Kathy is a former Assistant General Counsel of WisDOT, fully engaged in her representation of a local nonprofit client, in her active participation in the State Bar of Wisconsin, and in her private realtor business. Her practice began in Milwaukee at the National Labor Relations Board and the Office of the State Public Defender. She is President of the Government Lawyers Division of the State Bar.
“I’m so grateful to be able to return to the service of our most vulnerable persons, after years of working for a state agency. As a public defender, I witnessed and realized my immense privilege daily, while my clients faced seemingly insurmountable barriers. Even in dire circumstances, they often demonstrated as much or more grace and respect than the system ever showed them.”
Throughout her career, Kathy has led and supported her profession in its administration, and especially in growing diversity in the Wisconsin bar. She is an incorporating member of the Wisconsin Asian American Bar Association, and former chair of and participating clerk in the State Bar’s Diversity Clerkship Program. As the nation’s demographics change, she believes our attorneys need to reflect and understand the changing needs of our clients, and their clients.
Kathy started her career as a board attorney for the National Labor Relations Board in Milwaukee, where she supervised elections, and investigated allegations of NLRA violations. Her career defending indigent clients in Milwaukee County criminal courts as an Assistant State Public Defender followed. Her trial practice, she says, was the best essence of legal practice, litigating daily with and against practiced attorneys, before experienced trial judges. Taking dozens of cases to trial, Kathy served her clients as a frequent and successful trial lawyer for misdemeanors and serious felonies, including homicide. More than that, Kathy says her interaction with clients “taught [her] the meaning of grace” under the most harrowing of circumstances. “When no one values you, or is on your side, a dedicated criminal defense attorney is the one person standing between you and the power of the state.”
When she returned to her hometown of Madison as Assistant General Counsel for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in 2007, Kathy’s practice expanded from the legally narrow area of criminal practice, to the broad areas presented by her new client. Kathy drafted and reviewed legislation and administrative rulemaking, negotiated, drafted, and reviewed intergovernmental agreements with many public and private partners, and advised the department on public contracting, bidding, and other construction law matters. Kathy practiced before the WI Equal Rights Division, the U.S. E.E.O.C., as well as before the Division of Hearings and Appeals, on issues ranging from driveway permits and advertising signs, to rail crossing construction and employment. Kathy also represented the department in significant transportation projects and disputes.
She now supports Porchlight, Inc. as their counsel, working with the nonprofit community to serve Dane County’s homeless population.