Katherine Maloney Perhach, Arts ’97,
When a Senegalese woman sought asylum in the United States, Katie Perhach stepped forward.
Although Katie officially practices commercial litigation at Quarles & Brady LLP–representing clients in real estate, health care, construction and bankruptcy litigation matters–she devotes much of her time to pro bono work. It was in that capacity that she helped the woman from Senegal, who had conceived a child out of wedlock with a non-Muslim man, and faced the stark possibility of a “customary” beating by her male relatives upon her return to her native country.
Defending a pro bono client who is seeking asylum is just one example of how Katie lives out what she learned at Marquette University. “Marquette instilled in me ‘cura personalis’–a deep appreciation for each individual person and the belief that all persons matter,” she says.
Katie says that “pro bono work is especially important to me because I feel like I am helping people who cannot, for one reason or another, help themselves. I am able to provide a voice for someone who would otherwise be voiceless in what can be a very scary and unfamiliar legal environment.”
Other pro bono clients include contentious family battles over child custody; one woman sought to be the appointed guardian of her sister’s two minor children after that sister died in a car accident. Katie also volunteers her time at the restraining order clinic run by the Task Force on Family Violence at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where she assists victims of domestic abuse and harassment in obtaining restraining orders against their abusers.