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Board of Governors to discuss bar dues, vote on Keller dues, hear from top court official

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//February 8, 2018//

Board of Governors to discuss bar dues, vote on Keller dues, hear from top court official

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//February 8, 2018//

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The Board of Governors has a full agenda for its meeting Friday.

A 52-member body elected by the state’s lawyers, the board oversees the Wisconsin State Bar’s policies and operations. Its meeting scheduled for Friday starts at 10 a.m. at the Wisconsin State Bar Center, 5302 Eastpark Blvd., Madison.

Randy Koschnick, the state’s new director of state courts, is to speak to the board at 11:30 a.m., according to the board’s agenda.

Koschnick’s visit comes on the same day that he board will again be discussing in closed session Madison lawyer Steve Levine’s petition to further rein in how the Wisconsin State Bar spends the mandatory dues that lawyers have to pay it.

Although the Wisconsin Supreme Court held a public hearing on the petition in October and discussed the petition in December, the matter remains on hold.

Various justices, state court officials and bar representatives also met with Levine in December, according to documents obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Levine, a frequent critic of the bar and a former State Bar president, is proposing that the bar prepare two budgets: one for proposed expenditures of mandatory bar dues and a separate one covering voluntary bar dues. He contends the bar should be further constrained in its spending of mandatory bar dues.

In particular, he is arguing that the bar is not complying with recent court decisions holding that state bars may not use mandatory dues to pay for political purposes unless the money is put, in some way, toward regulating the profession or improving legal services.

The bar has responded by arguing, among other things, that it is following those precedents and that it carefully calculates the bar’s spending on lobbying and other activities to ascertain the exact amount of mandatory dues that can be withheld by lawyers who object to the money being used for political purposes.

Also up for discussion on Friday will be the exact amount of those refunds, also known as Keller dues reductions, in the bar’s coming fiscal year. The proposed amount, $9.95, would be $2.70 more than the reduction offered this year. To be approved, the proposed dues reduction would have to win favorable votes from a simple majority of the board members.

In other business, the bar will be voting on a proposal to appoint Gretchen Rosenske to replace District 15 Governor Kelly Mould, who resigned from the board.

The Racine County Bar Association recently voted to recommend that Rosenke, an assistant state public defender, serve out the rest of Mould’s term, which ends June 30, 2019. Once she finishes that term, Rosenke would be able to run for two consecutive two-year terms on the board. To be approved, the recommendation needs a simple majority vote from the board.

Also, Governor Kathryn Bullon will be telling the board the latest news concerning the bar’s voluntary certified-paralegal program, which would set minimum standards or requirements for being certified as a paralegal. Among other things, the program would require participants to obtain an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an accredited school or an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in another field, as well as 18 credits from a paralegal-studies program. The board approved the program in April.


This article has been edited to correct that the Keller dues reduction for the coming year is $2.50, up from the $7.75 the board approved last year.


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