanks to a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court order, the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation and the Access to Justice Commission will each have a new source of revenue to support their access to justice missions as of July 1, 2014. The funds will be generated by an increased fee that out of state lawyers must pay in order to practice on a temporary basis in a Wisconsin court. The fee for what is called pro …

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