Guided by a Spirit to Serve the Disadvantaged, Reinhart Attorney Earns Firm's Prestigious Pro Bono Award

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MILWAUKEE – Many attorneys donate pro bono work. Reinhart's Thomas M. Burnett embraces it. From helping victims of domestic abuse to successfully representing a local nonprofit that advocates for those with disabilities, Burnett's efforts serving the disadvantaged have earned him Reinhart's prestigious Pro Bono Attorney of the Year award.

The annual award recognizes exceptional efforts by the firm's attorneys to give back to the community and provide counsel to those who otherwise could not afford legal services. Since he joined the firm in 2009, Burnett, an attorney in Reinhart's Litigation Practice, has shown a true and sustained commitment to pro bono work and social justice on a variety of matters.

Volunteering on two recent pro bono cases, he represented local nonprofit Disability Rights Wisconsin, a private organization designated by the governor to ensure the rights of all state citizens with disabilities. Burnett worked a difficult case for the agency but ultimately achieved a very favorable outcome late last year. The organization honored Burnett with an achievement award in January.

"We thank Tom for his decision to invest considerable time, talent and firm resources to represent Disability Rights Wisconsin's interests in a matter of considerable procedural complexity," said Dan Idzikowski, Executive Director of Disability Rights Wisconsin. "Tom took the reins in this case, and, through excellent briefing and oral arguments before the court, obtained a successful and satisfying resolution for our organization."

Burnett also volunteered to work on a matter involving an appointment by the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Again, Burnett overcame numerous challenges and handled a critical hearing with the utmost professionalism. Both matters involved significant time investments, including Burnett's personal time.

Advocating for the disadvantaged is in Burnett's nature. In partnership with Legal Action of Wisconsin and a team of Reinhart attorneys, Burnett has successfully secured many court-ordered restraining orders and injunctions on behalf of victims of domestic violence. Throughout his career, he has actively participated on Reinhart's Domestic Abuse Injunction team, handling many injunction hearings and appeals on behalf of domestic abuse victims.

"I'm proud to join the many attorneys—at Reinhart and elsewhere—who take very seriously our obligation to serve the community and help those in need," said Burnett. "I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to dedicate such a significant portion of my practice to pro bono work, and count the experiences I've gained through that work among my most memorable—and meaningful—experiences as a lawyer."

Burnett also recently completed serving as public service special assistant prosecutor through a Reinhart program at the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office. His supervising prosecutor made a special point to comment on Burnett's courtroom skills and successful prosecutions while serving there, a fact noted by Reinhart's leadership.

"Tom's drive to seek justice for the disadvantaged has been inspiring to watch, and he has set a remarkable example for the entire legal profession," said Reinhart CEO Jerome M. Janzer. "In receiving this award, Tom joins a distinguished group of attorneys that all have dedicated their time and talents to helping those who otherwise would not be able to find justice. We are proud of Tom and the outstanding spirit for advocacy and social justice that he brings to all of his pro bono efforts."

Reinhart created the annual award to recognize attorneys that embody a spirit of service on behalf of persons and organizations that cannot afford legal representation. In fact, the roots of Reinhart's pro bono service extend back to 1916, when the firm's founding member, William Kaumheimer, was instrumental in creating the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.


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