ACD Billing Terms and Conditions

NOTICE: "Companion Cases" are two or more cases to which an attorney is appointed to represent the same client, which proceed during roughly the same time frame, and which have the same drop-down menu in the SPD online billing site. SPD policy calls for an attorney to bill his/her time and expenses for all companion cases on an invoice for one companion case and submit invoices for $0 for other companion cases.

Since the hourly rate will be increasing from $40/hour to $70/hour for cases appointed 1/1/20 and after, an attorney may represent a client on companion cases with different hourly rates. For example, case #1 appointed 12/20/19, and case #2 appointed 1/6/20. If you are representing the same client on what would normally be considered companion cases, but those cases are appointed in 2019 and 2020, the time and expenses for those cases should be tracked separately and reported to the SPD separately on more than one invoice.

If companion cases that are appointed in 2019 and 2020 are combined on one invoice, attorney time will be reimbursed at $40/hour.

Your acceptance of a case appointment completes an agreement between you and the SPD. The SPD will pay an attorney reasonable hours of professional legal services. The SPD does not reimburse attorneys to perform administrative work (click here). 

"Reasonable hours" are those required by an experienced, prudent, and competent practitioner to provide effective assistance in the assigned case.

When auditing a bill for “reasonableness”, the SPD will consider a number of factors, including:

  • experience of the attorney
  • common charges
  • seriousness of the charges and case type
  • complexity of the fact pattern and legal issues
  • extent and novelty of motion practice
  • whether the attorney withdrew
  • whether the case resolved with a plea or trial

The SPD does not reimburse administrative expenses

Scope of Appointment

Trial office appointments cover all proceedings at the trial court level through dismissal, sentencing, or other disposition. Appellate office appointments cover post-conviction, post-commitment, or post-dispositional representation of a client.

Attorneys must receive prior approval before any ancillary representation or work which is not squarely within the scope of appointment as described above. The SPD will not pay for work done which is outside the scope of the original appointment without prior approval. If you question whether certain representation is allowable, please see our Scope of Appointment memo and contact the ACD Director for clarification.

*An SPD certified attorney may, with the client’s consent, substitute at a routine appearance (i.e. no evidence taken, no testimony, no significant legal argument, and no disposition, including plea bargaining).

When Client Picks Up Additional Case
An attorney who represents a client is expected to represent that client on additional cases that the client becomes charged with (or revoked on) in the future. If the attorney is not certified for those case types, the attorney should contact ACD. It is often in the best interest of the client and the agency to have the same attorney represent a client with multiple cases. Refusal to represent on additional cases may lead to adverse certification action. See PD 1.03(5)

Hourly Rates

Attorneys will be paid $40 or $70 per hour for in-court and out-of-court time and $25 per hour for allowable travel time per Wisconsin s. 977.08(4m)(c)&(d).

Time Keeping

Contemporaneous time records must be maintained. These records need not be submitted to our office with your billings, but must support your SPD billing time slip. You must keep these records for at least three years to resolve questions the SPD may have about your billings. Failure to maintain these records may result in non-payment of a questioned bill or removal from SPD certification lists. See Wisconsin Administrative Code PD 1.03(5)(e)&(f).

A time slip submitted as part of the invoice must be accurate as to date, activity, type of service, and time. By submitting a time slip as part of an invoice, an attorney is certifying that the entries are accurate.

Time slips must contain sufficient information to allow the SPD to perform its auditing and review responsibilities.  A short description of each activity must be provided. The description should be detailed enough to allow the auditors to determine if the time is reimbursable. For example, an entry of “file work”, “phone calls”, “develop legal theory”, or “research motion” does not adequately describe the work performed. Entries like “develop time line from police reports”, “phone conversation with client”, “outline hearsay issue”, or “research statement suppression issue” are acceptable.

Attorneys may bill only for the time actually spent providing professional legal services on a case. If an attorney has hearings or conferences for multiple clients in a day, the total in-court and waiting time must be split between the cases. If the in-court time is conducted via audio or video conference, the wait time is not reimbursable. Attorneys are normally in their offices for this type of representation and can be doing other work while waiting.

If an attorney travels to an institution or to a courthouse to provide service to multiple clients, the total travel time may be split between the cases or billed on one case. Attorneys may never bill more than once for any time worked and attorneys must have a time keeping and billing system that prevents duplicate time and travel entries on time sheets.

In-court and out-of-court time must be indicated on the time slip. In-court time is time spent representing a client before a court, before a court commissioner, or before the Division of Hearings and Appeals in a probation or parole revocation proceeding.

Time records and time slip entries should be supported by work product in the client’s file. Work product may include notes, correspondence, phone message slips, pleadings, etc. Hours claimed that are not supported by work product in the file will not be paid.

Case Expenses

The SPD provides funding for reasonable expenses. Please note that expense rules also apply to expenses incurred by experts and investigators. Questions about expenses should be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. prior to incurring the expense.

Prior approval is required for:

  • Any expense expected to be $100 or more
  • All expenses for transcripts and medical records
  • Legal research expenses more than $20
  • All expenses for expert and investigator services

Prior approval is obtained by submitting a case expense authorization.  To submit a case expense authorization:  Login into the ACD online billing page and click on Expense Authorization.

At the time of billing, receipts are not required for most expenses totaling less than $50.  However, you must retain receipts for all expenses to support your billing (including receipts less than $50). Auditors may request receipts at any time for auditing purposes.

Attorneys should not pay the following expenses:

SPD is exempt from paying these expenses:
  1. Department of Corrections records fees
  2. Subpoena service
  3. Witness fees
  4. E-filing fees
  5. Wisconsin Supreme Court filing fees

See here for more detailed information and instructions.

