For the remaining Pro Bono Week features, not only do we have some individual students and alumni, but we also feature a student organization as well. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram to see more photos throughout the week.
Our next student to be featured is Kelsey Brown. Kelsey is a 3L and will be graduating this December. She has been involved since October of her first year of law school and has participated with the House of Peace, UCC, Milwaukee Justice Center, and the Veteran’s Service Office throughout her law school tenure.
Her reasons for participating in pro bono opportunities: “I decided to do pro bono because I wanted to better educate people on the law. I felt that if people were better educated on the law, then they are in a better position to recognize and fight against unfair and unnecessary treatment against them. I also wanted to be a role model for individuals who come to the clinics. I wanted to show them that lawyers come in all shapes, sizes, and shades—just like them. And hopefully by seeing an African American female such as myself working at the clinic, they will see the legitimacy of the Wisconsin court system. My favorite thing about volunteering at is that everyone feels good—the client feels good because he or she received legal advice; and the volunteer law student/volunteer lawyer feel good because they helped a client understand the Wisconsin legal system.”
Salonee Patel is a 3L who has been working with the pro bono programs for about two and half years. She’s volunteered with the Milwaukee Justice Center in the past but you can primarily find her at the United Community Center this year. She is one of our Student Advisory Board members and says her favorite part is “working alongside attorneys and students to help our clients out with their legal issues.”
Salonee has many reasons for doing pro bono work. “It is important to volunteer and help out especially when you have the time and resources to do so,” she says, and “as a law student, not only do you start learning certain legal skills, but you also get to know your community better.”
Not only do individual students, participate in pro bono work, our student organizations do too. The Estate Planning Society partnered with Wisconsin Judicare’s Indian Law Office to volunteer at the Urban Wills Caravan on October 11 and 12. The caravan provides free legal services in crafting end-of-life documents for tribal members. Before the two day event, our students went through a two-hour training session to learn about the federal and state processes they would most likely see when working with these clients.
Nicole Beitzinger, president of the Estate Planning Society had this to say about their experiences, “All the attorneys were so nice and helpful and really allowed us to get some good, hand-on experience in drafting wills, POAs, and living wills. During the event, we split up and worked in groups with one attorney for each group. We had a few appointments come in throughout the day and each situation was unique in what the person or married couple wanted.” You can read more about the Urban Wills Caravan in the summary written in the Wisconsin Law Journal.
Our final alumna feature is Yamilett Lopez (L’19). Yamilett is a very recent graduate and was always involved with pro bono work while she was a student. She worked specifically with the Family Forms Clinic at the MJC and with the other MVLCs. She also gave up some of her summer this year before she started practice as an associate attorney with Godfrey & Kahn to temporarily help staff the Office of Public Service. As an attorney, she’s been volunteering with the MVLC.
When asked what her favorite part about pro bono work is she replied, “My favorite thing about participating in pro bono work is that I’m able to do my part to help make an impact to those in the community who can’t afford an attorney or those who may be confused on the very complicated and overwhelming legal process. Whether it’s as a law student or as an attorney, I’ve been able to provide important guidance and resources to someone who is likely going through a severe hardship, such as an eviction, domestic violence matter, or a family law dispute. As someone who has received a very specialized education, I think it’s vital that I use my knowledge to give back to the community around me.”
Our final alumnus being featured is Matt Ackmann (L’16) who is an associate attorney with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C. He regularly volunteers at the Milwaukee Justice Center and at the United Community Center location.
His thoughts on pro bono work are, “The MVLC provides a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community in an area of desperate need- access to justice. The gratitude received from those in need regularly confirms the importance of pro bono work throughout a legal education and career.”