New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Spotlights the Work of Public Defenders and Provides Other Glimpses into the Law

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2022 Marquette Lawyer CoverIt is nearly 60 years since the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously held, in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), that individuals facing criminal charges are constitutionally entitled to representation by lawyers. And it has been just over 20 years since the death of Marquette Law School Dean Howard B. Eisenberg, who, early in his career, was a central figure in Wisconsin’s effort to comply with Gideon—in designing the state’s system for providing publicly funded representation for defendants unable to afford an attorney.

The cover package of the Fall 2022 issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine examines how Wisconsin’s system works today.

This means, in particular, an article profiling the work lives of five current Wisconsin public defenders. The piece includes the context of their work in a system that serves tens of thousands of defendants annually even while it is under constant stress—a system where needs outstrip available staff and resources. Continue reading “New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Spotlights the Work of Public Defenders and Provides Other Glimpses into the Law”

Of Bankruptcy, Legal Action, and Marquette Law School’s Many Partners in Pro Bono Work

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Legal Action of WisconsinIn this continuing series of posts concerning the pro bono work of the Marquette Law School community, my recent focus has been on aspects of our own Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics. These have included the role of the Mobile Legal Clinic and our statewide efforts with respect to rural communities and small businesses.

Yet even in the MVLC-related posts, it has been evident that we are so dependent on partners, such as (to draw variously on the instances just noted) the Milwaukee Bar Association, the Milwaukee County Clerk of Courts, and the State Bar of Wisconsin. The point was perhaps most explicit in the shoutout to the many individual attorney volunteers—last year half of them Marquette lawyers, half of them not—that make the MVLCs a true legal community effort.

In some of our efforts, we are rather less the “host” entity than contributors to efforts led by others. One such setup involves Legal Action of Wisconsin, the state’s largest legal aid provider (as that term is understood in the legal vernacular). Legal Action long has hosted Marquette law students’ pro bono service. Of the numerous examples available, I will note here the newest one.

In a project begun just this past summer and continuing this semester, Legal Action is helping clients interested in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions for discharge of debts—and a number of Marquette law students are right there with attorneys on the project. In its early months, the work included (as I understand it at a level of anonymized generality), advising some clients not to file because of an IRS garnishment issue or concerns about fraudulent transfers. It also involved six successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions.

One working on such a project no doubt will learn something about bankruptcy law. That seems to me quite valuable, as anyone who has taken Advanced Civil Procedure with Tom Shriner and me can attest (for there I always promote the school’s Creditor-Debtor course). One will also gain, from this work, insight and experience with respect to the human condition.

Consider what Maggie Niebler-Brown, the volunteer lawyer project coordinator at Legal Action of Wisconsin, recently wrote one of my colleagues: “Rarely do our clients struggle with a single legal issue, and our bankruptcy clients are no exception. Many of our clients are also experiencing myriad medical or family-related issues which can distract from the often detail-intensive process of preparing a bankruptcy petition. This leads to some of the delays in gathering documents that we’ve seen this semester, and this past summer, especially with credit counseling certificates. However, despite these delays, I’m proud that this clinic is still able to deliver much-needed relief to our clients. Thank you, Marquette law students, for being part of this practice.”

And thank you, Legal Action and our many other partners and collaborators, for welcoming our students into your work.

Reaching Rural Areas with Our Pro Bono Efforts

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Map of WisconsinA series of blog posts was not my plan, more than a month ago, when I wrote about the American Association of Law Schools’ pro bono honor roll with respect to Marquette Law School. Yet the work of volunteer students and lawyers, coordinated by our Office of Public Service, is so extensive that it has inspired me to continue with what I now project as a total of ten entries by the end of the semester (posts thus far, beyond the first, are available here, here, here, and here). My self-assigned topic for this week is the expansion of our pro bono outreach to encompass rural areas in Wisconsin.

Some context is helpful. Last week’s post sketched out some of the work of the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics (MVLCs) through volunteer students (all future Marquette lawyers, we hope) and volunteer lawyers (this past year, half of them our alumni and half graduates of other law schools). For more than twenty years now, the MVLCs have served our Milwaukee neighbors at various community-based locations. With the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, the MVLCs were forced—like nearly every organization—to pivot to provide services remotely. Starting a few weeks later, in early April of that year, the first remote MVLC was open on Zoom. The remote MVLCs came to operate nearly every day of the week and over time grew to serve almost as many people each month as had been the case in the established community-based walk-in clinics.

