As a lawyer at Quarles & Brady, Leah McNeely has had plenty of opportunities to appreciate the contributions of Kathryn Kirk.
“Kathryn is wonderful,” McNeely says. “She goes way beyond her duties in all things. She does things before asked; she’s always thinking ahead. People don’t realize how much work she does behind the scenes and how dedicated she is to the clinic.”
Kirk has an associate’s degree in business technology, but has been working as a legal secretary since before she graduated. She arrived at the Quarles & Brady Madison office almost four years ago and has been working as a volunteer at the Legal Intervention for Nonviolence Clinic. That organization works with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services to provide brief legal advice, information and referrals on matters that include family law, property and consumer protection.
Kirk was instrumental in building the clinic from the ground up when it was developed 2-1/2 years ago. She helped McNeely by researching examples of free legal clinics, drafting forms, conducting attorney outreach and meeting with DAIS staff.
By greeting clients, preparing documents and helping with follow-ups such as filing forms or conducting additional research, Kirk helps ensure lawyers are prepared to serve their clients. But her contributions go beyond assisting attorneys.
“Just as important, she makes each client feel important and cared-for — all while not skipping a beat in the delivery of services to the five attorneys she services in her ‘day job,’” said Dawn Caldart, director of pro bono and professional development.
Kirk said she is driven by the respect she finds at the firm, but also by knowing that she helped make a difference in the life of someone in need.
“Sometimes I talk to clients and they cry and I just listen because that’s all they really want,” Kirk said. “Many times you don’t know the outcome of the story, but then there are those rare times when you do see that you’ve made a difference, and watching them leave you can actually see relief.”
“I can only imagine how much better all of our organizations and our communities would be with more people like Kathryn around,” Caldart said.