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Ott leaves mark at Michael Best & Friedrich

Lori Ott - legal secretary, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Milwaukee

Lori Ott – legal secretary, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Milwaukee

Outgoing Michael Best & Friedrich legal secretary Lori Ott has let precision and pride guide her career.

“It used to be that you’d put your initials on everything you did,” she said. “If you work for someone for a number of years and you send it to clients, they have an assumption of who did this product.

“It’s a matter of … what I’ve produced and that I should be able to stand behind it.”

During her more than 44 years at Michael Best & Friedrich, she ran into her share of strong-willed and well-written attorneys. And, during that time, she developed tactics for editing documents from even her most confident colleagues.

“I usually suggest,” she said. “Sometimes they’d agree, sometimes they don’t.”

Ott originally was drawn to legal secretary work because, she said, people always get in trouble. But her career grew beyond the simple promise of continued business.

She became an expert in shorthand, which has come in handy with attorneys young and old, and her experience was a calming force for anxious legal clients. And, she said, she was able to take pride in the work she did, an intangible part of her job that kept her at the firm for years after she could have retired.

“[People] ask what am I doing here, what possessed me,” she said. “But 95 percent of the time, it was interesting.”

In retirement, the lifelong southeastern Wisconsin resident said she’ll spend more time with her daughter, Karen, and granddaughter, Zoe Cortes, and lend her secretarial talents to her Oak Creek parish. When spring returns, Ott said, she wants to add to the 135,000 miles on her Honda Accord Coupe as a “little, old hot-rodding lady.”

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