Pro Bono Directory - Community Resources

Every year, thousands of low income people in Milwaukee County struggle to solve their legal problems without a lawyer to help them. This results in the unfair loss of important rights and benefits, while further burdening our court system, frustrating our citizens, and creating new and avoidable social costs.

Check Out These Pro Bono Services:

SCR 20:6.10 Pro Bono Public service

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin Legal Services Program
American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin
Centro Legal
Community Advocates, Inc.
Federal Court Pro Bono Opportunities
Immigration Legal Services Project (Catholic Charities)
Kids Matter, Inc.
Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic at House of Peace
Milwaukee County Family Law Self-Help Clinic
Milwaukee County Small Claims Court Self-Help Clinic
Milwaukee Synagogue for Russian Jews
MYLA / Legal Action of Wisconsin Volunteer Lawyers Project
Task Force on Family Violence of Milwaukee
The Oasis
Unemployment Appeals Clinic
CAIR Civil Rights App Allowing Reporting of Bias Incidents


General Information - Attorneys and Guardian Ad Litem Appointments
MBA Milwaukee Lawyers Assistance Program
Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee

SCR 20:6.10 Pro Bono Public service
A lawyer should render public interest legal service. A lawyer may discharge this responsibility by providing professional services at no fee or a reduced fee to persons of limited means or to public service or charitable groups or organizations, by service in activities for improving the law, the legal system or the legal profession, and by financial support for organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.

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Pro Bono Programs

AIDS resource center of wisconsin legal services program
Rebekah Kopec-Farrell
Director, Legal Services Program
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin
820 N. Plankinton Ave.
Milwaukee, WI  53203
(414) 225-1530 (tel)
(414) 225-1632 (fax

The Legal Services Program (LSP) of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) provides direct legal representation at no charge to persons living with HIV or AIDS. A pro bono client need not be low income. However, the services available to individuals whose income exceeds 125% of the federal poverty guidelines are limited to Advanced Directives, Social Security Disability Appeals and HIV Discrimination matters. Legal services are provided on a statewide basis in collaboration with nine ARCW offices: Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Green Bay, Appleton, Eau Claire, Wausau, La Crosse and Superior.

In addition to the above-mentioned services, the LSP provides legal representation in estate planning, advanced directives, divorce, guardianships, HIV discrimination, confidentiality of health care information, housing, employment, consumer, bankruptcy, social security disability and insurance disputes.

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American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin
Contact: Larry Dupuis, Legal Director
Office: ACLU of Wisconsin
207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 325
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 272-4032
Fax: (414) 272-0182

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin is committed to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties in Wisconsin. Through education and litigation, the ACLU challenges private and governmental conduct limiting the civil rights of individuals and organizations throughout the state.

The ACLU’s interests are broad and diverse. The cases it handles involve freedom of expression, privacy, due process, employee rights, equal protection and issues of race discrimination and poverty. The ACLU’s cases have included challenges to the University of Wisconsin’s "hate speech" rule, unconstitutional overcrowding of the Milwaukee County Jail, unconstitutionality of the Supermax prison in Boscobel, Milwaukee’s overburdened child welfare system, religious school vouchers, discriminatory insurance "redlining," and censorship of student newspapers and school library materials.

Attorneys interested in volunteering their time and talents to the protection of civil liberties can assist the ACLU in a number of ways. Working with the ACLU, attorneys can volunteer to represent clients in court on civil liberties issues. ACLU volunteers also draft appellate briefs on behalf of ACLU clients or on behalf of the ACLU as amicus curiae in cases of constitutional significance. Attorneys can also assist the ACLU by serving on its Lawyers Committee, which screens and evaluates the merits of cases brought to its attention to ensure that the litigation program addresses the most important civil rights issues in the most cost efficient manner.

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Centro Legal
Contact: Heather Ramirez
Office: Centro Legal
614 W. National Avenue, Floor 2
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Phone: (414) 384-7900
(888) 959-7900 (toll-free)
Fax: (414) 384-6222

Centro Legal represents indigent and low-income clients with a sliding fee scale based on household income. Legal services are provided in the areas of family law and criminal law (misdemeanor).

