What are you reading now? Do you have a favorite genre?
Kara M. Burgos, Moen Sheehan Meyer Ltd., La Crosse
"I tend to read two or three books at a time, and have one playing in the car for long road trips!"
Despite reading for most of my day, I am an avid reader during my spare time. I tend to read two or three books at a time, and have one playing in the car for long road trips! My favorite genre is historical fiction. I am currently reading The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, The Gathering by Anne Enright, and The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. My favorite author is Isabelle Allende. I have read all of her books and look forward to each time she releases a new one.
What is your “comfort food”?
Andrew Hebl, Boardman & Clark LLP, Madison
"Portugal is an absolute treasure trove of deliciousness."
My wife, Rita, is from Portugal, and through her I have been introduced to Portuguese food and drink. If you’re not familiar, Portugal is an absolute treasure trove of deliciousness. My mother-in-law is an unofficial gourmet cook, but Rita also knows a thing or two. From fantastic soups and seafood to the best beef and chicken dishes you can imagine, you will never be disappointed.
Portugal is also the home of Port wine (known as Vinho do Porto), perhaps the most famous of dessert wines. But Portugal, a big overachiever for its size in soccer (futebol) at just 10 million people, is also an overachiever when it comes to your classic reds and whites. Don’t miss out! We try to get over there as often as we can, and have Rita’s parents come visit, too. The pretext is seeing family. The real reason is the good eatin’!
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Matthew R. Lynch, Foley & Lardner, Madison
"Don’t assume anyone else is any smarter or dumber than you."
“Don’t assume anyone else is any smarter or dumber than you.” In the late 1980s, my father and his friends ran one of the earliest fantasy football leagues around – which, of course, triggered my interest or obsession as a 10-year-old sports fanatic.
When my father handed me the reins as his team’s “general manager” in a league full of hyper-competitive thirtysomethings, he told me that everyone else watched the same games and read the same stats and analysis that I did. No one was going to have secret knowledge about these players’ value that I did not; on the flip side, I was not going to convince any of them to trade me Joe Montana for Don Majkowski.
That wisdom is equally valuable in the practice of law. We all have access to the same statutes, cases, and commentaries; there are no “hidden sources” of legal knowledge possessed by some but unavailable to others. It seems obvious, but it was a significant source of comfort and confidence in adjusting from law school to practice, and remains so today when working with new areas of law or more accomplished colleagues. And it also keeps me from ever thinking I can pull the wool over the eyes of judges, opposing counsel, or others. If I cannot convince myself that some argument is correct, there is no point in trying to convince them, any more than trying to persuade one of my father’s friends to trade me a Hall-of-Fame quarterback for a one-year wonder.
Tell me something about your family and where you grew up. Do you get back often?
Laurence J. Dupuis, ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, Milwaukee
"We spent most of the summers at a cottage we rented on Pike Lake, near Hartford, Wis."
I grew up on the north side of Milwaukee with my mother and father and four siblings. My parents lived in the same house until just a few years ago, so the old neighborhood remained a regular destination for most of my life. My father was a college professor, so he had summers off. Starting when I was 9 or 10, we spent most of the summers at a cottage we rented on Pike Lake, near Hartford, Wis. Many of my strongest childhood memories are from summers at the lake spent swimming, fishing, water skiing, and playing marathon badminton tournaments. The cottage we rented was torn down years ago, but I still have vivid dreams about water skiing, so I guess you could say I still get back to Pike Lake.
Your practice focuses on personal injury law. What drew you to that practice area?
Eric Ryberg, Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., Madison
"This practice area has allowed me to meet a wide variety of people with interesting backgrounds and to help people who have experienced (in some cases) terrible tragedies in their lives."
In law school, I was on the mock trial team and participated in competitions around the country. From that experience, I knew that I enjoyed doing trials and wanted to be a trial lawyer. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to do an internship at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. and was hired as an associate after graduating law school. I quickly became immersed in personal injury law, learning from some of the best trial lawyers in the state.
This practice area has allowed me to meet a wide variety of people with interesting backgrounds and to help people who have experienced (in some cases) terrible tragedies in their lives. It has been particularly rewarding to obtain successful results for these individuals. At the same time, I have been able to develop trial experience despite the dwindling number of civil cases going to trial. Overall, I have really enjoyed the opportunities and challenges of personal injury law.
