Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers

scales of justiceThis semester in Professor Lisa Mazzie’s Advanced Legal Writing: Writing for Law Practice seminar, students are required to write one blog post on a law- or law school-related topic of their choice. Writing blog posts as a lawyer is a great way to practice writing skills, and to do so in a way that allows the writer a little more freedom to showcase his or her own voice, and—eventually for these students—a great way to maintain visibility as a legal professional. Here is one of those blog posts, this one written by 2L Desiree Geromini.

Being a lawyer comes with many associated preconceptions and many are not very positive. Though this is the case, from my experiences and discussions with fellow aspiring attorneys and those already in practice, the main motivator for entering the legal field is the desire to make a positive impact in people’s lives. In thinking about this discrepancy in public opinion and the motivating factors behind practicing and aspiring attorneys’ decision to become lawyers, it made me think about what I can do to spur a more positive spin on the profession.  Though this is an uphill battle, the best plan of action I can think of is to use my voice to initiate open conversations with friends, family, colleagues, clients, and anyone who is willing to listen. Continue reading “Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers”

California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Pro Bono, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on California Supreme Court Justice Calls for Improving Access to Legal Services

Goodwin Liu, a justice of the California Supreme Court, came to Marquette Law School Thursday to be a judge of the Jenkins Honor Moot Court Competition Final Round. The widely-known justice also brought with him a fascinating personal story and provocative ideas for lawyers and law students on several subjects, presented during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall. I encourage you to listen to the program by clicking here. This blog item will on two of the messages Liu delivered.

Liu, then a professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school, was nominated in 2010 by President Barack Obama to be a federal appeals court judge. The nomination drew strong opposition from Republicans in the US Senate, largely because of controversial things Liu had written. After the nomination was held up for more than a year, Liu withdrew. He was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown to that state’s Supreme Court in 2011.

Did Liu regret the things he had written? Liu said there were  some specific things he would handle differently in retrospect, but overall, he was not sorry he had taken strong stands. He urged the law students in the audience not to fear taking positions on things they care about.

Liu said, “You should not just kind of live your life in an exceedingly cautious or antiseptic way, never saying anything, never doing anything that could cause someone else to disagree with you. No. That’s not a good way to live. You have to think about (and) remember why you came to law school — what were the things that motivated you – and, within reasonable ethical and prudent bounds, pursue those things. Because you’re not going to be happy if you don’t do that. . . .  or do anything. . . .

“I had a friend who told me a nice quote once, which was, ‘no one ever goes to his grave seeking an epitaph that reads, “He kept his options open.” I mean, that is no way to live.”

Gousha asked Liu if the nation was in a situation where there two justice systems, one for those who can afford lawyers and the other for those who can’t.

Liu said that was one of the biggest issues facing America. He spoke of the principle that everyone should have equal access to the legal system.

“The principle is an important one .We are so far away from that principle overall in society. Most of us, myself included, do lots of important transactions every year or every couple years where we probably should have a lawyer look things over. Did you ever buy a house? Did you ever read all of those documents? My guess is probably not, but you just signed a lot of your life away in those documents. Wouldn’t it be useful to make sure all those things were done right? This is a big thing.

“Two piece of concluding thought there. One is, of course, that I’ll offer an exhortation to the lawyers and the law students here that doing work for people who can’t afford legal services is so important. No matter whatever you do in your career, that has to be one of the things that you do.  . . . Especially for the younger people here, it is one of the things that will actually give you the greatest skill-building types of opportunities. . . .

“The other piece however, is more fundamental, which I think those of you who are in the public policy realm might give some thought to. And that is (that) law is a strange profession in so far as it is not a differentiated profession as, for example, the health care industry is. Not that our health care industry is any great paragon of success. However, it is the case that when you go to seek health care, it isn’t thar you only go and see a doctor, a physician. We have differentiated roles up and down the health care system. We have nurses, we have nurse’s assistants, we have physician’s assistants, we have technicians, we have all kinds of people where we are triaging your needs to the lowest-cost provider and allocating in an efficient way functions up and down the system and differentiating those functions up and down the system.

