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Mitby succeeds at finding solutions

By: Jennifer Pfaff//February 5, 2013//

Mitby succeeds at finding solutions

By: Jennifer Pfaff//February 5, 2013//

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John Mitby lets one sentence guide his work in and out of the courtroom: Lawyers solve problems.

For example, he said, he worked on a case in which a co-op outside of Madison got into some financial trouble.

“Having litigation skills was good,” Mitby said, “because it got me to get people to think that if a co-op goes under, it affects people.”

After the judgment, he said, the really hard work began.

“Then it’s about reorganizing and making sure everyone gets paid and things get back in shape,”
Mitby said. “In business law, people often don’t want a money judgment. They want something to happen.”

In his career, Mitby has worked on the state’s first DNA case, and he helped resolve problems surrounding the sale of a Wisconsin landmark, House on the Rock, when the owner died. He has also worked on the sales of banks and tackled any number of other complex business transactions.

As a managing partner at Axley Brynelson LLP, he has solved different kinds of problems, from helping lawyers transition their practices to dealing with construction work.

“He’s always mentoring and teaching,” said John Walsh, an attorney at Axley Brynelson. “He’s created a wonderful in-house training program, bringing in judges and others.”

When the economy went sour, Mitby took a stand and refused to lay off people. Rather, he found ways to make the 58-lawyer firm more efficient.

He oversaw the renovation of the Madison office while at the same time merging Axley with a small firm and opening a Waukesha location.

On top of that, he recently was inducted into the Madison Soccer Hall of Fame.

“We didn’t have enough soccer fields in Madison, so he and some others found ways to buy properties,” Walsh said, adding that Mitby also helped find volunteers to prepare the land for what was to become the Reddan Soccer Park.

The work was part of his personal mission to “do some type of do-good or not-for-profit project” each year, Mitby said.

It also showed that sometimes, the problems that need solutions are outside of the courtroom.

“I try to use my legal skills and knowledge of business to shape things,” he said, “help communicate them.”


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