Outstanding Public Interest Law Student Award - University of Wisconsin Law School
The State Bar’s Public Interest Section encourages attorneys to provide public interest services, promotes public interest issues, and enhances the viability and visibility of public interest law. It presents four awards recognizing law students, legal workers, and lawyers.
The Public Interest Law Student of the Year is awarded for a demonstrated commitment to working in the public interest and helping others. It recognizes exceptional public interest volunteer work or activism in the community, the community at large, or the law school community. One student is honored from U.W. Law School and one from Marquette Law School.
This year’s recipient is William “Bill” Grau. William is a 2011 graduate of Wausau East High School, and a two-time graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Communications in 2015, and he graduated with his Juris Doctorate in 2019.
While attending U.W. Law School, Bill logged 277 pro bono hours. According to his nominator, the Director of the Office of Career and Professional Development and the Pro Bono Program at U.W. Law School, this was “far and away the most hours of any graduating student.”
How did Bill spend nearly 300 hours of his time? He led the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, offering informational sessions and recruiting and training new volunteers. In 2019, 40 U.W. law students were certified to help students file their returns – a number that hit 2,000 in 2018. Bill also volunteered at the Community Immigration Law Clinic, as well as the Ready to Rent program which teaches incarcerated individuals in Dane County how to secure affordable housing. Bill was also a competitor in mock trial and handled all of the team’s travel arrangements – which the faculty adviser admitted is “no easy task.”
Bill’s nominators were in agreement that he is a true believer in the importance of pro bono work and set an example to his fellow students “by doing.” They remarked, “Bill always is seeking to help those around him [to] be better, and never seeks reward.”
Bill is currently attending Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. Upon graduating, he plans to attend the Naval Justice School in Newport, RI, ultimately using his time and talents to be a Judge Advocate in the Marine Corps.