“In the legal system, we don’t have that. We have lawyers and nobody else, right? And it doesn’t seem to me that it’s absolutely necessary to have just this one model where, for many things like an eviction or a simple family law matter or immigration matter, whatever it , a lot of things are just about  navigating complicated forms or figuring out what building to go to, or how to do a process.

“There are a lot of roles there that could be filled by people who will not be as fancy as all of you will be when you graduate from this august institution, right? If we could bring the cost of those services down by having different kinds of roles to help people navigate the legal system, why, I think that would be a great service.

“The analogy I would give is: The cost of accessing this kind of basic legal service should be no greater—we should have a model where it’s no greater — than the cost of getting a plumber. If your toilet doesn’t work, you’re going to get it fixed and you’re going to pay the price of a plumber to get it fixed.

“Well, shouldn’t we have at least the same bargain available for very important things in people’s lives, like whether you’re buying a house, whether you’re negotiating a custody agreement, whether you’re trying to get special education for your kids, whatever it is? These are at least as important as your toilet. And so we need to have a market in which access to those kinds of things can be priced accordingly, so average people – average people, I’m not talking about low income people, I’m talking about average people –can afford them. . . .

“I think this is an idea whose time has come. And I think also, for the younger generation, technology is going to be a big part of this, too. Law firms remain brick and mortar enterprises in an age when most  legal services can be done pretty much at a home computer in many instances.“

Liu said that some say that the legal profession resists such ideas as a way to defend the profession. “I think that kind of mentality has a shelf life, because there is a greater and greater demand in our society for fair access to legal services.” Liu said. “As the world becomes more complicated, more and more people are going to need this and we as part of the legal profession should be part of the solution, not a hindrance to it.”

 

Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Milwaukee, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program

Marisa Cuellar Zane joins Marquette University Law School as the public interest law fellow in the Office of Public Service. In her new role, Marisa will further develop the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic’s (MVLC) estate-planning services. The MVLC is committed to helping low-income people navigate their estate-planning options by empowering clients with useful information. In 2017, the MVLC’s House of Peace and Veterans Service Office locations helped 75 people establish estate plans.

The need for estate-planning services is often overlooked in communities with low incomes and relatively lower-value assets. Yet in Milwaukee’s low-income communities, owning a home is not uncommon. Planning is essential to keep a home, usually a family’s largest asset, in the family. Advance planning also can include assigning an agent for making financial and healthcare decisions in order to avoid adult guardianship proceedings in court should infirmities arise down the road. Continue reading “Marisa Cuellar Zane Named Public Interest Law Fellow for Estate-Planning Program”

25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction: Interview with Jacob Haller

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The 25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held on February 16 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Jacob Haller, a current law student, and the Public Interest Student of the Year, shares his experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

The Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office—Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court.

What kind of work did you do there?

The Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court is a pioneering specialty court aimed at addressing addiction as a root of criminality.  The MCDTC works with non-violent offenders who are facing nine months or more of incarceration.  The defendants are given the option to participate in a 12-18 month intensive rehab program supervised by the court.  I worked with defendants and their families to ensure that goals set by the court were being met.  This meant working with a defendant directly, as well as service providers, district attorneys, and employers to enure the best possible outcome for the defendant and the broader community.

Continue reading “25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction: Interview with Jacob Haller”

25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction: Interview with Grace Gall

Posted on Categories Legal Profession, Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on 25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction: Interview with Grace Gall

The 25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held on February 16 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Grace Gall, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

I worked as a PILS Fellow at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee in the Civil Division.

What kind of work did you do there?

Legal Aid provides free legal service to individuals throughout Milwaukee who cannot afford private legal counsel. I worked mainly on Civil Rights cases for indigent clients who required Legal Aid service. I did several client interviews for cases involving excessive bail or use of segregated housing within jails. I also worked in the Civil Division on cases dealing with Landlord Tenant law. I helped prepare case documents and did research on a variety of topics.

