Is there anything our alumni can’t do? UW Law grads are practicing attorneys, judges, and policy-makers. No surprise there. But what about film producers, novelists, and asset managers? Yes, yes, and yes. Learn how a JD propelled ten alumni into unexpected territory, proving that the UW Law School creates powerful thinkers and problem-solvers who see the world in new ways. — Karen Koethe
Making a difference for teen girls in Milwaukee
Danae Davis ’80
Pearls for Teen Girls, Inc.
After consciously deciding to go the nontraditional career path while a second-year law student, my career path has included various awesome experiences in the public sector, as well as corporate and now nonprofit leadership. My UW Law School experiences not only prepared me for my career, but also propelled me into following my passions and contributing to make a difference, with confidence. I am now CEO for a wonderful Milwaukee-based nonprofit, Pearls for Teen Girls.
We serve close to one thousand girls with weekly programming focused on leadership and self-development. A typical week for me at Pearls includes meeting with staff regarding program strategies, data analysis, and fundraising plans; meeting with board members, donors, or potential donors; and meeting about related community initiatives in the areas of education and teen-pregnancy prevention. In my role, it is essential to continuously build relationships that benefit our girls, organization, and mission. Being “out there” ensures that the Pearls brand is well known.
Behind the scenes: where law meets the movies
Stephen Jarchow ’76
CEO and Motion Picture Producer
I had no idea that an art form like film would require diversified legal experience and skills. As it turns out, my law degree has been critical to my twenty years of producing, financing, and distributing motion pictures as CEO of Regent Entertainment.
Each film requires me to review fifty or more documents. I supervise the work of ten to twenty outside law firms at any particular time, sometimes in contract negotiations and sometimes in arbitrations and litigation. I have negotiated more than $500 million of film and real estate financings and a number of acquisitions and mergers as chairman of Here Media, Inc.
Without Wisconsin legal education, I wouldn’t have had a chance.
Game on: directing university athletics
Forrest Karr ’04
Director of Athletics, Recreational Sports and the U.S. Olympic Education Center
Northern Michigan University
As director of athletics at Northern Michigan University, I call upon my legal background on a regular basis. The ability to identify potential legal issues is essential for working in athletics and recreation. Administrators spend significant time thinking through legal issues involving drug testing, trademark and licensing, administrative rules and regulations, premises liability, corporate sponsorships, employment agreements, broadcasting and multimedia rights, and gender discrimination, to name a few.
My legal training provides a strong foundation for understanding and addressing issues in these areas, and it helps to ensure effective communication with in-house and outside counsel, as well as with co-workers in human resources, public safety, and risk management. Best of all, this profession combines my love of sports and my fascination with law, while providing an opportunity to celebrate the successes of talented young people.
Education 2.0: shaping online legal learning
Kara Ganter ’11
Online Instructional Designer
Berkeley Law School
As online instructional designer at the University of California Berkeley Law School, I am part of a small in-house team charged with creating Berkeley Law’s first online courses. I was lead designer on Berkeley Law’s very first fully online course, held during a six-week summer session for a group of incoming LL.M. students and LL.M. alumni. The course was highly interactive, with synchronous seminars and discussions held via web conferencing every week. At the UW Law School, I gained legal education and expertise, along with a background in web design and online instructional technologies, while working as a web assistant at the school. This combination has made me a vital component of the instructional design team. As a lawyer and former law student, I understand the content of the law and nuances of legal education. This understanding serves me well in my position, translating in-person law courses at a top-ten law school into effective and engaging online legal education. (Kara Ganter pictured on left.)
Finding the perfect pair: talent matchmaker
Ify Offor Walker ’08
Founder and Chief Matchmaker
The Offor Walker Group
Brooklyn, New York
While in my final year in law school, I began working as the vice president for new-site development at Teach For America — a job I likely would not have gotten had it not been for my UW-Madison law degree. In this role, I spent countless hours traveling from Seattle to Alabama and everywhere in between, convincing districts to hire more than one thousand great teachers for our nation’s most underserved communities. I then negotiated agreements, persuaded foundations and corporations to put $40 million to work for Teach For America, partnered with local universities, and wrote teacher certification legislation. Similarly, as I embarked upon a journey to start my own venture as the founder and chief matchmaker of an education talent firm, I’ve used my legal skills to help clients solve their number one problem: how to get the right people, on the right bus, and in the right seats.
