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With strong devotion, Marion finds a way forward

Colleen Marion - State Public Defender’s Office

Colleen Marion – State Public Defender’s Office

It didn’t take long for Colleen Marion to find what she loves.

She knew from the start of law school that she’d be a public defender. Now more than eight years into her practice, Marion has found no reason to second-guess her choice.

“I feel so blessed,” she said. “I got really lucky with finding a calling. As cheesy as that sounds, it really does feel like a calling.”

It’s a calling that runs in her blood. Marion’s mother was a public defender. Because of her upbringing, Marion developed a keen understanding at a young age about what it means to work in the field.

She deals with big-picture matters and satisfies her intellectual interests. She advocates for individual rights.

“It’s really an honor and a privilege to get to know them and to work to achieve their goals,” she said. “And to be a witness to the injustices they’ve experienced.”

Her goal is clear: achieve the client’s goals. In some ways it’s simple, she said, but it’s also powerful and meaningful.

“We’re all human, and we all have uphill battles in our lives,” she said. “If you’re not willing to see things from someone else’s perspective, I really don’t think you can do the work of an advocate.”

Jeremy Newman works with Marion at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. He knew Marion was special before they finished law school. He saw a person who leads by example and gives confidence-boosting advice.

“If I’m struggling with a difficult or challenging case, she’s there to offer concrete advice on how to move the case forward in a way that helps our clients achieve their goals,” Newman said.

Figuring out how to push on, despite oftentimes long-shot odds, is exactly what Marion does. She empowers her colleagues and future leaders in the law to do the same.

“Be brave,” Marion said, “and be confident in your abilities.”

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