Marquette Teams Make Successful Showing at NMCC Regionals

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Marquette University Law School hosted the Region VIII round of the 73th annual National Moot Court Competition on November 19-20, 2022. Both Marquette teams made successful showings.

four people standing in front of a fireplace, all of them wearing business suits. On the left is a man in a blue suit and red tie. Next to him is a women in a black skirt suit, with her dark hair pulled back. Next to her is a short woman in a navy blue pantsuit with her black hair pulled back. Next to her is a blonde woman in a navy blue pantsuit. All of them are smiling big smiles.
(from left to right) Travis Goeden, Ruth Nord-Pekar, Fefe Jaber, and Nicole Jennings.

Team members Travis Goeden and Ruth Nord-Pekar advanced to the semifinal round before being eliminated after losing by less than three-tenths of a point. Professor Melissa Love Koenig advised the team, which was coached by attorneys Kieran O’Day (L’20) and Evan Thomson.

Fefe Jaber and Nicole Jennings advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated after losing a close round to the other Marquette team. Professor Lisa Mazzie advised the team, and attorneys Alicia Bernards (L’22), Lauren Brasington (L’22), Carsyn Bushman (L’22), Chal Little (L’16), Haley Wentz (L’20), and Christopher Vandeventer (L’22) coached the team. Continue reading “Marquette Teams Make Successful Showing at NMCC Regionals”

New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Spotlights the Work of Public Defenders and Provides Other Glimpses into the Law

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Marquette Lawyer Magazine, Pro Bono, Public, U.S. Supreme Court, Wisconsin Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Spotlights the Work of Public Defenders and Provides Other Glimpses into the Law

2022 Marquette Lawyer CoverIt is nearly 60 years since the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously held, in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), that individuals facing criminal charges are constitutionally entitled to representation by lawyers. And it has been just over 20 years since the death of Marquette Law School Dean Howard B. Eisenberg, who, early in his career, was a central figure in Wisconsin’s effort to comply with Gideon—in designing the state’s system for providing publicly funded representation for defendants unable to afford an attorney.

The cover package of the Fall 2022 issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine examines how Wisconsin’s system works today.

This means, in particular, an article profiling the work lives of five current Wisconsin public defenders. The piece includes the context of their work in a system that serves tens of thousands of defendants annually even while it is under constant stress—a system where needs outstrip available staff and resources. Continue reading “New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Spotlights the Work of Public Defenders and Provides Other Glimpses into the Law”

Amid Different Views, Education Conference Participants Show Interest in Dialogue on Issues

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Lubar Center, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Amid Different Views, Education Conference Participants Show Interest in Dialogue on Issues

The most interesting part of a conference on education issues at Marquette Law School’s Eckstein Hall on Nov. 17, 2022, arguably did not take place during the conference itself. It was in the 45 minutes after the formal end of the two-hour session. A significant number of those who spoke or who were in the audience stayed on in the room to talk.

People from some of the best known and firmest ranks of the conservative and liberal sides of Wisconsin’s long-standing education debates stood in small groups, talking with each other civilly and sometimes with some agreement on what was being said. In some cases, they were people who had never met in person previously.

Those in attendance included four of the nine members of the Milwaukee School Board and several staff members from the Wisconsin Institute of Law & Liberty (WILL), a leading force in conservative advocacy on education issues. Along with other school leaders, civic leaders, and people from a range of education involvements, people found a lot to talk about.

It would go too far to say minds were changed and problems were solved. But serious and level-headed exchanges about issues are one of the core goals of programs of the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, and that was a goal served during and in the aftermath of the conference. Continue reading “Amid Different Views, Education Conference Participants Show Interest in Dialogue on Issues”

Restorative Justice Week

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Restorative Justice Week, running from November 20 to November 26, seeks to highlight the significance of access to restorative approaches to address harm. This week is for celebrating, raising awareness, organizing events, for restorative justice.

Too many people affected by harm do not have access to restorative practices which can lead to healing. These processes seek to bring survivors, perpetrators, and community members together for facilitated conversations to promote accountability and transformation. Restorative justice approaches are ingrained in many indigenous cultures in numerous kinds of conflicts. Restorative Justice focuses on the harm and ripple effects of harm created by wrongful acts by encouraging victims to share the trauma they have suffered, for perpetrators to take responsibility for what they have done and for communities to work on safety and healing.

