Monday Profile: Kate Sharkey

Kate Sharkey was a family law staff attorney from 2006 to 2010 at Cabrini Green Legal Aid in Chicago, representing hundreds of low-income clients in divorce, child custody, guardianship and parenting time cases.  She returned to her home state of Michigan in the fall of 2010 and practiced at Legal Services of South Central Michigan- Family Law Project from 2011 to 2013, focusing on representing survivors of domestic violence in personal protection and family law cases.  Sharkey joined the Ann Arbor firm of Nichols Sacks Slank Sendelbach & Buiteweg, P.C. in October 2013 and focuses on family law.  Prior to law school, she was a child welfare caseworker in Chicago.   


By Jo Mathis

Legal News
Residence:  Ann Arbor
Currently reading … “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
My mother always told me …  I’m not sure how she phrased it, but she impressed upon me just how important it is to maintain my integrity above all else.  
What is your most treasured material possession?  Photos of my children.  Their value increases daily.  
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Work for a few years before you make the investment; if you decide to go after you have been in the workforce for a few years, you will be a better student and more committed to the work of law school.   If you decide it is not for you, you’ve avoided a very expensive mistake.  
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?  I would probably still be a social worker, arguing with lawyers! 
Favorite local hangouts:  Grizzly Peak, Sweetwaters, Ann Arbor Farmers Market.
Your proudest moment(s) as a lawyer?  During my first year of practice in Chicago, a very dishonest lawyer improperly served my client and defaulted her.  His client, who had not seen the children in several months, got custody of their young children in a default judgment.  I ended up getting the default set aside and won my first contested custody trial.  The children were returned to my client.  
What is your happiest childhood memory?  I come from a very large extended family.  Gathering at my grandparents’ house on Christmas and at their lake house in the summer were some of my happiest times.  I’m so pleased my kids get to go to that same lake house and hang out with their cousins and second cousins.  There are more than 80 of us now.  
Which things do you not like to do?  Discipline my children.  I usually find their bad behavior hilarious.  I do discipline them, though.  
What would surprise people about your job?  How much hand-holding I do.  
What’s your greatest achievement?  Overcoming self-doubt as a law student and new lawyer.  
At Thanksgiving dinner, would you rather talk politics, religion or the weather?  Weather.  I hate talking either of the other with family.  
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  “Hang in there, it gets better.”  
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?  Cultural acceptance of sexual and domestic violence.  
Must-see TV:  “Mad Men,” “Nashville,” “House of Cards,” “Scandal,” “Downton Abbey.”  I love TV.    
What’s your favorite animal?  I’m not much of an animal person, but I did love Daisie, our Siberian husky.  My husband had her when we started dating, and she died when my son was a newborn.  It was heartbreaking.  
What’s your biggest regret?  Ever doubting my instinct. 
What word do you overuse?  “Apparently.”  And some other words not appropriate for print.  
First gig:  Busser at Matt Brady’s Tavern in Beverly Hills,
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  Dance (well).
What is something most people don-­t know about you?  I married my high school “sweetheart.”  After losing touch after high school, we ended up living two blocks away from each other in Chicago in our 20s.  
If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?  I have to pick four: my Sharkey grandparents because I never met my Grandma Sharkey, and my Schlater grandparents because I miss them so much.  
Who is your favorite character of fiction?  “Phoebe” from “Catcher in the Rye” — her innocence, her adoration and unconditional love for her troubled big brother.   Her character is so beautifully and simply written.  
Favorite movie:  “The Sound of Music.”
What’s the best advice you ever received?  Never argue with a fool.  
What place won’t you return if you can help it?  The emergency room.
What do you drive? What would you drive if money were no object?  I drive a Ford Freestyle—which I love.  If money were no object and I didn’t have to transport children, I would drive a Jaguar.  
Favorite law-related movie:  “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Favorite place to spend money:  The Farmer’s Market
What is your motto?  “Fake it til you make it.”  
Where would you like to be when you’re 90?  Someplace warm, with Jake, a fruity drink, a beach, and enough money to fly my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to see us as frequently as they want to visit.