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  • August 02, 2023

    Celebrating 296 Lawyers Who Dedicated 14,800-plus Pro Bono Hours in 2022

    Each year, we honor volunteers who stepped forward to address the legal needs of Wisconsin's most vulnerable residents. The Pro Bono Honor Society thanks the Wisconsin lawyers who donated at least 50 hours of pro bono service. In 2022, 296 lawyers made the list.

    Aug. 2, 2023 – Wausau attorney Robert Gray stepped forward to help address the legal needs of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable residents.

    Originally from northern Illinois and a 1991 Marquette Law School graduate, Gray is president and owner of Gray Law Firm, Inc., where he is a solo lawyer, primarily practicing in worker's compensation, personal injury, and Social Security disability. An accident with a drunk driver when he was in seventh grade – and the recovery and court proceedings that ensued – inspired him to become a lawyer to help people who are injured and disabled.

    Robert Gray smiling and standing next to a small version of the Statue of Liberty

    Wausau attorney Robert Gray is a member of the Pro Bono Honor Society for his pro bono work in 2022. He is pictured here at the Liberty House Grill in Beloit in July.

    For about 20 years now, Gray has accepted referrals from Judicare Legal Aid and from the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, assisting those whose Social Security Income (SSI) has suddenly been canceled – while they still quality for the assistance. They send a list of people needing help. “Generally, I help everyone on the list,” Gray said.

    The help includes organizing records and statements, and finding ways for people to get back to receiving needed treatment. “We demonstrate that they still have medical conditions that warrant the SSI.”

    That work is a lifeline to his clients. “Very often SSI is their only income. It’s tied to their health insurance, their reduced rental agreements, and other community services they need,” Gray said. “​Without it, they don’t know what to do.”

    Gray files a reconsideration claim for each client. Most cases end up going to court before an administrative law judge. Gray drives to Madison, Milwaukee, Escanaba, and other places to argue for his clients.

    At any given time, he has 50 clients, with an average caseload of 400 – making his pro bono efforts about 20 percent of his caseload as a solo attorney. While Judicare compensates him, it covers only a fraction of the hours required for each case.

    What It Takes

    To do this type of work, “you must have the willingness to take time with the people,” he said.

    And he has learned some lessons along the way. “People find it difficult to reach out and ask for help,” he said. But once they do, “and that wall is broken down,” then quite often he becomes more than lawyer and advocate. “They open up about what they really need, and you become a friend as well as advocate,” Gray said.

    Some call him regularly, just needing someone to talk to. “We treat them all with respect and love, and we try to keep them as stable as possible. And we make sure we have a secondary contact if we need an emergency intervention. That’s all they want – they feel forgotten and left out and they want someone to care.”

    His recommendation on pro bono work: “Just do it. Give it a try. It’s a mindset. Take what you do well and offer it to people for free. It’s that simple.”

    “It’s not all about the money,” Gray said.

    296 Lawyers + 50 Hours or More = at least 14,800 Hours

    Gray is one of 296 extraordinary Wisconsin lawyers who made a real commitment to pro bono service and who make a difference in their communities. In turn, they are recognized and honored through the Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society.

    The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission created the Pro Bono Honor Society in 2013 to highlight lawyers who provided pro bono service in the preceding year.

    The threshold to be included in the Pro Bono Honor Society list is 50 hours per year. Gray estimates that he works 400 to 500 hours per year pro bono.

    In addition to Gray, here’s a sampling of the work other Wisconsin lawyers achieved in 2022:

    • Ahmad Murrar, with the Milwaukee office of Foley & Lardner, won an asylum trial in Chicago for a Uighur Muslim asylum-seeker from China and help spearhead the firm's efforts to facilitate more than 100 Humanitarian Parole applications for Afghan allies still stuck in Afghanistan.

    • Madison attorney Michelle Behnke fields questions on the Wisconsin Free Legal Answers website.

    • The pro bono efforts of Charles Curtis of Perkins Coie, Madison, to help qualified Wisconsin voters obtain their voter IDs resulted in significant improvements to Wisconsin’s voter ID petition process. “The voters who are subjected to this process are overwhelmingly people of limited means, voters of color, students, or senior citizens,” he wrote.

    • With Godfrey & Kahn, Milwaukee, Emma Jewell’s representation of a criminal defendant on appeal resulted in the reversal of the client’s 50-year conviction – allowing for a new trial.

