The 20th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held this Friday, February 15, 2013 at the Law School. Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer. Mindy Nolan, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow. Besides her work as a PILS Fellow, Mindy did outstanding work in soliciting and compiling donations for this year’s auction.
Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?
This past summer I served as a law intern at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
What kind of work did you do there?
In my role there, I prepared legal memoranda, motions, and conducted research for the four Assistant State Public Defenders working in that office. I conducted client and witness interviews over the phone and in person at the county jails. I also attended court hearings in three northern Wisconsin counties.
How was the experience meaningful to you?
This experience was extremely meaningful to me for several reasons, in particular the amount that I learned about the everyday workings of the criminal justice system. It was interesting to witness the dynamic of how the criminal justice system interacted with the three Native American tribes that are located in the three counties. It was also meaningful to see how the criminal justice system itself functions in three very small counties where there would sometimes only be one judge, one prosecutor, and one public defender working together day in and day out.
What did you learn in the course of your work?
I was able to conduct many research and writing projects in a real-world legal setting, which exposed me to the time and resource constraints that I will likely encounter in practice. I developed my client interview skills while working with criminal defendants and witnesses. Client interviewing seems like it would be an intuitive skill, but there truly is a craft to effectively communicating with different types of people. I also learned an incredible amount about criminal process and trial procedure. So much can be learned from just watching other attorneys; it is difficult to find time to go over to the courthouse and just watch with a full-time course load.
What do you like best about doing public interest law work?
After spending the last 9 months preparing for the PILS Auction I can say, with complete honesty, that the famous words of Dean Eisenberg, “do well and do good,” have never resonated with me more. I am interested in public interest law work because I want to do good. As simple as that sounds it really gets at the core of who I am as a person. I came to law school because I wanted to help people. I recognized the need for competent legal services for so many individuals who were not able to obtain those services. I thought perhaps I could alleviate some of that need, even if I could make just a small impact.
What are you doing to help with the PILS Auction?
This year, I am the Donations Team Leader for the Public Interest Law Society. I have been working on soliciting and gathering items for this year’s auction since last June. I am working with a wonderful team of students, all of whom have work so hard! We executed a combination of mail, in-person, and phone soliciting. To date, there are approximately 150 individual items that will be grouped or sold individually in the live auction, silent, auction, or given as a prize for one of the games or raffle. This week has been extremely hectic in preparing for the big event on Friday, but I am touch by the generosity of all of the donors and student volunteers.