That brings us to the fall of 2020: the MVLCs’ history of trusted service and solid experience in the brief legal advice context prompted the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin to approach us. The bar section was interested in the creation of a clinic to help address the issues faced by Wisconsin small businesses in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Office of Public Service recruited attorneys and law students and built the necessary “infrastructure” to host the clinic on Zoom. The clinic saw its first clients in early 2021.

To date, in a partnership with the bar section, the MVLC Small Business Clinic has—the volunteer attorneys and students have—served nearly 200 small businesses around the state. Operating remotely each week, the clinic advises on legal issues involving contracts, employment, entity formation, real estate, intellectual property, tax, and questions related to ongoing compliance and operation. Clients in 32 counties across Wisconsin have reached the clinic. It has especially attracted volunteer Marquette law students interested in pro bono service in a transactional (as opposed to litigation) context.

In any event, this experience led to a further innovation. Fall 2021 brought a return to in-person services for the civil and family-law MVLCs and also this question: Could we capitalize on the infrastructure and experience built up during the pandemic? The answer “yes” was clear to my colleagues in the Law School’s Office of Public Service—led by Angela F. Schultz, assistant dean for public service, and Katie Mertz, L’11, director of pro bono and public service.

More specifically, as of this fall, they created another new MVLC: the Rural Clinic. After all, the remote-clinic model, its value demonstrated in the small-business sphere, was well-suited more generally for serving clients statewide—an interest that Dean Schultz and Director Mertz had long discussed as a critical step in bridging the access-to-justice gap.

How have we done? In its first month, this fall, the Rural Clinic was open (online, of course) four times. It served 19 clients (10 civil, 9 family) through the work of 16 volunteer attorneys and 24 volunteer law students. Clients were from counties across the state—Lafayette, Juneau, Winnebago, Dane, Brown, Monroe, Green Lake, La Crosse, Marathon, Shawano (non-native Wisconsinites should be careful with that county’s pronunciation), Sauk, Lincoln, Eau Claire, Manitowoc, Sawyer, and Waushara.

Clients come to the Rural Clinic with legal issues similar to those presented in the Milwaukee-based MVLCs—e.g., landlord/tenant, small claims, divorce, child custody, and guardianship needs. Yet individuals seeking brief legal advice from the Rural Clinic may have even fewer other places to turn for help.

More could be said: The valuable lessons of the initial COVID physical shutdown of the spring of 2020 go beyond the Rural Clinic. A separate remote MVLC continues, on Monday afternoons, to serve clients in the Milwaukee region who are unable to attend an in-person clinic for one reason or another.

Perhaps most notably, from a long-term perspective, both the Small Business Clinic and the Rural Clinic have led to new attorney volunteers—many of them, like the clients they serve, from around this great state. (Anyone interested may contact Director Mertz.)

Marquette Law School is grateful for their work and that of our students—for the opportunity to serve.

The Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic(s)—A True Legal Community Effort

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Marquette Law SchoolThe spirit and ideals underlying Marquette Law School’s embrace of pro bono work are timeless—part of our Catholic, Jesuit heritage and mission and reflecting the best traditions of the legal profession. Yet there are some key dates in our history, and, without doubt, one of them is from just more than 20 years ago.

Specifically, in 2001, a group of individuals began the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC). Julie Darnieder, L’78, alluded to this background in a blog post a number of years later, and I remain grateful to all of the individuals involved in launching the initiative.

My purpose here is not to recount the story but rather—on the cusp of the ABA’s National Celebration of Pro Bono week—first to note the continuing prominence of the MVLC in our now much-expanded pro bono work. Indeed, Angela F. Schultz, assistant dean for public service, has taught me to refer to the MVLCs (plural). For we now offer the following locations (and times):

Permit me to emphasize, second, that we are dependent on—and grateful to—the many lawyers in this community who enable us to operate the MVLCs. After all, our students, who are there with them, do not yet have law licenses.

The lawyers volunteering each day come from a range of practices, law schools, and experiences. Some volunteers have had long careers—Herb Bratt, retired from full-time law practice but a frequent volunteer, graduated from Yale Law School in 1956. Others are newer to the practice: Jordan Jozwik, an associate at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, graduated from Marquette Law School in May 2022. Within weeks, she had done her first MVLC shift—as an attorney (she volunteered often as a law student).

Remarkably, of the 230 lawyer volunteers in the past year, exactly 115 were Marquette lawyers, while the other half graduated from other law schools. The latter group would form a long list, including the law schools at universities such as Cornell, Creighton, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Harvard, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Tulsa, Vermont, William Mitchell, and Wisconsin (Madison).

