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  • WisBar News
    April
    20
    2017

    Bar Exam Admissions: Many Paths to Becoming a Wisconsin Lawyer


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    Thirty-nine attorneys took the oath to become Wisconsin lawyers, passing the bar exam in February. Here are a few of their stories.
    Attorneys take the oath

    Lawyers take the Attorney's Oath in a ceremony in the Supreme Court Hearing Room. For more photos, visit the album on the State Bar of Wisconsin Facebook page.

    April 20, 2017 – Many of them have walked a long path to become a Wisconsin lawyer, obtaining multiple degrees, or now reaching a goal set in childhood.

    They are the 39 new Wisconsin lawyers who took the oath April 18 in Madison after passing the Wisconsin Bar Exam in February. They became Wisconsin lawyers after taking the Attorney’s Oath and signing the Wisconsin Supreme Court Roll book at a reception hosted by the State Bar of Wisconsin.

    And for each of them, their path to Bar membership is years in the making.

    The Road to Wisconsin

    Kristen Chang grew up in the Silicon Valley area of California, where her parents still live. She is now a first-year associate with Hall, Render, Killian, Health & Lyman in Milwaukee, where her focus is health care law. She earned a graduate degree in public administration and health policy after majoring in biology and political science; she received her law degree from the University of Illinois in 2016.

    “I knew I wanted to go further after graduate school,” Chang said. A law degree was a good way to do that.

    Kristen Chang, center, with her parents Stephen and Vivienne Chang.

    Kristen Chang of Milwaukee, center, poses with her parents, Stephen and Vivienne Chang from the Silicon Valley area of California.

    Jenelle Dame, working now at Legal Action of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, spent 10 years in social work after obtaining her master’s degree in social work before getting her J.D. last year at Kent in Chicago.

    “Social work is one way to advocate for people,” Dame said. “The legal world is another way – a way to balance out the power needed to help low-income people.” It means a lot to Dame to be able to advocate for those who struggle to access the justice system – something she can do more of now, as a Wisconsin lawyer.

    Larry Lloyd’s path to becoming a lawyer began as a child when he witnessed the struggles his grandmother had in gaining access to a lawyer when she needed one. He realized many people need help accessing the justice system. “I’ve always wanted to be in a position to help,” and now, as a lawyer working in probate, he will be able to do just that.

    Evan Berube of West Bend graduated from John Marshall Law School in Chicago in January with his J.D. and L.L.M. degrees. His focus is in intellectual property law, stemming from his interest in both medicine and law from the time he was a child. While he was in the pre-med program for his undergraduate degree, the lawyer who ran a legal studies program inspired him to take a closer look at law. His focus on intellectual property law will meld his two interests. He hopes to practice in West Bend. “I always knew I wanted to come back to Wisconsin,” he said.

    Evan Berube

    Evan Berube takes a selfie with his name on the list of new Wisconsin lawyers during the reception hosted by the State Bar at the Madison Club.

    And there’s Aaron Smith of Rockford, Illinois, focusing on medical law after working as a nurse; Sgt. Jacob Menn of the Army Reserve, who worked as a paralegal in the JAG Corps and will continue now as a lawyer; and Elysia Rodriguez, working in child support for the Ho-Chunk Nation.

    The Beginning of a New Path

    “This is a wonderful day for you,” said Justice Michael Gableman to the admittees. It is also a good day to remember those who helped you along. “We all have such people in our lives,” he said. “It is important to keep them as inspiration when times are challenging.”

    You will make mistakes – everyone does, he told them. “The secret is to learn from them and come back even stronger.”

    Chief Justice Pat Roggensack encouraged the new Wisconsin lawyers to get involved in the State Bar – and to consider serving in a position in government, where fewer and fewer lawyers are now involved. “Lawyers are problem-solvers. You can make a tremendous difference,” she said.

    Welcome to These New Wisconsin Lawyers:

    • Crystal N. Abbey, Edelstein, Illinois
    • Tmara Abidalrahim, Milwaukee
    • Evan D. Berube, West Bend
    • Kristen H. Chang, Milwaukee
    • Gene A. Cisewski, Tomah
    • Kieran M. Coe, Milwaukee
    • Jenelle M. Dame, Milwaukee
    • Evan Feinauer, Madison
    • Amy Marie Fleitas, Waterloo, Iowa
    • Alexandra Nicole Francois, Minocqua
    • Sarah Gallas, West Allis
    • Graham C. Garland, Mequon
    • Kayla Marie Gassner, Wausau
    • Gretchen Gerrard, La Crosse
    • Brad Goldstein, Madison
    • Amy K. Greske, Hudson
    • Jason A. Gullett, Madison
    • Katherine Hinkle, Madison
    • Melinda Lorraine Johns, Madison
    • Roy B. Johnson, Madison
    • Amanda Klobucar, Janesville
    • Larry J. Lloyd, Chicago
    • Gregory Luke Lohmeyer, Milwaukee
    • Jonathan Thomas Luljak, Milwaukee
    • Jacob J. Menn, Norwalk
    • Nick Meredith, Waukesha
    • Alison Miller, Minneapolis
    • Osman A. Mirza, Orland Park, Illinois
    • Elysia Beth Nguyen, Burnsville, Minnesota
    • James Payne, Pleasant Prairie
    • Hector Moctezuma Perez-Cassillas, Arlington, Virginia
    • Elysia Rodriguez, Black River Falls
    • Ali E. Seidlitz, Eau Claire
    • Aaron Michael Smith, Rockford
    • William Philip Sweet
    • Angela Jayne (AJ) Swenson, Eau Claire
    • Roy Bennett Underhill, Milwaukee
    • Benjamin Wallner, Champaign, Illinois
    • Debra Marcus Watton, Milwaukee