Family survivors of homicide victims, like Dr. Mary Kay Balchunas, who recently held a public conversation with Professor Janine Geske at Marquette University Law School, reflected on the positive impact Restorative Justice had for her. Mary Kay, the mother of a murdered law enforcement officer, has not yet met with the perpetrators who killed her son. However, Mary Kay did participate in restorative justice circles with other serious offenders at Green Bay Correctional Institute with Professor Geske and her students. In those circles, Mary Kay shared her story with a group of inmates, victims, and other community members. It was through that process of sharing her story and experiences that Mary Kay was able to find her path to healing. Professor Geske and her law students have worked with other victims, ranging from mothers to fathers, daughters to sons, brothers to sisters, community members to perpetrators. Those participants have all expressed similar experiences as they felt the positive impact that Restorative Justice seeks to promote.

Access to restorative processes provide an efficient and effective way of promoting understanding and healing for the wounds associated with crime and other harms. These approaches also positively impact the greater community. When victims, offenders, and community members come together with a trained facilitator to share their experiences and stories, each person feels heard. We learn that communities are also harmed by crime even if each resident is not a direct victim of a crime. For example, when a university sends out the safety warning texts – which usually notifies students and the university community that an armed robbery occurred nearby, it invokes fear throughout the campus. That fear harms the greater community. For instance, some people may not feel safe leaving their residence hall or begin avoiding certain areas of the city out of fear that they could be the next victim. Restorative Justice seeks to bring everyone affected together to come to a common understanding and agreement on how that harm can be best repaired. Every step taken towards healing is a step in the right direction.

With the opening of the Andrew Center for Restorative Justice about a year ago, Marquette Law School has promoted the efficacy, availability, and access to Restorative Justice. The Andrew Center for Restorative Justice recently appointed a new director for 2023 – Milwaukee County Chief Judge Mary Triggiano. In addition to celebrating Restorative Justice Week, the Andrew Center is planning events for 2023. One program is a conference to be held March 9 and March 10, 2023. That conference will focus on Native Americans and their significant influence on the development of Restorative Justice.

A Glimpse into Tesla’s New “Full Self Driving” Technology

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Aerial photo of Tesla car in Full Self Driving mode making a left turnThis week the New York Times published a fascinating look at the latest iteration of Tesla’s automated driving technology, which the company calls “Full Self Driving.” Reporters and videographers spent a day riding with Tesla owner Chuck Cook, an airline pilot who lives in Jacksonville, Florida and has been granted early access to the new technology as a beta tester. What they found was, to my eye anyway, disturbing.

Mr. Cook’s Tesla navigated a broad range of city streets, selecting a route to a destination, recognizing and reacting to other cars, seeing and understanding traffic lights, and even making unprotected left-hand turns—a routine situation that autonomous vehicles struggle to handle. But the car also behaved erratically at times, requiring Mr. Cook to take over and correct its course. In one instance it veered off the street and into a motel parking lot, almost hitting a parked car. In another, it tried to make a left turn onto a quiet street but then, fooled by shade and branches from an overhanging tree, aborted the turn and ended up heading into oncoming traffic on a divided street. These incidents occurred in a single day of testing.

It is worth considering the experience of the Times reporters in the broader context of autonomous vehicle development, something the article largely fails to do. Continue reading “A Glimpse into Tesla’s New “Full Self Driving” Technology”

JUDGE TRIGGIANO TO LEAD THE ANDREW CENTER FOR RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

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Hon. Janine P. Geske and Chief Judge Triggiano
Hon. Janine P. Geske and Chief Judge Triggiano

Marquette Law School established the Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) under the leadership of the Hon. Janine P. Geske, who had served as Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice from 1993 to 1998. Justice Geske returned to the Law School as Distinguished Professor of Law in 1998 and launched our RJI in 2004. Even upon her “retirement” from the faculty in 2014, we—Professor Geske, in particular—kept the RJI going.

