Dec. 16, 2015 – When he retired from Ruder Ware Law Firm in Wausau, Klingberg found an outlet for his desire to help. He’s now a regular volunteer with Wisconsin Judicare, the legal aid program serving Wisconsin’s northern counties.
How did you get involved with pro bono work?
I spent my career at the firm as a commercial litigator. I had always done some pro bono work, but after I retired, I spent about eight months thinking about what to do next. I saw an article about the need for pro bono help and called Marka Henkelman at Wisconsin Judicare to find out how I could help. My involvement grew from there.
Is it a big commitment?
I help out at Judicare’s office in Wausau three to four days a week for a few hours at a time. It fits into my schedule, and I have plenty of time for other things. I also serve as a municipal judge in Wausau.
What sort of work are you doing?
Find Pro Bono Opportunities in Your Area
To find a pro bono opportunity in your area, visit the Pro Bono: A Call to Serve page on WisBar.org, where you can search the directory for volunteer opportunities by county, by keyword, by the type of service or clients involved and the program's name. Email the State Bar's pro bono coordinator, Jeff Brown, if you need help finding a project that fits your interests, or if you have any additions or corrections for the directory.
For a pro bono opportunity you can do at home, read more about Wisconsin Legal Advice Online.
I’m often providing help on family law and some eviction issues for Judicare clients. Some of the family law clients are victims of domestic violence. I also occasionally help out with clients who are in Merrill, in neighboring Lincoln County.
In the Judicare office, I answer help line calls related to family law and housing issues, and I meet with clients in person when they need a little more help with a form or a pleading.
The help line calls are screened for eligibility first, then I call them back at a pre-scheduled time.
The calls may be brief – 15 minutes – or much longer, and sometimes require follow up – calling the court or an attorney on the other side to help resolve a simple issue. I also help people get a small claims action started and apply for a fee waiver using the court system’s standard forms.
What kind of support do you have?
I use the phone and computers in Judicare’s office. I also have access to the State Bar’s books on family law and landlord-tenant law.
Nominate a Hero for a Pro Bono Award
Do you know a pro bono hero – a person or organization who has made a difference in their community? Each year, the State Bar's Legal Assistance Committee annually recognizes attorneys and organizations for their outstanding pro bono service.
The committee is now accepting nominations for the Pro Bono Awards to recognize outstanding efforts in pro bono work.
To find out more, read this article in the Nov. 18, 2015 issue of InsideTrack.
The lawyers at Judicare also have been able to guide me as well. As a volunteer lawyer, I’m covered under Judicare’s professional liability insurance.
How does what you do as a volunteer make a difference?
I recently worked with a client to help her on some issues related to service by publication on a foreign spouse so that she could proceed with her divorce. I helped her with a reconsideration motion, and we were able to convince the court why regular service had not been accomplished and why it would be pointless to dismiss her case when the spouse was outside the U.S.
Sometimes the clients I help don’t have anyone to listen to them. So, we listen and we try to help. As a volunteer, I give them what advice I can about what the law is, how the process works, how to make certain arguments and their options in the case. The work has been rewarding for me.