Continue reading “25th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction: Interview with Grace Gall”

Jacob Haller Named Public Interest Student of the Year

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, Public2 Comments on Jacob Haller Named Public Interest Student of the Year

Even before he began law school, Jacob Haller was involved in the kind of public interest work that is at the heart of Marquette Law School’s pro bono efforts. He continued on that path as a law student. Now in his last semester at the Law School, Haller has been named this year’s Outstanding Public Interest Law Student.

Angela Schultz, assistant dean for public service, said that as an undergraduate at Marquette University, Haller worked as an intern at the Milwaukee Justice Center and an intern in the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s office.

As a law student, Haller became involved in many public service opportunities, including the Public Interest Law Society and clinics offering people help with family law and domestic violence problems. Haller won two PILS summer fellowships to do public interest legal work. He is currently co-president of PILS. Schultz said he will graduate in May with honors for completing more than 500 hours of pro bono work. Continue reading “Jacob Haller Named Public Interest Student of the Year”

The Myth About Practicing IP

Posted on Categories Intellectual Property Law, Legal Practice, Pro Bono, Public1 Comment on The Myth About Practicing IP

I was recently visiting a relative in the hospital when the attending physician struck up a conversation with my family.  When he found out that I am an attorney, he asked about my area of practice.  I told him that I practice product liability defense and intellectual property litigation.  He then asked me the following question, a variation of which has been posed to me dozens of times over the past five years:  “What type of engineer are you?”

I am an English major, and I practice IP litigation.  Not only do I not have a science background, but I made a concerted effort to avoid science classes in college.  Law schools precipitate a myth that you can’t practice IP without a science background.  It’s a myth because it’s not true.  I’m proof.  (Disclaimer:  it is true that you can’t prosecute patents before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office without a science background.  But patent prosecution is only one part of IP.) Continue reading “The Myth About Practicing IP”

Welcome Our July Guest Blogger

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, UncategorizedLeave a comment» on Welcome Our July Guest Blogger

A fireworks display in the night sky showing a burst of red color.On this sunny Fourth of July, please join me in welcoming our Student Blogger for the month of July, Alex Castro.

Alex is currently a rising 3L at Marquette University Law School. He was born and raised in south Florida and graduated from the University of Florida in 2014. He has a life-long interest in sports, music and traveling. Alex hopes to pursue a career in corporate and business transactional law, and this summer he is working for Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company in Milwaukee.  He is also participating in the Law School’s Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic. During his law school career, Alex has been active in the Hispanic community, and he plans on continuing his commitment to inclusion and diversity during his legal career through his membership in professional and legal organizations.

Welcome, Alex, and we look forward to reading your posts.

Saving by Investing in Civil Legal Aid

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Family Law, Legal Profession, Poverty & Law, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on Saving by Investing in Civil Legal Aid

Kara is a single parent with two children. She works full-time, but still makes less than $1,500 each month. Kara’s boyfriend Jay, the father of one of Kara’s two children, lives with her, but does not always contribute to the household. In addition, he’s physically abusive to the family cat and to Kara. After the most recent incident where Jay pushed Kara into the wall and grabbed her arm so hard he left a bruise, Kara wants him to leave. And she wants a restraining order. But knowing who to call and where to go—and, most of all, how to pay for services she’ll need—is overwhelming her. If Kara lives in a state that invests in civil legal aid, she’ll have no problem finding resources and will be able to have a lawyer represent her—at little to no cost to her—at any court hearing she needs to get a domestic violence injunction.

While Kara’s story is merely illustrative—though many people experience circumstances like Kara’s every day—its larger point is important. Civil legal aid is a combination of services and resources that helps Americans of all backgrounds—including those who face the toughest legal challenges: children, veterans, seniors, ill or disabled people, and victims of domestic violence—to effectively navigate the justice system. Civil legal aid helps ensure fairness for all in the justice system, regardless of one’s ability to pay. It provides access to legal help for people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families. Civil legal aid makes it easier to access information through court forms; legal assistance or representation; and legal self-help centers. Civil legal aid also helps streamline the court system and cuts down on court and other public costs. When we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we close with “justice for all.” We need civil legal aid to ensure that the very principle our founders envisioned remains alive: justice for all, not the few who can afford it.

