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  • July 19, 2023

    Awards Support New Lawyers Representing Underserved People: Apply by Sept. 8

    Are you a new lawyer who works with underserved people in Wisconsin? The Wisconsin Law Foundation provides financial awards to those who represent underserved populations – people who have difficulty affording legal services and those in rural areas with limited access to legal services. Apply by Sept. 8.
    Kristina Mendez and Tatiana Shirasaki

    Recipients of the 2022 Belle Case La Follette Awards from the Wisconsin Law Foundation are, from left: Kristina Mendez and Tatiana Shirasaki. Not pictured: Cassidy Sandoval Baker.

    July 19, 2023 – New lawyers: Would you like to receive $2,600 to help pay law school debt or for your practice?

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation will provide Belle Case La Follette Awards to three new Wisconsin lawyers who currently represent underserved populations.

    These populations include clients in Wisconsin whose legal needs are historically unmet or who live and work in rural areas with limited access to legal services.

    “The awards are part of the Foundation’s mission to improve access to justice,” says Joseph W. Troy, Foundation President.

    “The awards help attorneys meet the needs of residents in rural areas in northern Wisconsin – where attorneys often cover multiple counties and spend numerous hours driving. They also assist attorneys in urban areas helping those of modest means and where language barriers limit access to legal services,” Troy said.

    Recipients may use the awards at their own discretion – whether that's school loans, office expenses, or to meet other financial needs.

    How to Apply – Deadline is Sept. 8

    One award each is given to a graduate of the U.W. and Marquette University law schools, and a third award is given to a graduate of an out-of-state law school who is practicing in Wisconsin. Applicants must be sworn in as Wisconsin lawyers between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2022.

    The Foundation Awards Committee considers a number of factors, including the applicant’s professional reputation and achievements, as well as how the applicant represents underserved populations.

    Visit the Scholarships and Awards information page on (scroll down to “Belle Case La Follette Awards”) for more information. See the Call for Applications information form for further details, including how to apply and award criteria​.

    Meet the 2022 Recipients

    Meet the three Wisconsin lawyers who are the recipients of the 2022 awards:

    Cassidy Sandoval Baker, Marquette 2020, Centro Legal, Milwaukee. Baker works at Centro Legal in Milwaukee where about 75% of her work focuses on domestic abuse. The award funds almost three of her family law cases from beginning to end, allowing her to be able to offer three people pro bono representation. That support, she said, is a life raft to lift them out of a toxic relationship.

    Kristina Mendez, Creighton University School of Law 2021, Mendez Law LLC, De Pere. Mendez owns Mendez Law LLC, a private law firm in northeast Wisconsin where she practices immigration, family, juvenile, civil, criminal and business law. Her client base consists mainly of low-income Spanish-speaking individuals in Green Bay, Appleton, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Wautoma, and the surrounding rural areas. Due to an insufficient number of law firms in the area who work with the Spanish-speaking community, her services are immediately utilized throughout all of northeastern Wisconsin.

    Tatiana Tamae Soares Shirasaki, Toledo Brazil 2002 and U.W. 2018, assistant corporation counsel, Juneau County. A Brazilian-born Wisconsin lawyer, Shirasaki gives back in any way she can. She mentors students, volunteers for the State Bar High School Mock Trial and WisLAP programs, is a member of the Mayville School Board, supports the U.W. Law Clinics as co-vice president of the Economic Justice Institute Inc., and is involved in Rotary as a District Grant Committee member, among many other activities.

    About the Wisconsin Law Foundation

    Wisconsin Law Foundation

    The Belle Case La Follette Awards are made possible by generous contributions to the Wisconsin Law Foundation.

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation is the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and through its mission has a rich history of promoting:

    • public understanding of the law,

    • improvement of the administration of justice, and

    • law-related public service through funding of innovative and creative programs that improve the vision of the American justice system.

    The Foundation is a nonprofit, nonstock organization, and is open to all State Bar of Wisconsin members. Founded by five visionary attorneys, it was incorporated in 1951 as the Wisconsin Bar Foundation, and through the charitable contributions of our members, has grown into the vital philanthropic law-related organization it is today.

    Find out more in the Foundation’s Impact newsletter.

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