Inside Track: Amber Raffeet August: Leading the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers:

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  • January
    20
    2021

    Amber Raffeet August: Leading the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers

    Amber Raffeet August is president-elect of the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers. Find out more about Raffeet August and the association, which helps attorneys of color grow in leadership roles.
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    Amber Raffeet August with her daughter

    Amber Raffeet August with her daughter Quinn, 2, in this photo from Thanksgiving 2020.

    Jan. 20, 2021 – Wisconsin lawyers practice in every aspect of law – and their backgrounds and skills encompass the great variety of life in Wisconsin.

    This year, we are introducing you to the leaders of Wisconsin law-related organizations that serve diverse communities.

    Meet Amber Raffeet August, president-elect of the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL).

    Where did you grow up?

    I grew up in the city of Milwaukee and attended Dominican High School. I have a small close-knit family: a younger brother, Aaron, and my two parents. I met my husband, Christopher August, in my first year of law school. We met in Prof. Stewart Macaulay’s contracts class – we were in the same small group, and the rest is history! Christopher is an assistant state public defender who focuses on appeals and postconviction litigation. We live in the Milwaukee area with our two-year-old daughter Quinn.

    Why did you become a lawyer?

    I went to law school because I wanted to use the tools a law degree would give me to help others. My vision throughout law school and in practice has remained focused on that initial goal.

    Early on, what was your path, and where are you today?

    I began my legal career as an immigration attorney at Grzeca Law Group, S.C., Milwaukee, assisting families and individuals as they went through their immigration-related journeys. I then had the great fortune of working for RISE Law Center, Madison, as an immigration and family law attorney representing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

    Now I am fortunate to work as a staff attorney in the downtown guardian ad litem division at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.

    I love what I do and the impact I have on the families in Milwaukee County. As a guardian ad litem at the Legal Aid Society, my co-workers and I represent the legal best interest of children in family law-related matters, such as paternity actions and child abuse restraining orders.

    The attorneys who work at Legal Aid inspire me to do more to help the children in my cases and the community. I am really lucky to be where I am in my career and am so grateful for the past opportunities that have led me to this point.

    Members of WAAL decorating Christmas tree

    Raffeet August writes: “Every year, different organizations decorate Christmas trees in Cathedral Square in downtown Milwaukee. In December 2019, WAAL sponsored the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School's tree. This elementary school is the only African-American immersion school in the country." Front, from left: Kristen Hardy (WAAL past president), Raffeet August, and Alex Lodge (WAAL director of community outreach). Back row, from left: Warren Buliox (WAAL past president), Christopher August, and the school’s art teacher, Drew Bauer.

    What is WAAL’s mission, and how does it support this mission?

    WAAL’s primary mission is to promote the diversification of the legal profession. It is important for the legal profession that attorneys of color continue to grow in leadership roles and become more visible and numerous throughout the legal world.

    WAAL makes a strong impact on its members and the community by giving members leadership opportunities and by promoting our members’ professional accomplishments. WAAL also offers its members CLE seminars and networking events.

    We support our community through events like the legal aid clinic, which helps homeless youth in crisis through Pathfinders in Milwaukee, and expungement clinics where volunteer attorneys meet with individuals to determine if their offenses can be removed from their records.

    WAAL also holds an annual costume drive each October so that the children of YWCA Madison can participate in downtown Madison's Family Halloween celebration.

    We support the next generation of WAAL lawyers by awarding scholarships to law students at our annual VelanDale Scholarship Dinner. We continue Dale and Vel Phillips’ legacy by awarding the VelanDale, the Hon. Maxine A. White Book, and the Hon. Charles N. Clevert Jr. scholarships.

    Post COVID-19, WAAL hopes to resume programs that nurture high school students as well. Through this outreach, local, diverse lawyers visit area high school classrooms to discuss law as a career and other legal topics of interest.

    What have you gained as a member of WAAL?

    I joined WAAL because of the amount of support that it gives to its members and the community. This fits with my professional and personal goals.

    Membership in WAAL has helped me grow immensely as an attorney. WAAL offers interesting CLE sessions, membership events like our annual breakfast during Black History Month, and pro bono opportunities, such as our expungement clinics.

    Through these events, I have made more friends and professional contacts, and expanded my knowledge of the law as well as how to use it to help others.

    When did you become involved in WAAL leadership?

    I was elected as WAAL’s director of community outreach in 2017. In that position, I assisted WAAL members in engaging with the wider community through pro bono opportunities and other CLE trainings.

    Since then, I was elected president-elect in 2020. As president next year, I want to help move WAAL forward in accomplishing our goals.

    What would you say to someone considering joining WAAL?

    I would tell them that they are joining a supportive and inclusive group. WAAL is all about advancing the careers of African-American lawyers. We encourage our members to take on new challenges, push boundaries, and grow personally and professionally.

    Amber Raffeet August poses with her husband and father

    Amber Raffeet August poses with husband Christopher August and father Marcus Raffeet at WAAL’s 2019 VelanDale Scholarship Dinner in Milwaukee.




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