Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Bondar, Filali, and Gross

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On Wednesday, September 7, the Milwaukee Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) Foundation honored three Marquette University Law School students with scholarships.

Head shot of a woman with long blonde hair; her name is Sarah Bondar
Sarah Bondar, 2L

Sarah Bondar, 2L, received the AWL Foundation scholarship. The AWL Foundation Scholarship is awarded to a woman who has exhibited service to others, diversity, compelling financial need, academic achievement, unique life experiences (such as overcoming obstacles to attend or continue law school), and advancement of women in the profession.

Bondar is a Wisconsin native and former law enforcement officer and 911 dispatcher. She wanted to attend law school to pursue her original dream of becoming a lawyer and helping victims of domestic violence. In addition to attending classes, working as a law clerk, and owning her own life coaching and event planning business, Bondar is actively involved in several student organizations. She’s the president of the Children and Family Law Association, president of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, director of communications for the Federal Practice Society, and Student Liaison for the State Bar of Wisconsin ADR Section. Bondar also volunteers with the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic as a Student Board Advisor. After she graduates, Bondar plans to practice for a few years, then open her own firm, focused primarily on family law.

head shot of a young woman with long dark brown hair; her name is Noelle-Nadia Filali
Noelle-Nadia Filali, 3L

Noelle-Nadia Filali, 3L, was awarded the Virginia A. Pomeroy scholarship. This scholarship honors the late Virginia A. Pomeroy, a former deputy state public defender and a past president of AWL. In addition to meeting the same criteria as for the AWL Foundation scholarship, the winner of this scholarship must also exhibit what the AWL Foundation calls “a special emphasis, through experience, employment, class work or clinical programs” in one of several particular areas: appellate practice, civil rights law, public interest law, public policy, public service, or service to the vulnerable or disadvantaged. Continue reading “Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Bondar, Filali, and Gross”

Celebrating the Class of 2022—Old Traditions and New Elements

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Hon. Elizabeth B. Prelogar
       Hon. Elizabeth B. Prelogar

It was my privilege to be in the splendid courtroom of the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday (Monday, May 23) to move the admission of Marquette law graduates to the bar. They graduated this past weekend, so such admission was their privilege, by virtue of receiving our diploma, meeting the court’s curricular requirements, and satisfying its character and fitness standards. In looking for a prior such motion that I had made, I came upon the one from 2015, where I noted that it was the twelfth consecutive May that I had appeared before the court for this purpose. I seemed to expect to do this annually until I should no longer be dean. In fact, the “streak” soon ended, in 2016, when an injury prevented my appearance before the Court—and then of course, a few years later, there would be the pandemic. Even then, the Court, on paper in 2020 and in the Wisconsin Assembly chamber in 2021, went to great lengths to ensure the prompt admission of our graduates via the diploma privilege.

The 2022 end-of-year proceedings seemed more like old times, though with some new elements. We convened for our Hooding Ceremony this past Saturday evening in the elegant, historic Milwaukee Theatre, as for many years. Yet this year, it was also our Commencement Ceremony, as Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell had delegated to me the authority, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to confer the J.D. degree on each of our graduating students. Hannah Chin, a graduate selected by her classmates, addressed the ca. 1,300 people in attendance, reminding us of all that our 2022 graduates have earned and gained throughout the past three difficult years. The commencement address was delivered by the federal government’s top lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court: the Hon. Elizabeth B. Prelogar, solicitor general of the United States. Solicitor General Prelogar, in her first trip ever to Wisconsin, gave a substantial amount of wise counsel. Yet my own wisdom, in inviting her, you will permit me to say, seemed entirely confirmed by her unexpected but most welcome rousing endorsement of the “Oxford comma”—and her exhorting, if not quite enjoining, the graduates always to use it. Of course, Solicitor General Prelogar highlighted not just punctuation but also such (other) foundational topics as the need to put oneself in uncomfortable circumstances in order to grow professionally, the importance of being kind to those above and below oneself in any group, and the value of always carrying a notepad (see what I did there, including that last comma?). There was much to be learned from the evening’s guest addresses.

The completion of the program entitling one to a Marquette law degree is a substantial accomplishment, I always tell our graduates. This is so “in any era,” I said in my remarks this year. It did not seem necessary for me to engage in any larger discussion of the pandemic. Yet, truly, I extend particular kudos to the newest group of Marquette lawyers, and I express much gratitude to all involved in their education, graduation, and admission to the bar.

