The number of pro hac vice applications went down 25 percent in the six months since a major fee increase.
The fee to file went up from $50 to $250 starting July 1.
According to data from the Office of Lawyer Regulation, which collects the fee, from January to June, six months before the applications fees were increased, there were 385 applications. And from July to December, there were 289 applications, 96 applications less than what was submitted before the increase.
“I think my projections assumed that there would be a similar number of applications,” OLR director Keith Sellen said Friday, “so that is something that surprised me a little bit. I do not see it as a problem. And depending on need, those applications may rise or fall.”
The OLR netted $28,900 from the increased fees. It now receives $100 per pro hac vice application, instead of $50.
The OLR collects the pro hac vice fee, but attorneys must send three separate checks. The OLR and the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation Inc. each receive $100 per application, while the Access to Justice Commission Inc. receives $50 per application.
The fee is a new source of money for WisTAF and the ATJ commission.
De Ette Tomlinson, executive director of WisTAF, said Wednesday that the money her organization receives is going toward civil services grants for those with low income. The grant goal for 2015 is $57,000.
She said it looks like the fee increase will bring in a little less than expected, but that it may be too early to tell because the estimates were based on an average over four years.
WisTAF, which was created by the state Supreme Court in 1986, provides money for indigent legal services. The Access to Justice Commission, which also receives a cut of the newly increased pro hac vice fee, advocates for civil legal services such as those that WisTAF pays for.
Commission president Jim Gramling predicted that the fee increase may not bring in as much as expected for the commission.
The past three biennial budgets have not included money for the ATJ commission, which advocates for civil legal services.
Similarly, WisTAF was cut out of the 2011-13 biennial budget and has not received state money since.
“We’re not alone,” said Tomlinson. “There’s a lot of services that aren’t necessarily a priority for this administration. Unfortunately, we are one of them.”Follow @erikastrebel