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Jacoby puts labor relations on its ear

By: Justin Kern//June 21, 2012//

Jacoby puts labor relations on its ear

By: Justin Kern//June 21, 2012//

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Mary Pat Jacoby, Quarles & Brady LLP

Law degree received from: Marquette University Law School, 1976

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

Contrary to her legal career and efforts as a mentor and volunteer, Mary Pat Jacoby’s most high profile case was based on nothing.

Well, a show that professed to be about nothing, but yada, yada, yada.

Jacoby led the Quarles & Brady team that defended Miller Brewing in a wrongful termination lawsuit by a male employee fired for, he alleged, describing to a female co-worker in anatomical detail the jokes in an episode of “Seinfeld,” the self-professed show about nothing. Connection to the hit show garnered the lawsuit and trial national attention, months of calls to Jacoby’s office, and a trial against noted local attorney Gerald Boyle.

To shut out the heightened pressure, Jacoby said she rested on the elements of her career that got her that far — listening to your client’s needs, and relying on the strengths of those around you.

“Maybe you have less experience in high profile cases, [but] you’re still calling the shots and you can rely on the people who are, perhaps, more experienced, to work with the client,” said Jacoby, who logged a win for her client in appeals court after an initial $26 million ruling in favor of the plaintiff. “The lawyers weren’t competing with each other for the limelight. It was a very good team and ultimately we were successful.”

Jacoby said some of the listening elements of her background come from her teen years as an administrator of volunteers and participants at a day camp for mentally disabled children.

Her success as a team leader continues in her role as partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment practice group.

She mentored now fellow-partner Mike Fischer when he started at the firm in 1996. Fischer said Jacoby always gave him good work and solid advice, even though they sometimes disagreed.

“I mean, it sounds weird to say it, but we had screaming matches,” Fischer said. “But it was because we both were so passionate about our points.

“And it was never in disrespect, in fact it was the opposite. I knew she held me in respect, and she acknowledged she didn’t have all the answers and would cede a point.”


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