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The state of Wisconsin is unique from all the other states in the country in a number of ways, but most importantly it is notable for how people can become licensed attorneys here. Wisconsin is the only state in the United States where law students attending accredited law schools located in Wisconsin are automatically licensed to practice law as soon as they graduate from law school. Once these law graduates become licensed, they are required to join the State Bar of Wisconsin like all other lawyers that are licensed to practice in Wisconsin.
Although it was originally established as a voluntary association, the State Bar of Wisconsin is now the mandatory bar association for the legal community of the state. As the mandatory bar association of Wisconsin, the State Bar of Wisconsin works to benefit its 23,525 members, who all work in different legal practice areas and are from different backgrounds.
There are several other bar associations in Wisconsin that strive to benefit lawyers from all over the state, but their efforts are focused on a narrower group of attorneys instead of trying to reach out to every attorney in the state. Statewide bar associations such as the Wisconsin Asian Bar Association and the Wisconsin Association of African American Lawyers are dedicated to supporting the lawyers in Wisconsin that are part of racial or gender minority groups that have faced adversity in the legal profession in the past. These minority group-oriented bar associations also strive to help the rest of that minority community living in Wisconsin with supporting their legal rights and issues.
In addition to the bar associations that are focused on minorities, there are many Wisconsin bar associations serving lawyers from all over the state that practice in specific legal areas. Wisconsin lawyers that practice in certain law areas, such as civil defense and worker’s compensation, can connect with one another through singular-practice group bar associations that cover the entire state, including the Wisconsin Association of Worker’s Compensation Attorneys and the Wisconsin Defense Counsel. Additionally, there is a number of specialty bar associations in Wisconsin that only serve attorneys practicing in a certain legal field and working in a specific region of Wisconsin, such as the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association.
Aside from all of the bar associations that serve the entire state, Wisconsin is also home to a plethora of bar associations that support lawyers only in one part of the state. The majority of these regional bar associations are general bar associations that are committed to providing support to all of the lawyers that are actively working in that area of Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Bar Association and the Dane County Bar Association. There are also a number of regional bar associations that further restrict their area of support to certain minority groups and primarily benefit only lawyers living in the part of Wisconsin that they cover and are included within the minority community that they are committed to supporting, such as the Association for Women Lawyers.