Poor? Need legal aid? Tiny part of landlord law could make lawyers wary of helping out

An effort to help poor tenants facing eviction get some free legal help was so successful last year that landlords started timing court appearances for days when the Eviction Defense Project wasn't in session.

News Story (Wisconsin)

Bruce Vielmetti
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
May 25, 2018

Tags: Housing: Landlord-Tenant, Pro Bono

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Action of Wisconsin


Since then, the project has expanded to three days a week from one, and its small staff and corps of volunteer lawyers aren’t so easy to sidestep anymore.

But a package of laws signed by Gov. Scott Walker last month includes one small change that might become an obstacle to lawyers volunteering at all kinds of low-income legal clinics.

A 2015 Supreme Court rule allows lawyers to provide “limited scope representation,” or “brief legal advice” at a legal clinic, without following all the steps associated with taking on a full client. It only requires that they mark any documents they help¬†someone fill out with a stamp reading: “This document was prepared with the assistance of a lawyer.”

Under the new law, they would have to add their names and bar numbers.