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Bochert carves her own path in long career

By: Jane Pribek//June 25, 2013//

Bochert carves her own path in long career

By: Jane Pribek//June 25, 2013//

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bochertThe people in the law school placement office were no help to Linda Bochert in her search for employment.

It was 1974, she had just earned her law and master’s degrees, and she found herself flipping open the phone book to take care of her own placement. Bochert sent a flurry of resumes to state agencies, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources responded.

The agency made Bochert, who next year will celebrate 40 years in the legal profession, only the second female attorney it had hired. And she discovered that environmental law, which at the time was a burgeoning field of practice, was a good fit.

“I think the environment sustains us,” Bochert said, “and we need to sustain it.”

A few years later, she took her focus on environmental law to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. But, in 1980, she returned to the DNR as the agency’s executive assistant and third-ranked person in the chain of command.

While she was with the DNR, she helped craft Wisconsin’s landfill siting and groundwater protection statutes.

“We dealt with a lot of significant legislation at the time,” Bochert said. “It was very heady stuff. And it was a wonderful place to be.”

She made the move from public agencies in 1991, when she joined Michael Best & Friedrich. The firm was just starting to organize into practice groups, and she was tapped to lead its new environmental law group.

The most challenging aspect of the transition was marketing, Bochert said.

“The work in government is like drinking from a fire hose: You never run out of things to do,” she said. “But in private practice, as a partner, your job is to generate work. I needed to learn how to do that.”

She picked it up quickly and made equity partner within two years.

Along the way, she has built a strong reputation, said David Crass, Bochert’s law partner.

“What has always struck me about Linda, and I’ve practiced law with her for more than 20 years,” he said, “is she is uniformly liked and respected, no matter what the setting or the actors in the play, if you will.”

Being a woman in the law has been helpful rather than a hindrance, Bochert said, though she acknowledged there have been hurdles along the way.

“It continues to be a challenge,” she said, “for women in private law firms to find that balance between having a personal life, a strong professional career and generating the kind of volume and type of business that it takes to become an equity partner and stay in the equity partner ranks.”


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