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Labor law gives Robbins career satisfaction

Labor law gives Robbins career satisfaction

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Marianne Robbins, The Previant Law Firm SC

Law degree received from: Northeastern University School of Law, 1977

Staff photo by Kevin Harnack

Marianne Robbins walked straight out of the classroom and into the courtroom 30 years ago.

She never looked back.

“I love every moment of my job,” said Robbins, a labor attorney and partner with The Previant Law Firm SC.

After college, Robbins started out as a teacher, but realized it wasn’t her passion, so she went back to school, attending the Northeastern University School of Law. After three semesters of studies, she worked for a semester and was assigned to a case involving a union.

She said that’s the moment she knew she was hooked.

“Both of my parents were active union members,” Robbins said, “and I really enjoyed working with union members and making a positive difference.”

Active is an apt description of Robbins. She is a fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. She is active with the State Bar of Wisconsin and served as the chairwoman of its Labor and Employment Law Section. She also was a member of the board of directors for the AFL-CIO’s Lawyers Coordinating Committee.

But Robbins active role extends even further, said Frederick Perillo, a partner at The Previant Law Firm. He said Robbins provides legal services across the region, state and country.

“Marianne’s dedication to using the law to create social justice reflects positively on the profession as a whole,” Perillo said, “and has benefited both the community at large and the legal community specifically.”

Her influence on the legal community, Perillo said, is unique.

“Today, there are many successful women lawyers, many successful women labor lawyers and many successful women union lawyers,” he said. “Marianne was one of the first.”

But the ranks of women in the profession are growing, Robbins said.

“When I started, most union leaders were men and the litigators were men, but that is changing,” she said. “Women are more active today in unions, and more women are practicing labor law.”

And it’s that change in the demographics of the legal profession that, at times, gives Robbins a chance to swing full circle back to her teaching days. She now often plays the role of guide to women beginning their careers.

“When I started at the firm, I was the only woman attorney,” Robbins said. “Today, about half the attorneys are women. It’s been a big sea change.”


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