Like Daughter, Like Dad

Alum Demetrius Karos (’89) and Daughter Kayla Partner at Domestic Violence Clinic

When Kayla Karos told her father Demetrius (‘89) that she was planning to work in John Marshall’s Domestic Violence Clinic during her second year at John Marshall, he wanted to join her. As he saw it, volunteering his time alongside his daughter was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with her at his alma mater and to also give back to the school that had given so much to him.

His experience as a tax attorney didn’t seem an obvious fit for the Clinic, but that didn’t deter Demetrius, Kayla, or Professor Debra Pogrund Stark, who runs the Clinic.

Stark, who welcomes all volunteer attorneys to work with students and survivors of domestic violence, had been looking for attorneys with expertise in several areas, including tax law. “When Demetrius contacted me and told me his expertise was in tax law, I was very excited, since we had not yet lined up any attorneys to help us with that area of law,” Stark says.

Stark quickly put Demetrius to work on tax liability relief materials for survivors of domestic violence. Demetrius was even able to complete a majority of the work remotely, eliminating the need to constantly commute downtown from his suburban law office.

Learning Through Experience

Kayla’s work with the Clinic helped satisfy John Marshall’s experiential learning requirement. Since 2013, the law school requires all students to complete either three credit hours in one of the Community Legal Clinics or participate in an externship.

The experience proved educational for Kayla on many levels. “On the tax side, I have learned so many nuances of the law with regards to helping domestic violence victims in bad tax situations. Also, I have learned how important the client’s story is. Especially in the area of domestic violence, there is a great deal of emotion, and the client needs to feel safe in order to open up about their experience.”

I have learned how important the client’s story is.

The clinical experience also helped Kayla and her father learn a bit more about each other. “Kayla’s writing is much better than mine,” Demetrius says. “I still write like an accountant. I have too much accounting DNA in me.”

Back To Where It All Began

This was not the first time Demetrius and Kayla worked together. After graduating from college in 2012, Kayla began working at her father’s tax and estate planning firm in the Chicago suburb of Frankfort. She was surprised how much she enjoyed the work and decided to apply to law school. Kayla only applied to one school—John Marshall—the same school her father graduated from in 1989.

Demetrius remembers not wanting to influence Kayla’s decision. “I did not want to push her into the tax or legal arena,” he says. “It had to be the right fit for her, but I am glad she chose John Marshall and that we were able to impact the lives of domestic violence victims together.”

After completing three semesters, Kayla and Demetrius say the experience was memorable. Kayla created an online quiz for domestic violence victims to help them determine whether they are eligible to apply for innocent spouse relief. Demetrius encourages fellow alumni to consider volunteering as another way to give back to John Marshall. “I think every attorney should look to their own specific skill set and find a way to make the community a little better,” he says. “It is truly great working with someone that enjoys continuing to learn about new things in their area, especially when that person is your daughter.”

Kayla echoes his sentiments. “I would definitely recommend alumni volunteering in the Clinics, especially if you get a chance to work with a family member. John Marshall has given me the tools to become a successful attorney, and it is really nice to be able to pay it forward by helping others in the community. It has been an experience neither of us will forget.”