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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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End Discrimination Against Wisconsin Law Students, Let the Take the Bar

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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For years, law students at Marquette and the University of Wisconsin schools of law have suffered a singular indignity. Wisconsin has been alone in subjecting the students from its two law schools to an archaic practice known as the Diploma Privilege, long ago abolished in other, more progressive jurisdictions. So firmly ingrained is the practice in the customs and mindset of the Wisconsin bar that even its victims attempt to defend it. Beverly Moran, The Wisconsin Diploma Privilege: Try It, You’ll Like It, 2000 Wis. L. Rev. 645 (2000).

The insidious operation of the diploma privilege is twofold. First, while not explicitly excluding Wisconsin law students from taking the bar, the Diploma Privilege substantially deprives them of that opportunity by admitting them to practice without it. Second, any Wisconsin graduate who dares to sit for the bar having graduated from those schools is swiftly subjected to shame and ridicule by his peers. Such an attorney is marked with a badge of inferiority, as it is assumed that while smart enough to pass the Wisconsin bar, the attorney was not smart enough to realize he or she didn’t have to take it in the first place.

Fortunately for the downtrodden and oppressed law students of Wisconsin, a young civil rights attorney has agreed to take their case, pro bono. While, as an out of state law student, Christopher Wiesmueller is a member of the privileged class of the Waukesha bar that was actually encouraged to take the bar, his innate sense of moral justice and absolute equality of law students eventually overcame his inherited prejudices. He filed suit on behalf of the disenfranchised who for so long had passed up the BarBri fliers as an unattainable pipe dream. Undaunted by dismissal at the trial level, Wiesmueller recently appeared before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the rule violates the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause.

Listen to an mp3 of the oral argument below:

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Should he succeed, Wiesmueller’s name will no doubt be shouted from the rooftops in Milwaukee and Madison.

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