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Tribe wants reciprocity for in-house attorneys

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//December 6, 2016//

Tribe wants reciprocity for in-house attorneys

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//December 6, 2016//

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A Native American tribe is asking for a rule change that would let legal work for federally recognized tribes count toward admission to practice law in Wisconsin.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Bowler recently filed a proposal asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to change its admission rules so that in-house tribal attorneys would essentially have reciprocity.

The requirements that lawyers now must meet to be admitted to the State Bar include one concerning legal competence. This can be met by passing the State Bar exam, attending a law school that offers diploma privileges or submitting proof showing that you have practiced in other jurisdictions.

To meet this requirement, though, you must show both that you were admitted to practice law in another state and that you had practiced in at least three of the last five years leading up to when you applied for admission.

The practice of law includes providing legal services as a corporate counsel or trust officer, serving as a federal judge, providing legal services in the Armed Forces and teaching at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.

The Stockbridge-Munsee is asking the justices to extend the list to include legal work done by in-house tribal attorneys.

According to the petition memo, attorneys who practice law for federally recognized Native American tribes are being denied admission to practice in Wisconsin because the tribes are considered foreign nations under state law. The memo notes that Wisconsin is the only state to have such a prohibition and calls on the state to change its rules to “reflect a more educated view” of tribal attorneys’ practices.


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