Last year, we were able, in light of the generosity of Louis Andrew, L’66, and Suzanne Bouquet Andrew, Sp’66, to announce the Andrew Center for Restorative Justice. While Justice Geske agreed to come out of “retirement” (she is not very good at that “activity”) to be the Andrew Center’s inaugural director, the goal has been to appoint a permanent director, succeeding Professor Geske.

Today, in an exciting development, we accomplish that goal. I invite you to read about the new director of the Andrew Center for Restorative Justice in the following Marquette University press release.


Chief Judge Mary Triggiano named director of Marquette Law School’s Andrew Center for Restorative Justice

MILWAUKEE — Hon. Mary E. Triggiano, chief judge for the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, has been named director of Marquette University Law School’s Andrew Center for Restorative Justice, Marquette President Michael R. Lovell announced today. Triggiano, who has served as a circuit court judge in Milwaukee County since 2004, will step down from the bench and begin her new role at a date to be announced in 2023.

“Marquette University is blessed to welcome Chief Judge Mary Triggiano as the director of the Law School’s Andrew Center for Restorative Justice,” President Michael R. Lovell said. “Mary’s commitment to trauma-informed care in the justice system and her advocacy to support victims and communities in healing from the effects of crime are impressive and transformational. She is a respected leader whose talents and personal values align precisely with the mission of the Andrew Center, continuing the Hon. Janine Geske’s work to foster restorative justice in our communities.”

Marquette University established the Andrew Center for Restorative Justice in December 2021 with the support of a $5 million endowment gift from alumni couple Louis and Suzanne Bouquet Andrew. The Andrew Center serves as a central hub for educating students on restorative justice and how to use its approaches at the local, national, and international levels. The center also supports faculty research and enhances the teaching of restorative justice in the broader community.

As Andrew Center director, Triggiano will continue the work of the inaugural director, Hon. Janine P. Geske, former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and Marquette trustee, who will continue to serve in an advisory role.

“Serving as a judge has been an extraordinary privilege, and I consider the opportunity to lead the new Andrew Center for Restorative Justice to be an incredible honor,” Triggiano said. “The mission of the Andrew Center presents a unique opportunity for me to use my passion for restorative justice to build upon the work of Justice Geske and to support the growth of this extraordinary program at Marquette Law School. I cannot think of another position for which I would be willing to leave the bench.”

Restorative justice encompasses a variety of approaches whereby judges, lawyers, and others can help support victims and communities in the process of healing from the effects of crime. It characteristically uses professionally guided civil dialogue, and its means for addressing conflict, promoting healing, and facilitating problem solving can proceed in conjunction with, or apart from, the more formal processes associated with the traditional legal system. There also has been increasing interest in the use of restorative justice practices in noncriminal settings, such as conflicts in schools, communities, and organizations.

Over the past two decades, Marquette built a substantial program in restorative justice under Geske’s leadership. Since leaving the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1998, Geske has been working with Marquette law students to teach them about restorative justice. Students have worked hand-in-hand with legal professionals, community leaders, and those directly affected by crime. Further, they have learned from specific restorative justice classroom work; annual conferences; a restorative justice clinic where they work with victims, offenders and community members; and pro bono conflict management training for community leaders.

“We established the Restorative Justice Initiative in 2004, early in my deanship, under the leadership of the Hon. Janine Geske,” said Joseph D. Kearney, dean and professor of law. “While Professor Geske formally retired in 2014, she stayed with us, her alma mater law school. With the magnificent gift from Louie and Sue Andrew, Justice Geske formally returned in early 2022, as founding director of the Andrew Center, as we began to secure a permanent future for the Law School’s engagement with restorative justice. And, after a national search, we have identified right here in our community someone with the right blend of toughness, empathy, teaching and administrative skills, and, not least, deep experience in the justice system to lead the new Andrew Center forward.

“The confidence in us on the part of Chief Judge Triggiano—Professor Triggiano, we may say—is a great and inspiring development for Marquette Law School.”

“I am beyond thrilled that Judge Triggiano will accept a handoff to direct the Andrew Center for Restorative Justice,” Geske said. “I’ve known and worked alongside Mary for years in the restorative justice space, and I’ve long admired the qualities that make her a respected leader and educator. The esteem in which the Wisconsin legal community holds her, as a lawyer, judge, and administrator, is most well deserved. I am looking forward to her leading us not only in this region but in the expanding academic and professional circles engaging with the important and sensitive work of helping victims and communities heal.”