These expenses should be billed directly to the SPD by the service provider:
  1. Transcription Services
  2. Interpreter fees (Wisconsin Courts Interpreter Search)
  3. Discovery Payments
  4. Medical Records

See here for more detailed information and instructions.

These case expenses should be billed when representation ends:


  1. Reasonable attorney hours
  2. Travel and mileage: (ACD Travel Time Reporting Rules)
  3. Parking
  4. Expert/Investigator Services (prior approval required)
  5. Reasonable photocopying & printing expenses: While a case is pending it may be helpful for a client to have access to information in the client file. A client who is incarcerated may not be able to access electronic material, and an attorney may print and provide the client those documents helpful for the client to review. The attorney must submit a Trial Level Photocopying & Printing Expense Reimbursement Form and, if the expense is expected to exceed $50, the attorney must first submit a case expense request. 
  6. Obtaining records other than medical records
  7. Lodging (prior approval required)
  8. Client file: At the conclusion of the representation, if the attorney must provide the client file to successor counsel (or to the client if the client requests the file and there is no appeal) the attorney should bill the delivery cost directly to the SPD Fiscal Unit. The attorney must complete a Client File Delivery Expense Reimbursement form and submit it along with the required receipts and verification.
  9. Appellate briefs: The cost of production of any briefs and the cost to file the briefs should be billed directly to the Assigned Counsel Division (ACD). The attorney must complete an Appellate Copying and Delivery Reimbursement form and submit it along with the required receipts.

See here for more detailed information and instruction.

Non-Reimbursable Expenses

The SPD will not reimburse for certain expenses. 

See here for more detailed information and instructions.

Invoice Submission

At the trial level, representation is not complete until the attorney has completed the steps listed in the Duties of Trial Counsel. An appointed attorney shall notify the local SPD office within 24 hours of being allowed by the court to withdraw from a case. 

An invoice is submitted electronically using the attorney’s password protected billing page. An invoice will not be processed unless it is complete and includes all required receipts and documentation. By submitting an invoice, an attorney certifies that the invoice is accurate, the invoice complies with billing rules, and that the attorney provided representation in compliance with SPD minimum attorney performance standards. The attorney is responsible for the accuracy of bills and compliance with billing rules even if the billing is prepared and submitted by another at the attorney’s request.

Attorneys should submit final invoices within 60 days of conclusion of their cases. Failure to submit an invoice within six months of the conclusion of the case releases the SPD from both the obligation to promptly pay an invoice and to pay interest on an invoice paid more than 120 days after submission. See Wisconsin Administrative Code PD 4.02. An invoice received more than six years after conclusion of the case cannot be paid. See Wisconsin Constitution Article 8, Section 2.

Representation in a direct appeal begins at the date of appointment and continues through review, or denial of a petition for review, in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. An attorney may submit a final invoice every time a case passes from one court to another. (i.e. from the post-conviction phase to the direct appeal phase.) If an attorney chooses to submit a final invoice when the case passes to the next court, the attorney should notify the Appellate Office for reappointment.  If an attorney files a no-merit report, he or she may get approval from ACD to submit an interim invoice while waiting for the court to affirm or reject the report.

An attorney may seek approval to submit an interim bill for payment of expert fees, investigator fees, or attorney time. Interim bills for experts and investigators will be approved in most instances if the expert/investigator has performed a significant amount of work, or if the expert or investigator's work is completed. Approval of an interim bill for attorney time will be considered when the attorney has performed a substantial amount of work on the case, the case is more than six months old, and the case is unlikely to be completed within 60 days of the request for approval. 

Invoice Auditing

All invoices are audited for required documentation and approvals to ensure that non-reimbursable time or expenses have not been billed and that time totals and expense totals are reasonable and accurate. Pursuant to Wisconsin s. 977.08(4), the SPD may approve or reject a bill in whole or in part. Should you be dissatisfied with the decision of the SPD regarding your bill, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Public Defender Board. See Wisconsin s. 977.08(4). The appeal must be filed in writing with the SPD at PO Box 7923, Madison, WI 53707-7923 within 30 days of receipt of payment. The appeal must include a statement explaining why the attorney believes the adjustment to the bill was inappropriate.

Attorney bills are subject to cumulative audits. Audits to check for duplicate travel and other time are routine. Audits of invoices may occur when an attorney has a pattern of high billing, unit billing (e.g. always billing 1.7 hours to draft opening documents, always billing .5 hour to review CCAP, etc.), or other irregular billing practices. In some instances, the SPD is obligated to report improper billing to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, local prosecutors, or the Department of Justice.

The SPD will not pay for more than 15 hours in a single day. Consideration will be given on a case by case basis for exceptional circumstances which may justify payment of more than 15 hours in a single day. Attorneys with days of more than 15 hours will be contacted before any adjustments to payments are made.

Attorneys should be prepared to produce contemporaneous time records for the dates in question. The SPD will not pay for more than 2080 hours worked in a calendar year. See Wisconsin Administrative Code PD 4.06. Attorneys who bill more than 2080 hours worked in a calendar year will be contacted before any recoupment is made.

Interest Payments

The State's Prompt Payment Laws, state statutes, 16.528 and 16.53(11) require payment of interest on state order and contract payments that are not made in a timely manner. Payments are considered timely if they are mailed within thirty days after receipt.  It is the responsibility of the agency invoicing the transaction to calculate and pay interest.  An exemption to the 30 day rule has been granted to the State Public Defender (SPD) for payments made on appropriation 20.550 (1) (d).  This appropriation is funded with a ninety day delay.  Therefore, payments made from this appropriation are considered timely if they are mailed within 120 days of receipt.  The interest rate payable is 12.0% annual compounded monthly.   For interest calculations, a month is defined as 30 days and a year is defined as 360 days.