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Michael J. Gonring featured in article “Bus provides legal counsel on wheels”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Following is an excerpt:

The little bus that packs a big legal punch was parked at The Woodlands housing complex at the corner of N. 91st St. and W. Brown Deer Road on the city's northwest side. There, low-income residents with civil legal problems could get free advice from lawyers who were working pro bono.

For the Mobile Legal Clinic, Saturday marked a maiden cruise after a test run last month.

The bus is outfitted with two offices, chairs, desks, computers, printers and wireless Internet.

It's the brainchild of Michael Gonring, a partner at Quarles & Brady, and was made possible by gifts from his fellow law partners, Frank Daily and Julianna Ebert. The program is designed to bring legal help to those who need it most, especially in the far reaches of the community.

For some, it's a lengthy bus trip to get downtown to the Milwaukee Justice Center inside the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The Justice Center is a collaborative project between the Milwaukee Bar Association, Marquette University and Milwaukee County.

In 2012, the Milwaukee Justice Center served 10,659 clients.

"The problem of the unrepresented poor is huge," Gonring said. "Poor people need all sorts of legal help from full representation to brief legal advice."

The legal questions encountered may often be simple for the lawyers but they're huge to the clients, Gonring said.

Gonring showed up to see how things were going and then jumped in to help clients. Jeff Barrett, a business attorney at Michael Best & Friedrich, also pitched in.

In the fall, the Mobile Legal Clinic is expected to stop once a month in a parking lot at The Woodlands. In the spring, more places could be added, Gonring said.

"Any one of these clinics that opens is eventually overrun," Gonring said. "I think eventually we'll have to go to more than one spot."

Originally published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 20, 2013