NMCC Moot Court Team Goes to Nationals

Posted on Categories Appellate Advocacy, Legal Profession, Legal Writing, Public1 Comment on NMCC Moot Court Team Goes to Nationals

Please congratulate third-year law students Lauren Brasington and Carsyn Bushman for their success at the final rounds of the National Moot Court Competition (NMCC), co-hosted by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the New York City Bar Association and held virtually this year. The team was capably coached by Attorneys Kieran O’Day and Evan Thomsen.

Continue reading “NMCC Moot Court Team Goes to Nationals”

The Last Bastion

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The United States, like most democracies, takes pride in being governed by the “rule of law”; it aspires to be what John Adams once called “a government of laws and not of men.” There’s a sense, in this imagery, that law is something distinct from human beings; that it’s a sort of machine, that operates autonomously to generate answers to legal questions.

Of course, as the legal realists recognized, that’s all transcendental nonsense. Laws do not apply themselves, they are written and interpreted and applied by human beings. But a rule of laws that is subject to the whims of individual decisionmakers is no rule at all. Believing in the rule of law requires a sort of leap of faith. It requires a form of trust that other actors in the system, even ordinary citizens, will generally coalesce around the same outcomes and interpretations.

And that sort of trust — any sort of trust in institutions, including law — is breaking down. Faith in courts to provide the law, and faith in lawyers to be able to say what the law is, will fade with it. And after that, in the words of Felix Frankfurter: “first chaos, then tyranny.” Continue reading “The Last Bastion”

Institute for Women’s Leadership Releases Report on Law Firm Equity Initiative

Posted on Categories Feminism, Labor & Employment Law, Legal Profession, Public1 Comment on Institute for Women’s Leadership Releases Report on Law Firm Equity Initiative

As part of Women’s History Month, the Marquette University Institute for Women’s Leadership released its first white paper, entitled Law Firm Equity Initiative, examining the status of women in the Milwaukee legal market.  (This survey went out to all firms with over 10 attorneys in the metro area—more on methodology in the report itself.)  I am honored to be the author of this report knowing that transparency is step one in bringing about any change.

My motivation for doing this study came from watching the remarkable progress that companies in Wisconsin have made in the last few years in terms of placing women on their boards. Inspired by what transparency and peer pressure has accomplished in the corporate world, I hope that we can hold a mirror to our legal community and also ask what we can do better.

When I graduated law school (don’t ask—it was a long time ago) and did not see women in leadership roles, I was told it was a pipeline issue—just give it time and women would ascend to the heights of leadership once there were equal number of women graduating.  So, has that story played out?  Not so much. Continue reading “Institute for Women’s Leadership Releases Report on Law Firm Equity Initiative”

Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competitors Advance to Quarterfinals

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Congratulations to the students in the Jenkins Honors Moot Court Competition who have moved on to the quarterfinal round of the competition. The students will be competing on Saturday, March 27 to determine which teams will be advancing to the semifinal round on Sunday, March 28 at noon.

The following teams will be competing in the quarterfinals:

Zak Wroblewski & Alexandra (Sasha) Chepov
Morgan Minter & Taylor Van Zeeland
Ashleigh Dickey & Matt Rademacher
Charlie Hoffmann & Kevin Landgraf
Thomas Sucevic & Christopher Vandeventer
Ben Edelstein & Kyle Frank
Lauren Brasington & Carsyn Bushman
Alex Lux & Natalie Mulvey

Congratulations to all the participants in the competition. We also very much appreciate the alumni and other attorneys who volunteer to grade briefs and serve as judges in the preliminary rounds. We appreciate their time and assistance every year.

This year, an extra special thanks to Erik Atwell and the law school tech department for their assistance with managing three simultaneous virtual courtrooms with up to 24 people at eight different times over the weekend.

The final round of the Jenkins competition will take place on Tuesday, April 6 at 3:30 PM.

We’re honored to welcome the following distinguished jurists who will judge the final round:

Hon. Cynthia M. Davis (L’06), Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Hon. Michael Y. Scudder, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Hon. Paul Thissen, Minnesota Supreme Court

The final competition will be virtually on Zoom but will be livestreamed to the public.

Honoring RBG & Women Judges With 9K

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three women in running clothes sitting on or standing by a picnic table
(left to right) Annie Grove, Greta Hilgendorf, and Colleen Mandell rest after finishing 4k.

Instead of its usual spring gathering—Women Judges’ Night—the Milwaukee Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) sponsored the When There Are 9K Run/Walk. Marquette Law School was one of its sponsors.

