Rhonda Hazen Balances the Emotional
In addition to family law, she volunteers as an EMT and decompresses with martial arts
Published in 2021 Wisconsin Super Lawyers Magazine on November 11, 2021
“I started doing [EMT work] when my triplets were born,” Rhonda Hazen says as she drives home from responding to an emergency medical services call. “They were very premature, and we had to call EMS several times for them. When they got older, I thought it was time for me to give back.”
In addition to her full-time job practicing family law at Boardman & Clark, Hazen has served as a certified volunteer EMT. For the past five years, it has been for Barneveld and its surrounding villages. She also serves as a trustee on her village board and as a member of the Barneveld-Brigham Fire Department board, practices martial arts at least every other day (she currently holds a black belt), and parents her four children.
“We’ve had quite a few calls with heroin overdoses and it just hits me and reminds me how important it is to come home and tell my kids this is what happens, this is what it looks like,” Hazen says. “We’ve had cases where people are really struggling emotionally and they may attempt to self-harm; those really stand out. It always kind of brings me back home: This is what people go through, and what we need to be careful of and mindful of.”
Though her 21-year-old triplets are out of the house, her 16-year-old son is home to see Hazen respond to calls. “He’s always very interested and wants to know what happened,” she says. “When I come back and say, ‘Alright, this was a horrible drug incident and this is exactly what can happen if you are down that path,’ he kind of rolls his eyes … but I think he takes it to heart.”
Despite often dealing with emotionally heavy calls, Hazen views it as a respite from law. “It’s a great balance,” she says. “I can kind of get out of my head with the legal work but still be doing something that’s helping people.
“In family law, you’re dealing with client emotions, but you’re also dealing with the legal process and the court system and it can be very all-encompassing. I’ll be doing one or two cases during a day and my mind will be completely on that. That’s my focus,” Hazen continues. “But then when I leave the office, instead of taking that with me, I go on call for EMS and the whole day just goes away until tomorrow. Then tomorrow I’ll wake up and do the law stuff again and the EMS stuff just kind of goes away. Having both of them is such a good break for me.”
And when she needs a break from both, Hazen turns to martial arts. She’s been practicing for the last 10 to 12 years, and earned her black belt in mixed martial arts six years ago. Hazen says it was the self-defense component that initially drew her.
“I’ve always been wanting to make sure that when I go anywhere, I’m comfortable and I can protect myself,” she says. “I started enjoying the boxing aspect of it; that’s the exercise form that gets me energized and it’s fun and it feels good. It helps me be centered. It calms me, makes me feel healthy and good, and then when I go into the office, I can approach that work with a pretty clear mind.”
As an EMT, Hazen is on call every Wednesday night, and at least one weekend every month. It helps that her children and colleagues approve. “I know that I could never do all that I do without my kids being supportive of it but also the people I work with in every area,” Hazen says. “That’s been huge.”