Caitlin Madden went from the front of the class to a desk when she left her teaching job after three years and headed to law school.
“Although I thought I would focus on education issues, I felt drawn to labor law since I saw it as a way I could impact the issues I wanted to make a difference in,” said Madden, who now is an associate attorney in the Madison office of Hawks Quindel SC.
Much of Madden’s work revolves around wage and hour litigation, including class-action work for employees who worked off the clock.
“Being able to help someone is always gratifying,” she said, “and when you notify them in a class-action suit that they won, it’s wonderful.”
The flip side, Madden said, is when she cannot help.
“There are so many problems people have with schedules when they work hourly,” she said. “If there’s no set schedule and you’re working two or three jobs, and then you suddenly get placed on a new shift, it’s a real problem.
“It’s frustrating to see people with a problem like that and know you can’t easily help them. I just try to be creative and help them the best that I can.”
Madden has made a habit out of helping others. While attending the University of Wisconsin Law School, she worked in the Remington Center’s Legal Assistance to Institutionalized Persons Program, the participants of which help inmates deal with criminal and civil law.
“Being able to advocate for others and help people get the rights that they have earned is so gratifying,” Madden said. “All that effort is worth it when a client is helped.”
Wisconsin Law Journal: What was your least-favorite class in law school?
Caitlin Madden: Contracts. It was difficult for me to see how some of those concepts were relevant to the law today. Though in my job now, contracts class has come in more handy than I realized it would.
WLJ: What activity could you spend hours doing outside of work?
Madden: Hiking and backpacking. I was able to do some mountain climbing in Colorado just before law school.
WLJ: What song gets heavy rotation on your iPod?
Madden: Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae, and every other song from her album ‘The Electric Lady’
WLJ: Who is someone you admire?
Madden: My sister, a second-grade teacher in Milwaukee. She is fiercely committed to her work and her students.
WLJ: If you could pick one super power, what would it be?
Madden: Apparition, disappear here and reappear somewhere else. I’m sometimes impatient and would like being able to speed things up.
WLJ: If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?
Madden: If not Madison, probably Minneapolis, where I lived right before law school.
WLJ: What is your favorite vacation destination?
Madden: A college friend has a family cabin in Crivitz, Wis., right on the Wisconsin-Michigan border. It’s great to go up there in the summer, spend the day on the river and catch up with my friends.
WLJ: What do you miss most from your childhood?
Madden: Being able to do all sorts of different activities — be part of a choir, a play, a softball team and train in tae kwon do — all at once.
WLJ: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you pick?
Madden: To be more patient.
WLJ: What was the last book that you read?
Madden: I just started ‘Space Chronicles,’ a collection of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s writings on space travel.