Jessica Moeller (2L) has been selected as the Pro Bono Program’s Volunteer of the Semester for Fall 2011. Jessica contributed over 50 hours of pro bono service toward a pro bono internship at Foley & Lardner, LLP and assisted first responders throughout Wisconsin with wills preparation through the State Bar of Wisconsin's Wills for Heroes program.
Challenging a Death Penalty Conviction: Foley & Lardner Pro Bono Internship
Jessica was one of three UW law student volunteers chosen for a semester-long pro bono internship at Foley & Lardner, LLP in Madison. Jessica assisted Foley & Lardner attorneys representing an indigent client challenging her death penalty conviction in Arizona. Jessica’s work involved legal research on the case’s central issues, and she consistently went above and beyond to make significant contributions on her client’s behalf. One of the most rewarding moments was when she came up with a creative argument that Foley attorneys plan to use in preparing their client’s defense. She also enjoyed seeing connections between the material she was learning in Evidence class and the work she was doing in her pro bono internship. Jessica’s supervising attorney, Krista Sterken, explained, “Jessica was a successful intern both because of her strong research skills and her commitment to the outcome of the case.”
Pro Bono in the Community: Wisconsin Wills for Heroes
In addition to a demanding internship, Jessica sought out additional pro bono opportunities with the Wisconsin Wills for Heroes program. This program, coordinated by the State Bar of Wisconsin, offers free wills preparation assistance to eligible first responders throughout the state. Day-long events are held at police departments and fire stations where volunteer attorneys and law students assist with the wills preparation process. Jessica participated in two separate clinics and enjoyed being able to experience first-hand interaction with clients. At the Wills clinics, Jessica recalled, “You feel like you’re really helping someone.” Jessica has plans to volunteer at another Wills for Heroes clinic during the spring semester.
"I wanted to go to law school to help people"
Next semester, Jessica will be completing an externship through the Wisconsin Department of Justice Externship Program. She also plans to participate in the Public Defender Project next fall, focusing on juvenile defense. Jessica encourages other law students to consider pursuing pro bono opportunities. As she explains, “It’s not too hard to set aside the time.” She has had the opportunity to do so while balancing her academic schedule and caring for her two-year-old son. Even with another child on the way, Jessica does not anticipate abandoning her pro bono commitments. As she explains, “The reason I wanted to go to law school was to help people, and pro bono service is a part of that.”
To nominate a student as a Pro Bono Program Volunteer of the Semester, contact the Pro Bono Program staff.