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Monday, May 21, 2007 

An Eventful Morning

At 9:30 this morning, I swore the attorney's oath in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I am officially licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. Heavy, I know.

I arrived at the State Capitol building early this morning and headed to the second floor, home of our Supreme Court. I signed in with the friendly people from the Board of Bar Examiners at their table, showed them my ID, paid them for their hard work, and got my information packet. The first group of my classmates was already lined up when I arrived, waiting to enter the court room. We were broken into groups alphabetically by last name. My H last name put me in the center of group #2.

Slowly, more of my groupmates showed up, signed in, and joined me in our hallway waiting game. A lot of people brought their families. My parents were there, but took a short tour of the Capitol before the ceremony. That left me alone for a while. I took the time to chat a little with a few friends, but honestly, not much was said. We've spent the last two days together for our hooding and graduation ceremonies. There had been more than enough waiting time between, during, and after those ceremonies for us to say just about everything that we had to say to each other.

Eventually, the first group came out of the court room and the rest of us were all lined up for our turn. Our families were let in before us so we could have the privilege of marching into the room in front of them. Isn't it great to have an entire room of people staring at you? As we filed in, I saw that one of my old classmates Quinn had shown up for the ceremony. He graduated a semester early and works in Madison. It was a pleasant surprise.

We all walked into the court room and made our way to the chairs placed right in front of the bench. And I mean that it was right in front of it. I was in the second row of seats, but I could have touched the bench if i leaned all the way forward in my chair. The marshal of the court gave us all some instructions about the ceremony. Then she disappeared to get the Justices.

After a few minutes, the marshal gave the "all rise" order and the seven Justices walked into the court room. They took their places behind the bench, and we were told to sit. Chief Justice Abrahamson welcomed us and gave us a brief rundown of the ceremony. There were remarks from the Director of the Board of Bar Examiners. He certified that we all had the character and fitness to serve as lawyers. The BBE basically does a background check on us. Dean Kearney of the law school then spoke, moving for us graduates to be admitted to the state bar. As he introduced us each by name, we stood up.

Once we were all on our feet, Justice Bradley took over and administered the oath to us. The oath is pretty long and contains great words like "lucre." After "So help me God," everyone clapped for us and seven hundred camera flashes went off. My mom claims that she got a great shot of the back of my head during the oath, which is... great. But hey, it's better than nothing.

After the oath, Justice Butler made some remarks about the importance of the legal profession and its role in society. The state bar president also made some remarks, praising our hard work, pledging to help us in our careers, and urging us to get involved with the state bar. The Chief Justice closed the ceremony. She reminded us all of the importance of an independent bar and an independent judiciary. She urged us to get involved in pro bono work and to use our talents to help people who can't pay our normal hourly rates. And that was that.

After leaving the court room, I said a few good-byes to my classmates. We all had to go over to Monona Terrace for a reception, but I didn't intend on staying long so I decided to say bye while at the court. I talked to Quinn briefly, making sure to give him a hard time for taking a break on taxpayer time. He works for the state.

At the Terrace, I picked up my state bar materials (including my first name tag with the "Atty" title in front of my name) and signed the roll of attorneys (it's a big book with names). A glass of water later, I was on my way home. Quite a morning.

That answers my question about whether you were having to prepare for the BAR. I forgot about you Wisconsin people who get exempted from the most terrifying 2-3 days of most lawyer's lives. It was 6 for me, as I had to take the Texas exam twice.
Anyways, congratulations, and try to avoid lawsuits and grievances like the plague. That is what I spend half of my time doing. CYA is the main thing in practicing law. Always remember that.

I must admit that the diploma privilege is pretty darn cool. I have my doubts about its long term survival though.

Thanks for the advice. Hopefully, my normally high level of paranoia will serve me well in my career. I'm hypersensitive to the thought of getting something wrong. I'll be C'ing my A to the very best of my ability.

Congrats Steve! You'll be great.

Thank you. I'll certainly try to be.

Congrats. :)

Thanks, Simon.

Steve! You better be above the norm! Don't make me come find you! In legalease, is that considered a threat? LOL

I'll try my best to stay well over that "norm" bar.


Thanks! I'm a little bummed out that I can't take the Wisconsin Supreme Court course that you are teaching next fall. I bet it's going to be very enlightening.

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About me

  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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