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Fowles satisfied with career switch

By: Corrine Hess//September 17, 2014//

Fowles satisfied with career switch

By: Corrine Hess//September 17, 2014//

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Sarah Fowles, associate, Quarles & Brady LLP,  Milwaukee

Sarah Fowles was working to raise money for New York University in 2001 and sharing an office with a public defender displaced by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when she realized she was in the wrong profession.

After months of hearing about her roommate’s career experiences, Fowles enrolled in law school.

But she didn’t go the public defender route. Instead, Fowles chose employee benefits law, which she said could be because her father worked in employee benefits his entire career.

“Employee benefits law affects the majority of working people in one way or another,” Fowles said, “so it’s an area of law where I can make a positive impact for both employers and employees.”

What she did not count on, she said, was the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the largest piece of legislation in recent history, just two years after she graduated law school.

“It’s a new law. There is some precedent but not a lot,” Fowles said. “So we are in some ways making it up as we go along.”

That kind of work requires enthusiasm, said Amy Ciepluch, a partner at Quarles & Brady, and Fowles has plenty of it.

“Sarah seems to truly love working the employee benefits area, and the more complex the issue, the more she thrives,” Ciepluch said. “She also does an excellent job of translating her obvious intellectual curiosity into very practical and workable advice to clients. That combination makes her very good at what she does.”

But employee benefits is not all that Fowles does. She also volunteers with the Legal and Medical Partnership, an affiliate of Quarles & Brady.

“My service there,” Fowles said, “reminds me of the heavy responsibility we bear as lawyers to act as intermediaries between our community’s neediest residents and a legal system that can appear confusing and unhelpful.”

Besides LAMP, Fowles takes on pro bono cases in the area of elderly financial abuse. She said pro bono work can be frustrating, but the clients keep her from becoming disheartened.

She said she finds balance by not bringing the same intensity to everything she does.

“I am happy being less than perfect,” Fowles said, “in those activities where showing up matters most.”

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