    • Madison attorney Gerald Sternberg worked his first case as a guardian ad litem in the Oneida Tribal Court. He is helping a woman, in her 90s, who was the victim of fraudulent checks written on her bank account.

    • Kristina Rasmussen of Madison successfully completed 12 naturalization cases, about 40 DACA renewals, and two affirmative asylum cases, in addition to other immigration matters. She also helped reunite a mother with three children she had not seen in over 20 years.

    Join the Pro Bono Honor Society

    The Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission and the State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono Program are proud to recognize these lawyers as 2022 Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society members.

    Eligible pro bono legal services for this program means the direct provision of legal services without fee or expectation of fee, or at a substantially reduced fee, to:

    • persons of limited means;

    • organizations in matters that are designed primarily to address the needs of persons of limited means; or

    • charitable, religious, civic, community governmental and educational organizations to secure or protect civil rights, civil liberties, or public rights so long as a substantial majority of such services benefit persons of limited means or organizations that serve persons of limited means.

    Thank You, Pro Bono Lawyers

    Congratulations to these 296 Wisconsin lawyers, listed here with their Wisconsin county or state of residence (when known), recognized as 2022 Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society members:

    Jubaile Abila, Milwaukee

    Shannon Allen, Waukesha

    Erika Amundson, Eau Claire

    Timothy Anderson, Minnesota

    Scott Anderson, Milwaukee

    Lindsey Anderson, Waukesha

    Ellen Anderson, Milwaukee

    Timothy Andryk, Dane

    Alicia Armstrong, Dane

    Robert Arthur, Milwaukee

    Leakhena Au, Dane

    Stephanie Balmer, Minnesota

    John Bannen, Milwaukee

    Mason Baranczyk, Milwaukee

    David Bartel, Milwaukee

    Karen Bauer, Milwaukee

    Erika Baurecht, Milwaukee

    Nina Beck, Milwaukee

    Christopher Beglinger, Milwaukee

    Michelle Behnke, Dane

    Brett Bellmore, Milwaukee

    Kyndle Bennett, Milwaukee

    Melita Biese, Milwaukee

    Lindsey Birch, Milwaukee

    Lauren Blumenthal, Milwaukee

    Amy Bogost, Dane

    Paul Bonneson, Milwaukee

    Ruth Booher, Milwaukee

    Willie Boucher, Dane

    David Bourne, Milwaukee

    Ann Bowe, Milwaukee

    Andrew Brehm, Milwaukee

    David Britton, Milwaukee

    Ketajh Brown, Illinois

    Harper Brown, Milwaukee

    Peter Bruce, Milwaukee

    Amy Burger, Washington

    Thomas Burnett, Milwaukee

    Michael Burton, Milwaukee

    Jesse Byam-Katzman, Milwaukee

    Kraig Byron, Dane

    Michael Calabrese, Milwaukee

    Dawn Caldart, Milwaukee

    Thomas Cameron, Milwaukee

    Mary Castro, Dane

    James Cauley, Milwaukee

    Katherine Charlton, Milwaukee

    Max Chester, Milwaukee

    Iris Christenson, Dane

    Scott Cirilli, Oneida​

    Sherry Clay, Dane

    Linda Clifford, Dane

    Amanda Collins, Milwaukee

    Rachel Conrad, Dane

    Beth Cornell, Chippewa

    Charles Cousland, Milwaukee

    Charles Curtis, Dane

    David Czech, Chippewa

    Collin Dahl, Door

    Carmen Decot, Milwaukee

    Joseph Diedrich, Dane

