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Circuit Revives Case Over ‘Diploma-Privilege Policy’

CHICAGO (CN) - The 7th Circuit has reinstated a lawsuitfiled byout-of-state law school graduates challenging Wisconsin's "diploma-privilege policy" of allowing some in-state graduates to practice law without passing the state's bar exam.

Lead plaintiff Christopher Wiesmueller, a graduate of an out-of-state law school, sued the Wisconsin Board of Bar Examiners and the state Supreme Court, claiming the policy violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

He moved for summary judgment, and the defendants moved to dismiss. After U.S. District Judge John Shabaz denied the plaintiff's motion, but while the dismissal motion was pending, Wiesmueller moved to certify class of out-of-state law school graduates.

The district judge dismissed the plaintiff's claim and, as a result, denied as moot his motion to certify the class. Wiesmueller learned he had been admitted to the bar shortly after he filed his notice of appeal.

Thoughthe plaintiff and Shabaz had"put the cart before the horse,"Judge Posner wrote, the district judge "could have decided the motion for class certification ... before deciding the case on the merits."

Even if the plaintiff, who passed the bar, is no longer a suitable class representative, Shabaz could still decide to certify the class, the appeals court concluded. See ruling.

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