Even seasoned family law attorneys can struggle to remember to put their clients’ needs first when they are doing guardian ad litem work or representing someone who is in the midst of an emergency.
Not Elizabeth Bush.
The lawyer at Horizons Law Group has been practicing for only three years. But her background in early childhood development makes her the equal, in many ways, of more experienced attorneys, says the owner of the firm, Michelle Fitzgerald.
Bush taught kindergarten for three years after she got her undergraduate degree in elementary and early childhood development.
“I’ve worked with kids from newborn to 18, and so I guess I know the background of childhood development and have experience with kids,” she said. “It’s just trying to get to the bottom of what’s happening.”
Bush’s current work involves not just guardian ad litem cases but also divorce cases, guardianships, adoptions and restraining orders in situations involving domestic violence.
She said she likes the fact that her work changes nearly every day. She finds herself working not only in Waukesha County, but also in Racine, Dodge and Jefferson counties.
Bush narrowed down her interest in family law by first getting certified and then working as a paralegal for a practice specializing in intellectual property. She quickly discovered it wasn’t what she wanted to be doing.
“I didn’t have any passion for it,” she said. “I realized I need that to get me through life and the day. I really have to not just enjoy what I do but feel like I am working for a greater good.”
It was her work as a student attorney in a child-advocacy clinic in law school that helped her find what she truly enjoys.
But her career path following law school was far from easy. Bush, who graduated from Hamline University Law School in 2014, moved to Wisconsin because of her husband’s job. In addition to having a heavy debt load from law school, she quickly found herself unable to find a job.
Hence her decision to start her own practice.
“I thought, ‘I just have to go do something and take a chance,’” Bush said. “It was not ideal.”
Soon, though, she had met Fitzgerald, the owner of Brookfield-based Horizons Law Group, and was hired.
That experience is part of why she has committed part of her time outside the office to the State Bar’s Young Lawyers Division and helped start the bar’s Greater Wisconsin Initiative, which takes young attorneys and law students to the state’s northern counties to work with judges and other lawyers.
“I want to be involved in working forward and making a difference – doing something positive,” Bush said. “I lived those struggles.”