The 23rd Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held in the evening on Friday, February 19, 2016 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. Angela Shin, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow. Besides her work as a PILS Fellow, Angela is helping to organize this year’s Auction.
You may attend the Auction by purchasing tickets in advance or at the door. This link also provides you with an option to donate to the Auction.
Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?
I worked for the Milwaukee Justice Center in Milwaukee County Courthouse.
What kind of work did you do there?
At the Milwaukee Justice Center (MJC), I worked with a team of incredibly friendly and supportive staff that offers free daily sessions where volunteers provide procedural information and assistance with forms to pro se litigants. The forms are geared towards family law matters. Volunteers work one-on-one with members of the community with completing legal forms and explaining courthouse rules and procedures. The MJC tries their best to accommodate and educate clients, without giving any sort of legal advice, so that they have a better understanding of what they need to do next. In addition to helping pro se litigants, I worked at the front desk to direct clients to other parts of the courthouse or sign them in for MJC’s services. Occasionally, the other fellows and I had partnered up with attorneys at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic to provide free walk-in brief legal advice. Lastly, I worked on a project to make it easier for pro se clients to e-file their divorce.
How was the experience meaningful to you?
This was a rewarding experience because I was able to gain professional skills I cannot learn in the classroom. Interacting with a variety of personalities has better prepared me to handle difficult situations. The satisfaction you get from helping a client who needs some guidance or reassurance is an unforgettable experience. Having the opportunity to sit in various family court hearings was helpful because I was able to see what happens after people file the legal forms we help fill out. With the guidance of the staff, I felt like I learned a lot. I know I will be able to apply what I learned in the future.
What did you learn in the course of your work?
I had the opportunity to expand and apply my client and interviewing skills. Each client had very different personalities that brought different obstacles. With the guidance of the staff, I was able to learn how to resolve difficult situations and felt confident to handle issues on my own. I toured the courthouse to become familiar with the relevant rooms that clients needed to go to. Learning how complex and long the process could be was a great experience because it gave a realistic perspective of how frustrating it can get for pro se litigants. I’ve learned to be patient and listen with empathy because the people who seek help from the MJC have been going through a difficult time that I wouldn’t be able to understand. Helping them feel heard could bring temporary relief to their difficult situation.
What do you like best about doing public interest law work?
I’ve always enjoyed community service and giving back to the community, so naturally, I love doing public interest law work. I was a service member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and I participate in Feed My Starving Children periodically. Knowing that the things I contribute could help people is rewarding.
What are you doing to help with the PILS Auction?
I am co-Vice President of Auction Promotions with Windsor Wrolstad. Our responsibilities range from creating a Facebook page for PILS and an event for the auction in order to promote various items that would be offered in the silent and live auction. We’ve coordinated with the IT department to include a slide in the forum to promote the auction. There was a table in the forum to sell tickets on various days and we’ve gone on solicitation outings to get potential donations. On the day of the auction, I will be spending most of my day helping set up and participate in parts of the auction. I know that this fellowship will be beneficial to the future fellows and I am extremely thankful that I was able to have this opportunity.