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Zoom luncheon will connect law students of color with panel of judges and lawyers

(L-r) Attorney Derek Hawkins, Judge Nia Trammell, and Attorney Michelle Behnke

Longtime local Black judges and lawyers will share advice and experiences with young law school students of color and delve into questions like “What is it like to be an attorney of color in Wisconsin?” and more as the Boardman & Clark Law Student Outreach Committee hosts an event today to connect with and provide resources for law students.

“This is a very important topic. Currently, Boardman & Clark has been increasing our diversity initiative and over the past couple of years we have been working with the [UW] law school on how we can do better with connecting with the law school and how students of color at the law school view us.” Alexis Wells, the marketing associate for Boardman & Clark LLP, tells Madison365. “One of the things they said was that ‘We don’t see you guys ever.’ That got us started on figuring out how we can connect with the law school.”

Alexis Wells


The one-hour Zoom meeting with four special guest panelists will take place today at noon. This opportunity will provide students with a chance to ask the panelists more candid, personal questions and get to know their experiences in a more intimate way.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell

“We’ve reached out to student groups who are focused on diversity at Marquette Law School and at UW-Madison Law School. We have several panelists including [Milwaukee County Circuit Court] Judge Carl Ashley, [Dane County Circuit Court] Judge Nia Trammell, Attorney Michelle Behnke, and Attorney Derek Hawkins. One of the law school students will be moderating the event,” Wells says. “Students will be asking the questions and running the show once it gets started.”

Attorneys at Boardman & Clark, located in downtown Madison, provide legal services to individuals, a wide range of business and corporate clients, school districts and local governments. Sarah Horner, Alexis Wells, and Julia Jagow are co-leaders of the Boardman & Clark Law Student Outreach Committee.  Horner and Jagow both graduated from UW Law this past year and clerked for Boardman Clark during law school. Wells has been Boardman Clark’s Marketing Associate for the past two years.

Attorney Derek Hawkins

“The two people working on this [Jagow and Horner] with me at the firm are two brand-new associates who started in June and I am still pretty new to this, so it’s very exciting for us because we are new to this and they are letting us do what we want around these diversity initiatives,” Wells says. “We are so excited about it and we are looking forward to doing more.”

The Committee has invited University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Education Opportunities Program (LEO) students, which includes the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), the Latinx Law Student Association (LLSA), the Asian Law Student Association (ALSA), the Indigenous Law Student Association (ILSA), and the Middle Eastern Law Student Association (MELSA). 

Attorney Michelle Behnke

This is an event that Boardman Clark Law Student Outreach Committee actually planned back in April to be an in-person event. “Then everything shut down and we had to adjust to the new way of life,” Wells says. 

This will be the first in a series of diversity initiatives with Boardman who will be hosting future events about diverse attorney experiences in Wisconsin workplaces. In the future, they plan to host subsequent panels to focus on other facets of diversity, such as being an LGBTQ+ attorney in Wisconsin, a millennial attorney working with baby boomers, an attorney who is a mother or father, an attorney with a disability, etc.

“We would love for this to be the first of many. Being a person of color or an LGBTQ+ attorney can be a broad umbrella – what if we broke this down and then we just started a series so we could include what it’s like to be a mother and an attorney in Wisconsin or a millennial LGBTQ?” Wells says. “We really want to do a wide variety of things to give the students an opportunity to connect with attorneys and judges.”

“What is it like to be an attorney of color in Wisconsin?” is a free event. During the virtual panel, the organizers will raffle off a virtual “lunch with a panelist.”

“It’s going to be a fun time and a great event,” Wells says. “We are very excited about hosting this panel and looking forward to connecting with law students this year.”