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Legal Secretary of the Year

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//November 12, 2010//

Legal Secretary of the Year

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//November 12, 2010//

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Legal Secretary of the Year

Heidi Buttchen
Legal Secretary, Cullen Weston Pines & Bach LLP

“Heidi brings a rare combination of intelligence, dedication and even temper to work.  She is a full participant in the legal work I do.”  - Jordan C. Loeb, Partner, Cullen Weston Pines & Bach
“Heidi brings a rare combination of intelligence, dedication and even temper to work. She is a full participant in the legal work I do.” - Jordan C. Loeb, Partner, Cullen Weston Pines & Bach

“Work personified” is how Cullen Weston Pines & Bach partner Jordan C. Loeb describes legal secretary Heidi Buttchen.

In her 12 years at the firm, Buttchen has never taken a sick day.

But her responsibilities go well beyond typing letters and keeping calendars. She takes responsibility for knowing everything that is happening in a case, said Loeb, from reading mail to pleadings and discovery.

“I tease her about being an over-achiever and that she doesn’t need to protect her job status,” he said in nominating Buttchen. “The truth is, Heidi does not know how to do anything less than 100 percent and ‘good enough’ is not in her vocabulary.”

Firm partner Lester A. Pines said Buttchen is especially adept at preparing and filing appellate court briefs.

In the last six months, she prepared briefs in six matters before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and thanks to her efforts in each instance, the submissions were perfect, said Pines.

Beyond her workload, Buttchen is always willing to lend a hand when other staff members are out sick or on vacation.

Whether it’s making copies, helping with document preparation or coming back to the office for a filing that is due at midnight, she does them without complaining, said office administrator Lisa Fox.

“If it were possible to clone legal secretaries, Heidi Buttchen would be the one to clone from,” she said. “In fact, I’m not sure what her attorneys are going to do when the day comes for her to retire.”

Legal Secretary Honorees

Jane L. Ames
Legal Assistant, Boardman Law Firm LLP

“Jane has been my secretary/Legal Assistant/paralegal for 35 years. She performs all of the above functions and more. She corrects my errors, makes sure that briefs are in proper form, suggests changes in my letters, and is sought out by other lawyers and secretaries for help. I often receive comments from other lawyers in the office that “she is awesome.”

Earl H. Munson, Partner,
Boardman Law Firm

Tami Burdick
Legal Assistant, Borgelt Powell Peterson & Frauen SC

“Tami is the only support staff in our office, and takes the responsibility for phones, ordering supplies, transcription, ordering records, calendaring deadlines, mail, faxing, emailing, and everything that goes into a busy law office. She has been a valuable member of the firm.”

Virginia Newcomb,
Borgelt, Powell, Peterson & Frauen, SC


Mary Burks
Legal Assistant, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Inc.

“As a legal assistant, Mary Burks administers the Legal Aid Society’s Family Court Guardian ad Litem program. Her complex position requires her to interface with judges and court staff, open files, contact parties, work with attorneys, and track the progress of cases to ensure that the voices of vulnerable children are heard in court. Mary possesses amazing poise, considerable patience, and profound compassion for those we serve.”

Tom Cannon, Executive
Director, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Inc.

Brenda N. Champan
Legal Secretary, Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols SC

“Brenda has been a legal secretary for almost 40 years, the last 20 years with Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols S.C. Her dedication is second to none and she continually stays late and sacrifices weekends to ensure the partners, including the managing partner she works for, are taken care of and in turn our client’s needs are well taken care of. We count on her daily and are very fortunate to have her employed with us.”

Matthew Katz,
Meissner Tierney Fisher & Nichols

Lori Czarnecki
Legal Secretary, Fox O’Neill & Shannon SC

“Lori has become the established doyenne of the firm during her 32 year tenure. She knows almost everything. … Lori has the unique quality of being able to “read” her attorneys — she knows our stress level, mood, uncertainty or urgency just by watching the way we walk to her desk. She also knows how to keep us in line on those hopefully rare occasions when we forget that she, like all our staff, are only human. Lori is one of a rare breed today — a smart, sharp, woman who has stayed at one job for three decades, and who has grown, personally and professionally, during each year. I would be lost without her.”

