The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently approved an amendment to Supreme Court Rule (SCR) 31.01 (11) to allow tribal courts to appoint attorneys to provide pro bono legal services, and to permit the attorney to claim continuing legal education credits in lieu of monetary payments. Effective April 20, 2022, Wisconsin attorneys who accept appointments from state, federal, and now tribal courts without fee or expectation of a fee for persons of limited means can request CLE credit for their service.
This petition was led by Judge Robert J. Collins, II, of the Oneida Judiciary who emphasized the positive impact on tribal courts in the latest Pro Bono Highlights newsletter from the State Bar of Wisconsin. “This rule amendment recognizes the existence of the eleven tribal courts in the State of Wisconsin and will impact tribal communities and relieve strained tribal court budgets by allowing our courts to permit court-appointed attorneys and guardians ad litem to receive continuing legal education (CLE) credits in lieu of monetary payment in cases involving indigent litigants. The Oneida Nation already has one guardian ad litem interested in taking advantage of this amendment.”
How can you get involved? “Attorneys, especially those that are enrolled tribal members, are encouraged to reach out to the tribal courts in and around their communities if they are interested in providing legal services in tribal court matters,” said Judge Collins.
Under SCR 31.05(7), Wisconsin lawyers may claim one hour of CLE credit for every five hours of qualifying pro bono legal services up to a maximum of six credits per reporting period.