Kelli Thompson, Wisconsin State Public Defender
Created in 1977, the State Public Defender (SPD) is an independent state agency seeking to ensure that there is “justice for all” by providing legal representation to the poor. In her role leading the office since 2011, Thompson oversees an agency with more than 600 employees located in 40 offices around the state. The SPD also uses private attorneys to meet the demand for legal representation. But in recent years, the hourly compensation rate was so low that many private attorneys said they couldn’t afford to take on the cases. In recent months, state lawmakers took some steps to address that problem, but the need for legal representation for the poor remains great. Is there “justice for all” and what are the greatest challenges facing the SPD today? Find out when Kelli Thompson visits the Law School.