Triggiano was appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in February 2020 to serve as chief judge of the state’s First Judicial District, which comprises Milwaukee County. As chief judge, she has been the administrative chief of the judicial administrative district and is responsible for the administration of judicial business in circuit courts within the district, including supervising its personnel and fiscal management. She also worked with other Wisconsin circuit court judges on the Committee of Chief Judges, which consists of one chief judge from each of the state’s nine judicial administrative districts and meets monthly as a committee to work with the Supreme Court on issues of statewide importance.

Triggiano has been active in the restorative justice community throughout her career as a judge, regularly engaging with Marquette Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative as a guest lecturer, discussion panelist, and conference-planning committee member. She also enacted restorative practices in the family drug treatment court and healthy infant court, within the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, and worked on victim-offender panels with the Restorative Youth Justice Project in the Vel Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center. She is a past adjunct professor of law at Marquette University, co-teaching the course in Problem-Solving Courts and Trauma.

Prior to joining the bench, Triggiano worked with Legal Action of Wisconsin, the state’s largest nonprofit law firm, for 10 years as director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project. During this time, she also spent eight years as a managing attorney in Legal Action’s Milwaukee office. Triggiano graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School in 1988 and was in private practice at Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, S.C., until 1994.

MULS Students Show Off Oral Advocacy Skills in San Diego

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two young men in suits standing in front of the University of San Diego School of Law. One man has dark hair and the other man is taller with blonde hair.
Julian Marrufo (left) and Cameron Rink (right)

Julian Marrufo and Cameron Rink, both 3Ls, had a successful weekend in San Diego at the National Criminal Procedure Moot Court Tournament, held November 4-6, 2022 and the University of San Diego School of Law.

Rink and Marrufo argued in four preliminary rounds against teams from Nova Southeastern, Thomas Jefferson, South Texas, and the University of Houston. They succeeded in advancing as the higher seed to the octofinals, where they faced a team from the University of Wisconsin.

The team’s legal issues involved the legality of the use of an automatic license plate retrieval system, which uses cameras on public roads to scan passing license plate numbers, to track a mass shooting suspect without a warrant and the legality of a subsequent warrantless entry into the suspect’s home. Continue reading “MULS Students Show Off Oral Advocacy Skills in San Diego”

COVID’s Impact on Children Would Have Been Reduced If U.S. Were More “Child-centric,” Author Says  

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“We need a child-centric society. We were revealed to be not a child-centric society.”

That was the way Anya Kamenetz summed up her perspective on how the United States as a whole dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, and especially its broad negative impacts on children.

If we were a child-centric society, the needs of children all over the country would have been addressed far better, not only in terms of health-related policy, but in terms of the social, emotional, and general developmental needs of parents while dealing with COVID, Kamenetz said.

Kamenetz, a former education reporter for National Public Radio, assesses the impact of the pandemic period on children in a new book, The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where we Go Now. And she talked about the pandemic and children in an “On the Issues” program at Marquette Law School’s Eckstein Hall on Oct. 24. Continue reading “COVID’s Impact on Children Would Have Been Reduced If U.S. Were More “Child-centric,” Author Says  “

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX AT THE LUBAR CENTER

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Judge Mosley
Judge Mosley with first-year Marquette law students in the Lubar Center on Aug. 19, 2022.

The past year has involved many developments at Marquette University Law School, but selecting a successor to Mike Gousha—identifying and recruiting someone to lead our public-policy and civic-education outreach, even while Mike continues in a part-time role—has been a particular interest to all involved in leading the school. After all, when we announced Mike’s appointment in 2006, building on his quarter-century-plus as the premier broadcast journalist in this region, it was suggested to me that it was an “out-of-the-box appointment.”

If we pause to look back, we can say that, with our creation in 2017 of the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, Mike has led us in redesigning the box. Certainly, the variety of events and programs associated with Marquette Law School’s Lubar Center has been extraordinary and is a tribute to his work and to the efforts of so many staff and faculty.

Yet, as suggested above, our focus is on the future. And today we announce another, most exciting out-of-the-box appointment. I invite you to read about the new director of the Lubar Center in the following Marquette University press release.


