On its face, sea kayaking doesn’t have much in common with Milwaukee’s start-up scene.
But for Jay Creagh, who has worked in both, there’s more in common than you’d think.
Before law school, Creagh served as the Wilderness Program director for Camp Manito-wish YMCA, where he led intense kayaking and canoeing expeditions. He said he relished helping people achieve their goals and overcome hardships.
Creagh said he’s still using those talents as an attorney at Godfrey & Kahn, where he works with venture capital and start-up companies.
“For me, coming from assessing risk where lives are at stake, it was easy for me to apply those skills to the legal business and assessing financial risk, where lives are not at stake,” he said.
Creagh’s path to working with start-up companies began in law school at the University of Minnesota, where an influential professor taught a course on contract law. Creagh was intrigued by the transactional nature of the work, and was “hooked right away.”
After law school, Creagh took a position at Godfrey & Kahn, where he has since worked with start-up companies and venture capital firms in the Milwaukee area. He said his position has brought him in touch with others who are trying to build up the city’s startup scene.
In his role, he works to help startup founders get their businesses off the ground and serves as a sounding board for companies in various stages of growth.
“The Milwaukee startup ecosystem and state ecosystem have grown every year and there’s more and more people that are actively trying to make it a more fertile place for business,” Creagh said.
Outside of his regular practice, Creagh works with volunteers at the Milwaukee Justice Center’s Mobile Legal Clinic, which helps people with various legal matters, including landlord-tenant disputes and family law. Creagh said it has been rewarding to help solve problems that can seem daunting.
“Godfrey & Kahn has been an incredible collaborative environment,” he said. “I’m just fortunate to have great mentors and colleagues to help me develop in my career.”