After 26 years at Michael Best & Friedrich, Jane Moberg has learned a lot.
But the greatest lesson she’s learned has been about herself.
“I think what I’ve learned the most is that I could succeed doing this,” said Moberg, director of research and library services, who will retire at the end of the year. “I could actually do it well.”
Despite having a master’s degree in library science, a part-time job in the library at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, and having worked as a university reference librarian and in the public library system, success was something Moberg doubted early on.
“One of our largest practices is intellectual property, mostly patent work, which I knew nothing about … ” she said. “When I first got this job people would call and say, ‘Can you get me this?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh sure.’ And then I’d hang up and run around like crazy thinking, ‘Now, where would I find that?’ It feels like I bluffed my way through.”
Sometimes that feeling still washes over her, Moberg admitted.
“You just never know what you’re going to be asked for,” she said. “You just kind of say, ‘OK.’ and you go look.”
Those ephemeral stressors are often balanced by opportunities to help those lowest on the law firm food chain: summer associates.
“I usually start my spiel to them by saying, ‘No question is a dumb question, and we don’t tell the people you’re trying to impress that you asked,’” said Moberg.
Her “Do ask, Don’t tell” approach often puts the newbies at ease and helps Moberg with what she said is one of the best parts of her job: Make sure the associates get what they need.
“It gives you a good feeling,” she said. “You did something important for somebody, helped somebody else get a good start in life or, in this case, a profession.”