Judge Derek Mosley named director of Marquette Law School’s Lubar Center

MILWAUKEE — Derek Mosley, a judge of the Milwaukee Municipal Court for 20 years, has been named the director of Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, Marquette President Michael R. Lovell announced today. Mosley, who was appointed Municipal Court Judge in 2002 following a seven-year career as an assistant district attorney for Milwaukee County, will begin his new role on Jan. 9, 2023.

“The Marquette community is blessed to welcome Derek Mosley back to campus as the director of the Lubar Center. Our students and community will benefit greatly from Derek’s breadth of knowledge, keen understanding of social dynamics and extensive nonprofit experience,” Lovell said. “The Lubar Center serves as an important hub of public discourse in Milwaukee, and Derek’s deep connections and love for our city will help further the center’s mission in profound ways.”

A 1995 alumnus of Marquette Law School, Mosley will lead the Lubar Center. In this role, he will conduct public events and work with colleagues to develop robust programming that will fulfill and expand the law school’s role as a public square for timely and important public policy discussions.

“I am thrilled to be coming home to Marquette to serve the public good in new and valuable ways as director of the Lubar Center,” Mosley said. “It has been my great honor to have served the people of Milwaukee for more than 27 years, first as a prosecutor and then a presiding judge. I now look forward to the unique and exciting challenge of helping to advance public understanding of and discourse around matters of law and public policy through the city’s preeminent public forum.”

The Lubar Center is home to an expansive schedule of research and public programming such as the Marquette Law School Poll, “On the Issues” conversations with newsmakers, public lectures by leading scholars, and conferences on issues of public significance. The work of the Lubar Center advances Marquette Law School’s mission to advance civil discourse about law and public policy matters.

“The law school has been engaged with the broader public since its founding, but our outreach and engagement took on new forms and importance in 2007, with the appointment of Mike Gousha as distinguished fellow in law and public policy, and in 2017, with the establishment of the Lubar Center,” said Joseph D. Kearney, dean and professor of law. “With Mike’s stepping back from full-time duties earlier this year, we searched for an individual of inquiry and integrity to continue and expand our work, as director of the center. His background and relationships in Milwaukee help make Judge Mosley uniquely qualified for this role, and I am grateful for his confidence and enthusiasm about his new role.”

“Since its inception, the Lubar Center has sought to be a public resource for this region, a home for important conversations, new ideas, and independent polling and research,” said Mike Gousha, who now serves as senior advisor in law and public policy at the law school. “As a respected voice and innovative thinker on law and public policy matters, Judge Mosley is a terrific choice to build on the Lubar Center’s previous work and expand its reach in the years ahead.”

After graduating from Marquette Law School, Mosley served as an assistant district attorney for Milwaukee County from 1995 to 2002. He was then appointed by the Milwaukee Common Council to fill the vacancy in Branch 2 of the city’s Municipal Court starting on Aug. 1, 2002. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest African American to be appointed judge in the State of Wisconsin. In August 2004, he was first appointed Presiding Judge of the Milwaukee Municipal Court.

As an assistant district attorney, Mosley represented the State of Wisconsin in more than 1,000 criminal prosecutions and helped found the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Community Prosecution Unit. This unit places assistant district attorneys in neighborhoods throughout the City of Milwaukee to work with residents to reduce urban blight and to improve the quality of life. As the head of this unit, he helped to establish after-school programs, develop a Second Chance Felony Employment Initiative for offenders, close 100 drug houses and nuisance properties, and start a police and citizen crime fighting initiative, which targeted street drug dealing. This initiative, called “Operation Streetsweeper,” was awarded the Law Enforcement Honor Award by the United States Department of Justice.

Mosley sits on the Board of Directors of several organizations, including Froedtert Hospital, the Urban Ecology Center, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, Safe and Sound, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, the United Way Diversity Leadership Committee, and TransCenter for Youth, a longtime operator of small high schools in Milwaukee. He has been a lecturer at both Marquette Law School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he sits on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s Judicial Education Committee

Mosley’s community engagement is not limited to the legal and philanthropic, as he has become a visible presence throughout Milwaukee. In his spare time, he routinely speaks both nationally and internationally about unconscious bias and Black history. Mosley is also a popular wedding officiant, having officiated more than 1,000 weddings, and a local Milwaukee foodie. He served as a 2022 James Beard Judge for the James Beard Foundation and recently began a regular feature on WUWM’s Lake Effect, “Monthly with Mosley,” where he discusses Milwaukee food and history.

