[For Black History Month, we invited some of our alumni to provide their reflections as guest bloggers of the month. This post is from Emil Ovbiagele L’14.]
The American story is an unfolding tale. A rich and diverse story still being crafted. There are chapters we ought to celebrate with fervent praise. There are pages where it hurts to look. And most importantly, there are more exciting narratives yet to be fully told.
(Gratitude to Rodrigo Sanchez for assistance in compiling data on 53206.)
The Shriver Center in Chicago provides training on a particular model of community-based lawyering. They define “community lawyering” as “using legal advocacy to help achieve solutions to community-identified issues in ways that develop local leadership and institutions that can continue to exert power to effect systemic change.” The concept grew out of the older ideas of community organizing generally pioneered by Saul Alinsky’s work in 1930s and 40s Chicago, where, broadly speaking, the goal is to promote the empowerment of citizens, i.e. members of the community, to address problems and effect change. These ideas were applied to the practice of law at least as far back as 1970 in the form of a Yale Law Journal article where Stephen Wexler outlined a number of ways in which effective lawyering in an impoverished community is different from the traditional practice of law.
Whereas the traditional lawyering model sets up an adversarial dynamic between parties, community lawyering may engage alternative systems of relational power or power sharing aimed at ultimate reconciliation or compromise, founded on a recognition of common interests between parties. (See Ross Dolloff & Marc Potvin, Community Lawyering—Why Now?,37 Clearinghouse Review 136 (July–Aug. 2003)). Whereas traditional lawyering may entail simply spotting issues that can be resolved through litigation or formal legal recourse, community lawyering can approach citizen-identified problems as opportunities to engage stakeholders in a broader conversation in the hope of building authentic, trusting relationships. Whereas the traditional lawyer model is that of a litigator, negotiator of claims, and counselor to the client, the community lawyer’s focus may be to “develop inside the client population a sustainable knowledge base that allows the population to build foundations for opportunity from within,” to identify and defeat the causes of poverty. Whereas in the traditional lawyering model the attorney is the “voice” of the client before the court, in a community lawyering model, the strategy and policies are accountable to the voice of the population being served. The lawyer assists a community in identifying a structural barrier (access to economic resources, housing, sustainability, stability, employment opportunities, political voice, etc.) and then helps build capacity within the community to take action (through organizing, relationship building, advocacy, policy development, traditional case work, etc.).
In the decade after the American Civil War, Congress ratified three Amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth) and passed five civil rights statutes (the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1870, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875) in an attempt to integrate African Americans into society and provide them with the full rights and privileges of citizenship. From rights to vote, hold property, and contract, to rights of access to the courts, public infrastructure, and the marketplace, these enactments represented a dream of reconstruction that strove toward a more universal application of the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. In striking down and interpreting these laws, the decisions of the Supreme Court played a crucial role in curtailing the promise of this older civil rights movement. The Court’s undermining of the laws led to the legal segregation, discrimination, terrorizing, denial of due process, lynching, murdering, exploitation, and injustice that characterizes the African American experience in the century that followed.
The highlight reel that we all study in Constitutional Law class includes:
Okay, class, we will now turn to sentence diagramming. Let’s take the example on page 15, begin reading:
Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John [T] at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.
Our alumni guest blogger for the month of November is Joe Riepenhoff, L’14, who is appearing for a return engagement, having been a student guest blogger back in October 2012. While at Marquette, Joe was a student advisory board member for the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, an intern for the Waukesha County Circuit Court criminal division judges, and research assistant for Prof. Daniel Blinka. Since graduating he has worked as a staff attorney for the Wisconsin State Public Defender Office, a conflicts analysts at Foley and Lardner, and is now a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.
Ah, yes, the Baby Lawyer™. The finished product of the intense demands of law school, crisp diploma freshly in hand, joining the fray of the courtroom or the boardroom, ready and oh-so-willing to tackle each and every problem he or she is about to face. So full of life and hope, chock full of caselaw, best practices, tidbits from internships, faculty blessings and encouragement, and an undying love for the Oxford comma. We are blindingly sure that all of our preparation will be enough as we strut into the hallowed halls of the legal profession, away from the strictly regimented last three years . . . and its safety net of office hours and a curved grading scale.
