KU Legal Aid Clinic alumnus Bill Walberg, L’15, believes all consumers should have appropriate counsel when defending their rights. He recently returned to Green Hall to teach students the fundamentals of debt collection defense as the clinic considers taking on consumer defense cases.
Walberg is an associate at Evans & Mullinix in Shawnee. He practices in the areas of civil litigation, collection law, business law, corporate law, creditor rights and estate planning.
During his visit to KU Law, he told Legal Aid Clinic students that consumers should have the ability to access legal resources to understand the process and their rights. He reviewed the phases of a typical debt litigation case, which can include a contract, initial collection, pre-lawsuit negotiation, lawsuit and post-judgment execution.
Walberg remembers the Legal Aid Clinic as his best experience as a KU Law student.
“It gave me an opportunity to get real courtroom experience that you really can’t get in any other classroom situation,” he said. “I really, really believe in the clinic experience.”
Through the Legal Aid Clinic, KU Law students provide legal assistance for low-income clients at the Lawrence Municipal Court and Douglas County District Court.
“I highly encourage any law student to do some sort of clinic that gets them inside the courtroom, especially if they want to do litigation,” Walberg said. “If you get that experience in law school, you are 10 steps ahead of your competition going into the job market.”
Clinic Director Melanie DeRousse and Associate Clinic Director Meredith Schnug taught Walberg while he was in law school.
“If I recall correctly, he had zero interest in doing litigation. He mentioned that he was pretty petrified of being in a courtroom,” Schnug said. “He was an excellent clinic student. After doing the semester and doing actual work with clients, he grew to love that type of law. Now, he’s in court all the time and loves it.”
DeRousse and Schnug approached Walberg about coming to speak to the Legal Aid Clinic seminar class because of his knowledge of consumer defense. Though this is the first time Schnug has invited a former student to teach current students, she hopes it won’t be the last. She also enjoys seeing former students in the courtroom.
“It is really neat once the students graduate,” Schnug said. “We see our former students in court, which is really rewarding when we are on a docket together.”
Through Walberg’s lecture, students enrolled in the Legal Aid Clinic seminar class had the opportunity to see how their day-to-day responsibilities in the clinic will translate into their future practice.
“When they first graduate – and even years from now – the experiences that they are having right now really shape how they perceive the practice and shape their professional identity,” Schnug said.
Going forward, the Legal Aid Clinic hopes to continue to learn about debt collection defense and potentially take on clients for this area of the practice.
— By Ashley Hocking