Wisconsin House Counsel are governed by Rule 10.03(4)(f) of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules. This rule enables attorneys who are not licensed in the state of Wisconsin to practice in Wisconsin as house counsel. There are certain requirements to be eligible under this rule. To be eligible as a Wisconsin house counsel an out of state attorney have to:
- Possess a juris doctorate degree from a law school approved by the ABA
- Be members in good standing of any bar where they are considered a member
- All CLE requirements must be met in the bars where the attorney is currently a member
- Certify they have read the Wisconsin Code of Professional Conduct
- Pay the application fee as well as any dues that are paid by the active members of the Wisconsin bar.
House Counsel Practice
To satisfy the above rule attorneys must be employed as an in house counsel for an association/company, whether that is for profit or non-profit organization is immaterial as long as the actual practice of the company is not itself for legal services. All attorneys attempting to be a in house counsel that are barred out of state must apply for a registration certificate within 60 days of beginning their employment, and must only give advice to the organization where that they are registered to, failure to do so makes them ineligible for the necessary Wisconsin Pro Hac Vice Admission. This could make them ineligible to practice. In addition they must also complete an application in the form located in Appendix B of the Rules.
As an in house counsel, the attorneys who are admitted under the aforementioned rule, receive all the benefits of actual members of the Wisconsin bar. This also includes being responsible for any disciplinary issues as well. They do not have the ability to be involved in any activities that require Wisconsin Pro Hac Vice Admission, unless the state of Wisconsin approves it or it is for pro bono services.
Reporting to the Wisconsin Bar
House counsel's are required to report to the Wisconsin Bar any changes in their bar membership status or employment. They must also report any sanctions that are being brought against them. This is all required to be submitted to the bar within 30 days. If an attorney is disbarred in any jurisdiction where they are a member their ability to practice as an in house counsel is also revoked in Wisconsin.
In house counsel must renew their registration certificate as well as pay all dues and renewal fees by each year. If in house counsel obtains employment at another organization they also must amend their registration certificate.