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Why Marquette Law?

Marquette LawEDWBA President William J. Mulligan is a shareholder at Davis & Kuelthau, S.C., and Past President Nathan A. Fishbach is a shareholder at Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, S.C.

Why is the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bar Association bestowing its Outstanding Service Award on an institution rather than a human being, the traditional honoree?

Isn’t this a bit strange?

On its face, it might seem to be unusual. However, it is also unusual for a law school to have such close ties with the legal community in which it resides and of which it is an integral part. Certainly, this is not an instance where there is a defined demarcation between town and gown.

A review of some statistics provides context. Six of the current federal judges and magistrate judges in the Eastern District of Wisconsin are Marquette Law School graduates. Two graduates are serving on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Moreover, 10 of the lawyers in the United States Attorney’s Office graduated from the law school. Indeed, one wonders how many of these attorneys, who now spend their days in federal court, started their litigation careers arguing in third-year mock trials at Marquette.

But Marquette’s impact is felt far beyond this data. Over the years, the Marquette Law faculty has played an active role in some of the district’s most significant activities. For over a decade, Jay Grenig has served as a reporter for the Federal Rules Committee and held a similar role on the Civil Justice Reform Act Task Force, both of which promulgated the procedures for this district’s courtrooms. Law School Deans Robert Boden, Frank DeGuire, Howard Eisenberg, and Joseph Kearney have co-chaired the merit commissions that evaluated nominees for federal judgeships for Wisconsin’s United States Senators, and Marquette professors, such as Peter Rofes, served on these commissions. Marquette faculty, such as Christine Wiseman, have served as special masters in discovery disputes in federal court. Ralph Anzivino has played an integral role in drafting a Model Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan for the district.

In fact, Marquette is such a vital part of the Milwaukee legal community that one of its professors, Daniel Blinka, now serves as the President of the Milwaukee Bar Association and is probably one of the first members of a law school faculty in the nation to lead a metropolitan bar association.

Marquette Law students have also played a role in the federal courts. Through Thomas Hammer’s efforts, Marquette students have had the great privilege of working in the chambers of the district’s federal judges, which has provided the students with incredible learning opportunities.

Throughout the years, Marquette Law has instilled in its students the importance of providing pro bono legal services for the poor. It is impossible to count how many Marquette alumni accept appointments to represent the indigent in court, advise the needy at no or a reduced fee, or practice in public interest law firms. Importantly, last November, at its first banquet, the Equal Justice Fund named an award for pro bono service after Dean Eisenberg.

And Marquette Law has been instrumental in the founding of this group — the EDWBA. The law school, under the leadership of Deans Eisenberg, Janine Geske, and Kearney, has provided and continues to provide strong support to the association. The EDWBA is particularly grateful for the Marquette’s generous contribution to the Eastern District Historical Project, the EDWBA’s signature undertaking which is creating and preserving archives of our district’s past.

Marquette Law School is not just an institution or entity. Rather, it is living and dynamic — and through its faculty and students (past and present), has demonstrated an ongoing and dedicated commitment to the Eastern District of Wisconsin’s legal community.

And for that, we are quite grateful.

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