What life experience most impacted you?
In a prior contribution, I shared that reading
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in ninth grade inspired me to become a lawyer. But the most impactful and most valuable life experience was learning that my four-year-old son Marcus had retinoblastoma – a deadly cancer in his right eye. At the time, I was a young associate and my wife had just opened a toy store. We were busy. Vacations were things we would do next year, and our broken promise of fun-in-the-sun was renewed annually. In fact, we were fortunate that I was even able to find the time to take Marcus to the doctor’s appointment where they discovered the cancer.
Marcus received terrific treatment and the cancer, along with his right eye, was removed by week’s end. From that moment, we knew that tomorrow was not guaranteed, that life was short, and that we needed to prioritize time with loved ones. Every year thereafter, we took family vacations, and the memories we made are some of the most cherished. I share this experience often, hoping to impart this lesson to others without them having to face tragedy before recognizing the importance of time off and family vacations. So…. Don’t save your timeouts.
Michael J. Aprahamian, Waukesha County Circuit Court.
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What is your favorite place for an early morning bite?
It depends on where I am. That sounds delightfully more romantic and glamorous than it is, but it is just true. Splitting time between the glorious Northwoods and the bustling Milwaukee metro area, my taste buds are very lucky! My favorite morning nosh in the Milwaukee area is Rocket Baby Bakery in Wauwatosa. The pastries are simply divine, the morning sandwiches legendary, and the mocha is the best I have found – most likely because they are made by the nicest bakers and baristas in the world.
But sharing the top spot is The Whistle Punk in Stone Lake, with signature espressos that include flavors like maple pecan, and syrup on waffles, alongside breakfast burritos or unique veggie paninis (and craft brew anytime). Delish, and the happiest ways to start my days – no matter where I am in our gorgeous state!
Kathryn L. Knowlton,
Knowlton Law Group LLC, Wauwatosa and Stone Lake.
What inspires you?
Currently, my biggest inspiration is my 90-year-old mother. She moved to Wisconsin last year to be closer to me. In late August 2020, she and I packed up the car and road tripped it from West Virginia. We took it slow (3 days slow!) and made great memories along the way, including our last night spent in Madison along the waterfront.
For the first year, she lived with us in our tiny cabin on Lake DuBay. Needless to say, it was very cozy with grandma, husband, and puppy Izzy. Recently, my mother moved to an independent senior living apartment in Stevens Point. And she is thriving. She joined a new church. She’s made new friends. She still cooks and bakes (and I’m often the recipient of her yummy meals).
From the moment she arrived, I have been in awe. Her bold move shows me that it is, in fact,
never too late to try something new. After spending her entire 90 years in the same town where she was born, she was courageous, decisive and, dare I say, excited, about relocating to the (cold!) Midwest.
If I had to pick one thing that I admire about her, it’s this: She is creating a life that gives her peace and joy on a daily basis.
It has been incredible to witness her power of adaptability and its impact on the quality of her life.
RYP Global LLC.
Who has most inspired you in your legal career?
I would have to say the individuals who have inspired me the most in my legal career are the more experienced attorneys that have poured into me. I have been so blessed to have individuals further along in their careers who have looked out for me, have offered me guidance, and have been supportive of me standing up for what I believe in.
Discussing racial inequities is not always an easy conversation for most, and I’ve faced a lot of pushback when trying to bring awareness to certain issues. If it wasn’t for the attorneys who have either paved the path ahead of me or have been allies in the work, I might not have had the courage to stand as strongly as I do today. It is my hope to pay that support forward to the law students and attorneys who come after to me, and to encourage them to stand strong in what they believe in. I can’t wait to see what beautiful kind of ripple effect that has on Wisconsin and the legal community.
Felicia L. Owen,
The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.
If you had a time machine, what would you do?
My family recently discussed this at the dinner table, and my future-minded kids were underwhelmed by my answer. Having enjoyed studying the French Revolution in high school and college, I would travel back to Paris in 1789 to witness the calling of the Estates General and events over the ensuing decade that so profoundly changed France, Europe, and the United States. There are some excellent histories of that era but the opportunity to experience the tumult and energy in the streets of Paris firsthand and to observe how events of that era shaped (and were shaped by) ordinary Parisians is one I would find hard to pass up.
Daniel J. Kennedy,
Gass Turek LLC, Milwaukee.
What are your interests outside of the office?
I love to golf, ski, and scuba dive. I am a member and sit on the board of directors at Pine Hills Country Club, love to travel out west to Colorado or Idaho to go skiing in the winter (as well as taking advantage of Granite Peak in Wausau!), and have traveled to Belize and Bonaire this year to spend some quality time underwater. There has to be a reason why we spend so much of our time and mental energy on work, right?
Justin F. Wallace,
Mayer Graff & Wallace LLP, Manitowoc.
What was your funniest or oddest experience in a legal or marketing context?
A few years ago, an attorney I was working with called me to complain because one of their former clients gave them a bad online review. I had encouraged them to follow up with clients to thank them for their business and ask for reviews, so the bad review they received was, in their mind, my fault. It didn’t occur to me that I needed to tell attorneys that they should only ask for reviews from clients they suspected had a positive opinion of them. I now emphasize that you should never ask for a review you don’t want. It’s the legal marketing equivalent of the age-old advice that you should never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to!