Nestled on Taylor Avenue, just south of 16th Street in Racine, is the new Patton Law Office. Founded by David and Tamara Patton in January 2021, this law firm is busy within the Racine and Kenosha communities, with a particular focus on serving those whose lives have been marginalized within the social – and more specifically, the legal – structures of our world.
Social issues and activism are at the forefront of their business model. They subscribe to a holistic law approach, as legal problems affect a person’s entire life, not just parts of it.
The typical “scales of justice” symbol seen in many law firms is not what people will see upon finding Patton Law Office. Instead, they are greeted by a lighthouse. Why? For people caught up in the legal system, the entire process can be brutal. This team of change-makers stands boldly in the middle of the storm to help those navigate their way through what can be the greatest challenge of their lives.
“The justice system is the storm that they’re in, and we want to be that light to help them find their way out,” David said.
Meet the team
At the helm of the ship is attorney David Patton, also known as “the laptop lawyer.” He is known for accessibility and even traveling to meet the clients where they are at. David has an extensive background as a public defender first in South Dakota, and more recently in Kenosha County. He also has experience in tribal work, as well as spending a year at an environmental nonprofit from time spent in Minnesota. Areas of expertise include Criminal Defense, Family Law, Indian Law, Juvenile Defense, Children in Need of Protection/Termination of Parental Rights (CHIPS/TPR), and Victim Rights.
Attorney Patton was featured in the PBS documentary, “Out in Rural America.”
Director of Operations Tamara Patton focuses on client support. Prior to her role here, Tamara was a housing case manager within social services. A unique aspect within a for-profit law firm, Patton’s client services reach deep into the heart of disparity among the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. Tamara assists clients with alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) issues, housing, mental health, benefits and even the lack of medical care in jails. She also heads up the firm’s community outreach endeavors, partnering with different groups and finding where they can be most useful in the community.
Avery Abbott, a paralegal, handles criminal matters within Kenosha, offers tech support within the office and heads up The Avery Project, which offers free legal support for name and gender marker changes.
Attorney Grant Henderson is the most recent addition to the Patton Law team. He most recently worked for the Racine Public Defender’s Office.
Rebecca Reed is the other paralegal within the team, and has 20 years of experience, especially in family law.
Libby Lalonde attends Carthage College and rounds out the staff as their college-intern-turned-legal-secretary.
Taking real action
The team at Patton Law Office works to bring equity to those who have not had the same benefits as those considered to be within the margins of mainstream society. Those who are part of the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities are a large part of who this team serves.
Discounts for criminal case defendants
Those within the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities statistically earn less, are incarcerated more, and experience discrimination not only in everyday life, but also within the legal system. This disparity can also be seen in wealth distribution, career representation, and many other areas.
“Instead of just tweeting and memes and so forth,” David explained how the team is “actually taking some real action in the world to live our values.”
The team at Patton Law Office is working to bridge the gap within the legal system, especially with regards to criminal cases. For those who are among the BIPOC and/or LGBTQ communities and seeking legal representation, the firm offers a discount (ranging from $500-$2,000 off of flat fees, for instance). While this doesn’t fix everything, as David explained, it’s making a difference in their small corner of the world.
“We offer a discount to Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Queer folks as members of groups that have been traditionally marginalized – and targeted – by the criminal legal system,” said David.
By Your Side Family Support
By Your Side Family Support (BYS) is the nonprofit David opened in addition to the law firm to provide social services alongside legal services. This helps to fulfill the holistic approach within the practice.
The Avery Project
Some people are not able to change their name to reflect who they truly are as an individual, which can lead – or contribute – to continued emotional and mental health problems. Offering a way for someone to make this legal change through personal and/or financial support is another example of how they are working within their “one small corner” of the world to effect positive change.
Kids Protection Plan®
No one wants to think about leaving children behind. In the event that this should become a reality, the Kids Protection Plan® offered through the firm is a free and simple way to name legal guardians for your children, that will leave no room for questions or error, should something happen to the parents. This peace of mind is especially crucial in the LGBTQ community, but is important no matter what your family unit looks like.
Sponsoring community events such as a Kenosha Kingfish mental health awareness day is another aspect of the holistic approach to serving the community.
Patton Law Office has also been an active sponsor of the Wisconsin Black Art & Culture Expo spearheaded by Mahogany Gallery and UW-Parkside.
Intersection of art and justice
The exterior of the Patton Law Office building has been undergoing a facelift since October 2022. Local artist, business owner and civil rights advocate Scott Terry has been working on transforming the blank exterior into his vision of Langston Hughes’ beloved poem “Justice.”
The mural nears completion just in time for the law firm’s open house, which will take place this Thursday (Jan. 26).
The poem has since been placed onto the mural; stop by Thursday to see the progress.
The official Patton Law Office Ribbon Cutting and Open House takes place from noon until 2 p.m. on Thursday The office is located at 1636 Taylor Ave. All are welcome to attend. For more information, contact the team at 262-221-4848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Patton Law Office
As a mission-driven law firm serving both Racine and Kenosha, Patton Law strives to differentiate itself from other private firms by practicing a holistic representation and even having a Client Support Specialist on staff. Attorney Patton and his team understand that their clients’ legal affairs affect their lives outside of the courtroom. They work with clients to address the underlying causes and the collateral effects of those legal issues. The staff also works within the community to dismantle the systems that oppress their clients and advocate for pathways that will allow their clients to succeed.
Patton Law also operates out of a satellite location, located at 3636 80th St. in Kenosha.
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