What is your law firm’s most valuable asset? How do you measure value?
com tschumacher bakkenorman Tom Schumacher, Bakke Norman S.C.
"Human capital is our firm’s most valuable asset."
Human capital is our firm’s most valuable asset. It does not appear anywhere on our financial statements. However, it is what creates value for our firm in terms of client relationships, creativity, institutional knowledge, philosophy, and character. It is an asset that is undervalued in all cases when looking at the value that others bring to the firm and overvalued when looking at one’s individual value to the firm.
What has been your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
com jboucher neiderboucher Joseph Boucher, Neider Boucher S.C.
"Seeing LLCs become the most popular entity form is very satisfying."
Co-founding, along with Charles Neider, our niche business law firm 20 years ago and building it into a growing successful firm has been my greatest professional accomplishment. Charles and I have been colleagues for 30 years and have enjoyed the development of our firm and its family culture. A close second would be working on Wisconsin’s LLC entity legislation for nearly 25 years and watching it go from a goal to a reality. Seeing LLCs become the most popular entity form is very satisfying.
I am a business person who happens to be a lawyer. So if I wasn’t practicing law, I would probably own and manage a closely held family business or manage a nonprofit community organization.
Your practice focuses on assisting lenders with commercial lending, workouts, and foreclosures. What drew you to that practice area?
com nfarnam stroudlaw Norman D. Farnam, Stroud, Willink & Howard LLC
"Commercial lending brings together many different areas of law and presents complicated problems to solve, often with very high stakes."
Commercial lending attracted me because it brings together many different areas of law and presents complicated problems to solve, often with very high stakes. In particular, the last few years have been a tumultuous time in the financial sector, and hard on borrowers. Crafting practical and creative solutions when a loan is in danger of going bad requires an understanding not just of lending laws but of laws regarding real estate, personal property, and business organization. It requires an understanding of the consequences that will flow from different choices, and often requires having the confidence and courage to recommend the best course of action when there are no good choices.
We are now starting to see signs of life in the economy, and the new challenge is to make commercial loans while taking heed of the lessons we learned from the financial crisis. This means helping lenders make loans on competitive terms but at the same time ensuring that the lender is adequately protected and secured. I look forward to the challenges ahead in the area of commercial lending as the real estate market rebounds, the financial sector heals, and new projects and developments begin to reshape our communities with the aid of our lending institutions.
What is your favorite part of Wisconsin?
com kpleviak stroudlaw Krista R. Pleviak, Stroud, Willink & Howard LLC
"My favorite outdoor destination is a lesser-known spot called the Devil’s Punchbowl."
The abundance and accessibility of natural beauty. I love the variety of state parks and the extensive bike trails. However, my favorite outdoor destination is a lesser-known spot called the Devil’s Punchbowl. Located near Menomonie and fed by a natural spring, the walls are lush with vegetation and seem to ooze water directly from the rocks, which forms pools and a small stream teeming with frogs and tadpoles in the spring. Descending from the top of the bowl, the temperature of the air gets noticeably cooler, and you find yourself surrounded by the most vibrant greens. It is as close to a rain forest as you’ll find in Wisconsin.
If you could be anywhere else right now, where would you be?
com jknudson neiderboucher Jennifer L. Knudson, Neider & Boucher S. C.
"As I quickly learned, my French-speaking skills help in some circumstances but not others."
France. Whether it is the hustle and bustle of Paris or the quaint villages of Provence, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to make several trips to France over the years. Our best trips have been when we rented a car, toured chateaux in the countryside, and simply got lost in the country’s beauty. The history of the country is immense, the food and pastries are fabulous, and the culture is inviting. Traveling to France also allows me to use my very rusty French speaking skills.
On one trip, we got a flat tire, and as the “French speaker,” I was given the task of finding and purchasing a new tire for our rental vehicle. As I quickly learned, my French skills help in some circumstances but not others. I kept insisting to the garage that we wanted a new “roue” for our car (essentially a steering wheel), rather than a new “pneu” (or tire). After several confused looks at the garage, my non-French-speaking husband stepped in and solved the problem by presenting the actual flat tire to the garage as an example, and we soon were on our way. The memories from these trips are great, and I cannot wait until we get to visit again.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
com meichacker ruderware Michael Eichacker, Ruder Ware L.L.S.C.
"Having passion for what I do increases my satisfaction and success greatly."
Do what you are passionate about, and you will never work a day in your life.
I don’t take that as sitting on the couch will be my job. Let’s face it, a job is a job. If the job is that great, no one will pay you to do it. However, I do feel that having passion for what I do increases my satisfaction and success greatly. Enjoying what I do always encourages me to do my best. It feels a lot less like a job and more like a project when I am working with a desirable outcome.
Unfortunately, it took many years for me to figure this out. I tried many different professions and had a general lack of interest outside of work. I had success, but not the amount I desired. I am a lifelong learner, and technology fills my passion with a great abundance. It is difficult to predict what will be available to me in the coming years. Things are advancing at an incredible pace, and it is very exciting to be on the cutting edge of what is currently being introduced.
Milestones in my life are frequently remembered because of a first of a particular technology. My first computer, my first cellular telephone, my first portable computer, my first tablet computer, and my first text message are all events that I will always remember fondly.