Centro Legal has volunteer opportunities for attorneys, students, and interested individuals. Volunteer attorneys can assist with new client intake at Centro Legal's office, or can take on representation of clients referred by Centro Legal. Non-attorney volunteers can assist with answering phones, general office work and contacting clients to schedule appointments.

Every Wednesday between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm Centro Legal's attorneys offer free family law consultations. You must call 414-384-7900 Monday morning to reserve an appointment to discuss your family law matter. Appointments are limited and scheduled in the order the calls are received.

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Community Advocates, Inc.
Contact: Susan Potts, Director of Development
Office: 4906 W. Fond du Lac Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Phone: (414) 449-4767 ext. 154
Fax: (414) 449-4774

Established in 1976, Community Advocates is the largest human need advocacy agency in Wisconsin and one of the few remaining community-based organizations of any kind that welcomes walk-in clients five days a week. The mission of Community Advocates is to work with low destitute persons and families to gain and ensure access to programs and services that they need to meet their basic needs and to live in dignity. The agency provides skilled and results-focused advocacy services to low-income individuals and families experiencing extremely difficult basic needs, health care, utility, and housing challenges. Community Advocates is a well-established, highly visible, and directly accessible grassroots agency that is respected and trusted by consumers, government, health care and other service providers, and the public at large.

Community Advocates operates nearly 20 advocacy and direct service programs in support of its mission. Programs are broadly categorized as Housing Advocacy, Case Management, Health Care Advocacy, Community-wide Training, and General Advocacy.

Volunteer attorneys can assist with the Homeless Prevention Program, providing information and advice or representation in court to clients facing eviction. Volunteers also provide advocacy and representation on health-related issues such as SSI/SSD enrollment, health care eligibility questions and entitlement benefits denials.

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Federal Court Pro Bono Opportunities
Contact: Jennifer Susek
Office: Federal Building
517 E. Wisconsin Ave., Room 271
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 297-1483
Fax: (414) 297-4171

Pro bono opportunities exist in a number of areas, including civil rights cases, Title VII cases, and social security litigation. The majority of the pro bono opportunities are in the area of prisoner litigation. Most of these cases fall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and involve due process, equal protection, freedom of religion, and conditions of confinement matters.

The court maintains a list of attorneys available to accept pro bono appointments. A judge ordinarily calls an attorney on the list to determine interest in being appointed in a particular case. The attorney then reviews the file and if interested, the judge issues the formal appointment order. A pro bono fund is being established to reimburse pro bono attorneys for certain out-of-pocket expenses.

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Immigration legal services project
(Catholic Charities of the archdiocese of milwaukee)

Contact: Barbara Graham
Office: Catholic Charities
2057 S. 14th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53204-1733
Phone: (414) 643-8570, ext. 14
Fax: (414) 643-6726

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has established a broad-based immigration legal service project that:

Assists immigrants and their families in completing immigration forms.
Translates the documents required for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Provides legal representation in immigration court.
Provides education to immigrant groups on naturalization, adjustment of status and family-based immigration.

The program is geared to low-income people in the ten-county Archdiocese (eastern Wisconsin counties from Kenosha to Fond du Lac). Fees are based on a sliding scale tied to the federal poverty level. Potential clients who fall above a certain income level will be referred to private attorneys.

Private attorneys are asked to accept an occasional pro bono referral in their area of expertise. We ask attorneys to assist clients whose immigration problems require additional legal help outside the area of immigration.

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Kids Matter, Inc.
Office: Kids Matter, Inc.
2929 W. Highland Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53208
Phone: (414) 344-1220
Fax: (414) 344-1230

Kids Matter, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving life opportunities and outcomes for children in foster and kinship care. There are more than 3000 Milwaukee children in foster care. According to the recent census, more than 20,000 additional children are being raised by someone who is not the child's parent – often a grandparent, relative or family friend. These caregivers often need brief legal help so that they can obtain medical care, special education or counseling services for the children in their care. Kids Matter is currently focusing on three primary initiatives.