I can say with some certainty that the baby lawyer experience is relatively similar throughout the generations. Some new attorneys begin in the proverbial “mail room,” getting coffee, delivering senior attorney mail, and living in a three by three foot cubicle that they have determined to make their own with pictures of friends and motivational quotes from Target. Baby Lawyer is our name, legal research is our game, and we have embraced “other duties as assigned” as our personal motto.
Some First Year Associates (i.e. the Baby Lawyer With A Title) may have a trial by fire. They will be handed a brown accordion folder, a case of their very own.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing an incredible colleague — and friend — Isioma Nwabuzor. This intelligent, passionate, and compassionate woman has served as a role model for many youth of color in the Milwaukee’s legal and social communities. Please enjoy her thoughts and insight into the good work she is doing for our city and for the future of the legal profession.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Isioma Nwabuzor and I am a transactional attorney at Baird. I am originally from Nigeria, West Africa, but was raised and lived in Milwaukee for as long as I can remember. I am a member of several professional and/or service organizations, including Rotary International, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Association of Corporate Counsel.
How has your journey to and through the legal profession been influenced by your life and roots?
My maternal grandfather was a high-court judge in the country of Nigeria. I come from a long line of attorneys on my mother’s side, so my family always jokes that my inclination towards a career in the legal profession is hereditary. However, from a different facet, all that I am motivates me to give a voice to the voiceless. My experiences as a member of several minority demographics (I’m a Black woman and an immigrant) has inspired a passion and fight in me that, I believe, lends itself well to adversarial careers, such as the legal profession.
Tell us about Dreamer Next Door, your new 501(c)(3).
During the off-season, there are big projects, small projects, legal research, and the expected minutiae of the practice of law. But as the sun begins to peek through the Midwest haze that is winter, all hell breaks loose.
“Oh a music festival? That sounds fun. But what do you DO every day?”
“It’s only 11 days. What do you do during the rest of the year? Vacation!?”
“I bet you get to meet all the famous people, right?”
The daily life of a music festival attorney is likely similar to your own. There are big projects, small projects, legal research, and the expected minutiae of the practice of law. I have written briefs and legal research memos with the customary headings and content, appeared in administrative court, push a not-insignificant amount of paperwork, and manage a team. The difference between practicing law to benefit a client and practicing law to benefit thousands of screaming concertgoers is complicated; my job is governed by the courts of this land and the court of public opinion, with one delivering a much swifter, and less researched, judgment in the modern age. The stakes are huge; my company is responsible for the safety of each and every guest on the festival grounds, as well as the thousands of employees operating the festival at any given time. Within this pursuit for a perfect show, I have contributed to multi-million dollar capital stage construction projects and, just a few hours prior, stood in front of a group of Milwaukee’s underserved job-seekers, recruiting hopeful employees at the Department of Workforce Development. I have researched the nuances of the Americans with Disabilities Act to better serve all festival patrons, while simultaneously approving marketing images of a (very cute) cartoon feline for our mobile marketing team. I have opined on topics from acceptable marketplace vendors to high-level sponsorships to recycling bins to golf-cart safety. I have filed and renewed trademarks, while fielding phone calls regarding worker’s compensation claims. To put it simply, what I do every day is advance the world’s largest music festival. Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Music Festival Attorney”
Attorneys often speak of mentorship as an essential building block to a career in the legal profession.
Indeed, one of the first pieces of advice bestowed upon young attorneys is to find a mentor, cultivate that relationship, and soak up all advice like a sponge. Mentorship roundtables, “speed networking” events, and student-attorney mixers are stylish events celebrating these connections, encouraging both sides to learn, grow, and expand one’s worldview. And yes, mentorship should be important to legal practitioners across the board, from students fresh from their first briefs to attorneys with long, successful, and active careers.
But why does one need a mentor or a mentee and how does one find a perfect match? Do I click my heels together three times, whisper “Please help me,” and one will magically appear like a fairy lawmother? What if my mentor or mentee doesn’t suit me or even like me? Let’s discuss. Continue reading “The Art of Mentorship”
Please join me in welcoming our guest bloggers for the month of September!
