Attorney Amy Wochos doesn’t have an office job, much less an office.
Since 2007 she has been the coordinating attorney at the Milwaukee Justice Center, a self-help legal clinic operating in a small corner the Clerk of Court’s office.
There, she supervises volunteer students and attorneys that guide pro se litigants to the right forms or refer them for legal help with civil matters including divorce, custody, small claims and landlord-tenant disputes.
About 40 people visit the free clinic for assistance with family law matters each day and on Thursdays, when volunteers help with small claims and foreclosure issues, they typically see about 25 people, she said.
While Wochos doesn’t provide legal advice, she still gets the close daily interaction with “clients.”
Prior to joining the clerk’s office, she spent 11 years as an insurance defense litigator at Piper & Schmidt in Milwaukee.
Wochos stepped away from the self-help desk and provide assistance on this week’s Asked & Answered.
Wisconsin Law Journal: If you could develop one CLE course for credit, what would it be about?
Amy Wochos: Civility for lawyers. Although most attorneys are very professional and courteous, there is a percentage that really need a brush up on dealing with other people.
WLJ: What was your least favorite course in law school and why?
Wochos: A first-year class at the University of Southern California Law School that was really a vanity class for the professor featuring his book and his dated philosophies on law. By mid-semester, it seemed even he had mentally checked out of the class. Luckily, that was the only truly bad class I had either at USC or Wisconsin.
WLJ: What do you consider your biggest achievement to date and why?
Wochos: Being involved in the creation of the Milwaukee Justice Center. I am so inspired by the volunteers who donate their time to help low-income individuals with their legal problems and am humbled by the gratitude that our clients express.
Wochos: Gourmet coffee. Don’t even try to fool me with the instant stuff.
WLJ: What is one thing attorneys should know that they won’t learn in law school?
Wochos: Your reputation is the centerpiece of your career. Guard it well.
WLJ: What is the first concert you went to?
Wochos: Triumph. My babysitter took me so she could see her boyfriend. To this day, I am unable to name even one Triumph song.
WLJ: If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?
Wochos: I know I should say the president, or a Supreme Court justice, but I really am curious what it would be like to be Angelina Jolie for just one day.
WLJ: What is your motto?
Wochos: “This too shall pass.” Both a reminder that I will get through the hard times and that I should savor the good times.
WLJ: What is your favorite movie about lawyers or the law and why?
Wochos: “A Few Good Men.” It is one of the most quotable movies of all time, such as “After falsely accusing a highly decorated marine officer of conspiracy and perjury, Lieutenant Kaffee will have a long and prosperous career teaching typewriter maintenance at the Rocko Club School for Women. Thank you for playing ‘should or should we not, follow the advice of the galactically stupid?’” Good stuff.
WLJ: If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
Wochos: I wanted to be a veterinarian, but the dander allergies and aversion to blood put an end to that dream.
Jack Zemlicka can be reached at [email protected].