Diane Slomowitz,
Fox, O’Neill & Shannon SC

Emily Igl
Legal Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Justice

“Emily is an outstanding legal secretary who is proactive and has done excellent work in coordinating prosecution efforts with victims of sexual assault cases in criminal prosecutions. Her efforts above and beyond her job description helped facilitate successful sexual assault prosecutions and gave previously unheard victims a voice for them to pursue justice in their individual circumstances. Her dedication to detail is driven by her concern for victims of crime. Emily is a tremendous team player and asset in presenting cases for successful prosecution.”

Dennis Krueger,
Wisconsin Department of Justice

Bernice Kukral
Legal Assistant, Peckerman Klein & Van Kirk

“Bernice Kukral is a master at talking to clients, working with courts, and expertly handling correspondence, pleadings, and file management. Bernice is an assistant who can be counted on with her ‘eagle eye’ to perfect financial documents, correspondence, and briefs. Bernice is a valued member of the Peckerman, Klein & Van Kirk team who takes great pride in ensuring that the documents that we, as lawyers, create are up to the highest standards. Bernice is a multi-talented assistant who can handle client calls and concerns with sensitivity and care. Bernice expertly handles the schedules of several lawyers in our office and is skilled at dealings with the Court. On top of all of these skills, she is a lovely, kind, and delightful person to have on our team.”

Bruce M. Peckerman,
Peckerman Klein & Van Kirk

Mary McGivern
Administrative Assistant, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

“Mary is an absolutely fabulous legal secretary. She is sharp, on the ball, and a very hard worker. She not only supports me in my job, but makes sure I do a better job by bringing new ideas to the table and paying attention to details that I sometimes overlook. She has a great attitude. She’s very positive, enthusiastic and easy to work with. Mary is truly the best legal secretary with whom I’ve ever had the privilege to work.”
Lauri Ann Rollings, Senior Staff Attorney,

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Deb Morgan
Administrative Assistant, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC

“Deb goes above and beyond her job duties every day. Her goal is to make her timekeepers look good in the eyes of clients, other members of the firm and the public. For example, when I, as one of her timekeepers, was to be interviewed by a local news station, she wanted the interview to take place in my office. She took time, on her own schedule, to clean my office so it was presentable (because it usually is not). I did not ask her to do this, and in fact, I insisted that I would use an empty office. But she knew that letting the camera see my office, my pictures and diplomas was important to me and the firm, so she cleaned out files, straightened papers, and gave my office a new life. Her eagerness to help and constant smile are always appreciated.”

Barbara Zabawa, Attorney,
Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC

Sharon Nelson
Hearing Office Support Clerk, State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

“Sharon Nelson is the only support staff clerk in the Milwaukee Hearing Office who handles work for three separate Administrative Law Judges. This work includes reviewing the ALJ’s decisions, sending out the judges’ decisions, handling postponement requests on their cases, coordinating phone hearing participation, faxing/mailing documents to parties participating in phone hearings, handling questions about hearings from parties, etc. She has logged many overtime hours on Saturday mornings. Given the tremendous increase in UI appeals over the last 18 months, I am nominating Sharon Nelson for consideration as an unsung hero.”

John Gelhard,
Administrative Law Judge,
State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development/Unemployment Insurance

Katie Roubik
Legal Assistant, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC

“Katie and I have worked together for almost three years at Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C. These years have been trying times for many attorneys because of the difficult economic conditions. Nevertheless, Katie was able to somehow remain the calm in the middle of the storm as I worked with clients, many of whom faced very difficult issues. This is a remarkable achievement. Second, I am the co-author of a book, Federal Criminal Restitution, published by Thomson West. Katie played a major role in coordinating the work of the three co-authors, all of whom are located in separate locations. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Katie on a daily basis. She has helped me to build and sustain my practice. More importantly, she has played a major role in assisting clients with the difficult legal problems that they are facing. For this, I am very grateful.”

Nathan Fishbach,
Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek

Karen Schultz
Legal Secretary, Office of the Washington County Attorney

“Ms. Schultz is the legal secretary for two attorneys in our office with very different and substantial caseloads. This is an incredibly difficult task. Yet, she handles these duties with an unshakeable cool and calm. She makes each of us feel like we are the only lawyer she assists. Work is done timely, completely, and with great attention to detail. She is a perfectionist and always makes sure everything that comes out of my office is the way it should be.”

Bradley Scott Stern,
Washington County Attorney, Washington County

Joanne Stone
Legal Assistant, Foley & Lardner LLP

“Joanne Stone pulled together a group of 11 nonattorney staff members and organized a donation of toys for the holidays so that children in foster and kinship famililes would be sure to have something for Christmas. They also donated an incredibly generous amount of supplies so that many abused and neglected children would have backpacks and all the equipment they needed for school.”

