Public Interest Law Section | State Bar of Wisconsin​

The Public Interest Law Section provides a forum for public interest lawyers statewide to discuss and promote public interest issues and concerns. Members are involved in issues affecting low-income and underrepresented persons; government benefits; consumer protection; housing; disability rights; elder law; access to health care; constitutional/civil rights; environmental justice; fair employment/labor; women’s rights; violence against women, and reproductive health care. The section monitors and proposes legislation, sponsors CLE programs, works closely with law students, and has a listserv.

The State Bar of Wisconsin offers its members the opportunity to network with other lawyers who share a common interest through its 24 sections. Learn more at http://www.wisbar.org/groups.

Approximately 37,000 people in Wisconsin who were previously deemed ineligible for an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) may now be entitled to one.1 A recent ruling in a class-action lawsuit means that people in jail or prison cannot be denied a stimulus payment based solely on their incarceration status.2 It’s important to understand who is affected by this court order and what steps, if any, they need to take in order to receive their payment. The deadline was Oct. 30, 2020, for those filing by mail, but those filing online may do so by Nov. 21, 2020. About the…
Public Interest Law Section Blog October 30 2020 Working with Domestic Abuse Survivors: What Advocates Want You to Know Megan L. Sprecher and Araceli Wence Domestic abuse is a serious societal problem, the ramifications of which are felt in every community. Megan Sprecher and Araceli Wence provide tips for working with survivors of domestic abuse. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the perfect time for attorneys and other legal professionals to commit to learning more about the issue and consider ways to make their practice more welcoming and less re-traumatizing to survivors. Domestic abuse advocates at programs across the state…
There are many factors that go into making a decision regarding health care coverage. With the Open Enrollment beginning soon, it is important to know what changes there are, given both issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the Health Insurance Marketplace during 2020. Open Enrollment The Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period runs from Sunday, Nov. 1 through Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020.1 Coverage begins Jan. 1, 2021.2 If you do not enroll in a plan by Dec. 15, 2020, enrollment is not available at any other time of the year unless you qualify for a…
Just like you cannot judge a book by its cover, you cannot judge the contents of an executive order by its title. President Donald Trump’s Memorandum for the Secretary of Education issued August 8, 2020, is titled: Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic At first blush, you may assume this is just a continuation of the legislature’s previously enacted CARES Act, which allows for deferred student loan payments to count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) through Sept. 30, 2020, so long as you would have otherwise qualified for the payment to count. However,…
During the Covid19 pandemic, there is uncertainty as to what will happen with the start of the 2020-21 school year in approximately three months. Parents may have unease about their children returning to a classroom as we wait for the development of a vaccine. Wisconsin offers the option of attendance with a virtual charter school. Charter Schools in Wisconsin All charter schools in Wisconsin are “public, nonsectarian schools created through a business-like contract of ‘charter’ between the charter governance board and the sponsoring school board or other chartering authority.”1 Charter schools are created with the best elements of regular…
In a victory for public interest lawyers, the U.S. Department of Education recently settled a 2016 lawsuit brought by the American Bar Association (ABA) regarding the Department’s retroactive changes to the standards governing what qualifies as a “public service organization” under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). Background The issue and settlement stem from a December 2016 lawsuit, filed by the ABA and four other public servants, regarding the department’s new standards governing whether non-501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations like the ABA qualified as “public service organizations” under PSLF. The plaintiffs worked in public service and were initially approved for loan…
Public Interest Law Section Blog April 06 2020 Federal Student Loans and the CARES Act Elizabeth A. Groeschel The current COVID-19 pandemic impacts everyone and everything, including federal student loans. In this Tip of the Month, Liz Groeschel details Section 3513 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers. The current COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone and everything, including federal student loans. Section 3513 of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, provides temporary relief for federal student loan borrowers.…
The start of a new year is a great time to get hold of your finances and think about where you can save money. It’s also a great time to think about taxes (or procrastinate until April when you have no choice but to think about your taxes). So, how does the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program fit into your tax plan?1 About the Program The PSLF program has a number of requirements that must be followed exactly in order to take advantage of the program. The PSLF program is a loan forgiveness program for individuals, including attorneys,…
Attorneys and others seeking to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program must comply with several requirements to have their student loans forgiven. The Public Interest Law Section will continue to provide information and resources on PSLF in the coming months to help our members. If you missed it, the first post on PSLF was in the October Tip of the Month post by Susan Lund, addressing the Employer Certification Form. org arabe judicare Amanda Rabe, Marquette 2012, is lead attorney with the civil unit of Wisconsin Judicare in Wausau, and chair of the Public Interest Law Section…
It is common knowledge that childhood impacts adulthood. There is strong evidence showing that activities such as engaging in play or reading to your child will have long-term positive effects on brain development and social functioning. However, the studies into the darker aspects of childhood have been slower to emerge. This might be because of the content matter, or it might be because of the “bootstrap” ethos that permeates our culture. As a society we are quick to associate successes with positive upbringing, yet slower to correlate failures with negative upbringing. While research continues to advance, the data overwhelmingly shows…
Borrowers working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) should do all they can to ensure that they are on track for loan forgiveness. The best way to do that is to submit the Employment Certification Form (ECF) annually and at other strategic times. To qualify for PSLF, borrowers must work for a government agency or for certain types of nonprofit organizations; work full time for that agency or organization; have Direct Loans (or consolidate1 other federal student loans to qualify); repay their loans on an income-driven repayment plan; and make 120 qualifying payments. The Employment Certification Form Borrowers working toward…
On Aug. 14, 2019 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final public charge regulation. This rule, effective Oct. 15, 2019, applies to people applying to adjust their status (get a “green card”) or change or renew their status from within the United States. The rule is not retroactive. A different rule governs public charge assessment for people who apply for their green card or admission from a U.S. Consulate outside the U.S. Impact of DHS Rule The publication of the new rule is causing many immigrant families to be fearful that continued use of public benefits…
Public Interest Law Section Blog September 03 2019 Tip of the MonthWhen Clients Fear Public Benefits Erica K. Lopez As a public interest attorney, you may have low-income clients not taking public benefits they are eligible for. When that happens, says Erica Lopez, it is critical to the clients to find out why. When public interest attorneys work with low income clients who are not currently receiving public benefits, it is critical to ask clients why they have chosen not to apply or receive those benefits. In this political climate, many immigrant clients (both those authorized to live in the…
In our daily work as public interest attorneys, we are confronted with the task of delivering difficult and unwanted news to our clients. Working with impoverished or otherwise disadvantaged clients means that our clients come to the table with many stressors in their daily life. Often, the deck is stacked against them legally as well, and we have the burdensome task of delivering all kinds of bad news. wi stockbridgee opd gov Elisabeth Stockbridge, U.W. 2009, is an attorney with the state Public Defender’s office in Shawano. How public interest attorneys communicate this difficult information can help clients prepare to…