Rebecca Coffee always knew she would work in the law. She just wasn’t sure she’d be a lawyer. But after working as a paralegal, she was convinced.
“I knew that was my avenue to get where I wanted to be in life,” said Coffee, who worked as a paralegal before becoming a lawyer in 2002.
“Really it was kind of a means to an end for me,” Coffee said. “From a very young age, I wanted to work in the criminal justice field. I wanted to help people. I was very drawn to a sense that some people were treated unfairly under the law, and I wanted to do what I could to prevent that from happening, or when it did happen to fix it.”
She got her chance when she joined Craig Mastantuono’s firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on criminal defense.
“Becoming a criminal defense attorney was a way for me to have an impact,” said Coffee, who became a partner in 2013.
It’s part of the reason she served for two years as board chair of the Criminal Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
“She wanted to be able to directly have a voice and affect things coming out of the legislature,” said Leah Thomas, an associate attorney at Mastantuono & Coffee.
The opportunity to make a difference also led Coffee to help start Mastantuono & Coffee’s Lawyers for Boys & Girls Clubs fundraiser, which has raised more than $100,000 over the last 14 years.
“Maybe it’s strange for a defense attorney to do charitable work,” Coffee said. “For me, it goes hand in hand. It’s helping people. It’s trying to improve their lives. These kids have very challenging lives when they leave the clubs, but the clubs do amazing work. The clubs are such an oasis for them; it’s almost like a home for them. It’s a family. And they help these kids blossom into themselves, help realize their potential, realize their goals for kids who might not otherwise get that.”
“And,” she added, “I like that if the kids go to the clubs, they never become my clients.”