How do you use your legal experience to support immigrant communities in Wisconsin?
Although my practice focuses on energy regulatory and transactional work, I have gained significant experience in immigration law throughout the years. Before law school, I was an immigration paralegal and I volunteered as a Spanish interpreter for asylum cases. In law school, I worked for the Immigrant Justice Clinic, and now as an attorney I am working on U-Visa and asylum cases on a pro bono basis.
A personal goal of mine is to create a partnership with a local nonprofit in Dane County to open a direct channel for pro bono immigration work and use our resources as a firm to support the growing immigrant communities in Wisconsin.
Nancy Cruz, Perkins Coie, Madison.
How did you become interested in employment law?
No subject in law school resonated with me the way labor and employment law did. I didn’t take a course in either subject until my 3L year, but I was instantly hooked. The class I took on employment discrimination was my all-time favorite because I discovered that there was a way for me to think about big-ticket ideas like racism and sexism and tackle them in a way that would have a tangible impact. I consider it a great privilege to use my skills to help employers do the right thing by their employees.
Storm B. Larson, Boardman & Clark LLP, Madison.
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How did you make your way to the Wisconsin DNR working on public trust issues?
When I was an undergraduate in biology at UW-Stevens Point, my favorite professor sued the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR proposed to use antimycin to poison rough fish in the Tomorrow River, a trout water. Dr. Becker objected because the project would kill the native trout population. He recommended the state of Wisconsin remove the mill dams, which created warm-water habitat. He lost in court. The DNR started their project. I and other students collected trout under Dr. Becker’s “scientific collectors” permit. We identified the trout and hung them for the public to see. On the second day, the DNR wardens told us that if students touched the fish, we would be arrested. It was that day that I became interested in law.
I clerked for the DNR and soon began working on public trust issues. The Wisconsin DNR soon led the country in removal of mill dams to restore natural streams.
Michael J. Cain, Madison.
What is your greatest satisfaction in your job?
Working with a range of people – law students to other students to colleagues to pro se litigants, alums, other attorneys, and beyond – who bring varying levels of experience with the law and legal research to our interactions. My role at the law school gives me the privilege of being immersed in my own interests while gaining exposure to a seemingly ever-changing variety of topics and challenges. That itself brings tremendous satisfaction, as does being part of the moments when something about a concept or strategy clicks or the researcher connects with a long-sought source or approach.
Elana H. Olson, Marquette University Law School, Milwaukee.
How did you become interested in environmental law?
I became interested in environmental and natural resources law while working on administrative rules as a wildlife biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. I found the task of wrestling with the specific legal language in my program areas almost as interesting as being outside working on wildlife management projects. I also enjoyed working with stakeholders to craft and interpret the law to create strong collaborations and realized that using a clear understanding of the law as a solid foundation for policy creation and program management seemed to give projects the best chance of success.
Larry A. Konopacki, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, Madison.
How did you become interested in health law?
My interest in health care grew out of first-hand experiences with the health care system, including my sister’s serious surgeries as an infant and end-of-life decision-making for a beloved uncle after an iatrogenic injury. These encounters left me fascinated by the intersection of medicine, ethics, and the law, and drove me to complete a master’s degree in bioethics while in law school. I’ve considered it a great privilege in my practice to confront the “gray areas” where these disciplines come together to drive new innovation and tackle age-old questions.
Angela M. Rust, von Briesen & Roper SC, Neenah.
» Cite this article: 95 Wis. Law. 10-11 (Sept. 2022).