Anita R. Cruise,
Kids Matter Inc.

Lindsay Van De Hei
Legal Secretary, Hager Dewick & Zuengler SC

“Lindsay is often described as the ‘best legal secretary’ our firm’s attorneys have ever had the privilege of working with. Lindsay has great attention to detail and consistently exceeds all expectations in every area of her job responsibilities. She maintains a friendly and professional disposition and is always willing to take on any task necessary, especially when we face staff shortages due to illness, vacations, etc. Lindsay is an absolute joy to have in our office and is always a team player. Her ability to anticipate pending issues and the needs of the attorneys she works for makes Lindsay an HDZ MVP.”

John F. Hager,
Hager, Dewick & Zuengler, SC

Aileen Vargo
Legal Secretary, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC

“Our legal secretary, Aileen Vargo, consistently produces superior work and demonstrates an outstanding sense of dedication, organization and excellence. Not only does she fulfill assignments quickly and accurately, but she regularly volunteers to assist others with their assignments whenever she has a spare moment. In fact, Aileen not only supports the three of us, but our department and our whole firm. She assisted with the design and development of a new database for our department and has served as a leader in its implementation and that of another database used firm-wide. Most importantly, Aileen’s positive attitude and enthusiasm make her a true unsung hero.”

Olivia G.T. Kopitzke, Paralegal, Sara Salamone Callahan, Paralegal and John A. Herbers, Shareholder,
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC

Jane L. Wiese
Legal Secretary, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

“Jane Wiese is certainly one of the best legal assistants in Wisconsin. Not only is she highly competent, she is a great team player and a reliable colleague. Even under the intense pressure of short deadlines and a demanding workload, Jane is consistently dependable and unflappable. With quiet confidence, she methodically and carefully dissects any problem, develops a workable game plan, and finds a way to get the desired results. … Jane exhibits tact and decorum in everything she does. She is well-respected by her co-workers and she respects others in return. Jane not only wants to do her job well, she wants to help those around her succeed. Jane Wiese is a true unsung hero.”

Amy Schmidt Jones, Employee Relations Partner and
Matthew Kurlinski, Employee Relations Associate,
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

In Memoriam: Rosemary Haas
Legal Secretary, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC

“Rosemary was a truly wonderful person. Always supportive, kind and caring. She was a joy to be around and made the workplace enjoyable. She is greatly missed for not only the duties she performed, but also the support and friendship she provided.”  - Anne M. Hlavacka, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC
“Rosemary was a truly wonderful person. Always supportive, kind and caring. She was a joy to be around and made the workplace enjoyable. She is greatly missed for not only the duties she performed, but also the support and friendship she provided.” - Anne M. Hlavacka, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC

Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC has a lengthy history of supporting causes dedicated to the fight against cancer.

Several months ago, a number of staff and attorneys in the Milwaukee headquarters were gearing up for the 2010 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, including legal secretary Rosemary Haas. So it came as a huge shock to all her co-workers to learn of her sudden death on March 7.

On the day of the walk, everyone from Reinhart who participated in the event couldn’t help but remember Haas, who suffered from breast cancer herself among other serious health issues. But her health status wasn’t widely known at the office, because she was rarely absent from work, and never let her own problems interfere with how she did her job.

Attorney Thomas A. Myers first met Haas at a previous firm some 15 years ago, when she was interviewing for a legal secretary job. He was leaning toward another candidate, when Haas’ sister, Gena Nass, already a firm employee, told him he needed to hire Rosemary because “She’ll know what you need, before you need it.” Myers quickly discovered the truth of those words — so much that, when he came to Reinhart in 1999, he convinced Haas to come there, too.

Attorney Anne M. Hlavacka says Haas’ skills went far beyond the clerical. “Her greatest strength was her ability to develop relationships with clients. I could always tell when a client had talked to Rosemary first, because they seemed much more at ease about their problems. Not every support staff is like that, although we’d sure like them all to be.”

Haas’ commitment to her job was surpassed only by her dedication to her family. She was married to Kenneth Haas for 40 of her 61 years, and was the proud mother of Theresa, Sandy and Duane, as well as a doting grandmother to Brandon, Ashley, Taylor, Isabelle, Olivia and Gavin.


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