What makes you tick? What are your interests outside of work?
I love stories. I like to learn things about people, to try and understand them. That’s part escapism and part empathy, I think. As a result, I’m a voracious reader. I’ve usually got a novel and a nonfiction book on my nightstand. I like plays, television dramas, and movies.
Some of my favorite days might sound boring, as they involve simply spending time with the people I care about while we have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, talking and listening. I write creatively, but have no designs on attempting to publish; it’s just for me. I exercise.
When the weather permits, I particularly enjoy walking by the water and boating, and largely ignore any warnings about the need for sunscreen. I coach high school mock trial, and I get a lot of joy from watching the kids learn to be comfortable with public speaking.
I have a background in art history, so if I have the time, I like to read up on what’s going on in the art world and swing by the museum to check out an exhibit or two. I make sincere but mostly failed efforts at crossword puzzles.
What was your favorite vacation?
com gabe.johnsonkarp gmail Gabe Johnson-Karp, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Madison.
I don’t know that I can pick one favorite, but just about any trip to the mountains – particularly out west – would be a safe bet. I have lots of great memories from road trips out to Wyoming, feeling such awe and excitement when I would first be able to glimpse the Rockies on the horizon. But my favorite memories of those trips come from getting out of the car and into the mountains.
Part of what I enjoy is the preparation – poring over maps in anticipation of a trip into the backcountry, getting all of the gear set and packed into a backpack. At the same time, I embrace the need for constant awareness and flexibility that comes with being far away from common “safety” amenities like hospitals, or even a building to shelter you from a storm. Ultimately, I think my favorite aspect of these trips is the immersion in the outdoors: sleeping, hiking, cooking, and playing outside for a few days, all while being with people I love!
What are you reading for fun?
com Ben adamswoodrowlaw Ben Adams, Adams & Woodrow S.C., Neenah.
I’ve always enjoyed reading fiction as a break from other responsibilities. I am a Harry Potter fan, and have not found another author to match those great stories by J.K. Rowling. Years ago I loved Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve enjoyed all of Sara Paretsky’s “V. I. Warshawski” mystery series and quite a few “Kinsey Millhone” mysteries, authored by Sue Grafton.
Most recently I discovered a terrific series set in rural Quebec, Canada, written by Louise Penny. She creates great characters, including Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The first book in the series is Still Life.
Create some free time and take a break for a good read!
Your practice focuses on veterans’ benefits. What drew you to that practice area?
I would love to say that I ended up in this practice area because of a life-long dedication to veterans’ issues, but the truth is I took a much less purposeful path. After completing my undergraduate degree, I happened to be at a career fair and gave my resumé to a representative from the Milwaukee VA Regional Office. I was hired by the VA and worked in various roles processing veterans’ disability claims for seven years. During this time I started law school part-time at Marquette.
I still had no intention of using my experience with veterans’ issues after law school. In 2007, however, a major law change allowed attorneys to get involved much earlier in the claims process and in the semester leading up to graduation, with a terrible legal job market waiting for me, I first started thinking about going it alone in a veteran-oriented practice.
I am passionate about veterans’ issues, and about righting the wrongs that have been done to the men and women who have been fighting the system for so long. I am lucky to work with an amazing client base, and I could not imagine a more satisfying career.