Fostering Healing – This program provides assistance to children who have been victims of crime or violence. A wide range of legal issues can come up for children under these circumstances: From child abuse restraining orders, estate issues, retirement questions from grandparents raising grandchildren to children who do not have first names on their birth certificates or need a name changed, each child and family has their own set of needs that may require legal expertise.

One Child One Lawyer – This program is a joint project with the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Wisconsin. It connects volunteer attorneys with caregivers to assist with obtaining guardianships and accessing benefits such as medical care, kinship and special education.

Milwaukee CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) - Through the CASA program, highly trained community volunteers are court-appointed to be an advocate for an individual child or sibling group in the child welfare system. This program welcomes attorney volunteers who want to assist with volunteer training or providing occasional legal information to volunteers.

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Legal Aid Socitey of Milwaukee
Contact: Peter Koneazny
Office: Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
521 N. 8th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (414) 727-5300
Fax: (414) 291-5488

The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee was founded in 1916 "to do all things necessary for the prevention of injustice." The Society is one of the oldest, continuously operating, public interest law firms in the nation. Each year it provides free legal services to 8,000 of Milwaukee's most vulnerable residents: abused and neglected children, developmentally disabled adults, battered women, people living with HIV/AIDS, immigrants, prisoners, unemployed, elderly, and homeless – all of them too poor to hire legal counsel. The Society's mission is equal justice for the poor.

The Legal Aid Society provides free representation to the poor in family law, consumer and bankruptcy matters, housing law, public benefits, tax disputes with the government and anti-discrimination law. It also uses class action and impact litigation to challenge abusive patterns and practices by governmental entities and corporate institutions that adversely affect the poor.

Pro bono volunteer activities include working on a wide range of civil legal matters in both state and federal court or in advising the Executive Director on such management issues as personnel and fund-raising.

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Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic at House of Peace
Contact: Julie Darnieder
Office: The House of Peace Community Center
1702 W. Walnut St.
Milwaukee, WI 53205
If you are seeking legal assistance, please visit the clinic or go to

The Marquette University Legal Clinic provides basic walk-in legal advice and referrals on a variety of issues, including divorce, custody and support, landlord-tenant disputes, employment matters, municipal citations, and consumer problems. The Clinic gives basic guidance to people who are representing themselves in disputes, assistance in filling out forms or drafting letters, advice about how to pursue or respond to claims, and information regarding how to access other legal resources that can provide representation. The Clinic does not take cases or represent clients in an ongoing manner.

The Clinic is open on Tuesday evenings from 3 – 7 p.m., and is located at the House of Peace Community Center (see address above). It is staffed each week by a rotating group of volunteer supervising attorneys and law students. Supervising attorneys are asked to volunteer at the Clinic approximately one evening per month from 3 – 5 p.m. or 5- 7 p.m. Each supervising attorney and student undergoes training and orientation, and malpractice insurance is provided through Marquette University.

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Milwaukee County Family Law Self-help Clinic
Contact: Sandra Wessel
Office: Milwaukee County Courthouse
901 N. 9th St., Room G9
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (414) 278-2106
Fax: (414) 223-1834

11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Friday mornings, 8:00 am - 9:30 am

The Milwaukee County Family Law Self-Help Clinic is a court-based free legal self-help center. The Clinic assists self-represented litigants who are unfamiliar with court procedures and forms, as well as their rights.

Volunteers are available in room G9 of the Courthouse for an hour and a half each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to help people complete family law forms. Facilitators provide legal information regarding a wide variety of family law matters. Attorneys, law students, and paralegals are facilitators – NOT legal advocates. They do not commit to cases, and are not at the clinic to provide legal advice. They listen to a person’s questions and provide the appropriate forms that comply with the local court rules and procedures to assist with a client’s goals.

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Milwaukee County Small Claims Court Self-help Center
Contact : Amy Wochos, Coordinating Attorney
Address: 901 North 9th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: 414-278-3993

The Center provides assistance to plaintiffs and defendants representing themselves in actions pending in the Milwaukee County Small Claims Court. It operates every Thursday that the Courthouse is open, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. in Room G-9, and every Monday the Courthouse is open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in room 408.

