Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part I

2L Richard Esparza's comments on pro bono workWe want to highlight just a few of the many students and alumni that participate in pro bono opportunities with our Office of Public Service. We will be featuring some photos of them on our Twitter and Instagram pages and will have another post later this week to highlight more!

First up is 2L Richard Esparza. Richard began volunteering with our pro bono programs during the first week he was allowed to during his 1L year, “I actually was scheduled for my first shift on the same day we received training!” He has participated at all of the MVLCs but he frequents the United Community Center (UCC) more often since he is a native Spanish speaker and there is a large Spanish-speaking population that attends the clinic.

We asked our students why they decided to do pro bono work and what their favorite thing about volunteering was. Richard said, “I decided to do pro bono because I am a native of Milwaukee and feel a strong connection to my community. My favorite thing about volunteering with the pro bono clinics is being able to use my Spanish to help clients.”

Next is Al Sterling. Al is a 3L and has been volunteering with the pro bono programs since his first semester of law school. He is one of the Co-Presidents of our Public Interest Law Society and has worked with the Eviction Defense Project, MJC Family Forms Clinic, and other MVLCs.

When asked why he participates in pro bono work and what his favorite part is, Al said, “Like many, I came to law school to help people. These pro bono programs are the most direct and fruitful way to do that. There is nothing quite like the humbling experience of hearing a client’s story and being able to positively assist them almost immediately. But my favorite thing about pro bono work is working with staff and attorneys who truly care; there is a true sense of camaraderie at these clinics.”

Lauren Maddente's (L'16) comments on pro bono workThe first alumna we want to highlight is an associate attorney at Fox, O’Neill & Shannon, S.C., Lauren Maddente (L’16). While a student here at Marquette, she volunteered with the House of Peace and the Milwaukee Justice Center, and as an attorney you can find her primarily at the MJC. Some of her favorite things about doing pro bono work: “I love connecting with members of the community and working through various legal issues that can be difficult to navigate. I have also enjoyed meeting students, other attorneys, and strengthening my relationships with those who work for MU Law’s Public Service office.”

To Lauren, pro bono is not just limited to her legal work, it extends to other community service opportunities. She is “fulfilled and energized” by her non-profit committee work, including being a community outreach committee co-chair with the Association of Women Lawyers and a volunteer committee co-chair of the Susan G. Komen “More Than Pink” Milwaukee Walk.

Our fourth alumnus in our Pro Bono Week spotlight is Andrew Yamanaka Belter (L’17). Andrew is the Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and Qualified Tax Expert at the Legal Society of Milwaukee, Inc. While he was in law school, he participated with the MJC Family Forms Clinic and now as an attorney, you can find him volunteering at the United Community Center. This is outside of his normal duties at the Legal Society.

He sums up his motivations and benefits he receives by volunteering his time this way: “I find that Pro Bono work is personally important, professionally beneficial, and socially enjoyable.  Personally, my parents instilled in me that helping others is important.  This desire continues into my adulthood because I now can reflect on how fortunate I am and how I have the opportunity to help those who may not have experienced similar fortunes as me.  Professionally, I benefit from client interactions, issue spotting, and legal analysis – skills that I need constant practice with to continue developing as an attorney.  Socially, I enjoy working with like-minded attorneys, students, and Marquette faculty.  There is something special about Marquette’s clinics where everyone is friendly, supportive, and working towards a common goal.”

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