    Jesse Dill, Milwaukee

    Tara Dobbs, Dane

    Brian Dollhopf, Milwaukee

    Mary Donohue, Sheboygan

    Robert Duffy, Milwaukee

    Rachel Dykema, Dane

    Suzanne Edwards, Iowa

    Erik Eisenmann, Milwaukee

    Grant Erickson, Dane

    Gregory Everts, Dane

    Michael Fairchild, Dunn

    Alanna Feddick-Goodwin, Wood

    Emily Feinstein, Dane

    Ray Feliz, Dane

    John FitzGerald, Milwaukee

    Zachary Flagel, Milwaukee

    Elisabeth Fletcher, Dane

    Debra Flynn Parrino, Milwaukee

    Emily Fons, Milwaukee

    Victor Forberger, Dane

    Robert Forseth, Waupaca

    Melissa Frost, Walworth

    Andrea Gage-Michaels, Brown

    Fred Gants, Dane

    Robert Gentile, Milwaukee

    Melinda Giftos, Dane

    Sharon Gisselman, Marathon

    Barbara Gnat, Milwaukee

    Steven Goff, Pierce

    David Golub, Milwaukee

    Garrett Gondik, Douglas

    Michael Gonring, Milwaukee

    Rhonda Gorden, Ozaukee

    James Gramling Jr., Milwaukee

    Janice Grant, Waukesha

    Robert Gray, Marathon

    Rikaela Greane, Dane

    Nicholas Hahn, Outagamie

    Matthew Hand, Marathon


    Jennifer Haro, Milwaukee

    Lauren Harpke, Milwaukee

    Jeremiah Harrelson, St. Croix

    Michael Hatch, Milwaukee

    Eric Hatchell, Dane

    Kristine Havlik, Milwaukee

    Jonathan Heiden, Dane

    Gregory Heinen, Milwaukee

    Janet Heins, Waukesha

    Mark Hinkston, Racine

    Kari Hoel, Chippewa

    David Hollander, Dane

    William Hughes, Milwaukee

    Samantha Humes, Waukesha

    Kourtney Imig, Langlade

    Megan Isom, Milwaukee

    David Jennings III, Ozaukee

    Emma Jewell, Milwaukee

    Jason Johns, Dane

    Stephen Johnson, Door

    Steven Johnson, Outagamie

    Jill Johnson, Dane

    Nicholas Johnson, Milwaukee

    Benjamin Jordan, Milwaukee

    Emmaline Jurgena, Milwaukee

    Daniel Kaplan, Dane

    Harold Karas, Milwaukee

    Alexander Karnopp, Milwaukee

    Joseph Kaupie, Marathon

    Timothy Kay, Waukesha

    Bridgette Keating, Milwaukee

    David Keck, Winnebago

    Amanda Kerr, Milwaukee

    Bruce Keyes, Milwaukee

    Nicholas Kitzman, Milwaukee

    Eugene Krakow, Dane

    Margaret Krei, Milwaukee

    Bryan Kroes, Milwaukee

    Catherine La Fleur, Milwaukee

    Nicholas Lagerwall, Dane

    Shenaz Lakdawala, Waukesha

    Brian Laule, Pierce

    Justin Lauria-Banta, Milwaukee

    Jose Lazaro, Milwaukee

    Matthew Lee, Dane

    Matthew Lein, Sawyer

    Alexis Leonard, Milwaukee

    Michael Levey, Milwaukee

    Miranda Lezcano, Marathon

    Autumn Lindquist, St. Croix

    Mitchell Lindstrom, Milwaukee

    Benjamin Lockwood, Milwaukee

    Maura Logue, Milwaukee

    Kevin Long, Milwaukee

    Jack Longert, Dane

    Rebeca Lopez, Milwaukee

    Jessica Lothman, Milwaukee

    Jennifer Luther, Dane

    Andrew MacDonald, Outagamie

    Kevin Malaney, Milwaukee

    Kurt Malmquist II, Ozaukee

    Debra Mancoske, Brown

    Mont Martin, Milwaukee

    Ellen Matheson, Milwaukee

    Troy Mayne, Dane

    Amelia McCarthy, Door

    Melissa McCord, Milwaukee

    Patrick McDonald, Rock

    Max Meckstroth, Milwaukee

    Renee Medved, Milwaukee

    Andrew Meerkins, Milwaukee

    James Mentkowski, Milwaukee

    Justin Mertz, Milwaukee

    Bryan Mette, Dane

    William Michel II, Kenosha

    Jay Miller, Milwaukee

    Heidi Miller, Milwaukee

    John Mitby, Dane

    Rachel Monaco, Washington

