Press Release: News Release May 2003: Dane County legal community recognized for public service:

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    News Release May 2003: Dane County legal community recognized for public service

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    For Immediate Release
      CONTACT: Jason Westphal
    (800) 444-9404, ext. 6077
    (608) 220-1258 (mobile)
    org jwestphal wisbar wisbar jwestphal org
    Christi Powers
    State Bar of Wisconsin
    (800) 444-9404, ext. 6025
    org cpowers wisbar wisbar cpowers org

    Dane County legal community recognized for public service

    MADISON, May 6, 2003 - Each year the State Bar of Wisconsin recognizes lawyers, law students and law firms who have helped make the legal system more accessible by providing pro bono legal services, community service and law-related education. This year's awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the State Bar Annual Convention on Wednesday, May 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee.

    • The 2002 Hotline Attorney of the Year Award will be presented to John D. Hyland. The Lawyer Hotline Program is a public service component of the State Bar's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS), which has been in operation for nearly 20 years. Hotline volunteers answer simple legal questions free of charge, allowing callers to better assess whether they wish to hire a lawyer or use the resource information provided to them over the phone. Common hotline topics include landlord/tenant disputes and consumer issues.

    Hyland is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. During that time, he participated in the United States Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corp internship program, assisting the litigation section at the Pentagon. Hyland also earned a degree in music education and taught in that field for seven years prior to entering law school. He maintains close ties to the arts, and his vocal talent adds an extra dimension to the Hotline program - at times he sings his answers to the clients! Hyland currently practices criminal defense and civil litigation at Hurley, Burish & Milliken S.C.

    • The 2002 Dan Tuchscherer Outstanding Public Interest Law Attorney Award goes to Betsy J. Abramson. This award recognizes a lawyer who has demonstrated a selfless, lifetime commitment to working in the public interest, both inside and outside the field of law.

    Abramson currently consults on legal issues of the elderly and people with disabilities. This work has included projects with the state Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) on modernizing Wisconsin's Adult Protective Services System, as well as developing an Alzheimer's Legal Issues Symposium. Early in her career, she developed the Elderly Team at the Center for Public Representation. In 1991, Abramson and her team transferred to the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG), where she founded and directed the Elder Law Center. During those 18 years in public interest law, Abramson expanded the work of elder law by providing direct services and legal back-up to more than 50 Wisconsin counties, by founding the Wisconsin Guardianship Support Center and by developing projects in Medicare Fraud and Food Stamp outreach.

    • The 2002 Outstanding Public Interest Law Student - University of Wisconsin - Madison Award recipients are Cullen Goretzke and Anne Sweeney, Madison. The Public Interest Law Section's mission is to provide a forum for lawyers to discuss and promote public interest issues. The section encourages members to provide public interest services to those in need and hopes to enhance the visibility of public interest law in Wisconsin.

    Goretzke will graduate later this month with joint degrees in law and public policy. A board member with the UW Public Interest Law Foundation, he is working with faculty, students and administrators to develop a Loan Repayment Assistance Program for law students who choose public interest work. Goretzke formerly worked for a legal service agency in Philadelphia and for the Consumer Law Litigation Clinic at the University of Wisconsin. After graduation, he will serve as a clerk for Judge Lesley Wells in the Northern District of Ohio.

    Sweeney will complete her law degree and masters in social work in December 2003. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she researched the effects of welfare reform in New York City before starting law school. Sweeney served as treasurer of the student Public Interest Law Foundation for two years and has also worked to develop a Loan Repayment Assistance Program. A past intern at the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy, she plans to become an advocate for low-income children and families in Cleveland after graduation.

    • Keith A. Findley will receive the 2002 Hon. Charles Dunn Author Award in recognition of his article, "New Laws Reflect the Power and Potential of DNA," which appeared in the May 2002 issue of the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine. The award, named after Wisconsin's first chief justice, is presented annually by the association's Communications Committee.

    Findley teaches in the clinical programs at the University of Wisconsin Law School's Frank J. Remington Center. He is co-director and co-founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, in which students investigate and litigate prisoners' claims of actual innocence based on newly discovered evidence. Findley is also co-director of the Criminal Appeals Project, where students help represent state and federal defendants appealing their criminal convictions and sentences.

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    The State Bar of Wisconsin is the mandatory professional association, created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, for attorneys who hold a law license in Wisconsin. With more than 20,000 members, the State Bar aids the courts in improving the administration of justice, provides continuing legal education for its members, and assists Wisconsin lawyers in carrying out initiatives to educate the public about the legal system.