Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 19, 2024

Karlan following unusual family footsteps

John Karian is an attorney with Kuebler & Associates who assists clients with construction, business, real estate and personal injury concerns. - Photograph provided

Like many attorneys, John Karian can trace his initial interest in the law to a family member who was a jurist. In his case, stories about a great-grandfather who was a judge sparked his curiosity about the American system of justice, he says.

“He was a judge during the Ottoman Empire,” Karian clarifies.

That’s a new one. Within the membership of the Chattanooga Bar Association, odds are Karian, 37, has sole bragging rights to a family member who was a judge in the now defunct imperial realm, which was a concern from 1299 until just after the First World War.

Unfortunately, Karian has heard little about his great-grandfather’s time on the bench, and even those scant details are best thought of as family lore rather than corroborated history, he says. However, as a person of Armenian descent, the more concrete elements of his family’s saga did inspire his entry into the law.

“The story of what my family – and countless other families – went through during the Armenian Genocide and their ability to find their way to other parts of the world and build lives and communities in those places are amazing,” Karian says.

Karian is referring to the annihilation of Armenian Christians living in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of World War I. Of the approximately 1.5 million Armenians living in the realm in 1915, as many as 1.2 million died in massacres and individual killings or from mistreatment, exposure and starvation, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website states.

A Pennsylvania native, Karian grew up hearing those stories and how his family ultimately emigrated to the United States. He says the carefully preserved narratives informed his worldview.

“They made me grateful for the country in which we live and for our ability to build a life here. They also helped me to understand the importance of safeguarding our traditions – and I believe being a lawyer is one way I can do that.”

Before entering the legal profession, Karian worked as a national security analyst for the U.S. government. Although he’s unable to reveal what he did, he can say he spent most of that time with the Department of State.

“Working for the federal government is a great way to address issues that touch the entire globe. Working specifically with the Department of State allowed me to engage issues of national security, especially in the Middle East,” Karian explains. “That underscored the importance of having clear statutory frameworks and working with attorneys to make sure everything we did was consistent with U.S. law.”

Working with lawyers inspired Karian to pursue a legal degree at the age of 30, he says. After earning his Juris Doctor at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana, Karian rejoined the state department for a few years and then responded to what he says was a call to move in a new direction.

This shift in purpose included a change of locale. Drawn to the quality of the people in Tennessee, where he has family, Karian relocated to Chattanooga.

“Tennessee spoke to me,” he says. “Its people propelled me to move here and pursue a new career.”

Although Karian could have spent many more years working for the federal government, he says life is generally about reinventing one’s self and pursuing one’s passions.

“Millennials and other younger generations are always seeking to reimagine their lives and pursue new opportunities. I don’t think there’s an age when we’re too old to do something new – and for me, the law was a great field to pursue.”

Upon settling in, Karian connected with attorney Michael Kuebler through LinkedIn and secured a position as the sole associate at Kuebler & Associates. His budding practice consists of addressing construction, business, real estate and personal injury concerns for the firm’s clients.

“I originally considered practicing criminal defense, but I was also open to other areas of law,” Karian notes. “Our practice here allows us to engage a host of issues, which is a remarkable opportunity.”

Kuebler says Karian is a good fit for the firm, which is located off Lee Highway on Perimeter Drive.

“Finding the right people is 50% chemistry and 50% desire; if you have those two things, you can build a great team. John has the right demeanor and is very good with analytics; he also wants to learn and he wants to be a team player.”

As Karian acclimates to his new home state, he says he’s loving the natural beauty of Tennessee, especially its state parks. He’s also enjoying Chattanooga’s many options for dining out.

“Both of those things have been highlights of my time here so far,” he says with a smile.

Karian says he hopes to become more active in the Chattanooga community and the local bar association, which he’s already joined.

“Once I find my place and get up to speed, people will be seeing a lot of me,” he promises.

And they’ll hopefully be hearing more of his lore about the great-grandfather who was a judge during the Ottoman Empire and his stories about how his family crossed hell and an ocean to begin a new life.