Our Student Blogger of the Month is Kylie Owens. Kylie grew up in Ogden, Utah and later attended Weber State University where she earned a B.A. in History and Geography. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she taught AP Geography and U.S. History to junior high students for almost seven years before deciding to go to law school.
Since the outset of her legal career, Kylie has worked mainly in family law, and is interested in gaining experience in other practice areas. She is competing in the National Moot Court Competition and is also pursuing an ADR certificate. In the little free time that she does have, Kylie enjoys practicing meditation, finding all the best restaurants in Milwaukee, and traveling.
Our Alumni Blogger of the Month is Molly Madonia. Molly is the Staff Attorney at Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., the producers of Summerfest™, the World’s Largest Music Festival™. Her primary areas of responsibility include managing MWF’s trademark portfolio, which includes the well-known Summerfest Smile™; liaising to Marketing teams on issues related to sponsorship, exhibitorship, and marketplace; advising the Human Resources department on compliance-related matters, including navigating the ADA and input on employee training; writing those Sweepstakes/Promotions rules for use on social media; and, of course, “other duties as assigned.”
She was honored to join the MULS graduating class of 2016, receiving her J.D. and the Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. For more work by Molly, please see her pieces published in the Marquette University Law School Intellectual Property Law Review.
Thanks for joining us and we look forward to your posts.
The Year 1989: The Berlin wall came down, the world wide web was invented, Seinfeld first aired, and, not quite as significant for the planet, my dad, Michael Haggenjos, graduated from Marquette Law School. (He also felt the need to remind me that it was the year certain celebrities, such as Taylor Swift and Danielle Radcliffe, were born.)
My dad devoted a large portion of his earlier blog post talking about some of the events in my life leading up to my decision to go to law school, and the subsequent direction my law school career has taken towards litigation. While it’s true that it took me longer to realize what I wanted to be when I grew up, I did eventually have that moment where I knew I wanted to go to law school. It happened around my junior year of college, when I was studying at UW-Madison.
I found myself at a crossroads: Do I go to grad school and get my doctorate in English Literature so that I can teach at the university level? Or, do I follow in my dad’s footsteps and go to law school? In order to find an answer, I decided to take the philosophy of logic at the suggestion of my advisor. It may sound cheesy, but after a single class I was hooked, and I knew from that moment on that I was going to attend law school.
We welcome our alumni and student bloggers for August.
Our alumni contributor is Rebeca López (L’12). Rebeca is an attorney on Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.’s Labor, Employment & Immigration Law Practice Group, where she counsels and assists clients in navigating complex legal issues arising in the employment relationship, including addressing disability and leave accommodation requests, wage and hour complaints, and employment discrimination allegations. Rebeca represents employers in matters before federal and state courts and equal rights agencies, and conducts internal investigations into employee complaints and allegations.
Rebeca also serves on various boards of directors in the legal and non-profit community; she was appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett to the Wisconsin Center District Board of Directors from 2016 to 2018 and was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to the Governor’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee in 2019. In 2015, Rebeca was named to Milwaukee Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” and in 2016, she was recognized as one of Wisconsin’s 48 most powerful Latinos by Madison 365.
Rebeca López worked as an immigration caseworker and a regional coordinator for seven years before attending Marquette Law School and graduating magna cum laude in 2012. While in law school, Rebeca served as Business Editor of the Marquette Law Review and interned at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin for Judge Lynn S. Adelman. Her student-written law review article was quoted by CNN in April.
Our student contributor is 2L Randal Finger. Randal was born and raised in Germantown, Wisconsin, and lives there now. He attended Ripon College and where he received a Politics & Government degree. While at Ripon College, Randal had a practicing attorney as an adjunct professor, which, he said, solidified his decision to attend law school. Over the summer, he worked downtown at Northwestern Mutual as a summer clerk, working on a variety of projects throughout the company. He noted that he has grown fond of real estate law throughout his short time in law school and his time at Northwestern and is the treasurer of the Real Estate Law Society at Marquette. As of now, Randal said he hopes to practice “somewhere in the real estate realm,” but is open to other areas. “I understand that my limited exposure to law in the real world could mean that there is something out there that I enjoy much more.”
Welcome to Rebeca and to Randal. We look forward to your contributions.