March 18, 2020 – Retirement from an active practice of law doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done being an attorney.
Meet Jeff Patzke, a retired government lawyer and Marquette University Law School graduate who now volunteers his time with Wisconsin Judicare in Wausau. He is a member of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society.
Learn more about Jeff as he answers questions about his pro bono work.
Why do you do pro bono work?
After I retired from my career as a government lawyer, I attended a State Bar Leadership Conference. The keynote speaker was retired Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Richard S. Brown. I had the benefit of having interned for him while in law school, and knew him and all the judges and attorneys in the court to be intelligent and compassionate individuals.
Judge Brown's engaging presentation inspired me to consider volunteering for legal aid. I was not done being an attorney and I knew there was a need. I also knew there was a great need for attorneys in rural Wisconsin. So, it made sense for me to volunteer with Wisconsin Judicare, the civil legal aid agency serving northern Wisconsin.
I am grateful for the opportunity to assist people who would otherwise have no legal recourse for some of the foreboding challenges they face.
What types of pro bono work do you do?
I do a variety of legal work, including a broad spectrum of litigation plus at least one appellate case. I assist with landlord-tenant issues and engage in administrative law practice. I assist qualifying individuals with dismissal of their federal student loans and handle elder rights cases.
org jbrown wisbar Jeff Brown, Harvard 1989, is manager of the State Bar Pro Bono Program, liaison to the Legal Assistance Committee, and staff for the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission. He can be reached by org jbrown wisbar email or by phone at (608) 250-6177.
I also participate in Wisconsin Judicare's Marathon County mediation program. The change of pace from representation to mediation broadens my perspective, but more importantly promotes judicial economy.
I also volunteered in Truancy Court in Outagamie County (for Legal Action of Wisconsin) while that court was active. The students often faced a variety of issues beyond just truancy, but at the same time were engaging individuals who wanted to do better.
In summary, I have represented clients from ages 14 to 82.
What’s your most memorable pro bono moment?
I cannot specify my most memorable pro bono moment, because it is difficult for me to value one client over another. It is gratifying to be sincerely thanked and appreciated. Such compliments help inspire me, which is important, because I am only as good as my next case – and the need is great.
Know a Member We Should Highlight for Pro Bono Service? Tell Us!
The State Bar of Wisconsin is proud to salute members who make a personal commitment to providing access to justice for low-income Wisconsin residents.
Do you know a member who should be highlighted for pro bono service? Contact Jeff Brown, State Bar Pro Bono Program Manager, org jbrown wisbar by email or at (608) 250-6177 or (800) 444-9404, ext. 6177.