Focus on the Student Experience: Legal Matters
Paralegal students expand free legal clinic in the Fox Valley.
PHOTO: Paralegal instructor Christine Perkovich O'Brien (left) and her students (left to right, front row) Toni Hasenfus, Jeremy Schoenike and Anna McGraw presented the concept of expanding the free legal clinics to Outagamie County judges and court commissioners.
Prior to graduating from Fox Valley Technical College’s Paralegal program, Jeremy Schoenike, Anna McGraw and Toni Hasenfus decided to use what they were learning as students to help others. “We were returning from a paralegal conference,” Schoenike recalls, “and came up with the idea of creating a free legal clinic in Appleton.”
Today, the Fox Valley Free Legal Assistance Clinic helps more than 100 residents a month navigate the complexities of common legal matters. With locations in the Neenah, Menasha and Oshkosh Public Libraries and on FVTC’s Appleton campus, the clinics are staffed by volunteer lawyers and paralegal students and graduates. Each clinic is open once a month under the direction of FVTC Paralegal Instructor Christine Perkovich O’Brien. See upcoming schedule >>
Schoenike, a 2017 Paralegal program graduate, has a history of helping others. He has served as a youth sports coach and as a supervisor for his local township. “When I decided to change careers at age 30, I knew I wanted to work with people,” he states. “Fox Valley Tech’s Paralegal program was a perfect fit.”
Today, Schoenike volunteers at the clinics while working full-time as a legal secretary for the Wisconsin State Public Defenders Office. “We are the first contact with clients to determine eligibility and answer questions,” says the 33-year-old native of Big Falls, Wisconsin. “There are always new challenges, but FVTC taught me how to think critically and find answers.”