Kate Kobriger - 2014

Position title: Staff Attorney

Pronouns: she/her

What career pathway have you pursued since your time in the UW-Madison English major?

I graduated from UW – Madison in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree and a clear sense of what was important to me: comprehensive, inclusive healthcare that prioritizes self-determination of individuals and families. I continued to live in Wisconsin for about five years after undergrad, first accepting a position at Epic and then at the Wisconsin Department of Health, where I worked in the Division of Medicaid Services. Eager for more education, I enrolled in a dual degree program at Columbia Law School and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. While in school, I competed in the Williams Gender and Sexuality Moot Court Competition, worked on the executive board of the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and served as a Law School Writing Center Fellow and then Student Co-Director. Additionally, I published two law review articles. In the School of Public Health, I matriculated in the Department of Population and Family Health—a program that bears a strong nexus with family regulation. While in school, I worked in a medley of internships in direct services, policy advocacy, and impact litigation, including with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Columbia Science, Health, and Information Clinic. After receiving my JD and MPH, I joined The Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Practice as a staff attorney. I represent parents in proceedings brought by the family policing system, which is documented to negatively impact the health and wellbeing of parents and children alike.

What did you enjoy about the English major?

I always loved how expansive the English Department felt to me. It was home to poets and playwrights as well as burgeoning doctors and analytic linguists. Every classroom hosted a multidisciplinary student roster, well-wrought syllabi offered readings by diverse writers, and each professor’s studies seemed to occupy a critical niche I hadn’t yet considered. Few other majors so persistently invite their students to explore other perspectives.

Other majors, certificates, or key points of involvement during time at UW:

Second Major: Gender and Women Studies; President of the Madison Undergraduate Society for English

How did your time as an English major prepare you for your current work? What skills do humanities students bring to your industry?

The English major fosters many core skills—reading comprehension, grammar, organization—that I use every day as a lawyer. But the skill that I think sets an English major apart is close reading. Close reading taught me the importance of nuance in language. In client conversations, legal filings, and courtroom arguments, the form of my words is often as determinative as their substance.