Paul Shirk: A Supreme Opportunity

Shirk, Paul and CynthiaPaul Shirk has found himself idle on very few occasions.

Shirk (’08) had a few months to kill this summer between his graduation from law school and the beginning of his four-year military obligation, a unique position for him.

“It appeared like I might be sitting around for a long time, and it occurred to me that perhaps I should look for a job,” Shirk said.

The job he found turned out to be an incredible and unique opportunity. Shirk began working Aug. 1 as a law clerk for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. His primary duty is to assist Gableman in writing opinions on the Court’s rulings.

“It is very rare that a job like this would even be open just a few months before it needed to be filled,” Shirk said. “I believe things happen for a reason, but this was a tremendous blessing.”

Shirk is another recent example of how God has blessed Maranatha through the caliber of graduates being produced by its Business Department and other professional programs.

He was named winner of the John W. Sterling Award as the top Badger Battalion cadet as a college senior, an award symbolized by the awarding of a saber. He had helped establish Maranatha’s ROTC program in 2006 and served as Detachment Commander. Charlie Company has since grown from six cadets to 30. Shirk also excelled in the classroom, winning the 2008 Department of Business Student Achievement Award.

Maranatha’s regional accreditation provided the credentials for Shirk to enroll in a competitive postgraduate program, and the Army allowed Shirk an “educational delay” while he attended the Marquette University Law School. Shirk graduated magna cum laude in three years, earning his Juris Doctor degree as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

While in law school, Shirk worked as a clerk for Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr., previewing and discussing cases and helping draft opinions. He was also managing editor of the Marquette Law Review.

“I was a fairly busy guy,” Shirk said wryly.

He will continue to be a busy guy, working for Gableman through the summer of 2012. Last year’s Supreme Court issued about 56 opinions, Shirk said.

“All the writing is the Justice’s writing, but he may have me look for specific language,” Shirk said. “We work on the draft for grammar and punctuation, but that is secondary to getting the opinion (legally) right.”

Shirk will begin his four-year military obligation in the late summer or early fall of 2012, entering as a military lawyer in the Judge Advocate General ( JAG) Corps. He and wife Cynthia (Swezey, ’05) are expecting their first child in November.

“After I go on active duty, I should make Captain relatively quickly,” Shirk said. “I’m sure I’ll keep busy.”