Of Bankruptcy, Legal Action, and Marquette Law School’s Many Partners in Pro Bono Work

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Legal Action of WisconsinIn this continuing series of posts concerning the pro bono work of the Marquette Law School community, my recent focus has been on aspects of our own Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics. These have included the role of the Mobile Legal Clinic and our statewide efforts with respect to rural communities and small businesses.

Yet even in the MVLC-related posts, it has been evident that we are so dependent on partners, such as (to draw variously on the instances just noted) the Milwaukee Bar Association, the Milwaukee County Clerk of Courts, and the State Bar of Wisconsin. The point was perhaps most explicit in the shoutout to the many individual attorney volunteers—last year half of them Marquette lawyers, half of them not—that make the MVLCs a true legal community effort.

In some of our efforts, we are rather less the “host” entity than contributors to efforts led by others. One such setup involves Legal Action of Wisconsin, the state’s largest legal aid provider (as that term is understood in the legal vernacular). Legal Action long has hosted Marquette law students’ pro bono service. Of the numerous examples available, I will note here the newest one.

In a project begun just this past summer and continuing this semester, Legal Action is helping clients interested in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions for discharge of debts—and a number of Marquette law students are right there with attorneys on the project. In its early months, the work included (as I understand it at a level of anonymized generality), advising some clients not to file because of an IRS garnishment issue or concerns about fraudulent transfers. It also involved six successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions.

One working on such a project no doubt will learn something about bankruptcy law. That seems to me quite valuable, as anyone who has taken Advanced Civil Procedure with Tom Shriner and me can attest (for there I always promote the school’s Creditor-Debtor course). One will also gain, from this work, insight and experience with respect to the human condition.

Consider what Maggie Niebler-Brown, the volunteer lawyer project coordinator at Legal Action of Wisconsin, recently wrote one of my colleagues: “Rarely do our clients struggle with a single legal issue, and our bankruptcy clients are no exception. Many of our clients are also experiencing myriad medical or family-related issues which can distract from the often detail-intensive process of preparing a bankruptcy petition. This leads to some of the delays in gathering documents that we’ve seen this semester, and this past summer, especially with credit counseling certificates. However, despite these delays, I’m proud that this clinic is still able to deliver much-needed relief to our clients. Thank you, Marquette law students, for being part of this practice.”

And thank you, Legal Action and our many other partners and collaborators, for welcoming our students into your work.

Congratulations to WAAL Scholarship Winners Carson, Jordan, and Medcalf

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On Thursday, September 22, 2022, the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL) honored three Marquette University Law School students with scholarship awards.

VelanDale Scholarship
WAAL is proud to honor the career and legacy of the late Vel and Dale Phillips for the last thirty-two years. In 1990, WAAL established a scholarship in the name of the late W. Dale Phillips to provide scholarships to African-American law students at Wisconsin’s two law schools, Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin. In 2004, WAAL proudly renamed the scholarship the VelanDale Scholarship Award to include and honor Vel Phillips’ outstanding accomplishments. Vel Phillips passed away in 2018 and Dale in 1988, but their community work and legacy will forever live on. Each year, WAAL awards two law students from our law schools in Wisconsin with this honor.

This year’s award winners are Carolyn Carson (3L) and Josiah Jordan (2L).

head shot of dark-skinned woman with curly hair and a big smile, wearing a white shirt and black suit jacket
Carolyn Carson, 3L

Carolyn Carson is a 3L. She has been a Law Clerk at Stafford Rosenbaum since the sumnmer. Carson, who is interested in business law, is a member of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL). She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Valparaiso University, where she double-majored in Communication and Spanish. She received her MBA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; while there, she placed 1st at the International Ethics Case Competition.

