MONROE — Green County judicial candidate Peter B. Kelly ended up in Monroe almost by chance when the law firm he was working for in Janesville opened a Monroe office. He made the switch to Monroe in 1986 and never looked back: this is now his hometown.
He stayed with the firm for 22 years before starting his own in 2008, housed in a barn on his family’s rural Monroe farm. What separates Kelly from the others, however, isn’t just his unique office but also his decades of legal experience — from working both in the courtroom as well as directly with incarcerated individuals.
In 2008, Kelly received his fifth university degree, this time from from University of Wisconsin- Whitewater: A Master of Science in Counselor Education. He had previously earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in business management and minor in environmental science from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Science in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, a Juris Doctor degree from Marquette University Law School and a Master of Theological Studies from St. Mary’s College of Ave Maria University.
He was inspired to earn an education in counseling when he recognized that many of the people he was seeing come through the court system could benefit from mental health or substance abuse counseling.
“They aren’t evil or bad people as much they’re broken people, damaged people, people that need help,” he said.
He then started working as an adjunct mental health counselor at the Washington County Jail, alongside his wife, Christine. Kelly’s experience working in the Washington County Jail has allowed him to see how his work can help others with not only rehabilitation, but also with staying out of prison in the future. The benefits of his work do not stop when he leaves the prison, but rather help provide the framework for a better future.
“I can be dead in the grave, but there will be kids in the future that won’t be abused because we stopped the cycle,” he said. “The mental health and the substance abuse component, in the bigger framework of the law and the judicial system, is why I think this would be a particularly good fit for me.”
After multiple decades working in law, Kelly is prepared to take on the “capstone” of his legal career.
“I look old,” he said, “But that’s how judges usually look because you want to tap into the experience of somebody, not just in law but in life and in training over the years.”