Kathy Charlton has always been drawn to fighting injustice. Case in point: She read books by Ralph Nader while growing up.
When it came time to pick an area of the law, she said the choice was easy.
“I wanted to do something where I could help fight injustice,” said Charlton, a shareholder at Milwaukee-based Hawks Quindel.
She has carved out a practice allowing her to do just that as she splits her time between cases involving family and employment law and fair housing.
Family law was a natural choice since it offered Charlton a myriad of ways to help others. As for employment law, she was drawn to it by her recognition that people’s jobs have a direct effect on their economic success.
“If I can help someone find work by getting them out of a non-compete clause or an unfair contract, I see that as a success,” Charlton said.
As general counsel for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, Charlton handles fair-housing cases in state and federal courts.
“I see fair housing as fundamental to a person’s success,” she said. “If a person does not have a decent place to live, it plays havoc with the rest of their life.”
As if Charlton’s practice and work with the fair housing council did not keep her busy enough, she also assists with various pro bono efforts. In 1997 she earned the Donald O’Melia Award for Public Service.
“Pro bono work is an important part of my practice, so I make time for it,” she said. “It is incredibly rewarding to help people who do not have other means to get legal help.”
Amy Shapiro, a shareholder at Hawks Quindel, said Charlton volunteers hundreds of hours annually to help low-income people and organizations. Her generosity extends to her colleagues as well.
“Kathy is the first person to write you a note if you’re down” and offers counsel on both legal and personal matters, Shapiro said.
Another Hawks Quindel shareholder, Timothy Hawks, called Charlton “the firm’s conscience as she ensures that we each make an individual commitment” to pro bono work.