Carson said her proudest professional moment was winning the Brewed Ideas Challenge, a Marquette University version of Shark Tank. Carson’s pitch was based on a haircare business she and her mother started called Nubian’s Way. Continue reading “Congratulations to WAAL Scholarship Winners Carson, Jordan, and Medcalf”

Reaching Rural Areas with Our Pro Bono Efforts

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Map of WisconsinA series of blog posts was not my plan, more than a month ago, when I wrote about the American Association of Law Schools’ pro bono honor roll with respect to Marquette Law School. Yet the work of volunteer students and lawyers, coordinated by our Office of Public Service, is so extensive that it has inspired me to continue with what I now project as a total of ten entries by the end of the semester (posts thus far, beyond the first, are available here, here, here, and here). My self-assigned topic for this week is the expansion of our pro bono outreach to encompass rural areas in Wisconsin.

Some context is helpful. Last week’s post sketched out some of the work of the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics (MVLCs) through volunteer students (all future Marquette lawyers, we hope) and volunteer lawyers (this past year, half of them our alumni and half graduates of other law schools). For more than twenty years now, the MVLCs have served our Milwaukee neighbors at various community-based locations. With the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the MVLCs were forced—like nearly every organization—to pivot to provide services remotely. Starting a few weeks later, in early April of that year, the first remote MVLC was open on Zoom. The remote MVLCs came to operate nearly every day of the week and over time grew to serve almost as many people each month as had been the case in the established community-based walk-in clinics.

That brings us to the fall of 2020: the MVLCs’ history of trusted service and solid experience in the brief legal advice context prompted the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin to approach us. The bar section was interested in the creation of a clinic to help address the issues faced by Wisconsin small businesses in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Office of Public Service recruited attorneys and law students and built the necessary “infrastructure” to host the clinic on Zoom. The clinic saw its first clients in early 2021.

To date, in a partnership with the bar section, the MVLC Small Business Clinic has—the volunteer attorneys and students have—served nearly 200 small businesses around the state. Operating remotely each week, the clinic advises on legal issues involving contracts, employment, entity formation, real estate, intellectual property, tax, and questions related to ongoing compliance and operation. Clients in 32 counties across Wisconsin have reached the clinic. It has especially attracted volunteer Marquette law students interested in pro bono service in a transactional (as opposed to litigation) context.

In any event, this experience led to a further innovation. Fall 2021 brought a return to in-person services for the civil and family-law MVLCs and also this question: Could we capitalize on the infrastructure and experience built up during the pandemic? The answer “yes” was clear to my colleagues in the Law School’s Office of Public Service—led by Angela F. Schultz, assistant dean for public service, and Katie Mertz, L’11, director of pro bono and public service.

More specifically, as of this fall, they created another new MVLC: the Rural Clinic. After all, the remote-clinic model, its value demonstrated in the small-business sphere, was well-suited more generally for serving clients statewide—an interest that Dean Schultz and Director Mertz had long discussed as a critical step in bridging the access-to-justice gap.

How have we done? In its first month, this fall, the Rural Clinic was open (online, of course) four times. It served 19 clients (10 civil, 9 family) through the work of 16 volunteer attorneys and 24 volunteer law students. Clients were from counties across the state—Lafayette, Juneau, Winnebago, Dane, Brown, Monroe, Green Lake, La Crosse, Marathon, Shawano (non-native Wisconsinites should be careful with that county’s pronunciation), Sauk, Lincoln, Eau Claire, Manitowoc, Sawyer, and Waushara.

Clients come to the Rural Clinic with legal issues similar to those presented in the Milwaukee-based MVLCs—e.g., landlord/tenant, small claims, divorce, child custody, and guardianship needs. Yet individuals seeking brief legal advice from the Rural Clinic may have even fewer other places to turn for help.

More could be said: The valuable lessons of the initial COVID physical shutdown of the spring of 2020 go beyond the Rural Clinic. A separate remote MVLC continues, on Monday afternoons, to serve clients in the Milwaukee region who are unable to attend an in-person clinic for one reason or another.

Perhaps most notably, from a long-term perspective, both the Small Business Clinic and the Rural Clinic have led to new attorney volunteers—many of them, like the clients they serve, from around this great state. (Anyone interested may contact Director Mertz.)

Marquette Law School is grateful for their work and that of our students—for the opportunity to serve.

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