Wistaf funding update

Rebecca L. Murray, Executive Director, Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc. Wisconsin has roughly one WisTAF-funded civil legal aid attorney for every 4,300 people in the state with incomes below 125% of the federal poverty level. In other words, if you filled Lambeau Field to its capacity, you’d have 18 lawyers to serve them all. What’s more, Lambeau Field’s seating capacity could accommodate only 10% of Wisconsinites who are income-eligible for the vast majority of WisTAF-funded …

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Notes From The bench

Hon. Carolina Maria Stark, Milwaukee County Circuit Court / WisTAF Board of Directors Lack of civil legal representation impacts the quality of judicial decisions, the confidence of litigants in the legal process, and the efficiency of the courts. As a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge who recently presided over a full-time family law caseload for three years, I witnessed this on a daily basis while in the trenches with litigants in cases dealing with the …

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In praise of volunteers

Volunteer attorneys are a critical part of how we deliver access to justice in Wisconsin. There are not enough staff attorneys in our legal aid offices and public defender program to represent or advise everyone who qualifies for their help. So, we actively encourage lawyers to volunteer their time to help fill this gap and find a way to volunteer. Every year, we also publish the list of attorneys who have been certified as having …

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Free Legal Answers 2021 in Review

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers continues to provide a convenient way for qualifying Wisconsin residents to request free legal advice from volunteer lawyers. Throughout the pandemic, pro bono lawyers have volunteered their time to answer basic legal questions about civil law topics. We ended 2021 on another high note. Our volunteers answered 1,771 legal questions last year. Over 345 Wisconsin lawyers have signed up to volunteer with this program. We always welcome new volunteers to help us …

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2021 Pro Bono Honor Society Nominations Sought

Pro Bono Honor Society logo

Attorneys who have provided at least 50 hours of qualifying pro bono services in 2021 are eligible for the 2021 Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society. Honorees will be recognized on the Access to Justice Commission website and in the June 2022 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer™ magazine. All you need to do to be recognized is certify that you or another attorney whom you know met the program’s standard. Find out more about the Pro Bono …

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Measuring Justice in Wisconsin

Wisconsin received its annual report card in the latest Justice Index, an assessment tool developed by the National Center for Access to Justice.

Civil legal aid Moves Wisconsin forward

The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission has a longstanding commitment to increasing funding for civil legal aid from all sources, public and private. Civil legal aid has a history of bipartisan support in Wisconsin. So, we are pleased to see Governor Evers building on the good work of his predecessors and the Legislature in his proposed appropriations for civil legal aid in the 2021-2023 budget. This proposed funding increase will bring us closer to meeting …

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Free Legal Answers Year in Review

It’s been remarkable to see how Wisconsin Free Legal Answers has grown in scope and importance during 2020. We are a virtual brief legal advice service for people who have questions about civil (non-criminal) problems. So, when almost everything else shut down in the spring, our volunteers were often the only resource left for people who couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer when they faced a civil legal problem. We saw our monthly questions double in the spring and …

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Unemployment Law Training

The Commission is proud to have hosted a 4-part Zoom webinar training series on unemployment law for volunteer attorneys and law students with our co-sponsors: Legal Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Judicare, and Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinics. The topic was split into 4 one hour blocks that covered the life cycle of an unemployment benefits claim from basic eligibility and filing concerns to the appeal hearing. Our presenters also covered the special pandemic related benefits and …

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Free Legal Answers Pandemic Update

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers, the online legal clinic sponsored by the Commission, has been a key component of the legal community’s pandemic response. As Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order went into effect, all free legal clinics and self-help desks were quickly shuttered. Courts restricted who could enter to file documents or ask questions. All civil legal aid offices closed their offices to visitors and most also stopped taking on new clients at least temporarily while …

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