Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Public Defender Project
Office: Room 4318K, Law School
B.A. 1974, Syracuse University
J.D. 1978, George Washington University
Ethics & Professional Responsibilities
Recently Taught Courses
725 Introduction to Criminal Procedure
852 Trial Advocacy
854 Clinical Program: Defense Project
940 Defense Function: Hanging out a Shingle (Criminal Practice)
940 L&CP: Defense Function: "'Hanging out a Shingle" (Private Criminal Practice)
940 L&CP: Defense Function (Private Practice)
940 Defense Function
940 Ethical Issues in Crim Justice (Defender Project)
-Deafness and the law
-Language acquisition and its effects on behavior and comprehension
Before joining the Law School's clinical faculty, Michele LaVigne practiced as a State Public Defender in Madison, Wisconsin. She now teaches criminal law, professional responsibility, and trial advocacy. She is the director of the Remington Center's Public Defender Project, in which law students are placed as interns in public defender offices throughout Wisconsin.
Prof. LaVigne is a long-time member of the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College and the Wisconsin Public Defender Trial Skills Academy. She has given presentations to defense attorneys around the country on trial advocacy. In 2010, she received the David Niblack Award from the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for service to the indigent.
During most of her tenure at the Law School, Prof. LaVigne has been involved in research and litigation on the rights of deaf defendants. She co-authored "An Interpreter Isn't Enough: Deafness, Language and Due Process," * 2003 Wis. L. Rev. 843 (with McCay Vernon, PhD), which discusses deafness and language acquisition and their combined effects on deaf and severely hard-of-hearing individuals in the criminal justice system. Based on her advocacy for the deaf community, Prof. LaVigne received the Distinguished Member of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Association the Deaf in 2005 and the Thomas G. Cannon Equal Justice Medal from the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee in 2009.
In 1999, Prof. LaVigne developed a mock trial program at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, Wisconsin. In 2004, the WSD mock trial team competed in the State Bar High School Mock Trial Competition. This was the first time in Wisconsin that a deaf team participated. The WSD team won the regional competition and placed sixth in the state semi-finals. The WSD team continued to participate in the state competition for a number of years.
More recently, Prof. LaVigne has been researching and writing in the area of language impairments and their effect on the quality of justice for affected individuals. Prof. LaVigne collaborated with Gregory Van Rybroek, JD, PhD, on scholarship related to the communicative, behavioral, and legal implications of language impairments among populations frequently found in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Their article "Breakdown in the Language Zone: The Prevalence of Language Impairments among Juvenile and Adult Offenders and Why It Matters"** was published the the Winter 2011 edition of UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy. Their second article looked at the effects of a client's language impairments on the attorney-client relationship. The article "'He got in my face so I shot him': How Defendants' Language Impairments Impair Attorney-Client Relationships," appeared Volume 17 of the CUNY Law Review (Winter 2014).*** Prof. LaVigne is currently working with Sally Miles, PhD (Speech-Language Pathology) studying the effects of language impairments within the context of police interrogation.
Prof. LaVigne received the Law School's first Clinical Teacher of the Year Award in 2008.