Public Service and Pro Bono Kudos

Marquette Law SchoolLast year I had occasion to do a series of seven blog posts surveying some of the great work of our community, led by our Office of Public Service, in the realm of pro bono service. Without doubting that that number could be multiplied, here, by contrast, I will combine into one post a number of recent pro bono “happenings” that should be celebrated:

  1. The Mobile Legal Clinic marked a decade of service this fall. Since its launch in 2013, 385 volunteer lawyers and law students have participated in the mobile model of service delivery. During this time, the Mobile Legal Clinic, a project of Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Bar Association, has visited 54 host sites in 655 sessions and served 4,829 people. The tenth anniversary was celebrated on October 24 at the Milwaukee Bar Association. A number of those involved in envisioning and making possible the Mobile Legal Clinic—Frank Daily, Julie Ebert, Mike Gonring, and Angela Schultz—were recognized at the gathering.

  2. Tara Kniep, a third-year student, was named as the Milwaukee Bar Association’s Pro Bono Law Student of the Year at the MBA’s State of the Court luncheon at the Wisconsin Club on October 11. The award recognizes her exceptional dedication to pro bono service and her remarkable work to technologically transform the client experience at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics. In addition to schoolwork and a job, Tara made it her mission to serve her community through her pro bono efforts. To date, she has contributed over 170 pro bono hours to the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics. The processes that Tara has introduced have improved operational efficiency at both in-person and remote clinics, saving time for clients and volunteers alike.

  3. The Pro Bono & Access to Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has released its second annual Pro Bono Honor Roll. This initiative invites law school deans to denominate a faculty member, a staff member, and a student for their outstanding contributions to pro bono legal services. This year, it was a privilege to honor Michael O’Hear, professor of law; Katie Mertz, director of pro bono and public service; and Heidi Maier, a third-year law student, for their significant roles at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics over the past year. Professor Michael O’Hear, known nationally for his expertise in criminal law, has expanded his reach, in order to address common issues faced by family law litigants visiting the MVLCs. He holds a regular shift at the Milwaukee Justice Center and is a dedicated and valuable volunteer.

    Katie Mertz has demonstrated innovation in her administrative position by reviving estate planning clinics, creating a housing-referral tool for individuals dealing with eviction and other housing-related legal matters, and engaging students in the Wills for Heroes project in collaboration with Foley & Lardner, among other activities.

    Heidi Maier, in the midst of her studies, has contributed more than 230 pro bono hours, displaying remarkable dedication by consistently assisting at the United Community Center with a weekly shift throughout the summer, while managing a job in Brookfield, and this fall she has made a weekly commitment at the House of Peace. She is also an invaluable member of the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics’ student advisory board, adding value as a member of the leadership team.

Kudos and great thanks to all who seek to “Be The Difference” through their pro bono and public service work at Marquette University Law School.

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Collecting Pro Bono Posts and Announcing the 2023 Posner Exchange

Marquette Law SchoolThis past fall, I posted a series of blog entries seeking to capture important aspects of the work of our Office of Public Service—or, especially, the pro bono initiatives and efforts of our students. The entries on seven consecutive Mondays scarcely endeavored to capture everything important, but they remain available as a window for anyone seeking a glimpse into the Law School and the communities of which we are part—from Marquette University to the legal community in this region to Milwaukee and Wisconsin more generally. Here is a list of the posts:

  1. AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll for Marquette University Law School (Sept. 19, 2022)
  2. Participation in Pro Bono Work and Law Student Well-Being—Any Correlation? (Sept. 26, 2022)
  3. Law Student and PILS Fellow Morgan Kaplan Describes the “Steps” Required of a Pro Se “Movant” in Family Court in Milwaukee County (Oct. 3, 2022)
  4. The Mobile Legal Clinic Speeds Forward (Oct. 10, 2022)
  5. The Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic(s)—A True Legal Community Effort (Oct. 17, 2022)
  6. Reaching Rural Areas with Our Pro Bono Efforts (Oct. 24, 2022)
  7. Of Bankruptcy, Legal Action, and Marquette Law School’s Many Partners in Pro Bono Work (Oct. 31, 2022)
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New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Spotlights the Work of Public Defenders and Provides Other Glimpses into the Law

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.

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