UW Law School Student Jennifer Cunha, Attorney Wes Taylor ‘09, and the Community Immigration Law Center received awards for outstanding pro bono contributions at the annual Dane County Bar Association (DCBA) Pro Bono Breakfast. A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Attorney Mary Beth Keppel ‘75, who recently retired from her position as a Dane County Court Commissioner. Dean Margaret Raymond was the keynote speaker.
Dean Margaret Raymond spoke about the law school’s commitment to pro bono service and the newly-implemented Pro Bono Society. As she explained, pro bono service during law school produces attorneys with a deep understanding of the justice gap in the United States and a commitment to serving individuals in need through both direct legal services and systemic reform.
Jennifer Cunha, President of the Student Hurricane Network (SHN) and Pro Bono Program volunteer, was the recipient of the Law Student Award. As President of SHN, Jennifer has recruited dozens of law students to participate in service trips in areas recently affected by a major natural disaster. This year alone, SHN volunteers contributed nearly six hundred volunteer hours at three different legal service organizations. This service would not have been possible without Jennifer’s leadership and dedication to pro bono service. Jennifer has also demonstrated a significant commitment to a variety of local pro bono efforts, volunteering at organizations such as the Unemployment Appeals Clinic and the Community Immigration Law Center.
The Individual Attorney Award was presented to Wes Taylor, an associate with Foley & Lardner, LLP. Since his graduation from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2009, Wes has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to pro bono service. Even as a new associate in his firm, he finds the time to contribute at least five hours of pro bono legal services each week. He has collaborated with the State Bar of Wisconsin to support local Wills for Heroes clinics assisting emergency personnel in preparing basic estate-planning documents to protect themselves and their families.
The Community Immigration Law Center (CILC), a partner organization of the Pro Bono Program through the Latino Law Students Association, received the Program Award. Over five hundred immigrants have received legal information at CILC since it began just a few years ago, and the program is rapidly expanding to serve more individuals in need of assistance. CILC is a community-based effort: the program involves volunteer attorneys, law students, and community members.
Attorney Mary Beth Keppel received a Lifetime Achievement Award. With the support of the DCBA’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee, Mary Beth worked tirelessly to establish the Family Law Assistance Center (FLAC) more than 10 years ago. As a result of Mary Beth’s commitment to pro bono service and legal assistance for pro se litigants, thousands of low-income litigants have received assistance with family law matters in Dane County since FLAC opened to the public.
The event raised over $8,000 which will be donated to Porchlight, Inc. and the DCBA Pro Bono Trust Fund. The fund provides grants to non-profit organizations providing legal services in Dane County.