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Hamblen finds Madison’s Wilson Street a welcome change from Wall Street

By: Justin Kern//June 23, 2011//

Hamblen finds Madison’s Wilson Street a welcome change from Wall Street

By: Justin Kern//June 23, 2011//

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(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
(Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Car troubles steered Jane Hamblen’s law career toward the high-finance firms of Wall Street.

As a law student in her native Texas, Hamblen intended her focus to be on the public sector, such as work she had done previously on a Navajo reservation, where she counted future Gov. Jim Doyle as her supervisor.

But a broken-down car raised more pressing monetary needs, and she took a role managing corporate clients at New York City firms instead.

After two decades amid what Hamblen called the “go-go-go” spirit of Wall Street, her personal drive for intellectually stimulating work brought her a welcome detour to Madison and the quieter financial dealings at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board on Wilson Street.

“It was very exciting,” Hamblen said of her work with New York firms, “but sometimes I felt like the most challenging thing about it was could I get the amount of work done in the amount of time allowed, rather than feeling like it was that mentally challenging.

“Now [in Madison], I feel like I’m dealing with things that are important in people’s lives — their personal benefits and their pensions — in working for the people of Wisconsin.”

Keeping an eye on the state pension plan, one of the largest in the nation, has spotlighted Hamblen’s attention to detail, openness to ideas and willingness to learn very different practices than those at big city private firms, said Teresa Lau, a transaction legal services director at SWIB.

Lau cited Hamblen’s leadership as in-house counsel on potentially litigious closing documents and creative changes to state laws related to SWIB’s investment abilities as examples of how she “always steps up to the plate.”

That willingness to jump right in has always been a notable aspect of Hamblen’s work ethic, said Jennifer Sloan Lattis, who worked alongside Hamblen as an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of Justice in the late 90s through early 2000s.

“She had no problem leaping into things, as opposed to many middle-aged people, who we think, ‘Oh, they don’t want to learn anything new,’” said Lattis, who now works as senior system legal counsel for the University of Wisconsin. “Jane had never really been in the courtroom, but she got in and argued before the [state] Supreme Court. She just really proved that you can start all over and you can learn anything.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AQ231ntsqo

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