'Rarely Represented’ in Law Field, Students Complete
Diversity Clerkship Program

Clerking for Experience
By Mike Wiltse, State Bar of Wisconsin

Brittani Miller is one of 19 first-year University of Wisconsin and Marquette University
law school students soon to complete the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 10-week Diversity
Clerkship Program, where she was matched with Alliant Energy Corporation to give
her practical legal experience.

Like many students in the program, Miller, who is African American, has faced her
share of challenges to get to where she is today at the University of Wisconsin.

Miller spent a number of years as a ward of the state of New York, growing up in the
foster care system, before her grandparents received guardianship of her. She
attended 12 different schools before graduating from the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. Post university life, Miller entered the Air Force, and while serving her
country, she earned an associate’s degree in paralegal studies.

“Growing up, my grandfather would tell me, ‘You’re Black and a woman; that’s two
strikes against you,’ and ‘you have to work twice as hard to be considered half as
good.’ While these phrases seem hard, he wanted to make sure I was aware of some
of the hurdles I would face once I left home,” she wrote in her Diversity Clerkship
application.

“He instilled in me the motivation and drive to not only overcome my early childhood
experiences in foster care, but to also push me forward to work hard and beat the statistics. He taught me that my world view may be different from other
people I would interact with, and that it is important to hear their views and share my own.”

Her summer clerkship experience, she says, has been invaluable. “I have felt like a valued member of the Alliant Energy team since my very first day. The
diversity of projects I’ve been assigned and the groups of people I have gotten to work with have really helped me determine what kind of attorney I want to
be. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people.”

Looking beyond the reservation for a future back home
Forrest Gauthier grew up on the Menominee Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin. The product of a single parent home, Gauthier was the first in his family
to graduate college. He studied community and environmental sociology at UW-Madison, and after graduation worked at the Menominee Tribal Clinic helping
his community with obesity prevention and nutrition improvement — but wanted to do more so he enrolled in law school. He decided to apply for the State Bar’
s program because his background is “rarely represented in law” and because “there is a need for people to understand Indian law and the policies affecting
communities like mine.”
In the Rotunda at the State Bar, Diversity Clerkship Program
participants include First Row: Mathias Rekowski (l-r), Forrest
Gauthier, Brittani Miller, and Gabrielle Tielman-Fenelus Middle Row:
Richard Esparza, Lauren Nelson, Annie Louk, and Amakie Amattey
Back Row: Wilfredo Navarro, Rongyi Lin, Liuzhouyi Liu, Jenny
Kumosz, and Christian Vu. Students not in the photo include Keyana
Payne, Lan Milhomme, Luke Schaetzel, Oniquca Wright, Amanda
Meyers, and Aleina McGettrick — Photo from State Bar of Wisconsin
“My dad always challenged me to look at life beyond the
reservation,” Gauthier wrote in his application. “I wonder if he
knew that leaving would only strengthen my resolve to come
back.”

Gauthier clerked at Boardman & Clark and described his
experience as “great,” noting he helped the firm with legal
research.

Other University of Wisconsin and Marquette University Law
School students in the State Bar’s program come from as far
away as China, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Some students come
from urban centers like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Washington, D.
C. While others come from smaller cities, like Dubuque, Iowa.

Supporting a diverse and inclusive Wisconsin legal community
is a priority for the State Bar. A diverse and inclusive legal
profession ensures access to underserved populations and
advances the principal of equal justice for all.

Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, a Madison-based law firm with an
office in Milwaukee, was recognized by the State Bar as a
Champion of Diversity for its 20-year commitment to the program.

The program, in its 27th year, has placed nearly 500 students into
paid internships since its inception in 1993. The 2019
participants include Amakie Amattey, Richard Esparza, Forrest
Gauthier, Jenny Kumosz, Rongyi Lin, Liuzhouyi Liu, Annie Louk,
Aleina McGettrick, Amanda Meyers, Brittani Miller, Lan
Milhomme, Wilfredo Navarro, Lauren Nelson, Keyana Payne,
Mathias Rekowski, Luke Schaetzel, Gabrielle Tielman-Fenelus,
Christian Vu, and Oniquca Wright.

The employers include Alliant Energy Corp., Madison; Bell Moore
& Richter, S.C., Madison; Boardman &  Clark LLP, Madison;
Church Mutual Insurance Co., Merrill, WI; David Werwie &
Associates (State Farm), St. Paul, MN; Fiserv Inc., Brookfield; GE
Healthcare, Waukesha; Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman PC,
Milwaukee; Law Office of Odalo J. Ohiku, Milwaukee; Law
Offices of Thomas Stilp, Milwaukee; Madison City Attorney’s
Office; Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office; Northwestern Mutual,
Milwaukee, WI; Quartz Health Solutions, Madison; Regal Beloit,
Beloit; Rockwell Automation Inc., Milwaukee; Smith Amundsen
LLC, Milwaukee; Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, Madison/Milwaukee;
and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Madison.