According to AWL, “The title and length of this event are a tribute to the incredible and irreplaceable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Justice Ginsburg was once asked when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court of the United States. Her response: “When there are nine.”

group of women in running clothes standing outside in the cold
(left to right) Annalisa Pusick, Colleen Mandell, Director Erin Binns, Professor Lisa Mazzie, Dean Angela Schultz, Greta Hilgendorf, and Annie Grove prepare to run. Not pictured: Madeline Lewis and Aimee Trevino. Photo credit: Lily Binns

The virtual run/walk began officially today—March 15—on what would have been Justice Ginsburg’s 88th birthday. Our challenge: to walk or run a total of 9K during this week. Some of us already met up to knock out 4K.

close up of two women with masks
Pusick and Director Binns finish 4K.

Money raised by the run/walk benefits the AWL Foundation’s scholarship program for female law students at Wisconsin law schools. Each year, two Marquette students receive those scholarships. Last year’s recipients were 2L Liz Simonis and 3L Kelly Ryan.

“Are You a Foreign Exchange Student?” and Other Microaggressions in the Legal Clinic

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Human Rights, Legal Practice, Legal Profession, Pro Bono, Public1 Comment on “Are You a Foreign Exchange Student?” and Other Microaggressions in the Legal Clinic

word cloud of words related to microaggressionsLast year, I watched as a law student was introduced to a lawyer volunteering at the legal clinic. The lawyer was a white man in his 60s. The student was a woman of color in her 20s, and she was wearing hijab. I happen to know that both people have hearts of gold and come to the legal clinic with a desire to help and to give their time and talents selflessly.

Nonetheless, upon being introduced, the lawyer’s first words to the law student were: “It’s nice to meet you. Are you a foreign exchange student?” The student looked confused and embarrassed as she replied, “No. I grew up here in Milwaukee.”

A similar incident happened recently when a white lawyer asked a student of color where he was born and whether he had voting privileges. Again, the student in question replied that he was born and raised in the United States.

Yet another time, a white lawyer sat down at a table with a student of color: “What can we help you with at the clinic today?” The underlying assumption was that the student must be a client.

I also remember a moment when a white lawyer worked with a Latinx student for an entire shift and remarked at the end, “You are so articulate.” Why would this be mentionable? This is a student who has a college degree, has been admitted to law school, and will have a law degree in a few years.

The same comments would not have been made to white students volunteering in the clinic. Continue reading ““Are You a Foreign Exchange Student?” and Other Microaggressions in the Legal Clinic”

Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Simonis and Ryan

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Public1 Comment on Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Simonis and Ryan
head shot of woman named Liz Simonis
Liz Simonis (2L)
head shot of a woman named Kelly Ryan
Kelly Ryan (3L)

The Milwaukee Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) Foundation has named two Marquette University Law School students as the winners of AWL Foundation scholarships.

Liz Simonis, 2L, received the AWL Foundation scholarship. The AWL Foundation Scholarship is awarded to a woman who has exhibited service to others, diversity, compelling financial need, academic achievement, unique life experiences (such as overcoming obstacles to attend or continue law school), and advancement of women in the profession. Simonis, a Wisconsin native, received undergraduate degree in dairy science. She spent her last semester of undergrad between Beijing and Hangzhou, China, learning about dairy farming there. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she worked for as a dairy cattle nutritionist, visiting (in her conservative estimate) more than half of Wisconsin’s 9,000+ dairy farms. Being a dairy cattle nutritionist “requires an incredible amount of science and industry knowledge,” Simonis said. “It’s not like feeding your dog a scoop of dog chow.”

Simonis then transitioned to marketing product manager at a company in Iowa, where she took feeding concepts and developed them as products. However, she noted, her experience in Iowa also taught her that the world isn’t always a fair and equitable place. “In the year of our lord 2020, there are still people out there who will not respect you because of any number of ridiculous reasons. Breaking through that kind of stigma is at the core of what drew me to law school,” she said. She returned to Milwaukee to attend MULS, where is she is an active member of the student chapter of AWL and a volunteer at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic. Simonis is also a member of the Intellectual Property Law Society, Saint Thomas More Society, and the Environmental Law Society. She plans to sit for the patent bar when she’s done with law school.

Kelly Ryan, 3L, received the AWL Foundation’s Virginia A. Pomeroy scholarship. This scholarship honors the late Virginia A. Pomeroy, a former deputy state public defender and a past president of AWL. In addition to meeting the same criteria as for the AWL Foundation scholarship, the winner of this scholarship must also exhibit what the AWL Foundation calls “a special emphasis, through experience, employment, class work or clinical programs” in one of several particular areas: appellate practice, civil rights law, public interest law, public policy, public service, or service to the vulnerable or disadvantaged. During law school, Ryan has volunteered for the Domestic Violence Injunction Clinic and the Milwaukee Volunteer Legal Clinic and was selected for the mock trial team. She’s clerked for the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the U.S. Copyright Office of Policy and International Affairs.

