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Is it possible to practice law in the State of Wisconsin if you have a felony OWI on your record?

Milwaukee, WI |

Is it possible to practice law in the State of Wisconsin if you have a felony OWI on your record? I am strongly considering trying to get accepted to law school-- but since this 'black mark' on my record is not the greatest thing in the world to have to explain-- is it still possible?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. That is up to the Board of Bar Examiners. I would assume, though, that if you were accepted by a Wisconsin law school and graduate that you could practice law. Good luck!

  2. The other answer is a good general overview. And yes, typically is a WI law school would accept you, the board of bar examiners would likely consider you for admission.
    There are some details about your conviction that could affect admission. One, is this a multiple offense situation? Two, was anyone injured as a result? Three, is this a WI or out of state conviction as different states treat OWIs differently. Four, the circumstances of the OWI and court proceedings itself may affect the board's decision.
    I suggest you find a lawyer that specializes in Professional Responsibility of Lawyers to see what the likely board decision would be, before you make a commitment to law school.

  3. You should discuss this thoroughly with a law school admissions officer before you invest the time, energy, and expense in law school. In this economy, law schools crank out thousands of unemployed or under-employed new grads every year, and even if you are admitted to the bar there is no guarantee you will get a job. You may want to look into paralegal training as an alternative. Unlike the market for new lawyers, graduates from a quality post-graduate paralegal program are generally more employable. Good luck.

    This answer is provided for general information only. No legal advice can be given without a consult as to the specifics of the case.

  4. As a franchise attorney , this is a bit out of my area of expertise - helping companies franchise a business concept and advising individuals, as a franchise expert, on making franchise investments. However, I can say the following.

    I entirely agree with my colleagues, especially the one who correctlly pointed out your chances of getting a job as an attorney are nil compared to becoming a paralegal. Why waste 3 to 4 years in law school and a $200k-plus in law school tuition and expenses pursuing a route that is not likely to result in gainful employment.

    Look into a career as a paralegal - you'll be glad you did.

    Best of luck,

    Kevin B. Murphy, B.S., M.B.A., J.D.
    Franchise Attorney & Franchise Expert
    Director of Operations - Mr. Franchise

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