Taking it to the bank
Albert Grace, Jr. ’78
Co-founder and President
Loop Capital Markets
I am a co-founder and president of Loop Capital Markets, a full-service investment bank headquartered in Chicago, with a national presence. We were founded in 1997 and now have two hundred employees.
With the investment bank being in a highly regulated industry, I used my legal training to guide us through the registration process and interface with regulatory bodies. While we have in-house legal and compliance staff, I still draw upon my legal training in my involvement with the risk-management process and contractual relationships.
Loop underwrites taxable and tax-exempt debt and equities. We also trade these securities in the secondary market with more than five hundred institutional clients. On the equity side, we trade six days a week/twenty-four hours a day around the globe. The investment bank also provides mergers and acquisitions and public-private partnership advisory services.
Fighting for human rights in Tanzania
Eric ’02 and Karene ’03 Boos
Human Rights Activists
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Karene and I have been using our law degrees to fight for the basic human rights of women, children, and pastoral people in Tanzania since 2003. We advocate for security of title, water, and land rights, as well as human rights in general. We teach at St. Augustine Law School in Mwanza. Our latest project is to fight for the human rights of people with albinism in Tanzania, because they are hunted and killed for their body parts, which are used in witchcraft.
I am currently working with the International Law Division of the African Union to develop more laws to protect albinos. Karene recently started ZeruZeru, a new nonprofit with plans to build a safe-haven campus for albino children.
Read more about Eric and Karene in the Winter 2013 issue of “On Wisconsin” Magazine.
Fantastic and otherworldly storytelling
Marjorie Liu ’03
Novelist and Comic Book Writer
French Lick, Indiana
I’ve made a career from telling stories about the fantastic: everything from mermen and shape-shifters to women covered in demonic tattoos. I write for Marvel Comics on titles such as Black Widow and Astonishing X-Men. Even though I never practiced law, what I learned in law school remains invaluable. We engaged in the study of the human condition; we observed that storytelling is an art necessary to weaving compelling arguments; we refined through rigorous training a clear, intellectual precision; and above all else, we developed a tough skin. [That is] essential preparation for any journey, no matter how fantastic, that one takes in life.
Teaching law and advancing justice in Uganda
Cana Laska ’12
Commission to Every Nation
With my JD, I am working as a Christian missionary in southwestern Uganda to help establish a new law school. Uganda suffers from systemic corruption, limited access to justice, and continuing bloodshed over property disputes. An increase of ethical and competent lawyers made available in rural areas of Uganda can have a powerful impact on justice in the future.
I teach legal writing, legal ethics, comparative and international law, and contracts. My JD has not only helped prepare me to train lawyers, but also to do the challenging tasks beyond teaching, such as strategic planning and curriculum development.
Capitalizing on legal education
Andrew Ziegler ’86
Artisan Partners Asset Management
I am the executive chairman of Artisan Partners Asset Management, an institutional investment management firm that I founded nineteen years ago. Today Artisan has more than $100 billion in assets under management in a variety of equity strategies for clients all over the world.
The training in business law that I received at the Law School was invaluable to me as I built and managed Artisan. More important, however, was the habit of critical and independent thinking that I developed at UW Law School. A primary reason for Artisan’s success is that it is organized and operated differently than other investment businesses. The roots of those differences can be traced all the way back to my experiences at the Law School.
Considering forging a new path with your JD?
Three tips from attorney coach Roy Ginsburg ’82
Pursuing an alternative career takes planning, persistence, and patience. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that for those who put in the necessary time and effort and ultimately do begin a new career, very few regret the choice.
- If you’re miserable in your current job, before quitting after a particularly bad day to pursue an alternative career, first consider the possibility that you’re practicing in the wrong environment or in the wrong area. Your law firm may be toxic, or perhaps a different-sized firm may eliminate your misery. If you’re a litigator, perhaps transactional work is a better fit. Making these types of changes will be far easier than transitioning to an alternative career.
- Learn as much as you can about the new field you are considering. Do some research on the Internet. Do some informational interviewing with people who do what you think you want to do. Ask them how they got started, what a typical day is like, and whether they have suggestions about how to break into the field.
- Make sure you can articulate the basis for your interest in the alternative career. A simple, “I hate being a lawyer” will not suffice during a job interview. You will need a convincing story to explain why you no longer want to practice law and why your new chosen field is a good match.
Attorney coach Roy Ginsburg works with his lawyer clients to help them achieve practice goals and career satisfaction.