February 5, 2014 — The Marquette University Law School has long provided pro bono legal work, but the school’s new Mobile Legal Clinic — a specially-outfitted bus — extends the university’s legal services farther out into the community.
Formed in partnership with the Milwaukee Bar Association, the clinic was recognized on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s list of “Big Ideas” for 2013.
The clinic is operated by the Milwaukee Justice Center, a collaborative project sponsored by the Milwaukee Bar Association, Marquette Law School and Milwaukee County. It is staffed by attorneys from local firms and current Marquette law students. Launched in September 2013, the 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.
“The Mobile Legal Clinic reflects the service-oriented mission of Marquette University Law School and the larger legal profession,” said Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette Law School.
Kearney said the clinic would provide students with opportunities to gain experience while helping the community. “By helping those who may not otherwise be able to obtain professional legal counsel, and by doing so in their communities, the Mobile Legal Clinic will fill a gap in this region.”
The Mobile Legal Clinic is an extension of the type of pro bono work already offered through the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC). More than 200 lawyers and a similar number of law students have assisted individuals with legal problems at a variety of MVLC sites in the Milwaukee area. Volunteers give brief advice on civil legal issues, including family law, employment and benefits law, probate issues, small claims and landlord-tenant disputes.
“The enthusiastic contribution by dozens of Marquette law students each semester in working with Milwaukee Justice Center clients not only helps ease the anxiety of these clients, but reenergizes the practicing lawyers who supervise them,” said Beth Ermatinger Hanan, president of the Milwaukee Bar Association.
Hanan said the association expects a number of its members to volunteer each month at the Mobile Legal Clinic. ”Together with Marquette University Law School, the Milwaukee Bar Association is eager to ‘hit the road’ with the Mobile Legal Clinic.” [Sources: Marquette University, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]