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Alumni National Awards



Posner FoundationGene and Ruth Posner Foundation

From his days as a law student, Gene Posner, Law ’36, embraced the concept of pro bono publico — “for the public good.” Today, the Gene and Ruth Posner Foundation continues to profoundly influence the Law School’s pro bono activities, enabling students to make a difference for people on society’s margins.

A lawyer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and lifelong Milwaukeean, Gene established the Posner Foundation with his wife, Ruth, in 1963. “They loved Milwaukee and felt that this was the perfect vehicle to show their appreciation in perpetuity by supporting organizations that improve residents’ quality of life, education and health,” says the couple’s grandson, Josh Gimbel, president of the Posner Foundation and an attorney at Milwaukee-based Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown.

Gene initiated support for Marquette Law School in 1988 with generous and recurring contributions to the dean’s discretionary fund. His desire to help the Law School expand the reach of its pro bono work was realized in 2005, the same year he passed away at age 90. That year, the Law School established its Office of Public Service. Since then, the Posner Foundation has generously supported the growth and development of the Law School’s pro bono and public service work.

Hundreds of law students have served low-income people through free assistance at Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic locations throughout the city and via the Mobile Legal Clinic. To date, working with volunteer lawyers, Marquette law students have assisted more than 100,000 clients and have provided more than $10 million worth of free legal services.

In 2008, Josh helped design a collaboration with Marquette Law School, the Milwaukee Bar Association, and the Milwaukee County Clerk of Courts. Together, the partners founded the Milwaukee Justice Center, located in the Milwaukee County Courthouse, with a dual mission to assist self-represented individuals in civil matters and expand law students’ participation in and understanding of access-to-justice issues. In 2019, the center celebrated a decade of helping thousands of people each year.
2008 also saw the creation of the Law School’s annual Posner Exchange, an event that has helped advance Gene’s desire to elevate students’ affinity for pro bono work. This annual celebration at the Law School includes a conversation with a national figure in public service law and is accompanied by a student induction ceremony into the Law School’s Pro Bono Society.

In short, the Posner Foundation has helped create a culture in which more than 70 percent of Marquette law students participate in pro bono service.

Gene recognized that when one practices law, there comes with it a responsibility to contribute to the larger society, according to Joseph D. Kearney, dean of the Law School. “Together with his colleagues at the Posner Foundation, Josh has more than honored the memory of his grandfather, Gene. He has helped make Marquette Law School’s pro bono work something that makes a difference in people’s lives every day,” Kearney says.

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