“You have the right to an attorney…, except when you don’t!” Mary Ferwerda

The right to have an attorney, or to have one appointed for you, only exists when a person is charged with a crime and may be subject to jail or prison time. No similar right exists when you are dealing with civil legal issues that may have affect where you live, when you can see your children, what money you owe, or what you may inherit from a family member.

Legal Aid organizations provide excellent service, but cannot help all of those who qualify for their services.  Volunteer lawyers offer wonderful support, but they cannot meet the
demand. In Milwaukee, civil legal aid organizations respond by providing a continuum of
services, from self-help websites up to direct representation. One such organization, The
Milwaukee Justice Center, offers assistance to more than 10,000 of our Milwaukee neighbors through the generous service of more than 350 volunteers giving in excess of 12,000 hours of service each year.

Mary Ferwerda is the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Justice Center, a public-private partnership utilizing volunteers to provide self-help and brief legal advice services to self-represented litigants in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Mary graduated from Marquette University Law School with a certificate in Dispute Resolution from Marquette Graduate School.  She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Prior to completing law school, Mary worked for over 10 years in higher education administration at both Creighton University and Marquette University. She also spent the early part of her professional life working in treatment foster care at Boys’ Town in Omaha, Nebraska and Utah Youth Village in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Mary lives near the river and trails of Milwaukee’s East Side where she loves walking her two rescue dogs.