For the public

Lawyer regulation

Regulation system

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has authority over all attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court has established rules governing attorney conduct and has made the Office of Lawyer Regulation responsible for investigating attorneys who may have violated those rules. If the Office of Lawyer Regulation finds clear and convincing evidence that an attorney has violated one of the court’s rules, the office has the authority to seek sanctions against the attorney.

Lawyers and non-lawyers interested in serving on the bodies described below should send a letter and resume to: Clerk of the Supreme Court, P.O. Box 1688, Madison, WI 53701-1688, or fax to (608) 267-0640 or e-mail to clerk@wicourts.gov. Positions are filled on a continual basis and resumes will be kept on file for consideration for future opportunities.

A synopsis of the lawyer regulation system follows:

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court determines attorney misconduct and medical incapacity and imposes discipline or directs other action in attorney misconduct and medical incapacity proceedings filed with the court.

Office of Lawyer Regulation
The office is responsible for screening, investigating, and prosecuting cases. The director, appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Court, investigates attorney misconduct and medical incapacity allegations and presents results to the Preliminary Review Committee. The Office of Lawyer Regulation consists of the director, intake and investigative staff, staff counsel and retained counsel. For more on the Office of Lawyer Regulation visit the court office section.

District Investigative Committees
Sixteen District Investigative Committees, composed of lawyers and members of the public and appointed by the Supreme Court, are an integral part of the Office of Lawyer Regulation's investigative program. (Map of committee locations Adobe PDF) The use of the committees ensures local input into the grievance process and provides both complainants and respondents with a convenient, economical means of peer review.

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Preliminary Review Committee
A 14-person committee made up of nine lawyers and five non-lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court meets in panels of seven approximately four to six times per year to review investigations and determine whether there is cause for the director to file a complaint with the Supreme Court. The committee also reviews dismissal cases upon the request of the grievant to determine whether further investigation should occur.

Board of Administrative Oversight
A 12-person board composed of eight lawyers and four non-lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court meets four times per year. It monitors the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the system and proposes substantive and procedural rules related to the system for consideration by the Court.

Special Investigative Panel
A panel of 12 lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court who are currently not participating in the lawyer regulation system investigates allegations of possible misconduct made against a current participant in the lawyer regulation system, i.e., a member of a district committee, a lawyer member of the preliminary review committee, a lawyer member of the board of administrative oversight, or a referee. The director will refer the matter to a special investigator when it is received. The special investigator evaluates, investigates, and prosecutes matters as guided and regulated by SCR 22.25 Adobe PDF.

Special Preliminary Review Panel
A panel of seven members, consisting of four lawyers and three non-lawyers, appointed by the Supreme Court who are not currently participating in the lawyer regulation system reviews investigative reports received from the Special Investigative Panel and determines whether there is cause to proceed based on the information gathered by the special investigators. The panel also reviews dismissed matters upon request of a grievant to determine whether further investigation should occur.

Referee
A court-appointed attorney or reserve judge hears the discipline cases and makes disciplinary recommendations to the Supreme Court, approves the issuance of certain private and public reprimands, and conducts hearings on petitions for reinstatement of a license to practice law.

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