Clinic volunteers answer basic questions regarding commencing a small claims lawsuit, responding to a small claims complaint, small claims procedures, garnishment, and collection, but does not provide legal advice. The volunteer attorneys are largely self-supervising, subject to the ultimately supervisory powers of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

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Milwaukee Synagogue for Russian Jews
Contact: Ester Riva Milchtein
Rabbi Alexander Milchtein
Office: 3575 N. Oakland Avenue, Suite 8
Shorewood, WI 53211
Phone: (414) 961-0234
Fax: (414) 332-3235

The Milwaukee Synagogue for Russian Jews provides a variety of services to immigrants from the former U.S.S.R., including religious education, counseling, a food pantry, career assistance, crisis intervention, and general information and referrals.

Volunteer attorneys can take pro bono referrals on matters including incorporation of small businesses, family law, elder law, and discrimination.

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MYLA/Legal Action of Wisconsin Volunteer Lawyers Project
Contact: Patricia Risser
Office: Legal Action of Wisconsin
230 W. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Phone: (414) 278-7722
Fax: (414) 278-7126

Legal Action of Wisconsin is the largest staff-based provider of civil legal services for low-income Wisconsin persons. Legal Action’s Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) is the largest organized pro bono project in the state. The VLP has the following pro bono opportunities:

Pro Bono Panels. Volunteers provide free legal services in every area of the law including: family, consumer, housing, SSI/D benefits, etc.

Domestic Violence Injunction Project. Attorneys volunteer to prepare for and appear at final injunction hearings.

Legal Services Intake Project. Volunteer attorneys interview clients at intake sites in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties, and provide legal advice when appropriate.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) Project. Volunteer employee benefits attorneys agree to assists VLP and Legal Action attorneys on cases in which QDRO issues arise.

Consumer Advocacy & Bankruptcy Assistance Project. Attorneys educate, counsel and, if necessary, represent low-income persons in consumer debt collection and bankruptcy matters.

Unemployment Compensation Project. This project expands necessary legal services on unemployment compensation cases to those affected by welfare reform and the lack of available safety nets.

Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings Project. Volunteer attorneys provide representation for parties in adversary proceedings who are referred by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District.
Available VLP support services include:
- Malpractice Insurance Litigation Funds
- Free CLE Training Law Student Volunteers
- Pro Bono Accountants Panel Vocational Expert Panel
- Pro Bono Court Reporters Project
- Litigation Funds
- Law Student Volunteers
- Vocational Expert Panel

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TASK FORCE on family violence of milwaukee
Contact: Liz Marquardt
Office: Task Force on Family Violence of Milwaukee
1400 N. 6th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414-276-1911
Fax: 414-276-5001

The Task Force on Family Violence of Milwaukee (TFFV) provides advocacy, education, and access to services to empower people to lead lives free from domestic violence. TFFV has four advocacy programs serving victims of domestic abuse, harassment/stalking and child abuse. These four programs are the Courthouse Advocacy Program, the Legal Emergency Assistance Program, the Children’s Advocacy Program, and Ending Violence through Education. In addition to the location listed above, TFFV has an office at the Milwaukee County Courthouse (901 N. 9th Street, Room 711).

Courthouse Advocacy Program
The advocates in this program help victims with safety planning (reviewing the risks of future violence and how to protect themselves and their children), sort out the type of order needed, explore other options, explain the restraining order process, help with the restraining order paperwork, go with the victim to court, and help find shelter, counseling or other services. The ultimate goal is to help the victim create a plan for ensuring their safety whether their decision is to stay with or leave the violent partner.

Volunteers serve as legal advocates. In addition, attorneys could provide representation to victims at injunction hearings. These services are provided at our courthouse location. TFFV is able to provide space at our office at 1400 N. Vliet Street for meetings in preparation for the hearing.

Legal Emergency Assistance Program, Children’s Advocacy Program, and Ending Violence through Education
Advocates in these three programs provide case management style advocacy to provide what is needed for victims. This includes help finding food, clothing, housing, health care, counseling services and job referrals. They can also help with problems related to custody, visitation, paternity, child support and restraining orders. Advocate provides quick legal information and referrals, including an eligibility assessment for (free) emergency legal services through our partnership with Legal Action of Wisconsin. The greatest demand for pro bono attorneys is in family law.

