Barbara Janaszek, Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek SC
Law degree received from: Marquette University Law School, 1981
Milwaukee lawyer Barbara Janaszek had just finished demolishing a witness on cross-examination.
She then returned to the counsel table and calmly informed her co-counsel, Gene Erbstroesser, that she was going into labor.
“One of the jurors overheard this, and that juror and others formed a phalanx to get her to the elevator and a cab for Gene to take her to the hospital,” said her client from that case, Carl Liggio, who is the former general counsel of Arthur Young & Co. — now Ernst & Young — in Milwaukee.
Janaszek promptly delivered her second daughter upon arriving at the hospital.
“That is what I call above and beyond in client service,” Liggio said.
A native Milwaukeean, Janaszek discovered she was pregnant the same day she was accepted to law school. She consulted a calendar, realized she’d deliver during or near the semester break and decided she could handle it.
Two weeks after her first daughter was born, Janaszek was back in class as a part-time student. She graduated first in her class in 1981.
After graduation, Janaszek interviewed with every large firm in Milwaukee before accepting a clerkship with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
When she returned to the job search, she found that others viewed motherhood as an obstacle. Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, which has been her second home for the past 31 years, was the exception.
“What I discovered,” she said, “was there was real concern out there at every place except Hirschboeck that the fact that I had a young child was a barrier.”
Not only was the firm open to working mothers, but it also assigned her to litigation and not a practice area, such as estate planning or family law, where women typically were channeled.
She took advantage of the opportunity, taking one case, Wisconsin Department of Revenue v. William Wrigley Jr. Co., all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That case wound up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
She’s repaid Hirschboeck with loyalty when clients, impressed that not even labor can break her commitment to a case, come calling.
“This was one of the reasons,” Liggio said, “I tried to hire her in 1991.”