How has your career surprised you?
The surprise has been in that I do not have one career! Elder law, trusts and estates, mediation, art therapy, nonprofit founder and executive, victims’ rights lawyer, teaching, mentoring, and writing – instead of choosing one of these paths, I blended them all over the years and have yet to find a way to settle down and choose one.
I share this delightful phrase from Wisconsin Lawyer managing editor Karlé Lester – I’m a “curly thinker.” That sure rings true for me.
I am still a bit self-conscious about not really fitting into any one path. Don’t ask me “what do you do” at a cocktail party – so awkward! But clearly, the law has offered me a way to honor so many things I value: protecting vulnerable people, finding efficient ways through conflict, opening channels for philanthropy, inspiring the next generation, merging creativity and advocacy for justice, and giving people a sense of legacy and fulfillment when they can plan for their future.
I am so lucky to be able to choose the work I love and be open to what comes my way. For every yes my heart told me to pursue, against all logic and reason, I’ve grown in my capacity to be of service to my community and find joy in my work. I want to continue to be brave and curly.
Rachel K. Monaco, Rachel K. Monaco LLC, Richfield.
Where is your favorite place to go after winning a case?
In my imagination, my favorite place to go is accepting an award for “Best Performance in the Courtroom for a Client.” All my peers and friends are there applauding me as I graciously and humbly thank those who supported me.
In reality, I usually go to happy hour at Rare Steakhouse on the Capitol Square. You can’t beat their happy hour specials and, for me, it’s like Cheers where everyone knows my name. They may know me not necessarily because I am winning a lot of cases. Coincidentally, Rare Steakhouse is also my favorite place to go after losing a case as well!
Christopher S. Krimmer, Forward Legal Services LLC, Madison.
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Are you working on an interesting case? Have a practice tip to share? There are several ways to contribute to Wisconsin Lawyer. To discuss a topic idea, contact Managing Editor Karlé Lester at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6127, or email email@example.com. Check out our writing and submission guidelines.
Who is the most inspiring person you’ve ever met and why?
My paternal grandfather. At 16, he left his homeland, where he was a shepherd, to emigrate to the United States.
I am amazed by his journey. He crossed U-boat infested waters, traveling 5,000 miles, to reach Duluth-Superior, while unable to speak English and starving. All for freedom and opportunity. He would find both here.
I always think of him when I consider how people should be treated because he suffered discrimination and understood perhaps more than most people I know – along with my maternal grandfather, who fought in World War II – the value of freedom and security. He was unable to return to see his family for a half-century. And before his return, his brother was executed for advocating for liberty.
His story reminds me that our freedoms are made possible only by those who fight to protect and uphold the rule of law.
It took until he had a granddaughter to accomplish one of his biggest dreams: to have a lawyer in the family. I was the first to be sworn into the Wisconsin bar – which, among other things, would have been a virtual impossibility for a woman a century ago, when my grandfather first saw Lady Liberty.
Mindy Tempelis, Outagamie County District Attorney, Appleton.
What is your greatest talent as a lawyer?
I have few talents as a lawyer. Nevertheless, someone once told me that no one will hire you until they like you. I’ve “played to that strength” and it has allowed me to survive in private practice. As for talent, I’ve always surrounded myself with people who are smarter than I am. That hasn’t been too tough to do and it has worked out swimmingly. I have a paralegal who continually makes me look good and attorneys in my firm who are frequently the key to my clients’ successes.
Deanne M. Koll, Bakke Norman S.C., Eau Claire, Menomonie, and New Richmond.
How did you find your way to your current position?
I stepped away from our Milwaukee trial boutique firm, Gass Weber Mullins, to create a new solo venture that would assist those facing difficult trials or thorny problems. For trial lawyers, I provide collaborative, strategic consulting to help assess their cases and create trial narratives. I also mediate and arbitrate. For company counsel, I take on special projects and case assessments when an experienced, independent perspective can offer new insights. Finally, I wanted to pursue writing projects like the one featured here, along with others posted at WeberAdvising.com.
Ralph A. Weber, Weber Advising LLC, Milwaukee.
What do you wish we had more of in the legal profession?
Kindness. I think a lot of lawyers view kindness as equated to ineffectiveness. But I have found that it can be quite the opposite. When I was a first-year associate just starting my first month at the firm, I was instructed on a deal to negotiate a simple assignment agreement with a more senior opposing counsel. He decided the right approach in response to being faced with a newbie lawyer was to be a bully, but instead of engaging in a combative way, I turned up the dial on being friendly and polite, implicitly inviting him to find his manners and engage in a kind way. After the negotiation, another first-year associate who had been present at the negotiation said to me, “You know what your problem is? You’re just too nice. You will never be successful that way.”
But as the deal progressed, my “niceness” and commitment to finding solutions to get the deal done won me the trust and ear of both the opposing counsel and his client, and I became the associate they turned to when they needed assistance. A few years later, that client reached out to me to represent him on another deal.
Over the years, I have discovered that kindness, especially in the most contentious of situations, has been extremely effective in building trust and inviting counterparties to work together to reach a deal – which, after all, is why everyone is in the room in the first place. I’ll never forget the words of that other associate, and in a way I’m grateful to him – his words remind me to be intentional in bringing kindness to the negotiating table, and I have been a better lawyer because of it.
Talia Gaster Jarvis, X Delivery, Austin, Texas.