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Contact:: Susan Apthorp
Office: 2424 W. Mitchell Street.
Milwaukee, WI 53207
Phone: (414) 647-6053
Fax: (414) 647-6079

The O.A.S.I.S Center offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere to adults 50 years and older. Membership to Milwaukee residents is just $10.00 a year (non-residents pay $20.00). Membership includes use of the gym, chair yoga classes, ballroom and polka dancing. For a reasonable fee other classes are available in Spanish, piano, voice, guitar, and tap dance. The Center has visits from the library van every 3 weeks. A hot meal is provided by the County and served (to those who are registered) for up to $2.00.

Volunteer attorneys can provide basic advice at the Center in a variety of areas, including housing law, wills, or powers of attorney.

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Unemployment Appeals Clinic
Contact: Rebecca Salawdeh
Office: c/o Urban & Taylor, S.C.
1363 N. Prospect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 276-4775
Fax: (414) 276-4887

The Unemployment Appeals Clinic is operated in cooperation with Legal Action of Wisconsin and Marquette University Law School. Marquette Law students receive classroom training on unemployment and administrative law. As part of the class, the students are also required to represent claimants in at least two hearings. Volunteer attorneys supervise the students during client intake interviews, and may assist in case development and witness preparation. Volunteer attorneys are not expected to attend the hearings with the students.

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More Ways to Get Involved

GENERAL INFORMATION - attorneys and guardian ad litem appointments
Contact: Chief Judge
Office: Milwaukee County Circuit Court
901 North 9th Street, Suite 609
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (414) 278-5116
Fax: (414) 223-1264

Contact: Presiding Judge
Office: Milwaukee Municipal Court
951 North James Lovell Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Phone: (414) 286-3808
Fax: (414) 286-3617

Contact: Kim Salas
Office: SPD
P.O. Box 7923
Madison, WI 53707
Phone: (608) 264-8562
Fax: (608) 261-0625

The Circuit and Municipal Courts must appoint counsel for a variety of purposes. Contact the chief or presiding judge of the Circuit or Municipal Court about your interest in and availability for appointment. You can also directly contact judges assigned to these dockets and ask about their respective appointing procedures. Most judges maintain lists of attorneys interested in accepting such appointments. The appointments often are paid, but at a reduced fee, usually the Wisconsin Supreme Court rate.

Appointments are made in the: 1) Misdemeanor and Felony Courts for criminal matters, 2) Children’s Court for juvenile delinquency matters, and 3) Civil Court for involuntary commitment matters in which defendants do not meet State Public Defender (SPD) legal representation standards, but meet the constitutional standard that they are unable to afford counsel.

The Probate, Family and Children’s Courts appoint guardians ad litem (GAL) for guardianships, domestic relations matters, child abuse and neglect, and termination of parental rights cases. The courts have a form to complete in which an attorney expresses his/her interest in appointment and by which the attorney certifies that s/he has completed the necessary GAL training or is otherwise eligible to accept appointments.

SPD appointments are made pursuant to the completion of a Certification Application. Appointments can be made for both trial and appellate court matters. Appointments are paid at a pre-determined rate, but lawyers are encouraged to offer services on a pro bono basis. A copy of the application is available at the SPD website:

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Volunteer Center of the Greater Milwaukee
Contact: Bonnie Andrews
Office: Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee
225 East Michigan Street, Suite 5
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 273-7887
Fax: (414) 273-0637

Every day, thousands of people in Milwaukee change the world . . . they volunteer! There are so many ways to help, and everyone’s talents can be utilized as a volunteer. The Center’s website lists over 1,000 opportunities at 230 nonprofit agencies in Milwaukee. It is easy to get started, and you will have the satisfaction of helping others when you volunteer.

The Volunteer Center serves the whole community, with programs for individuals, groups, nonprofit agencies and companies. The Center also has a Board Placement Program to help prospective board members find service opportunities on a nonprofit committee or board of directors.

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