Although a summer internship helped Laura Kwaterski pinpoint her ideal job, it took her a while to get there.
“I grew wanting to be a lawyer, but was unsure of what kind. I then did an internship with the U.S. Attorney’s office and I was hooked,” she said. “I decided that was what I wanted to do. I loved the people and the work.”
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School, Kwaterski clerked for Magistrate Judge William Callahan. After that, she worked for six years at Foley & Lardner LLP in the securities enforcement and litigation, and business litigation and dispute resolution practice groups.
But, she said, her mind kept wandering back to her internship and listening to Callahan talk highly about his time spent in the U.S. Attorneys’ office.
In January 2013, she made the switch, becoming an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Kwaterski works in the office’s criminal division focusing on narcotics and violent crime, although other cases do cross her desk, such as Social Security fraud, ID theft and money laundering.
“The cases can be intense, but most do settle before you get to trial. Sometimes, it’s not until the last minute that the defendant pleads guilty,” she said. “We always have to prepare for trial although I’ve just had one in the 18 months I’ve been here. You never know – you can’t count on the defendant pleading guilty – so you need to be prepared.”
Kwaterski splits her time between sentencing hearings and work at the office, where she collaborates with law enforcement and sometimes victims to gather necessary case information. Each case is different, which makes the job very dynamic, Kwaterski said.
“You never know what to expect, which makes the job very interesting,” she said. “I enjoy what I do so much.”
Wisconsin Law Journal: What was your favorite class in law school?
Laura Kwaterski: It’s a tie between Evidence with Professor Frank Tuerkheimer and Constitutional Law II with Professor Jane Schacter.
WLJ: What would your career have been if you hadn’t become an attorney?
Kwaterski: Honestly, I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was in high school, but I think that if I wasn’t a lawyer I would be a journalist.
WLJ: What activity could you spend hours doing outside the office?
Kwaterski: Playing outside with my daughters.
WLJ: If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?
Kwaterski: Reading other people’s minds.
WLJ: What app can’t you live without?
Kwaterski: I’m kind of a Luddite so I do not have many apps on my phone, but I don’t think I could survive without Google Maps because I am not good with directions.
WLJ: What was the last book you read?
Kwaterski: “Cars, Trucks, and Things that Go.” The last “adult” book I read was “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” I highly recommend it.
WLJ: Who is someone that you admire?
Kwaterski: My dad. He passed away six years ago, but the way he lived his life still inspires me. He wasn’t just my dad; he was one of my very best friends.
WLJ: What is your favorite vacation spot?
Kwaterski: Door County
WLJ: What was your first concert?
Kwaterski: Janet Jackson at Summerfest. My friend’s mom won tickets and we were in the fifth row for my first concert!
WLJ: Do you have a saying or word that you tend to overuse?
Kwaterski: ‘You know.’