Our state has had a rocky history of funding civil legal aid programs. While the state did begin such funding, of late, that funding has since dropped precipitously. In 2007, for the first time in Wisconsin history, the legislature included nearly $2 million in the state budget for civil legal aid. In 2009, the funding was increased to just over $2.5 million. But in 2011, the funding was eliminated completely from the state budget. From 2012-2015, Wisconsin was one of just three states that did not provide any funding for civil legal aid for low income people. (The other two are Florida and Idaho.) Continue reading “Saving by Investing in Civil Legal Aid”

24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley

The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) was held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  David Conley, a current law student, shares his experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

The Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office—Juvenile Division Milwaukee County

What kind of work did you do there?

The Law Offices of the Wisconsin State Public Defender represents indigent people who face criminal charges. However, the State Public Defender’s Office actually covers a variety of different cases where people are in need of legal representation. Milwaukee County is divided into two main offices. One office, (MKE Trial) handles adult criminal cases. The other office, (MKE Juvenile) represents juvenile clients facing a variety of life obstacles. These obstacles could be: (1) a juvenile delinquency petition, (2) a CHIPS (child in need of protective services) petition, or (3) a JIPS (juvenile in need of protective services) petition. The public defenders office advocates for juveniles who are in desperate need of legal help. The juvenile office also handles TPR (termination of parental rights) cases, and mental health commitment cases. As a Public Interest Law Society Fellow, it was my responsibility to assist the staff attorneys in the successful representation of these clients.

Continue reading “24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with PILS Fellow David Conley”

24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger

The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) was held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Corinne Frutiger, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

Milwaukee Justice Center.

What kind of work did you do there?

I got to continue a lot of the pro bono work that I was already very involved with, including meeting one on one with clients in the Family Forms Clinic and side by side with volunteer attorneys in the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC).  In the Family Forms Clinic I worked one on one with clients to help them navigate the family law process, whether that be the starting of an action, or jumping back into an existing case.

I also worked with attorneys in the MVLC to provide brief legal advice to clients on a range of matters, including such matters as family law, small/large claims, probate, landlord-tenant, and guardianships.  I was given the opportunity to be fully integrated with the MJC staff and sit in on meetings to discuss what more we could do to better serve our clients and the Milwaukee community.  It was truly incredible to see and be a part of a group that works tirelessly to continue to improve their services for the benefit of the community.  Watching the MJC staff, volunteer attorneys, and even some of the other volunteer students work so hard and brainstorm together to serve the full extent of a client’s needs was truly memorable and an experience I am truly grateful for.

Continue reading “24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Corinne Frutiger”

24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Natalie Lewandowski

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Pro Bono, PublicLeave a comment» on 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Natalie Lewandowski

The 24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction on behalf of the Law School’s Public Interest Law Society (PILS) will be held on February 17 at the Law School.  Proceeds from the event go to support PILS Fellowships to enable Marquette law students to do public interest work in the summer.  Natalie Lewandowski, a current law student, shares her experience here as a PILS Fellow.

Where did you work as a PILS Fellow?

I worked at the Milwaukee Justice Center (MJC) in the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

What kind of work did you do there?

Most days I worked in the Family Forms Clinic with other MJC volunteers and supervising attorneys, helping clients with minor forms they wanted to file in the courthouse, such as divorce forms or forms to modify placement and custody orders for their children.  The vast majority of these clients cannot afford an attorney, but earn slightly above the (extremely low) federal poverty level, so they don’t qualify for free legal aid, either.  The only practical option for these people may be to represent themselves in the matter.  That’s where the volunteers at the MJC come in, helping these clients with the forms and guiding them through the process of how and where to file them in the courthouse and what the next steps might be.

I also helped plan and execute the MJC’s annual 5K Run for Justice, which raises money for the MJC to continue helping people access the justice system (and was really fun!).  In addition, I did some work with the MJC’s Mobile Legal Clinic, which is an amazing project that brings the services of the MJC—including brief legal advice by attorneys—to places in the community where it’s hard for residents to make it to the MJC for free legal help.

Continue reading “24th Annual Howard B. Eisenberg Do-Gooders’ Auction–An Interview with Natalie Lewandowski”