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Notes from the bench

Hon. Thomas Hruz, Wisconsin Court of Appeal, District 3;Access to Justice Commission Member The importance of suitable civil legal representation in Wisconsin cannot be understated. Indeed, it improves our civil justice system in a number of important ways. These include, among many others, providing all litigants with the impression that they were given a “fair shot” and were properly heard on the merits, enabling judges to correctly and efficiently resolve

Change at the Commission

The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission is in the process of transitioning staff support for the Commission from the State Bar of Wisconsin to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation (WisTAF). Since we were created by the court in 2009, the State Bar has provided some administrative support for the Commission. The State Bar has been a generous supporter of our mission to develop and encourage means of expanding access to

Free Legal Answers Year In Review

Our Wisconsin Free Legal Answers online legal clinic project ended 2022 on another high note with 56 volunteers answering 1,824 legal questions and assisting 1,716 clients. Over 9,200 questions have been received since the program launched in 2016. The website received an average of 169 questions a month from low income individuals who had questions about Wisconsin law. Wisconsin Free Legal Answers is part of the national ABA Free Legal

12 Months of Free Legal Answers in Wisconsin

Over the last 12 months (through June 30, 2022) volunteer lawyers have assisted 1,638 individuals and families with their legal issues through Wisconsin Free Legal Answers. With over 360 registered volunteer attorneys, the project is a significant resource for Wisconsin residents who are unable to access other options for legal advice. Wisconsin Free Legal Answers is an online brief legal advice clinic sponsored and administered by the Wisconsin Access to

More Law Students on the Front Lines

In March 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a rule change requested by the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission to update the law student practice rule in SCR Chapter 50. The changes made it easier for more law students to gain practical experience while helping to meet the vast unmet need for legal assistance in Wisconsin. Data from the first year of the rule change confirms that there was significant

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

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 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

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

2021 Pro Bono Honor Society Nominations Sought

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