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).
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.
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.”
We 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.”
October 20-26, 2019 is recognized as National Pro Bono Week. For the last ten years, a week in October has been chosen as a way to spotlight the pro bono work done by law students, lawyers, and paralegals across the country.
How did it get started? Back in 2009, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service decided to create a coordinated event to highlight the “increasing need for pro bono services during harsh economic times and the unprecedented response of attorneys to meet this demand.” Ever since, it has promoted pro bono activities during October to help increase access to justice and community involvement.
So what is Marquette Law School doing for Pro Bono Week? Well, I first want to mention that the Law School has been committed to public service for a long time. The Office of Public Service is continuing to organize pro bono opportunities, trainings, CLEs, and really just business as usual because serving our communities is engrained in our mission. Almost 70% of our current students have participated in pro bono opportunities and we’ve served thousands of clients over the year.
But we are also going to use the week to recognize just a few of our volunteers, both current students and alumni. They have put in a lot of time and effort to connect with the Milwaukee community and help increase access to justice. Hear about some of their experiences and find out what motivates them to give their time to this cause. Hopefully it will help inspire you to give back as well.