Fireside with Intern Kara Simmons

August 22, 2023 - HighGround was pleased to have four interns with us this summer. We recently sat down, fireside, to learn more about our Trust and Legal intern, Kara Simmons, and her experience working at HighGround.

Where are you from? What school do you attend, and what are you studying?

I’m from Mesquite, Texas, and I will be attending San Angelo State University as a freshman this fall, studying marketing.

I was a legislative liaison in Austin from January to June of this year for the Texas Homeschool Coalition. I was doing bill analysis and lobbying for parental and homeschooling rights. I testified 6 times on committee.

What brought you to HighGround?

I was interested in working with lawyers to learn more about what that’s like. My mom and Jennifer Babisak [HighGround Associate General Counsel] have been friends for a while. I reached out to Jennifer about opportunities, and she was kind enough to pull something together here. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning.

Ultimately, I want to go into politics. Not necessarily as an elected official but in an office and on campaigns. I’ve been told there is a shortage of business office skills in the political field – maybe a lot of people who can do policy but not a lot who can do marketing. So, I chose to major in marketing. I will probably minor in political science or entrepreneurship. I might get a law degree eventually.

What all did you do in your time here?

My main project has been reviewing trust agreements. I’ve also been working on a bunch of research projects that are smaller. For example, last week I spent most of the day on an endowment fund we manage. It is directed to pay distributions to a retirement home, but that retirement home closed down. We need to petition to get the endowment redirected to a different project, but first we need to prove the retirement home no longer exists and then find a comparable new direction for the endowment.

What is a favorite moment from your time at HighGround?

My favorite moment was watching a jury get selected and listening to a probate case unfold. Jennifer wanted me to be able to see probate court and what happens there, so we attended a jury trial for a probate case. We sat in there for a while, watching the attorneys question potential jurors, “Have you ever been an executor of a will? Have you ever had a contested will?” They were trying to figure out who would have prejudices against the two involved in the case.

My biggest takeaway is learning how complicated probate court can get. When you have deeds and wills and trust agreements, it gets complicated fast, especially if people have not been keeping up with deeds well. Some land has been deeded to this person and then later deeded to someone else, but the deed was never taken from the first person, so now you have competing deeds and have to figure out which one is right and which one will stand in court. I’ve learned about different types of trusts - ones that support you when you’re alive, ones that support your descendants, ones that give more to charities, ones that give more to the donorsz

We focus on strengths at HighGround. What are your top 5 CliftonStrengths?

Mine are Context, Input, Learner, Achiever, Analytical.

Analytical is really helpful for digging through legal documents and figuring out what’s what.

Which of the HGA core values resonates most deeply with you and why?

Professional Excellence. I strive to be professional and to go above and beyond for things, so being around a bunch of people who also strive for that is always a great blessing, and it’s really nice to work with people who really understand how to be professional. I enjoyed being in a professional environment.

How do you like to spend your time? What are your hobbies or passions?

I like to read a lot of different books. My favorite fictional category is historical fiction. I like to read a lot of political history books, things on the Federal Reserve or the original intent of the Constitution. I also like to do arts and crafts. My current favorite project is needle felting. I make tiny, fluffy animals, and it’s a lot of fun. Politics is my third hobby - keeping up with who is doing what and what nonsense is happening where and what good things are happening where.

What does the future hold for you?

Most immediately, college. I hope to do various internships throughout my college career for more job experience and career exploration. After college, hopefully I’ll be working either in a legislator’s office or for an advocacy group. I’d like to eventually get married and have kids.