Following graduate school at Notre Dame, Katie Harrell found herself with both a PhD in geological sciences and a lot of uncertainty about her employment prospects.
Neither the idea of going into academia nor of working for a large petro-chemical company particularly appealed to her. Then her father — a family lawyer in Oshkosh — advised her to try taking the LSAT.
“He suggested I go to law school in Wisconsin and that I’d have a lot of options that way,” Harrell said.
As happens with so many people, Harrell found herself following in her father’s footsteps after graduation. She’s now a partner at Stafford Rosenbaum specializing in family law and trusts and estates. She said the work is satisfying because it gives her a chance to lighten the burden of people who are often coming to her at one of the most difficult times in their lives.
“I like to do it as efficiently as possible,” Harrell said. “I don’t want to belabor the process. Nobody wants to go through a divorce. So you try to make the process as straightforward as possible.”
Harrell also works quite a bit on cases involving guardian ad litem, paternity disputes and third-party-visitation rights. She is a co-chair of Stafford Rosenbaum’s family law practice group and diversity and inclusiveness committee.
Her colleague Tony Menting, also a family law attorney at Stafford Rosenbaum, said he makes it a point to ask Harrell to look over anything he has written before he submits it for official purposes.
Harrell said one big reason her practice is never dull is that it touches on so many aspects of the law.
“It’s not confining because you have to know about so many things,” she said. “You have to know a little about real estate and even a little criminal law because a lot of clients are not necessarily on the straight and narrow.”