Monday Profile: Kara Hope

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Kara Hope is a lifelong resident of mid-Michigan who grew up in Ionia and lives now in Holt. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Michigan State University, with a bachelor’s degree in English. As a scholarship student at Cooley Law School, she interned with the Innocence Project, and served as managing editor of the law review. In 2003, Hope graduated 10th in her class and went to work in the prehearing division of the Michigan Court of Appeals. When her assignment ended in 2005, she spent a year with a litigation firm before taking an adjunct professor position at Cooley and taught legal writing 2006-2012.

In 2012, Hope was elected to serve on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, and re-elected in 2014. This year, she serves as board chairperson. Her position allows her to serve several organizations, including the Ingham County Land Bank, Tri-County Office on Aging, and Ingham County Women’s Commission. She is a founding president of the Holt Community Arts Council, and serves on the boards of the Capital Area College Access Network and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Last year, Hope started a solo family law practice in Holt.

She and her husband, Evan, are raising their niece and nephew, now teenagers.  Eventually, she hopes to serve “kinship” families—families like her own with children who are being raised by relatives.

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

What would surprise people about your job? Being a county commissioner is a part-time position, but a major time commitment and a lot of hard work—many evenings away from home at meetings, many phone calls, and emails. But I consider it a privilege to serve. I especially love directly helping people by putting them in touch with resources they need but weren’t aware of.

What is your most treasured material possession? I don’t know about “most treasured” — more of a love-hate relationship with my iPhone.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
My advice is to truly, critically think about this decision. What do you really want to do with your life? Is law school the best means to that end? Do you know what lawyers actually do? When I taught at Cooley, I was surprised to find many students didn’t have a very good grasp on what lawyers do every day. It’s not all that glamorous. It can be extremely stressful. If your idea about what lawyers do is based on what movies or the news, you need to learn more about the job before commiting time and resources to law school.

Favorite local hangouts: The historic Ingham County Courthouse in Mason; Ingham County Human Services Building in Lansing; and Coffee Barrel and Veterans Memorial Gardens in Holt.

Favorite websites: ICLE; lawyerist.com; NPR.org; Facebook (I know – but where else can you read the news, see baseball scores, view a hilarious cat video, and find out what your cousin had for lunch?)

Favorite music: I love live music -- one of the reasons I helped start and continue to organize Music in the Garden, the Holt Community Arts Council’s free summer concert series. With kids and many obligations, I don’t get to go to many concerts. But my whole family helps out at Music in the Garden. So on concert nights, I donate my time to my community while spending time with my family and enjoying great music.

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Spending time with my grandparents.

What do you wish someone would invent? I could use a food replicator like the one from Star Trek. I love to cook and eat, but I don’t have much time to grocery shop or plan meals any more. My family and I eat too much pizza.

What has been your favorite year so far? 2006 — the year I got married, and when my niece and nephew joined our home.

How do you define success? You’ve succeeded if you have made a meaningful, positive difference in someone else’s life.

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party? The Obamas; Madeleine Albright; Margaret Atwood; Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Neil deGrasse Tyson; the Dalai Lama; David Sedaris; and Amy Schumer. I’d like to meet Bob Dylan, but he doesn’t seem like he’d be a great conversationalist. I’d also like to meet former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, but I’m not sure how forthcoming he would be with stories. 

Why did you become a lawyer? I wanted to help people, especially under-served people, by working to help improve “the system” or by directly helping them resolve their legal issues.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? Washington D.C., home to so much history and the physical embodiment of the high ideals we strive to meet in the United States.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? The power to be invisible at will could be fun. You could travel the world, and could have great seats for Detroit Tigers game – all for free.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Be kinder to yourself. Have more confidence. This (adolescence), too, shall pass.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer? I am proud whenever I donate my time and legal skills to individuals in need or to worthy organizations. I’ve volunteered at a clinic run by Elder Law of Michigan. It’s gratifying to help seniors find some peace of mind by getting their affairs in order. I’ve also donated services to the Sam Corey Senior Center Club and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council.

What do you do to relax? Walk my dog, watch mindless television, read, hang out with my husband and kids

What would you like to learn to do? So many things — sew, speak a foreign language fluently, sing.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I was on the WKAR show “Quiz Busters” as a senior at Ionia High School. We were handily defeated by Portland High School. I’m not over it.

What is the best advice you ever received?  “Go to Michigan State University.” MSU was a great fit for me.

If you can help it, where will you never return?
Phoenix in August – not a great time to visit the desert.

What do you drive? A 2010 Ford Fusion. It is functional and adequate and inexpensive to drive.

What would you drive if money were no object?
I would pay someone to drive me in a Chevy Volt or something relatively environmentally responsible.

Favorite place to spend money:
I enjoy a good bookstore and I like looking at antiques – even though I rarely buy anything. 

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