We recently surveyed all these lawyers about their “reasons for engaging in pro bono with the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics.” Simply stated here, it is evident that all of them regard it as a privilege to serve the MVLC clients (in the brief-legal-advice format of the clinic) and to help develop the knowledge, skills, and values of our students.

Indeed, a prevailing theme is that the practicing lawyers regard themselves as getting more than they are giving from the experience. From the Marquette Law School end, truly, we could not operate the MVLCs without the many civic-minded lawyers in this area who already know, from their volunteering, “how great this is” (in the words of one respondent to the recent survey).

Kudos—and thank you—to all our attorney volunteers. To learn how to join with them—and with our students—by volunteering with the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics, visit our website.

The Mobile Legal Clinic Speeds Forward

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On September 17, 2013, the following announcement was made in a Marquette University press release:

Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Bar Association are partnering to launch the Milwaukee Justice Center Mobile Legal Clinic, a specially outfitted bus designed as a vehicle to provide free, brief legal advice to individuals who find themselves outside of the areas currently served by legal volunteer efforts in metropolitan Milwaukee.

The Mobile Legal Clinic is believed to be the only service of its kind in Wisconsin, and one of only a handful in the nation delivering volunteer legal services in underserved areas.

Mobile Legal Van
The Mobile Legal Clinic’s first director, Mary Ferwerda, Law ’11, and its current director, Marisa Zane, Law ’11, stand outside the new Mobile Legal Clinic, outside Eckstein Hall, on October 6, 2022.

The 2013 release detailed the origins of the project, the succinct statement being this: “The Mobile Legal Clinic was made possible by a gift from Frank Daily, Law ’68, and Julianna Ebert, Law ’81, to honor the pro bono work of Mike Gonring, Law ’82, their friend and longtime partner at Quarles & Brady.” It described the Milwaukee Justice Center more generally—a collaborative project of Marquette Law School, the Milwaukee Bar Association, and the Milwaukee County Clerk of Courts.

Since its rollout, the Mobile Legal Clinic has made an important contribution to access to justice in the Milwaukee region. Just to give a sense of it: During the past nine years (and one month), on the Mobile Legal Clinic, more than 240 volunteer lawyers and Marquette law students have served 2,945 community members at 43 host sites. These sites are key service providers in the community—venues that people are frequenting for help with a range of needs.

The sites include public libraries, food pantries, and health clinics—places where community members may seek services connected, directly or tangentially, to a legal issue. For example, someone in need of help feeding his or her family might be facing an eviction. Or someone visiting a free health clinic might wish to appoint a power of attorney or write a will. More precise locations have included multiple Milwaukee Public Library branches (e.g., Forest Home, Martin Luther King, Mitchell Street), the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, the Riverwest Food Pantry, St. Benedict the Moor Parish, St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Milwaukee, and the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, to name (truly) only a few.

To be sure, some aspects of the project have changed. Some of the individuals involved in leading the project are different: For example, Mary Ferwerda, Law ’11, the original supervisor of the Mobile Legal Clinic, is now executive director of the Milwaukee Justice Center, and Marisa Zane, Law ’11, is the supervisor of the Mobile Legal Clinic.

And now, for the development occasioning this post, the original bus has been replaced by an entirely new one. (See the photo accompanying this post.)

The new Mobile Legal Clinic is different. It no longer is specially outfitted with office space inside. Instead, it is a passenger vehicle to transport volunteers. This change resulted from years of experience hosting legal clinics inside a vehicle during times of rain, snow, heat, and freezing temperatures. Most of the time, the legal clinics ran more efficiently and effectively when held inside a building to which the Mobile Legal Clinic had arrived.

Yet a few people associated with the project—and one important “thing”—have remained the same. The former include, in particular, the three people noted above in the excerpt from the 2013 release: Frank Daily, Julie Ebert, and Mike Gonring, in different yet overlapping ways, continue to support the Mobile Legal Clinic. We are so grateful for their support, example, and service.

And the thing that has not changed? Without doubting that it could be stated in any number of ways, I would describe it as the spirit and ideals animating this project. I would say the spirit and ideals of Marquette University Law School—the school’s mission of Excellence, Faith, Leadership, and Service—and there would be considerable truth to this. Certainly, this is what especially motivates us “at” or “from” the Law School—those who have the privilege to work here or are Marquette lawyers (or both).

Yet, for all the leadership that Marquette Law School may have furnished, this is a project, in both its origins and its operations, that also has drawn substantially on the talents and values of others in the legal profession, without a direct connection to the Law School. Once again, it is an example of how much better able we are to serve others when we have the sorts of partnerships that have characterized the Mobile Legal Clinic. If you are a lawyer or law student who would like to get on board the Mobile Legal Clinic, let us know.

