The University of Wisconsin Law School welcomed Jennifer Binkley to its faculty this fall.

Binkley is the new director of the Law School’s Family Court Clinic, which offers basic legal services in divorce, paternity, child placement and custody cases, and other matters related to family law.

Jennifer Binkley
Jennifer Binkley

People generally seek the clinic’s support because they can't afford the services of an attorney, and that usually means going it alone in family court. Under Binkley’s supervision, law students provide a variety of services free of charge, which can make a big difference for litigants, she says. For example, students may assist clients with preparing and filing court documents, making sure clients know their rights, and explaining what to expect in court.

“There’s a tremendous need for good and affordable family law attorneys in Dane County,” says Binkley. “When people have access to these services, they have better outcomes and feel represented and heard in the legal system."

Binkley has practiced family law ever since earning her UW Law degree in 2001. Most recently, she was director of Community Justice, Inc., a non-profit agency that serves the legal needs of South Central Wisconsin’s poor and underrepresented. She also chairs the Dane County Bar Delivery of Legal Services Committee, which works to create, expand and maintain area legal service programs.

Binkley has extensive experience educating law students, too. She developed a partnership between Community Justice, Inc. and the Dane County Bar Association to help train hundreds of lawyers and law students to deliver pro bono services. She also worked with dozens of law students as law clerks and interns.

Besides learning the fundamentals of family law, Binkley hopes students in Family Court Clinic develop a deeper understanding of the gap in legal services for the poor. She believes the clinic experience at UW Law fosters a public service ethic that students take with them after graduation, no matter how they eventually use their degrees.

“As students move on in their own careers, I want them to learn that there is room in any legal career to use their skills in service to their communities through pro bono and public interest lawyering,” she says.

Submitted by Law School News on May 18, 2020

This article appears in the categories: EJI News, Faculty, Features, UW Women in Law

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