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”

National Pro Bono Week: October 20-26

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October 20-26, 2019 is recognized as National Pro Bono Week. For the last ten years, a week in October has been chosen as a way to spotlight the pro bono work done by law students, lawyers, and paralegals across the country.

How did it get started? Back in 2009, the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service decided to create a coordinated event to highlight The mobile legal clinic bus.the “increasing need for pro bono services during harsh economic times and the unprecedented response of attorneys to meet this demand.” Ever since, it has promoted pro bono activities during October to help increase access to justice and community involvement.

So what is Marquette Law School doing for Pro Bono Week? Well, I first want to mention that the Law School has been committed to public service for a long time. The Office of Public Service is continuing to organize pro bono opportunities, trainings, CLEs, and really just business as usual because serving our communities is engrained in our mission. Almost 70% of our current students have participated in pro bono opportunities and we’ve served thousands of clients over the year.

So if you haven’t yet volunteered at one of the many Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics (MVLCs), traveled on the Mobile Legal Clinic bus, or participated with the Milwaukee Justice Center (which will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary this month), I would encourage our students, faculty, and alumni to sign up for a shift during the week.

But we are also going to use the week to recognize just a few of our volunteers, both current students and alumni. They have put in a lot of time and effort to connect with the Milwaukee community and help increase access to justice. Hear about some of their experiences and find out what motivates them to give their time to this cause. Hopefully it will help inspire you to give back as well.

Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Budet and Smith

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head shot of jana budet
Jana Budet, 2L

Yesterday, September 17, 2019, the Milwaukee Association for Women Lawyers (AWL) Foundation honored two Marquette University Law School students with scholarships.

Jana Budet, 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.

Budet was on active duty in the Army for six years and earned her bachelor’s degree while she served. She balances her law school work with parenting her four daughters, ages 6, 5, 2, and 1. Continue reading “Congratulations to AWL Scholarship Winners Budet and Smith”

Negative Preconceptions of Lawyers

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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

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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

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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

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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.  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

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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

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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.