WILMIC News & Risk Management Articles

WI Supreme Court Restores Attorney Ghostwriting Rule For Pro Se Parties

WI Supreme Court

Diane DielThe Wisconsin Supreme Court has reinstated an old rule it had originally adopted in 2014. It was then that the Court adopted the attorney ghostwriting rule to encourage attorneys to provide low-cost legal services to otherwise self-representing litigants.

Under the rule, attorneys were allowed to draft or assist in drafting a pleading, motion or document filed by a self-represented litigant without signing it. The document simply had to indicate that it was “prepared with the assistance of a lawyer.”

In 2018, the legislature modified the 2014 ghostwriting rule to require lawyers to identify their names and bar numbers on the documents. That will no longer be required.

Milwaukee attorney Diane Diel, a former State Bar of Wisconsin President and pictured right, says the reinstatement of the ghostwriting provisions adopted in 2014 is a welcome development.

“It really helps Wisconsin lawyers to assist self-represented litigants prepare pleadings, motions or other court documents anonymously.  Wisconsin lawyers want to help address the access to justice gap and ghostwriting was a thoroughly studied, well-researched idea that worked extremely well.  It was hard to see the decline in numbers of volunteers after the change by the legislature.  It is refreshing to have ghostwriting restored as a more available tool for those who cannot afford representation.”

The restored rule takes effect July 1, 2020.