Kindness, patience and compassion are not words the general public often associates with lawyers.
And yet, those are the attributes Angela Schultz has developed and seen in law students and lawyers while working as assistant dean of public service for Marquette University Law School. The school’s clinics benefit from the work of about 3,000 volunteers.
“There’s always been kindness infused in this profession but, at the same time, this is a profession that is adversarial,” Schultz said. “At the end of the day we are a helping profession.”
Schultz credits the more than 10 years she spent advocating for domestic-violence victims before going to law school for teaching her how to use kindness, patience and compassion when guiding people through difficult situations and the justice system’s many complexities.
And it was that work that helped her in her move from Oregon to Wisconsin. When that uprooting took place, Schultz had been away from Wisconsin for about half her life.
“It was a challenge because I had become an outsider moving into a place where I felt this is a network of people who know each other,” she said. “But I overcame it just by relying on what I knew.”
Helping her along the way were people who had a similar interest in domestic-violence work. It was through those connections that she landed the job she has now.
Coupled with her law degree, Schultz’s background has made her into a leader who stands out from the common run, says Mary Ferwerda, director of the Milwaukee Justice Center, which is an access-to-justice project arising from a collaboration between the Milwaukee Bar Association, Marquette University Law School and Milwaukee County.
“She’s very knowledgeable about access to justice issues and how what we do makes a difference,” Ferwerda said. “She has a lot of forward thinking in how to structure a program so that they are effective for clients and for student learning.”
One of the greatest joys of Schultz’s job is helping students and watching them take up pro bono work, then eventually return as lawyers.
“We have a lot of compassionate, big-hearted people who come out of Marquette Law School who do all kinds of good things across the community,” she said.
Among the various reasons people have for returning, it’s often Schultz’s dedication to social justice and access to justice that is the biggest draw, said Matt Parlow, her boss and associate dean for academic affairs at Marquette Law School.
“People are inspired by that sort of inner compass that leads her,” he said.
“I think people are drawn and impressed by it. I think they enjoy working with her because of it.”