At its Feb. 26 meeting the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors is scheduled to advance the discussion on whether the membership of the organization should remain mandatory.
Last month, the Strategic Planning Committee unanimously recommended that the board endorse a resolution which would give the committee authorization to file several petitions with the state Supreme Court, seeking a review of “the status of the integrated bar.”
Committee chair John Macy is expected to present the recommendation to the full board, which could decide the issue Friday or opt to make a decision at its May meeting, which coincides with the bar’s annual convention.
“I know the goal all along has been to complete action before the end of the fiscal year,” said bar spokesperson Thomas Solberg. “There is one more meeting in May to deal with voting on the issue.”
While this year’s annual convention will be held in Madison, the board could decide whether to alter the format and structure of future gatherings, based in part on a 36 percent dip in attendance during the last seven years.
Other factors contributing to the trend include the rising cost to attend, overly broad CLE offerings and conflicting social engagements with the May date.
A proposal from the executive committee suggests that starting next year, the bar consider holding several practice-area specific CLE conferences to draw around 400 members, thereby reducing costs and enhancing the focus of the content offered at the gatherings.
The board could also decide whether to support a petition which would establish standards and procedures for permanent revocation of an attorney’s license to practice.
At its December meeting, the board discussed the proposal which would give the state Supreme Court the authority to essentially impose a lifetime revocation and deny an attorney’s application for reinstatement.
The petition details several types of conduct – including criminal behavior or flagrant disregard for the Rules of Professional Conduct – as potential grounds for permanent revocation.
The topic is especially timely, given the Supreme Court’s recent decision to revoke Milwaukee attorney Alan D. Eisenberg’s license based on a history of misconduct dating back to 1970.
Under the current rule, Eisenberg, 68, could apply for reinstatement in five years.