Ryan is vice president of the Intellectual Property Law Society and lead articles editor of the Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review. This fall, she will intern with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office as part of MULS’ Prosecutor Clinic. She said the most interesting thing she’s experienced through her public service—interning at the county, state, and federal levels—“is seeing how profoundly law, policy, and government interact to impact people’s everyday lives.”

Simonis and Ryan will be officially honored (virtually) at AWL’s annual meeting on September 30. Congratulations to both women for outstanding service and for their representation of Marquette University Law School.

SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Criminal Law & Process, First Amendment, Human Rights, Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Public, Race & Law, Student ContributorLeave a comment» on SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Logo of Student Bar AssociationTo Our Peers, Professors, And Administrators:

Marquette University Law School Student Bar Association writes to you today to address the tragedy that we as a community and a country have faced in the last three weeks. Not one of a pandemic, but rather the state-sanctioned murders of Black Americans. Namely, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others. Their deaths are not novel, and we would be remiss to categorize them as such. Their deaths are the tragic manifestation of a long-standing system of racial oppression that continues to unjustly claim the lives of Black Americans.

We want to be loud and exceptionally clear: SBA believes Black Lives Matter. We are an anti-racist organization, and we condemn every form of racism. We stand in solidarity with the members of the Black Law Student Association, the Black community of Marquette University, and the Black community around the world.  Continue reading “SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice”

Advice for a Rewarding Career as a Woman Lawyer

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Legal Profession, Public1 Comment on Advice for a Rewarding Career as a Woman Lawyer

Lynne M. Halbrooks[For Women’s History Month, we invited some of our alumni to provide their reflections as guest bloggers of the month. This post is from Lynne M. Halbrooks, L’88.]

In the three decades since I became a Marquette Lawyer, I have had the opportunity to cross paths with dozens of woman lawyers early in their careers. I have mentored, hired, and worked with tremendously talented young women who have had diverse and amazing professional experiences. I watched them struggle, overcome obstacles, and excel in their jobs. The same is true for my law school friends and women I had the privilege to work for over the years. My experiences as a government lawyer, in private practice, and now as in-house counsel have introduced me to women lawyers working in a wide variety of jobs across the legal industry.  The following five tips for a rewarding legal career are based on my own experiences and my observations of how successful women lawyers have navigated their careers.

1. Work with people you like. You will spend a lot of hours at work, especially if you’ve chosen a career in private practice. There will be teamwork, meetings, lunches, and maybe even travel and dinners together. It is important that you like your supervisor and your colleagues. Continue reading “Advice for a Rewarding Career as a Woman Lawyer”

Don’t Forget About Women Lawyers of Color

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Feminism, Labor & Employment Law, Legal Profession, Public, Race & LawLeave a comment» on Don’t Forget About Women Lawyers of Color

[For Black History Month, we invited some of our alumni to provide their reflections as guest bloggers of the month. This post is from Kristen D. Hardy L’14.]

When probing and prodding at the legal profession’s existential, ever-persisting diversity and inclusion (D&I) crisis, race and gender are routinely discussed in separate vacuums. Thus, inclusion efforts focusing on the improvement of gender diversity have largely come to consider only one subset of women — the majority. Similarly, inclusion efforts targeting racial diversity also tend to focus on the majority, which in most cases refers to men. Articles and conferences promising to break down barriers and unpack bias for women lawyers either completely ignore, or barely mention, the added layer of complexity for women lawyers of color. And without the voices of minority women attorneys, spaces promising to offer diverse perspectives begin to feel homogeneous and exclusive.

There is no denying that many women, regardless of race or background, share similar instances of gender bias and discrimination. But women of color must grapple with a separate set of unique challenges that remain largely disregarded. When the D&I conversation shifts to improving gender diversity, the challenges associated with women of color are frequently, perhaps unintentionally, ignored. Consequently, solutions intended to eliminate barriers for all women in the profession are falsely presented as equally effective for White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous women. This phenomenon is not only isolating, but arguably detrimental to the progression of minority women within the legal profession.

Double-Bind and Double-Barreled Bias

Most know, at least anecdotally, about the double-bind bias apropos to women in leadership. This type of implicit bias is a haphazard blend of gender stereotypes and ostensible leadership characteristics that gum together to form what feels like a catch-22 for women. Continue reading “Don’t Forget About Women Lawyers of Color”

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