Law Student and PILS Fellow Morgan Kaplan Describes the “Steps” Required of a Pro Se “Movant” in Family Court in Milwaukee County

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Milwaukee County CourthouseEarly this semester, I had the privilege of meeting with Marquette law students who this past summer held Public Interest Law Society fellowships. These 25 individuals worked at organizations, geographically from Wisconsin to Chicago to Washington, D.C., with a variety of focuses—including public defender offices, legal services organizations, prosecutor’s offices, government agencies, and civil rights entities, scarcely to exhaust the list.

I learned so much from the conversation, arranged by Angela F. Schultz, assistant dean for public service at the Law School. Much of it would be worth relating, and I encourage everyone in our law school community to converse with one or more of our impressive PILS fellows.

In this post, with thanks to (and permission from) Morgan Kaplan, a second-year student, I want to highlight briefly one phenomenon that she observed this summer as a PILS fellow working at the Milwaukee Justice Center. More specifically, she described for the group some of the difficulties faced by pro se litigants hoping to modify family court orders in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Here is the description, which I asked her to write up:

One might hope that filing a motion to modify a family court order would be a relatively straightforward proposition—perhaps even that a party could bring in the completed paperwork, drop it off (file it) in one place, and move on to preparing for the court date or other tasks.

This is not the case. Rather than a simplified process that promotes access to the civil justice system, pro se litigants must navigate a sea of forms and offices, even after they have filled out the modification form (the motion). The Milwaukee Justice Center has prepared a sort of map—a checklist—to guide their journey. Let’s travel with them.

1. Those who are eligible for a fee waiver, either based on income or receipt of public benefits, will start in Room 104, the Clerk of Court’s office, to have their fee waiver notarized.

2. That’s just notarization: Having the fee waiver approved requires a trip up to the Chief Judge’s office in Room 609. Once those interested have an approved fee waiver, then they can move on to the next steps to file the motion.

3. It’s time for filing. This happens in Room 104, the Clerk of Court’s office (a second time for those using a fee waiver). There, interested parties will either show their fee waiver or pay a filing fee, giving the original documents to the clerk. We may now call them “movants.”

4. Then they will move upstairs (a second time for those with a fee waiver)—all the way to Room 707—to visit the office of the Family Court Commissioner. There, movants will hand all remaining copies of the motion to the calendar desk and get a hearing date, which will be stamped on all copies of the motion.

5. If the desired modification—the relief requested by the motion—involves a child support order, movants will head back down to Room 101, the Milwaukee County Child Support Office, to drop off a copy of the motion there as well.

6. After those three stops (five, in fact, for those with a fee waiver), movants will head over to the Safety Building, Room 102 (connected to the courthouse via skywalk), to fill out paperwork in hopes of having the Milwaukee County Sheriff serve the other party (if a county resident) with a final copy of the motion.

We all know that the processes of our civil justice system were not created with unrepresented litigants in mind, yet no one doubts that cases with such pro se litigants, in fact, predominate in family courts across the country. We may well ask whether we have taken enough steps to facilitate access to justice for these pro se litigants.

Participation in Pro Bono Work and Law Student Well-Being—Any Correlation?

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Assistant Dean Angela Schultz
Assistant Dean Angela Schultz

Last week I posted about Marquette Law School’s list—one faculty member, one staff colleague, and one student—for the honor roll of the Pro Bono and Access to Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools. I explained that I relied on the expertise of Angela F. Schultz, assistant dean for public service at the Law School.

As we begin this week—the sixth of the semester, remarkable to say—I want again to draw on Dean Schultz’s work, perhaps every more directly. In particular, permit me to highlight for you—and direct you to—a post that she recently made on the University of St. Thomas School of Law’s Holloran Center Professional Identity Implementation Blog. Here is a taste of it, as we say in the blogosphere:

I have been at Marquette Law School for eleven years. Over the years, I have witnessed students become more willing and able to identify and discuss mental health challenges they have faced in their own lives—challenges the students themselves have described as stress, anxiety, depression, and sometimes as trauma. I remember one recent student who lost both parents during their first year of law school. Another student took a leave of absence and was hospitalized for severe anxiety. If you work with law students, you also know some of the challenges facing students’ well-being.

I can think of three recent conversations where students identified their involvement in pro bono service as being among the factors that ultimately aided them on a path towards wellness. These three students’ experiences are not unique. Each year, we evaluate student experience in pro bono clinics. Comments from a recent survey included: “This work reminds me why I came to law school in the first place.” “I was afraid of working one-on-one with a client because I didn’t realize I already had skills that could be helpful.” “I feel connected to the people served in the clinic. These are my people.”