    Jason Moore, Milwaukee

    Isaac Morris, Milwaukee

    John Movroydis, Waukesha

    Daniel Murphy, Milwaukee

    Ahmad Murrar, Milwaukee

    Timothy Muth, Milwaukee

    Brittany Naleid, Milwaukee

    Katelin Narlow, Milwaukee

    Daniel Narvey, Milwaukee

    Andrew Nelson, Dane

    Andrew Nelson, St. Croix

    John Neuenschwander, Kenosha

    Maxfield Neuhaus, Pierce

    Charles Niemann, Milwaukee

    Terry Nussberger, Rusk

    Angela O’Brien, Dane

    Odalo Ohiku, Milwaukee

    Eric Pangburn, Manitowoc

    Robert Parsons, Pierce

    Timothy Patterson, Milwaukee


    Jeffry Patzke, Walworth

    Rebecca Paul, Portage

    Mary Payne, Milwaukee

    Eric Pearson, Milwaukee

    Corissa Pennow, Milwaukee

    Michele Perreault, Dane

    Nancy Peterson, Milwaukee

    Randy Pflum, Dane

    Arthur Phillips, Milwaukee

    Thomas Phillips, Milwaukee

    Paul Piaskoski, Milwaukee

    Elisabeth Platt, Milwaukee

    Joseph Poehlmann, Milwaukee

    Adam Prinsen, Dane

    Gail Prock, Chippewa

    Joseph Puchner, Milwaukee

    Timothy Radelet, Dane

    Ryan Rainey, Dane

    Kristina Rasmussen, Dane

    David Reinecke, Dane

    Michael Reyes, Waukesha

    Beth Richlen, Marathon

    Sarah Rieger, Milwaukee

    Francis Rivard, Dunn

    Olivia Robinson, Milwaukee

    James Robinson Jr., Milwaukee

    Kristin Roeper, Milwaukee

    Dean Rohde, Pierce

    Mark Ropella, Milwaukee

    Anne Ross, Dane

    Tyler Roth, Milwaukee

    Samantha Roth, Dane

    Kelly Rourke, Milwaukee

    Craig Roush, Milwaukee

    Dee Rowe, Grant

    Joseph Russell, Milwaukee

    Rebecca Salawdeh, Milwaukee

    Robert Sanders, Milwaukee

    James Santelle, Waukesha

    Deborah Scheid, Milwaukee

    Jill Schilling, Eau Claire

    Samuel Schlewitz, Eau Claire

    Linda Schmidt, Dane

    Kristin Schrank, Waukesha

    Raymond Schrank II, Waukesha

    Thomas Schrimpf, Milwaukee

    Angela Schultz, Milwaukee

    Gerald Schwartz, New York

    Paul Schwartz, Dane

    Sara Scullen, Milwaukee

    Margaret Serrano, Milwaukee

    Riley Sexton, Milwaukee

    Allison Shepard, Eau Claire

    Thomas Shriner Jr., Milwaukee

    Kristin Sikora, Milwaukee

    Ellen Sinclair, Milwaukee

    Carol Skinner, St. Croix

    Walter Skipper, Milwaukee

    Jessica Slind, Dane

    Ashley Smith, Milwaukee

    Hannah Smith, Door

    Anita Sorensen, Dane

    Grant Sovern, Dane

    Gerald Sternberg, Dane

    Meredith Stier, Dane

    Pamela Stokke-Ceci, Milwaukee

    Matthew Swietlik, Milwaukee

    Danny Tang, Milwaukee

    George Tauscheck, Milwaukee

    Wes Taylor, Dane

    Michael Tobin, Dane

    Tracy Tool, Pierce

    Shelley Torvinen, Minnesota

    John Tripoli, Illinois

    Naikang Tsao, Dane

    John Turlais, Milwaukee

    Hillary Vedvig, Dane

    Susan VenRooy, Eau Claire

    Christina Wabiszewski, Milwaukee

    Thomas Walz, Dane

    Aaron Wegrzyn, Milwaukee

    Nick Welle, Milwaukee

    Cullen Werwie, Dane

    Chelsea Whitley, Polk

    Zachary Willenbrink, Milwaukee

    A.J. Williams, Brown

    Katelynn Williams, Dane

    Cristina Wirth, Pierce

    Jeremy Wodajo, Dane

    Sarah Yacoub, St. Croix

    Michael Yang, Dane

    Lilah Zajac, Waukesha

    Nicholas Zales, Milwaukee

    Jeanne Zamzow, Waushara

    Michael Zeka, Milwaukee

    Lauren Zenk, Milwaukee

    Sarah Zylstra, Dane

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