Raffeet August with her daughter Quinn, 2, in this photo from Thanksgiving
2021 – Wisconsin lawyers practice in every aspect of law – and their
backgrounds and skills encompass the great variety of life in Wisconsin.
we are introducing you to the leaders of Wisconsin law-related organizations
that serve diverse communities.
Raffeet August, president-elect of the Wisconsin
Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL).
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.
about Amber Raffeet August
- Law school: U.W. 2013
Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
- Practice: Family law, guardian ad litem
place in Wisconsin: Door County
food: Any form of mac n’ cheese – fancy, Kraft, any type!
- Favorite way
to spend free time: I enjoy spending time with my family and pets. One of our
favorite activities is going out to eat – so we are definitely hoping to safely
do so again in 2021!
- Words of
to Listen, Learn to Lead
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
holds an annual costume drive each October so that the children of YWCA Madison
can participate in downtown Madison's Family Halloween celebration.
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.
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.
WAAL is an association of African-American lawyers dedicated to ensuring
diversity in Wisconsin’s legal community.
president: William Sulton
- Number of
organized: 1988 – but
its roots have a longer history.
- Annual dues:
$75-100; membership runs annually Oct. 1 to Sept. 30
- Learn more: Visit waalawyers.com
you gained as a member of WAAL?
WAAL because of the amount of support that it gives to its members and the
community. This fits with my professional and personal goals.
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.
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.
you become involved in WAAL leadership?
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.
I was elected president-elect in 2020. As president next year, I want to help
move WAAL forward in accomplishing our goals.
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.
Raffeet August poses with husband Christopher August and father
Marcus Raffeet at WAAL’s 2019 VelanDale Scholarship Dinner in Milwaukee.