Dean Schultz’s post is thoughtful and engaging. I invite you to read the whole thing here—and to gain an insight or two. I was glad to do so.

AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll for Marquette University Law School

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Marquette Law SchoolThe Pro Bono and Access to Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) this year is inaugurating a new initiative—the Pro Bono Honor Roll—and has invited each law school dean this year to name one faculty member, one staff member, and one student. For a definition that those familiar with Marquette Law School’s Office of Public Service may especially recognize, the section defines pro bono as “work that is primarily legal in nature, supervised by a licensed attorney (for law students), not for pay or academic credit, and of service to underserved individuals, groups, or those with barriers to access to justice.”

The invitation from the AALS was most welcome, and I turned to my colleague, Angela F. Schultz, assistant dean for public service, for “nominees.” It seemed to us that there might be value in our publicly explaining—and celebrating—the work of the three exemplars whom I thereupon named to the inaugural AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll.

Faculty: Rebecca K. Blemberg. Rebecca Blemberg, professor of legal writing, started volunteering with the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics (MVLC) before the pandemic and has continued as part of the volunteer crew in every subsequent semester (including summers). In recent years, she has spent more than 90 hours providing “brief legal advice” (the relevant term of art) on family law matters. It is not uncommon for Professor Blemberg to check in with Dean Schultz after a clinic about something she thinks she could have done differently or better or to offer an idea about adding to clinic resources to strengthen another volunteer’s experience.

Staff: Katie Mertz. Katie Mertz, director of pro bono and public service at the Law School, does a great amount to expand and support the Law School’s pro bono clinics and the involvement of Marquette law students and others. Just this past summer, she developed all the infrastructure necessary to host a new remote clinic intended to serve people in rural communities of Wisconsin (that clinic just launched earlier this month). She does a remarkable job keeping the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics’ substantive resources—the tools available for our volunteers to use as they navigate client questions—up to date and user-friendly. And Director Mertz draws on—pulls in—external experts on various topics to ensure accuracy and quality.

Student: Jeremy Fernando. Jeremy Fernando is a third-year law student who consistently shows up—even when he has already completed his own pro bono schedule and has already exceeded 120 hours of pro bono service, the level “required” for admission to our Pro Bono Society “with distinction” (he has performed almost 170 hours to date). Last year, when the expungement/pardon clinic was seeking consistent law student volunteers, Mr. Fernando answered the call and made a weekly commitment. This year, given class schedules, it has been a challenge to staff our Thursday-morning MVLC operation at the Milwaukee Justice Center with law students. Mr. Fernando noticed the call for student support and offered to pitch in until his own class begins. (The clinic runs from 9-11 a.m.)

Much more could be said about these honorees or others. In fact, the AALS submission does not require any explanation, but it is a privilege for me publicly to provide it here. Marquette Law School has sought to develop a “culture of pro bono” in recent decades. Lawyers in our community—some alumni, others not—are deeply involved. This particular post has been a welcome opportunity to celebrate the work of those who call Eckstein Hall their professional home.

Pro Bono Work Brings Law Students to Fort McCoy to Help Afghans Seek Asylum

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An edited version of this piece appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on December 30, 2021.

Fort McCoy — Write down every detail of what happened to you in Afghanistan that makes you want to never go back. Write down everything you remember.

Law students Ciara Hudson and Allison Childs meet with an Afghan woman at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, to help with her immigration work.

“I don’t want to remember,” the young woman said matter-of-factly in English.

For this, you have to remember, said Malin Ehrsam, one of two Marquette University Law School students on the other side of a table. Then, when you are done, you can forget.

For the Afghan “guests,” as they are officially called, remembering is crucial – remembering the threats, the fear, the deaths or torture of relatives, the ominous daily events, the abrupt and chaotic flight about four months ago from Afghanistan, where the government had collapsed and the Taliban had taken over. After various stops, the journey brought about 13,000 of them to Fort McCoy, a military base near Tomah in central Wisconsin. Continue reading “Pro Bono Work Brings Law Students to Fort McCoy to Help Afghans Seek Asylum”

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

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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”

Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part II

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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. Student at work in a pro bono clinicShe 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. Students at work in a pro bono clinicShe 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. Continue reading “Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part II”

Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part I

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2L Richard Esparza's comments on pro bono workWe 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.”

Next is Al Sterling. Al is a 3L and has been volunteering with the pro bono programs since his first semester of law school.  Continue reading “Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part I”

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