Diploma privilege still available to Wis. law graduates

Marquette Law School graduates will still be able to take advantage of the so-called “diploma privilege” for the time being.

In Wisconsin, graduates of the state’s two law schools — at Marquette and the University of Wisconsin — can circumvent the state’s bar exam and jump right into practice. The privilege has survived a lawsuit challenge by Christopher Wiesmueller, a Waukesha attorney and graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law, who has agreed to drop the case.

Wiesmueller accepted a $7,500 settlement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Board of Bar Examiners, who were defendants in the case.

The decision comes after a series of dismissals and appeals between 2007 and the end of 2009.

Wiesmueller argued that Wisconsin’s diploma privilege violated protections of interstate commerce granted by the Constitution and discriminated against out-of-state law school graduates.

Law School Dean Joseph Kearney said in an e-mail that the school regards the policy as appropriate in Wisconsin.

The school was prepared to support Wisconsin’s attorney general by providing evidence in the state’s defense, but Marquette was not a party to the litigation, Kearney said.

“It’s pretty much always a good thing when the parties can settle their differences without a court having to decide something,” Kearney said.

The state’s diploma privilege policy is the only one of its kind in the nation.