What (living) famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Meghan O’Connor, von Briesen & Roper S.C., Milwaukee
"Isn’t everything better when it is written by Aaron Sorkin?"
Aaron Sorkin. Believe it or not, after a long day working at a law firm, I still love to relax with the rapid-fire banter of his intellectual and quick-paced dialogue. We would go to Burt’s Place (my favorite pizza) in the Chicago suburbs. I’m a purist – just cheese is the best, but the homemade sausage is a close second.
We would discuss the back stories and inspiration for Sorkin’s great Sports Night, West Wing, and Newsroom characters and storylines. I would ask for a “where are they now” and “what would you have done differently” update. Are Dan and Casey still anchoring their show together? What kind of a chief of staff did Josh make, and what are CJ, Ainsley, and Amy doing now?
I would also try to reserve his writing skills for my next speech or presentation – isn’t everything better when it is written by Aaron Sorkin?
What is your favorite part of Wisconsin?
Thomas L. Doerr Jr., The Manitowoc Company Inc., Manitowoc
"My four years abroad make me and my family appreciate Wisconsin even more and we are excited to be back home."
I was born and raised in Wisconsin and have lived here all my life, other than during college and from August 2008 to July 2012 while living in England and France with Manitowoc, my employer. My four years abroad make me and my family appreciate Wisconsin even more and we are excited to be back home. I know it is a little clichéd, but quality of life is something special in Wisconsin – people, arts, business, education, entertainment, and environment. The distinctly different seasons are also beautiful, with autumn being one of my favorites. I have to also mention Marquette University Law School, not only because of its stellar reputation but also because it is where I met my wife!
If you weren’t practicing law, what would you be doing?
Diane M. Welsh, von Briesen & Roper S.C., Madison
"I enjoy using the creative side of my brain to plan novel, fun events and promotions."
I would like to be the marketing director for Major League Baseball. This position would fit both my personal interests and my nonlegal skills. I’m a long-time baseball fan (more specifically, I’m a big fan of the Milwaukee Brewers). After college I set a personal goal to visit every major league ballpark in America. Working for MLB certainly would help me meet this goal. My undergraduate degree is in marketing, and I enjoy using the creative side of my brain to plan novel, fun events and promotions. For now, I use these skills on a volunteer basis to raise funds for community organizations; but it would be fun to put them to use for America’s pastime.
What U.S. Supreme Court decision has most affected your personal philosophy about our society or justice system?
John S. Skilton, Perkins Coie LLP, Madison
"Brown … was right. The time was right, and the time was now, and something had to be done about it."
My “Final Thought” column comments on the landmark decision in Gideon, but Gideon is not the case that most influenced me. That case was Brown v. Board of Education, which was decided 10 years prior, in 1953.
We were the “War Babies,” not the “Baby Boomers.” We grew up with Ike (one nation under God), benefitted from the building of the Interstate Highway System, watched Ozzie and Harriet, heard Elvis, were spared (at least most of us) polio, hid under our desks on cue, and worried about Sputnik. We were the children of the ‘50s – the hoped-for fulfillment of The Greatest Generation’s dreams; “normalcy” (a Harding word) for the most part applied with full force to us.
We started college with bright eyes and big dreams – penny loafers and wheat jeans were our costumes, naïve we were. But then we were challenged … “ask not.” Metaphorically speaking, the torch was thrown at us and landed on our heads.
1963 was the year of our awakening: George Wallace (“segregation now …”), Ross Barnett, Medgar Evers, Mississippi burning, “I Have a Dream,” the Assassination. We lost our innocence. 1964 threatened to be worse (and it was) – Philadelphia, Miss., the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Draft – college was no longer a safe haven, but a hotbed. But I digress.
To borrow a phrase: “these were the worst of times” but they were also the “best of times.” “Equal justice under law” (Gideon) meant something. Plessy v. Ferguson was bad law. Brown (“with all deliberate speed”) was right. The time was right, and the time was now, and something had to be done about it. And it was: for example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The torturous integration of our universities and public schools began with full force. Gone were the insidious signs (“whites only”).
Are we there yet? Not by a long shot. But, I do believe that there has been progress in the right direction, just not enough. And once in a while, we take a step backwards, as, for example the Supreme Court recently did in striking down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Still, we strive for that elusive “more perfect union.”
Yes, it was 50 years ago, on the great U.W. campus: I met my wife … and life as we know it began.