Seep Paliwal, center, is the recipient of the YLD’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award. On left and right are co-chairs of the Nominations & Elections Committee, Stephanie LeRoy and Ben Roovers.
March 21, 2018 – It is about making an impact in service to clients, to the Bar, and to the community, says, Stephanie LeRoy, co-chair of the Young Lawyers Division Nominations & Elections Committee.
And they found that with Seep Paliwal of Community Justice Inc., Madison.
Paliwal is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the Young Lawyers Division.
“Young lawyers all over the state are providing beneficial services in their communities and clients while advancing their legal careers just by following their passions,” LeRoy said. “Paliwal’s successes prove that you don’t have to be 10 years into your practice before you can make great achievements.”
Driven to Make a Difference
Paliwal said she always had the desire to make a difference in her community. And in law school, she realized that public interest law work would allow her to do so.
A 2015 graduate of U.W. Law School, Paliwal not only provides family law representation to indigent clients, she recently launched two pro bono initiatives: the Municipal Defense Project (MDP) for community members experiencing homelessness, and the Foreclosure Defense Project (FDP) for those vulnerable to homelessness. Paliwal splits her time between providing direct representation to clients and training lawyers and law students in the greater-Madison area to perform this pro bono work.
Don’t worry about finding out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Instead, go for the work that you want to do.
Municipal citations have a great impact on people who are homeless, she said. “Since the MDP began in June 2016, we have helped 28 clients on 43 tickets, generating 283 hours of community service for the city of Madison, and dispelling $5,659 of debt,” Paliwal said. And the FDP is currently helping several families avoid losing their homes. “The hope is to prevent homelessness before it begins.”
She is in the process of collaborating with the UW-Madison Police Department and the Dane County District Attorney’s Office to create a streamlined system that allows homeless individuals to be referred to the MDP in lieu of receiving county tickets – an approach that focuses on restorative support services.
‘Go for the Work That You Want to Do’
Paliwal’s dedication to the community members experiencing homelessness and her initiative in creating pro bono projects as a young attorney demonstrates great leadership and achievement, said Erin Bartenstein, programs manager for Community Justice Inc., who nominated Paliwal for the award.
Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.
“She exhibits empathy and compassion in her approach to representing extremely vulnerable and often traumatized clients,” Bartenstein said.
“I hope that learning about our projects will inspire others to get involved both with the MDP and with other pro bono initiatives around the state,” Paliwal said.
Her advice for young lawyers: Don’t worry about finding out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Instead, go for the work that you want to do.
“While financial pressures are real, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to search and to find something that is fulfilling,” Paliwal said. “It will work out in the end. Everyone I know who struggled at first ended up on their feet, and they’re all doing great things.”