WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), issued the following statement today applauding the Wisconsin Senate for passing legislation promoting transparency and limiting contingency fees when the state attorney general, an executive branch agency, or elected officials hire outside private plaintiff attorneys to represent the state. The legislation, the Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting Act (AB 27), now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.
“By advancing AG ‘sunshine’ legislation, Wisconsin’s Senate took a significant step today to rein in the troublesome practice of awarding contingency fee contracts to outside plaintiffs’ lawyers. Such schemes enrich lawyers at the expense of taxpayers and raise significant concerns about ‘pay-to-play,’ conflicts of interest, the use of a public entity for personal gain, and fairness in prosecutions. We urge Governor Walker to swiftly sign this bill into law.
“With the passage of this bill, Wisconsin joins a growing group of states including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, and West Virginia that have taken action to limit outside contingency fee counsel arrangements by AGs.
“AB 27 is the nation’s strongest outside counsel sunshine measure to date. In particular, it includes a prohibition on the use of civil penalties or fines to calculate contingency fee awards and a strong cap on the total amount of money that outside lawyers can collect. Other states should follow Wisconsin’s lead and adopt equally strong legislation.
“Representative Mike Kuglitsch should be commended for his leadership on this issue. We also thank the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce for their steadfast support and work on the bill. In addition, we thank Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen for his thoughtful input throughout the process of developing this legislation.”
ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.